Every so often, on beaches across Europe, early-rising beachgoers stumble across larger-than-life images embedded into the sand.
Sometimes, they'll find geometric patterns that interrupt the natural movement of the shoreline. Other times, they'll find objects like a barcode or words that proclaim, "WE ARE ALL GODS."
And if they arrive as the tide is rising, they'll stay to watch as the ocean laps over the sand, reaching farther and farther, until the entire image -- sometimes more than half a mile wide -- is washed away.
"People pay more attention to something that doesn't last," Sam Dougados, the artist behind the massive drawings, told The Huffington Post.
"The ephemeral is a part of the beauty."
Dougados calls this type of artwork arenaglyphe, which, in Latin, translates to sand (arena) and engrave (glyph).
His first arenaglyphes were at Côte des Basques Beach on the coast of France, where he lives. So far, he's left his creations at beaches across Morocco, Portugal, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Bermudas.
Using a rake and a little bit of spontaneous imagination, Dougados goes to the beach one hour before the low tide and draws for up to two hours while the waterline is receding. He usually doesn't know what he'll be drawing until he gets to the beach to see his canvas.
"Most of the time, I improvise directly on the beach, letting my inspiration [come] with the environment," Dougados said. "[I try] to fit my work into it and look for a general harmony."
After he completes a drawing, he hurries to find a place where he can photograph the finished piece; sometimes, he's chased away by the quickly rising tide.
"Photography is really a second artwork," he said. "I try to tell another story ... sometimes only focusing on a detail of the big drawing."
It can take hours for the high tide to rise completely, so Dougados rarely stays back to watch it erase his work. He will stay, however, if the waves look good enough to surf.
He sometimes wishes his work "lived a bit longer" so that he could share it with more people, but, he says, "it's part of the process, and I have another blank canvas the next day."
Dougados intends to find more canvases around the world where more people can experience his drawings and the natural beauty that surrounds them.
"I try to capture nature's fleeting beauty," he said. "[It's] a geometry and poetry that makes us stop and reflect on the magic of a moment, our relationship with nature, and the very essence of our beings."
Scroll to see more of Sam Dougados's seaside artwork and visit his website here.
View more of Dougados's artwork on Facebook here.
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