sand table

Welcome!

It's been more than 8 years since I launched my sand animation business, back in February 2011, and so much has happened since then...

I've created over 85 custom sand animations for corporate and private clients. I use a light box, sand, and my hands to create emotional stories synched to a unique musical soundscape, which are simultaneously projected large screen for live audiences to experience.

I've done animations for Cirque du Soleil, MTV News, Travel & Leisure, Doodle 4 Google, GE Healthcare, Samsung, TBS Network and many more. I've performed at amazing venues, like Caesar's Colosseum in Las Vegas, The Fillmore in Philly, The Smithsonian in D.C. and Jazz at Lincoln Center, here at home in NYC. I've traveled to international locations, like Hong Kong, Amsterdam, Playa Del Carmen, Montréal and all over the USA. I've performed at events featuring: Jordin Sparks, Brené Brown, John Mayer, Wynton Marsalis and The Roots.

It's been a very exciting journey and I'm really looking forward to sharing more here with you. I've re-posted some of the best blogs from my old website, and will continue sharing new things here too. So... Stay Tuned! Thanks for visiting. I look forward to creating a custom sand animation just for you.

Watch my sand art VIDEOS!

Sand Artist | Charlene Lanzel

Sand Artist | Charlene Lanzel

Sand for Animation

“What kind of sand should an artist use for sand animation?”

Artists often use toxic materials without even realizing it. There are no institutions actively protecting artists from hazardous substances. Therefore, it is very important to be aware of the hidden dangers of your art materials.

Artists are responsible for self-education when using materials that are new to them. Everyone must take personal responsibility in dealing with the dangers of their desired materials. Often, the things that work the best are the most dangerous. Vincent Van Gogh was known to have put his paint brushes in his mouth, causing himself to suffer from chronic lead poisoning. This likely contributed to his delusions and hallucinations.

Sand Artist | Charlene Lanzel

Sand Artist | Charlene Lanzel

Here’s a WARNING for potential sand artists:

Please be aware of the possible dangers of sand... Don't just go to the beach and pick up a bucket of sand to start practicing. Make sure that the sand you use for sand animation does not contain "free-silica". This is a dangerous dust that can cause Silicosis, which is a form of lung disease caused by inhalation of crystalline silica dust. If your sand “sticks” to you, and creates a lot of dust, or makes you cough, it probably contains free-silica.

The recognition of respiratory problems from breathing in dust dates as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. Free crystalline silica is one of the most common minerals in the earth's crust. It is found in sand and many rocks. But, don't worry, you can easily get free-silica free sand from many reputable sand dealers.

Look for sand that is free-silica free and safe for kids! 

Use common sense and do adequate research before using any art materials that are new to you.

Be safe… enjoy your art, and enjoy life!

Lightworker

I am a Lightworker… and I’m on a mission to brighten your world.

I devote myself to being a bright and shining, unique flavor of light. I work for the purpose of the greater good, keeping the highest interest of all beings in mind. I embody light, peace and truth to uplift humanity with a compassionate heart.

My desire is to produce positive messages, spread wisdom and warm people’s spirits. I hope to usher in a wave of positivity, love and joy. I reach out into dark corners to gain perspective, then dig through the shadows to help find inner light. 

The sand artist’s light box dream world gives us an incredible opportunity for growth and learning, to manifest positive changes and to shine light on new ideas. 

Light is an ever changing and mysterious medium. It is energy, a wave, a pulse and a spectrum. It is invisible, yet makes everything visible. Light has the power to change our perceptions, creating focus while supporting activity. Light helps the world heal and transform. 

Raise the vibration of the planet by being a conduit of light. Embody your authenticity. Use your thoughts to create a positive reality that makes a shining statement. 

Add light to your world!

Sand Artist | Charlene Lanzel

Sand Artist | Charlene Lanzel

Birth of a Sand Artist

People often ask me how I got into making sand animations. It probably started for me in childhood, before I ever thought about a career in the arts...

I loved to watch PBS programs, particularly because of the artistic content. As a child, I loved all things art related. On Sesame Street, I saw an animation of two sand men throwing a sand ball back and forth on a light box. There was also a sand alphabet animated on Sesame Street. I was fascinated. In the summertime, on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, I would draw images in the sand, and wipe them away, trying to mimic those animations. I closed my eyes and faced the sun... and wished I could draw in the sand forever.

Later, I enjoyed watching International Film Festival animations on PBS. Every year the winners in the short animation category were broadcast. I loved watching them over and over. I told my mother I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I dreamt that I lived in New York. I started making flip book animations. 

Charlene Lanzel_childhood.jpg

I did become an artist when I grew up. I moved to New York City and found work creating window displays and also painting murals. I learned as I went along. Eventually, I landed jobs as a mural painter on big projects both nationally and internationally. I really enjoyed the work. I became very good at lettering and sign painting as well, which became useful skills later on.

While on a scaffolding, working on a large scale mural, I had an accident. I suffered from a head injury. A week later 9/11 happened. I needed something to ease my physical and emotional pain. I was out of commission for awhile healing, and feeling very vulnerable, so I started studying Buddhism. 

An artist friend of mine recommended a video to me that she had seen on something new called the internet. We had been talking about the Buddhist concept of impermanence and ephemeral art. It was a live animation by a Hungarian artist. He was creating sand animations on a light box, but as a live performance. An electric shock went through my body... I remembered how much I loved those animations from my childhood, and I had a flash vision of myself up there doing the performance. I had goosebumps. I watched it over and over.

As the internet grew in popularity, and YouTube came along, I saw a Ukrainian girl's sand animation performance getting passed around on Facebook. I started wondering if this art form was something for me to try.

Time passed, and the economy collapsed. Mural painters were out of work, due to advances in digital technology and the trend of minimalism. I needed something new to do. A co-worker mentioned sand animation and how desirable the art form was becoming. I decided in that moment to give it a try. I knew I had the skills necessary and I liked the idea of working with technology.

I spent a year researching, watching sand animation videos, and trying many different materials. I built my own sand table in my studio. It took me several months just to learn to move the sand. I also had to learn digital editing for music and film. It was a difficult process and I almost gave up. But, eventually, with a lot of practice and some patience, I created my first sand animation video and put it up on YouTube. A week later I was scouted to perform for the opening night after party for Cirque du Soleil's Zarkana show at Roseland in New York City.

The rest is history...