John Thiering

Painter and Sand Artist

My art practice includes sand art – live and digital performances, painting, drawing and cartooning.

I have been an exhibiting Painter since 1987 and performing Sand Art since 2010. I have performed at arts and music festivals, cruise ships, theatres, corporate and private functions. My work was featured in the opening ceremony of the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

I work with clients to create a sand art piece to perform live or digitally, specifically for their needs. I also collaborate with other creative artists including; animators, theatrical productions, computer/video artists. I have worked with a diverse range of musicians including; alternative, classical, opera, jazz and hip hop.

My Creative Process

Working with Clients

I will meet the client(s) and get to know them and their story. We will brainstorm ideas and images. The client should provide photos etc. as a visual reference. At least 6 weeks should be allowed for development of the story and performance. With the clients input I will create a unique personalised artwork celebrating the occasion. I perform it live at the event and the story is produced as a video.

  • Consultation

  • Creation

  • Client Approval & Perform

Working in Collaborations

Collaborations can start with a formal intentional meeting but in my experience collaborations are usually born of a conversation over coffee where I will meet with an artist or musician over a common theme and our creativity defines the outcome. I have collaborated with other artists and musicians on the following:

  • Musical – eg. Julie, Opera
  • Digital – eg. Adam Hinshaw, 
  • SWIFF Lightbox
  • Theatrical eg. Odd Ophir, Opera
  • Film – eg. Giidanyba, Lonelines
  • Creative Meeting

  • Ideation and Proof

  • Create and Perform

More about me


All through my childhood I drew voraciously. I developed a reasonable talent for realistic drawing. I also had a good imagination and loved drawing cartoons.

When I left school I attended life-drawing classes once a week at Meadowbank TAFE. This taught me a lot about representing the human form.

From 1985 to 1988 I attended The City Art Institute (formerly Alexander Mackie), in Paddington, Sydney. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts) and a Post Grad Diploma, (Painting Studies).

I had my first exhibition at The Arthaus Gallery in Darlinghurst, Sydney in 1987. I have been painting and exhibiting regularly since then.

I work mainly in acrylic on canvas, as well as using pastel, charcoal and ink.

Some paintings have a broad colour palette and some are monochromatic.

My paintings range from frenetic semi-abstract compositions full of people, animals and other objects to quieter dream-scapes exploring the human condition.

Limited editions photographic prints of my sand art are available for purchase. They are giclee prints on cotton rag (museum quality). Each work is signed numbered come in editions of 20 (see below).  Some of my paintings are also available online. ​

Sand Art

I draw pictures in sand with my hands. The sand can either be deposited on the illuminated glass to produce a silhouette or taken away to reveal the white light beneath. So, in effect, I am not only drawing with sand, but also with light.

Story is an essential part of my performances. I create a chain of beautiful images that flow together to produce a cohesive narrative. Objects and space morph from one to another in imaginative ways to add an element of intrigue and magic.

My sand art is multi-disciplinary. It incorporates visual art, sound and  music, story-telling and movement. It offers an enormous opportunity for collaboration with a diverse range of creative artists.


The Art of Sand

How old is sand art? I imagine that people have been drawing pictures in sand for as long as they have been communicating and telling stories. Sand is one of the most abundant and universal materials on earth and the human hand is the most subtle and sophisticated tool on earth. So the combination of these two things is both ancient and elemental.

This exciting new medium allows my to combine his drawing skills, my passion for telling stories, and my passion for entertaining.