Making lines in sand or earth with a stick is probably the oldest form of drawing practiced by human beings; followed, perhaps, by using a burned stick to make marks on rocks (charcoal drawing!).
Many of us (myself certainly included) still love to make drawings in semi-wet sand at the shoreline; making exquisitely brief marks to be erased by the surf of sun in a matter of hours or moments.
Jim Denevan is an artist who makes his works in the sand and earth, but in a much more elaborate and large scale manner. He makes his marks with a stick or rake, stirring up the sand to make it darker and walking carefully while making the pattern.
I didn’t come across an explanation on his site for how he measures the patterns out on a large scale.
As large as his beach drawings are, they pale in comparison to the size of his earth drawings, one in particular.
The drawing shown in the bottom two images is wider than the island of Manhattan (you can see it superimposed in one of the images). Denevan made it by driving in circles on a dry lake bed (where driving is permitted by the government and some land speed records have been set). The smaller circles were made by hand with rakes.
There is a zoomable version of this piece on his News page.
This work, like all of Denevan’s sand, earth and ice works, was fleeting and no longer exists.