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British artist Justin Bateman uses found pebbles and stones to create ephemeral artwork, using the natural landscape as his canvas. The artist currently resides in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and leaves intricate pebble portraits on mountains, beaches, forests, and beside railroads. Every naturally coloured stone functions as a distinct paintbrush stroke or mark that is essential to the overall composition. Bateman states quite clearly on Instagram, "Pebbles are my Pixels."

Every work of art, whether it be a famous face or an iconic piece, uses a limited colour palette of stoney hues to capture the essence of its subject. Bateman never really plans his portraits in advance because he uses found pebbles. Instead, he lets the stones themselves determine how the piece is put together. "I find freedom in its limits, but art should always be unrestricted," he says. "The best thing about this process is that I never know how a piece will turn out in the beginning." 

Even though it takes him several days to finish most of his pebble portraits, Bateman doesn't grow attached to the pieces he makes. He draws inspiration from the meditation practices of Tibetan monks, who use sand to create intricate mandalas that they later destroy. This practice serves as a reminder of life's transience, a theme that Bateman also addresses.

The fact that he knows nature will eventually reclaim the materials he uses gives him the greatest satisfaction in his work. "My work is impermanent; I leave only footprints," he declares. 

Despite the fact that every mosaic will eventually vanish, Bateman photographs his creations to have a digital archive. And fortunately for us, this lets us appreciate the exquisite details in his work. Every pebble portrait has warm shadows and light highlights that are depicted in stones, giving the impression of a sepia-toned or grayscale image. The level of depth and detail that Bateman can accomplish using just pebbles is astounding. 

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