A Dubai-based artist is set to ditch his paint brushes and create a portrait of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan by dropping sand onto a huge canvas in the desert.

Canadian-born artist Sylvian Tremblay, 47, will be lifted between 10 and 20 meters above the ground by a hot air balloon in the Dubai desert on Monday. The artist will throw three colours of sand onto a canvas covered with glue in order to creatre the portrait of the UAE’s founding father.

This is the most inspiring thing I have done and definitely the most technically difficult,” said Sylvain, who is a lecturer at the Canadian University of Dubai. “We are dealing with the elements of the desert and I will be floating between 10 and 20 metres above the ground, so there is plenty of opportunity for things to work against us.”

At 10m by 10m it’s a gigantic project, however Sylvian has been practicing on smaller canvases on the roof on the university. Although a lot could go wrong on the day, he is pleased to be creating artwork that represents the UAE. “It was important to me when planning the performance that everything was natural and paid tribute to the UAE’s natural elements. The desert was the natural place to do this and using sand from the desert made the perfect choice.”

Sylvian says that he was moved to create the artwork of Sheikh Zayed because he was a great leader. It will take him two hours to complete the portrait, which he says he will take home and possibly donate to a museum in the future.

While the artwork will certainly be an amazing feat, it wont be the biggest portrait of Sheikh Zayed. The largest hangs in the Judicial Department in Abu Dhabi and measures 30m by 20m.