Important Update...

Visit: Your Spirit Rocks! on Facebook . Our vendors booth at the local farmer's market is currently closed until further notice. We hope to be back soon ! Contact me about commission work. I'm the only Chris Sullivan in Calistoga, CA




Sunday, June 28, 2020

The Joy of Painting Spirit Rocks

Rocks, especially the ones that are perfectly symmetrical, flat, round, and smooth are not always the easiest to find. Yet, These are the ones I look for... whether on the beach or on the road. Painting rocks is and has been more than a hobby over the years. Since the beginning, It has been a quest and the most inspirational creative pursuit ever. Besides this, the exploration of a variety of mediums has easily introduced new ways of working.

This being said, the use of both phosphorescent and fluorescent paint has been the foundation from the start. Calling them "Spirit Rocks" seemed like a fitting nomenclature, as they seem to offer solace and serenity in a troubled world. Although other artists have taken on this practice, this has been my most transformational activity as an artist.

Your Spirit Rocks™ has been a blessing, as over 90,000 have been painted and sold during the past ten years at a variety of farmer's markets and craft fairs. Many have been donated and given away as gifts to charities, service groups, and friends. My studio is a corner of a one-bedroom apartment in Calistoga, Ca. It is there that these rocks emerge as a statement of the beauty that is still present in the world


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Juneteenth

After reading today that the president expects to hold a rally in Tulsa on the same day as the Tulsa Greenwood massacre of 1921 is despicable. The "Black Lives Matter" movement continues to spur riots in major cities across the country due to police brutality and systemic racism that continues to challenge stuck outmoded beliefs. Fires raging in Arizona are the new norm as our planet continues to move towards a dark, ominous climate change. Over 400,00 people have died as a direct result of the mysterious COVID 19 virus that has spread worldwide. What is this?

Today is the eve of the summer solstice, which will usher in a season of massive change. 2020 is a year that has the whole world watching. Perhaps our vigilance in observing a "Sheltering in place" dictum will bring people closer to each other or not...time will tell. Meanwhile, staying in touch with friends via the FaceTime and Zoom apps has made our global village a catalog of traumatic events. All this "On-demand" information is being viewed through a small screen device in real-time, so the social distance is much, much shorter than our minds can digest .

Our posts on social media direct our passions and prejudices, thereby creating a society of cliques rushing quickly to judgment. Where else and what else is there to do but eat, sleep, pray and meditate. Perhaps some exercise, and staying busy as we digitally move forward. Nuff said.


Monday, June 8, 2020

We're starting over

... Or so it seems. Lack of leadership, viruses, riots, global warming. Will it ever end? Yes and no. Having things seem out of control is only the beginning. Personally, like many of you, I've chosen to stop and smell the dandelions. Achoooo ! No, really. A planter box with salad-worthy dandelion greens is keeping my immune system on high alert. That, along with the Elderberry syrup that my niece makes, is rendering healthy and wholesome results.

Staying in place has provided plenty of time to work on a variety of products and projects. Below is a pendant made from taking a sandstone rock found on a beach near the Russian River.It was strung through a hole drilled into the rock with numerous glowing beads. The rock has two sides and the wearer can show off either side. The colors are vibrant and will bring attention to this talisman that is one of a kind.


Monday, June 1, 2020

A Ticket to heaven

When I was in boarding school, during the eighth grade we had a monk who was our headmaster. Brother George Baldwin was a seasoned teacher, approaching ninety. He had knuckles the size of walnuts and would whack you on top of the head if you were goofing off in class. He was at times, the perfect target a fourteen-year-old boy would want to play pranks on ... however infrequent. One time during a study period (usually after lunch), we would be reading chapters from an assigned selection of books. This was also considered quiet time, except for light classical music playing in the background, which we, as mature upperclassmen learned to appreciate. Lower classmen would not yet get to enjoy this cultural privilege. One pleasant afternoon in Spring, Brother George had put out an array of Venus flytraps on the window sill which some of the students took joy in placing pencil leads into the place a fly was meant to land. The trap, due to its sticky lamina would close up instantly on any fly venturing inside. It became a sport to see if a fly's fate would be sealed inside one of these plants. Anytime a fly was buzzing around, everyone had their eyes on it, hoping that it would land in one of the traps. This time was different.

Brother George had been dozing off and we kept an eye on him as well, in the event of any classroom disruption. The damn fly landed right on the tip of his nose! Suddenly, his eyes opened and through his round spectacles, he looked cross-eyed at the insect and began batting the air. Needless to say, we all had to spend twenty minutes after classes because of students who were out of their chairs pointing and convulsing with laughter .

Things were out of control. This was a precocious class of teenagers, chomping at the bit for summer vacation. Brother George would have no tolerance for the percolating hormones at this age. In fact, he would take to writing a lengthy homework assignment, which seemed like revenge at the time. This would be written at the far end of the blackboard, closest to the door. Mark Erigero, a notable hooligan, was also a crack shot with a straw and spitball. As Brother George began to write the word "Assignment", Mark deftly dotted the "i" before George's chalk even hit the board. Brother George was furious. Again, the class disrupted in chaos.

Summertime came and went and a whole new group of delinquents got to take over the classroom when we departed for high school the next Fall. Usually, before graduation, the less unruly students who managed to maintain a scholarly decorum were awarded one of the flytraps and their choice of candy bars. A whole selection of Charleston Chews and Big Hunks were inevitably taken before the unlucky students got either a bag of stale peanuts or two pieces of saltwater taffy.

Brother George passed away that year. He was missed by all, but primarily those students who he instilled with a sense of purpose and pride. Not every boy passed. Those who didn't return would usually leave with a desire to do better and eventually go on to become freshmen after a stint in summer school.

Former students, faculty, and parents attended his funeral. He was not the only "Brother of the Christian schools" present. Many brothers from the San Francisco district were there. As the attendees were exiting the church, one brother was at the back handing out what seemed to be memorial cards. People were curious as they filed out with almost everyone smiling. These were tickets that the brother was handing out. They were "Tickets to heaven".It was obvious to everyone that Baldwin George had planned this as his gift to those who knew of his benevolence.

No painted rock this week. I just want to relay a story that meant something to me.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Lack of Power

It is Friday, and I am thinking about getting a fresh batch of rocks to paint. Although I have ventured out seeking a variety of creative expressions, I think its time to get back to basics. This Covid19 thing is producing dreams right out of the Twilight Zone, yet rendering curious ideas to ponder.

Last night I had this dream that I had walked into a large corporate type building and made my way all the way to the top floor where I began walking directly into what may be considered the "Inner Sanctum". The walls leading to this particular office were made of mahogany and were reaching up to very high ceilings. A few people were walking from office to office, looking very buttoned up and official. Many were wearing ties and professional-looking attire. I then walked into an end office after going by several portals of privilege. When I reached the head honcho's office he was out. There was a security guard standing there, protecting yet another back wall of mahogany. Behind this wall that swiveled on a pivot was a vault that was open. Inside the vault were large stacks of cash, all bundled in paper bands like they had arrived directly from a mint. He looked at me quizzically, seeming to question my authority for even being there. I just stood there and said that I wanted a stack of bills in dollar increments. He said, " We only carry stacks of ten-dollar denominations, and would that be sufficient. I said that would be fine. He came out with a regular size stack of crisp bills that read "Ten" on them. The guard then took out a paper bag and put the cash inside the bag and handed it to me. He smiled at me cautiously, as I thanked him and left.

To me, This dream was all about trust. It symbolizes the trust I have in a higher power about providing the security and safety I require. Upon looking inside the vault, I saw huge stacks of money. It occurred to me that I could ask for, and receive whatever I wanted. The humility I felt made me realize that I didn't need to ask for any more than the modest amount that was handed over to me; although I could have. The confidence I was experiencing, carried me into and out of that building. This structure was a monolith of power and authority.

The thing that really surprised me is that I couldn't wait to tell my sister Tara, about the whole episode. More than the money, her response would be worth its weight in gold. The value received, not in being the amount of security, safety, and relief that this money represented... but in the joy of sharing this story with another. Fear and trepidation are what ruled the minions of this powerful corporation. Everyone looked to the other with an understanding of how devastating this power from the top represented. It was interesting that the chief was not even in his office as the cash was being handed out.

The notion that a lack of control at my"Being guided" was striking. In the face of this kind of power was the vulnerability of feeling fear, and the immense responsibility of coming to accept what was happening. It mattered not whether my actions were legal, moral, appropriate, policy-abiding, or otherwise. All that mattered is if my faith was strong enough to accept what was freely given to me.

Did I steal this money? Yes and no. The money was the power that was withheld from me and kept in safekeeping. In a sense, I had a right to that money, although it wasn't clear that it was mine, to begin with; Money is currency, and much like electricity it has no value of and by itself. It only has power in it's earning, spending, accumulation, and distribution. Having more money in this regard does not render what we think that "Having it" will provide. What does gaining the whole world mean here? Our response to having an opportunity to have all the money in the world as it is; is worthless. It is our ability to serve others that ensures value.

The the image below depicts a fool with a dollar in one hand and a baton in the other, joyously marching around without a care in the world.


Friday, May 15, 2020

Having a Kind Mind

This is a concept that is still in the infant stages of development in our culture. Having a "Kind Mind" is something that is going to take practice. Many of us demonstrate a form of behavior that appears kind on the surface, but can easily switch to disdain in the blink of an eye. Things are not always as they appear as we witness abhorrent behavior in this ever-changing world.

Kindness is a quality that requires lots of fostering in our society these days, especially as things continue to slow down. Saying hello to a neighbor, waving to a friend, letting someone go ahead in the checkout line at the neighborhood market are all ways we can demonstrate kindness.

People are becoming more aware of each other now that we are localizing and generally staying put. Paying special attention to the practice of kindness is an important first step. It is usually noticed that many are stepping outside of their "Comfort zone" to do things that are indeed altruistic. Ultimately they are making a contribution to the spirit of kindness. May they all reap what they sew, and let these expressions continue to grow and flourish.

I've added a link to a site that I've discovered which has provided me with a welcome diversion, especially as our time on this planet becomes more precious.

Below is a drawing of an angel, seemingly questioning the whole notion of kindness as a human (yet more accurately) an angelic pursuit.


Monday, May 4, 2020

Gazing through Phases

Artists tend to embark on personal journeys of refinement. This means that they usually require a variety of resources from which to draw. Materials and methods aside, artists look for something that sets them apart. Perhaps an assurance that what they are doing has all the hallmarks of original creative expression. The originality here is a key concept. What is original? Is it a product or the process that created it? These questions border on philosophical discussions that weren't intended when I began to write this blog.

If anything, this blog has been a catalog of what has been produced from the beginning. The time spent foraging suitable rocks to paint in an effort to find some purpose, or quest for a purpose perhaps. Needless to say, it has been hopeful, exciting, adventuresome, and even maddening at times.

Every rock I've painted has been different in some ways. Some are unique, some similar, some inspired, some routine, some experimental, some keepers, some discards. Some to be gifted, some to be hidden, some to use as a talisman, some to be displayed in either light or most especially in darkness under a UV light. All of them have had something to offer in the process of my own evolution as a creative illuminator as I like to think of myself ( although my sister thinks this title is cheesy and lame ) Below is yet another of my creative illuminations (no blacklight necessary) It is not a painted rock, either.


Sunday, April 19, 2020

Painting with Bleach

Having played with this medium in the past, using household bleach (Clorox, not hydrogen peroxide) as a material to paint with; Has opened a door into a creative pursuit that was not there before. Painting using old brushes is the best strategy because it is certainly going to eat those brushes right up! The best tool(s) so far have been skewer sticks, speedball pens ( except they will corrode with rust ), rubber-tipped smudgers and rubber gloves. The latter because bleach has a tendency to burn and sting after it dries out on your skin.

The best type of paper to start experimenting with is black or another dark color. Preferably children's construction paper. Save the heavy-toothed Canson paper for finished pieces later on. The fun is watching how it defuses and spreads, leaving fabulous gradations in the wake of each stroke. The rough-hewn appearance is somewhat reminiscent of the tie-dye craze of the sixties. Lastly, applying a variety of stencils can rendering especially compelling abstract pieces.


Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Going within, but not without

This is a great time to be grateful. Time to slow down and smell the roses when you venture outdoors. It's been a month since the time of the virus. Instead of crisis, the focus should be on an opportunity. That's how we grow, anyway. Out on my deck is an aluminum ladder that was purchased a year ago. Weather permitting, the rooftop it leads to is where, as the Coasters might have been inspired to sing, "I go up to where the air is fresh and clean"... up on the roof. This is now the go-to place for prayer and meditation.

Blesssings abound when the time allows for beauty to drop into our hearts. We all can become a good companion to ourselves, even in spite of the boredom, isolation, and monotony. Curiosity can replace depression when a willingness to explore takes hold. Cooking a meal, listening to music, cleaning out a closet will bring a change of perspective.

It is vitally important to affirm ourselves for even making the attempt. Rock painting has reached a saturation point as has been mentioned in previous posts.I have been getting back to drawing, painting and any other creative activity that centers me in the moment. The work you see below are samples of what this peaceful solitude has arisen in me, as of late.