Important Update...

Visit: Your Spirit Rocks! on Facebook . Our vendors booth appears every other week at the local Farmer's Market(s)

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Rocks that connect with people

  Recently, I had a talk with my sister Rita on FaceTime. We were discussing what value the gift of a rock could be for someone. Other than the usual ideas (i.e. a bookmarker, a doorstop, a reminder or meditation device, a talisman, or even what some may call a "worry stone") she suggested it may be just what a child would need on their first day of school to reduce what is called "Connection anxiety." That feeling a child may have when mom is not there. This idea brought back something that I have mentioned to the parents of young children. This is the perfect gift for kids who are scared of the dark, or who just need something to remind them that their mom is there. 

The rocks I paint are phosphorescent and fluorescent for that very reason. A keychain blacklight is supplied with each purchase in order to activate the lumens that show off bright dayglow colors when the beam is aimed at the rock and beautiful glowing colors when the blacklight is turned off.

  I vaguely remember as a kid, taking a rock or perhaps a toy to bed to comfort me. This along with a flashlight to read a comic under the covers until I was told that it was "Lights out". Invariably, there would be stuffed animals and other items that served to launch me into lovely childhood dreams.

 Having a rock as an heirloom is another way in which a physical object can hold fond memories for a loved one. Connection anxiety can be relieved by having these rocks with us long into our adulthood. Abandonment can be a life-long trauma. The story below is a testimony to this.

  A few years ago I was told a story about a ten-year-old kid whose parents had shipped him off to a boarding school when he was only in the fourth grade. The father and mother traveled together and couldn't give the child the time or attention necessary for a wholesome upbringing. Kids usually stayed on campus most weekends and would get to come home on holidays if lucky. That, being traumatic enough, only worsened for this particular boy during the holidays. A homecoming event was not in the future for him.

  One Christmas break, when all the parents came to take their kids back home, this little boy was left sitting on the dormitory stairway as the cars were leaving. Finally, after a long wait, a large black limousine drove up to the doorway and parked. Out of it jumped an enthusiastic woman with her arms outstretched, as the driver of the limo proceeded to unload a few wrapped boxes from the trunk. The boy smiled sheepishly, and gingerly embraced this woman who was obviously his mother with the chauffeur remaining on standby, for what lasted perhaps five minutes. The boy opened his gifts as mommy gave him one last kiss and then drove off. The boy sat there bewildered and lost.

  The above story is not a fond memory that the giving of many gifts would be meant to foster. Every kid usually wants a bike or Game-boy to keep them occupied. I am not suggesting that these aren't the stuff of a ten-year-olds dream. The connection we feel with our loved ones is what is most important. Having that feeling of being loved and cared about is what every human being wants to some degree. That is... to receive, and in turn, give to another 

 Small Hand-painted rocks are meant to be gifted as treasures, with every good memory from the past holding its rightful place. It's a simple gift that could mean a lot.

The Rock below is this week's "Rock of the Month."

Monday, November 16, 2020

Returning to the Source

 It's been over a week or so since I have returned to the coast. It is there that one finds peace and tranquility walking along the shore. Usually, I spend time there reflecting and collecting the source of Your Spirit Rocks™ these are the smooth, flat, symmetrical, rounded, undimpled,blemish-free stones that are transformed into beautiful talismans and art pieces that become heirlooms and the gifts that keep on giving. They are held in my hand, felt for portability.

Above are the sizes which will work. No two rocks are really the same, neither is the painting that goes on them. The type of paint materials used are proprietary information, although most can be found in craft stores like Michaels™. Other adornments and devices are found online.

Being my tenth year in business, my portfolio of rocks can be found by scrolling down to the bottom of the page to the right column on this blog and visiting previous dates. Sometimes, however, the image will portray something other than the "Rock of the Week" but usually will have some relevant information as to what was recently implemented.
Again, if you wish more information, I will be happy to communicate with you via email, if you place a comment in the Guestbook. 

           Thank you for visiting, "Your Spirit Rocks!"

            Here is this weeks Video:


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Decoupage on Rocks for that special gift

 Hi there, If it's a simple, crisp, and clear image of a pet or a loved one, I can transfer it to a flat painted rock which is then decorated and adorned as an heirloom, to be passed on to the next generation. Each rock is UV clear-coated after being painted with a quality brand acrylic that resists color fading. The technique is decoupage, using a single image. Sign the guestbook on this site if you would like to contact me about having one made for you or your loved one. An image can be sent either as a .jpg  or .tiff file


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Approaching Gratitude Month

As much as I have enjoyed Halloween both as a kid, and as an adult, I am beginning to realize that it will not be the same Hallmark Holiday that it has been in the past. Not saying it should be discontinued, far from it. Halloween is celebrated as the "Eve of all Hallows" where the next day is commonly known as "All souls day" or "Day of the dead" in places like Mexico. This is a time where we remember those who have passed on to the other side, and it is also a time of deep reflection.

As we approach the last two months of the year, obvious events will prove to be revealing... depending on, (and in spite) of how their outcomes will determine our progress forward. Thankfully, we will also be celebrating Thanksgiving day later on to express our gratitude for all things to be grateful for; and a list of these things would be a useful way to frame our state of mind.

2020 will probably go down as the most challenging year we have faced as a community, state, nation, and planet as a whole. As significant as Nov. 3rd may be in the reckoning of our future, rest assured that if you maintain a semblance of sanity with regard to any or all of the present harrowing issues, you will be of a cherished minority. 

The Rock pendant showcased below is a simple design that is intended to symbolize the "Journey within"... which is one that I hope we all take as we reflect on some of the more valuable things that have come to reveal themselves to us this year.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Back to the Future

    I went to see "Back to the Future" starring Michael J. Fox a short time ago. Yes, I know what you are thinking... wait a minute, that flick was popular years ago. Well, it came back, and I saw it at Calistoga's first drive-in, at the Old Faithful Geyser on Tubbs Lane ( everyone stayed in their car, and observed social distancing and face masking ). 

    The movie was as predictable as it was over thirty years ago and figured that I must be too. Everything was okay until the battery in my car died. I called AAA and they said that they would come by after the movie and give me a jump. I wanted a new battery. No dice. No new batteries after 6pm. Whaaat? 

    Now without a functional battery, I could not follow the dialog with my car radio using the designated AM radio station. A movie usher came by and lent me a transistor radio to follow what was happening on the screen. Ah, such a useful technology then, and now one that harkens me back to a simpler time.

 The movie ended and having to pee like a racehorse, I asked someone where the restrooms were. I was told to walk over near the geyser and I'd find them. Nothing like a geyser going off every hour to inspire your bladder. Anyway, I was by the geyser, but could not locate the bathroom, so I went over by the bamboo trees in the dark. Then, no sooner had I completed the task when a voice boomed out.

    Hey ! the security guard shouted ( I found out later it was the owner of the place ) What are you doing !? I explained that I couldn't find the men's room and that he should be glad that I'm not going #2. Thankfully, he laughed and told me where it was to be found. I had passed them by. A little too late.

    When I came back to the car, a friend had arranged for a jump from a friend of his and so I popped the hood. Voila! another task completed. I called AAA and canceled their service and left the parking lot. I had a new battery installed the next day at Napa Auto Parts in St. Helena. Fully charged and now I'm in my Ford Focus and back to the future.

This week's rock had nothing to do with the previous story.

Friday, October 2, 2020

An exercise in futility?

  I’ve thought in the past that I would “Give away” my painted rocks if I thought that I could sustain myself by doing something of the sort. That idea now seems ludicrous. This has been a wonderful creative pursuit for me. I have been devoting myself to this craft for almost eleven years ( check and review the start of my blogposts below to the right ) and it has taken me beyond anything imagined .The idea of an “Art Career “ was showing some framed pieces in some art gallery in the hopes of finding a patron.

  This narrow vision was always rather conflicted , because it seemed to limit my ability to earn a living. I have had to give up plenty in terms of time and money in order to actually ENJOY a truly creative pursuit. Now, anyone with a sense of adventure can jump into an activity that is currently “All the rage” by grabbing a few supplies and getting started.

 I will never look back again with any sense of regret. Neither should you if you enjoy what you do. Life is too short to not express your idea of beauty

 Rock painting has been a gift whether these get sold or not. I will always be grateful to give them to people who will treasure them as an heirloom. This is my prerogative. I don’t put pearls before swine, thank you.

  Now with the world of 2020 in such a state of chaos, It is a godsend to find more time inside our personal space to do something we love.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Inspired Images

    People sometimes ask me where I get my inspiration. If I could pinpoint one time I would bottle it and sell it. Inspiration is like "The Zone" either you are in it or not, no in-between. Much like a basketball player who isn't thinking about the next move... it is certainly NOT about THINKING what the next move is going to be. The results are evidence enough in providing validation of what has been accomplished

    Many times, when I see a painting or drawing that doesn't quite reveal what was intended, there is a tendency to go back over it. Knowing when to stop is challenging. Finding pieces ( rocks, for instance ) which are half-done, often get scraped and started over. Blank canvases can be intimidating for this reason. Visualizing begins in the artist's mind and will get re-imagined on the surface. The best work can be when it gets made up as I go along. Lastly, a finished piece can appear outdated or tiresome if kept around.

    My sister, who is my mentor, one time admonished me to not hold on to those precious pieces for that very reason. Artists must move on and grow, or die on the vine so to speak. Below is an image of a white egret, which was drawn from a photo taken by known Marin county photographer Bob Kranzke who is the rightful owner in capturing this piece. Click on the picture to zoom in...

Friday, September 11, 2020

Fire in the heart

 So much is happening in our world. Fires, Smoke, Pandemics, Injustice. It is unlike anything that has happened before, and no one has any definitive answers as to why. Global warming? Carbon dioxide affecting the Ozone layer? Infected bats in the Chinese market? Systemic Racism? Fraudulent leadership? The proliferation of gun violence? Civil disobedience? Infiltrated elections? What's left? or more accurately... What's next? Okay, this blog has gotten off on the wrong foot. I'm trying to inspire hope here. So now I am spending the majority of my days inside creating some beautiful drawings. I will show you more as they become available, but for is a teaser.

This one is called "Diablo Wind"

Friday, September 4, 2020

...and the heat goes on

    If you thought that August couldn’t get any hotter welcome to record-breaking September. Thankfully most of the fires are contained but with all this “Sweltering in place “ my collection of raw rocks has been exhausted, and I have nothing left to paint, but plenty of back stock to sell. 

    So, if you are interested in purchasing one or more of these from what can be called, "The Fire Sale" just call or email me. If you don't have my number, leave me an email message in the guest book link to the right and I will be sure to get back to you.

    I have no doubt that what’s been produced lately are my best ever. The little video here shows one that has an invisible swirl that shows up nicely under a black light ( even though the video makes it look like it is swimming in purple. ) Fluorescent effects and activated glitter make this talisman a real “Bobby Dazzler” as an Aussie might say. Today I am going to try to get to the beach where I collect my rocks, so keep your fingers crossed that it is open. If it is not, I can always go by the Landscaping yard on my way back from my go to places.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Orange Sunsets and Still Smokey Days

     The fires from the lightning strikes last week have left their wreckage up and down the state of California. It is very heart-breaking to hear of people losing their homes, pets, cars, etc. I also think about those wild animals who also need homes, who don't have a clue where they will end up next. 

    Last night, on the rooftop of my apartment ( which has a flat roof by the way ) I could see the Klieg lights from the fairgrounds where all the firefighters are stationed. There are firefighters from as far away as New Mexico and Arizona. Large jumbo jets have flown over our area during the day dropping large loads of fire retardant over the still progressing fires and embers that have spread over the ridges in Pope Valley, right over the hill from where I live in Calistoga. Just when you think it's over, a news report of another fire and lightning storm has come upon us.

    The smoke has been bad here, but not as bad as other places like Fairfield and Solano county. Now, wearing a face mask has a dual purpose. Covid19 is not the only thing that is keeping us indoors, or on the verge of evacuation. I will continue to pray for the safety of all concerned. The latest is about Hurricanes on the Southeast coast of the United States. Again, what is mother nature trying to tell us ? or... have we just gone beyond the point of no return? I certainly hope not. The pictures below feature some of the views from my roof and of course, the rock of the week. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Hot August Days and Nights

The above photo was taken on Thursday 8/20/2020 from the rooftop of my apartment next to the Golden Haven Spa

No thanks to Neil Diamond, but that album always makes me think of the sweltering heat and the tragic, as well as the glorious days of summer. This week has been no exception.

 The fires have been an ongoing theme these past few years, whether being started by lightning or downed powerlines, dry vegetation is all around us just waiting to be ignited. Today, well over a third of the state is under the shadow of a mandatory evacuation because of this ominous trend. 

 Up and down the State of California, a very much-limited staff of dedicated firefighters are working tirelessly to contain a monstrous destructive power seeking to destroy communities throughout. Speaking of power, our own grid is hanging on by a thread.

Wearing masks to protect us now serves a dual purpose ( i.e. preventing smoke inhalation and deadly viruses ). Everyone I know seems to be making the most of a dire circumstance though. Some have taken to reading, writing, art, music, cooking, calling friends et al. These activities are vital to our peace of mind, both spiritually and psychologically. They are not meant to be distractions. Nuff said.

I realize that you are humoring me by reading this far, but hey... am I really all that boring? Now back to my present interest...

Rock Painting!   ( Below is a scene of a place I'd rather be )

Friday, August 14, 2020

Hot August Days and Nights

     The weather outside is frightfully hot and there is an eery silence throughout the hood. I'm playing Stevan Pasero's delightful guitar melodies as a background to this writing and as a gift to all the diverse music appreciators in the neighborhood. All of sudden R.L. Burnside is chiming in with his blues harmonica on a separate selection. Quite eclectic wouldn't you say? Next up are the Stones, "Memo to Turner" which was featured in one of the movies few movies that Mick Jagger took a leading role ( hmmm...was their one that wasn't? ) Much like Jack Nicholson, their persona at times will overpower the character they are playing. 

    Where was I going will this? Anyway, the heat is sweltering and the nylon tiger shirt I'm wearing is already beginning to dampen with sweat. Time to turn on the fan. Air conditioning is not an affordable luxury for this one. A swamp cooler was purchased last summer for the customers who came to visit the vendor's booth at the Farmer's Market. Unfortunately, it is massively large and a pain to drag and hook up, no matter how pleasing that may be. The damn thing is totally functional even if I did want to return it after it first arrived. It came as a recommendation from someone whose opinion I respected until he insisted it would be the best fit for the 5x5' walk-in canopy. Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20 

    This behemoth now sits with it's back to a bedroom window, proudly hoisted on top of a barstool and plank board for height adjustment ( see below ). Now I sleep with my head at the foot of my bed to facilitate the position of the swamp cooler. Ahhhh... summer breezes throughout the night!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Perhaps a nibble of relevance

Today is the day after the first week in August and the days are running together like nothing I've ever witnessed. My gosh, wasn't it just St. Patrick's Day? The acceleration of time when the world was analog gave everyone a moment to digest their experience. Now, this sense of time urgency has propelled us forward at warp speed. Yet, this is 2020 and we are all walking around on a fragile planet, where a virus has everyone in check.

This all is leading up to some observations I've had looking back. Having grown up in San Francisco was like being at the center of a vortex. In 1959 when I arrived, there were the beatniks from North Beach. My teen years were spent during the sixties, which was the advent of the hippies. The seventies were the disco years and the beginning of the gay renaissance. The eighties were the "Me" generation, and all the est grads that came with that evolvement. The nineties ushered in the tech boom which really upset the apple cart. San Francisco became much larger than itself. If you took your vacation in Bali for instance, and someone asked where you were from (and your home residence was somewhere in Novato or Redwood city...) you could claim San Francisco with no clue that you were exploiting or modifying the authenticity of that statement. Hey, the Warriors and Forty-Niners can always be considered San Franciscans, despite their physical location or areas of origin. Keeping in mind that San Francisco is no longer a TOWN like it was back then, where you could easily walk from the bay to the breakers in around two and a half hours. Where people could look at one another in the eye as they passed each other on the street. Where you could ask directions and instead of pointing out a certain landmark, the likelihood would be that a person would "Walk you there" because it was easier than explaining it.

Then it became a showcase city and ultimately a spinning wheel, like the turntable at the old Funhouse at ocean beach. People who grew up here would try to hang on to the middle of that vortex of historical relevance, but eventually, spin out to the peninsula, Marin, or Napa ( which, at one point was known more for its state hospital than being a globally recognized wine region ). It's too easy to feel "known" in San Francisco, where looking or acting strange was your calling card. Now it's a designation for avoidance or even worse... disdain. My, how the pendulum of social adulation swings from one extreme to the other. All of this brings me to this idea that we are a network of populist thinkers who all consider themselves unique individuals parading around with a device that earmarks us as members of the status quo. It reminds me of a child star who is destined to lose their innocence before the age of five.

When I was ten, The movie "The Time Machine" with Rod Taylor came out. One part of the movie really sunk in. It was when, in the future, this peaceful community of people gathered by a river enjoying what looked to be a casual picnic holiday which was suddenly interrupted by what looked to them like a minor annoyance. Someone fell in the river and began to scream for help as she was drowning. These people on the grass nearby did nothing and blissfully ignored her cries. I remember asking myself, is this what the future will eventually become? The scene was not just frightening to me... It was terrifying. No one even paid attention to her! It looked like the ULTIMATE DISTRACTION was taking place, and no one was going to act upon it or even entertain a modicum of responsibility.

This is the fear I have about the Smartphone. It not only connects us anywhere at any time but disconnects us just as instantly as we are continually re-prioritizing the importance of each audio/visual element destined to bombard our conscious minds. I hate that I can multitask, and feel like so much is being accomplished. Truthfully though, the attention I purport to give you is not nearly as relevant as the time I am spending staring at a screen.

Below is a shot that I've wanted to share for a while now. This is Ray. He is an exclusive patron of the arts. Here he is relaxing as he is waiting for his dad to pack up the canopy so he can head home.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Staying in Place

Every day seems like every day before, except for a few little surprises. Inspiration comes in spurts. Starting one project and then before long a distraction will bring my attention to another that begs for completion. That's it. Completion seems to be the goal. Then what? You guessed it. Another project! Be it chopping vegetables, feeding bluejays, watering tomatoes, printing out stickers, or even painting a rock! ( such a novel idea, right? )

It can be said that we create from nothing. That statement is only partially true. We create when we are motivated and driven by a desire, of one form or another. Others find a muse to follow, which is usually a person or entity that can inspire, even motivate one to create. Muses can appear even while perusing a recent post on FaceBook for instance. Pretend that wasn't mentioned here.

Since it has become mandatory to protect oneself by becoming a practicing homebody, a lot of people have taken up hobbies, or have returned to a discipline that they have not made time for on a previous occasion. Playing music, cooking, reading or even watching a sunset becomes a way of suspending the urgency of time

Interesting concept, time. When we say we are busy, what exactly does that imply? Are we not making time for those periods which are essential to our livelihood? In all likelihood, it is the socially acceptable way of saying that we don't want to devote time to something that does not have relevance or priority. It is a wonder what that priority has become. These are things that occupy my mind... even as I write this.

Below is an updated version of the last picture I posted. This one has been modified. After returning from the printer, the 18"X24" print has become a template for a fluorescent upgrade. Soon to be a classic.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Poster Project

About this new direction... Posters are something I've attempted in the past to mixed reviews. As much as they are enjoyable to create, the size and expense have been a bit prohibitive. More than a year ago, a show of posters and specialty rocks was featured at the St. Helena Library. The work was varied and showcased some 3-D posters that were viewed under a UV light in a separate room. The overhead lights were out and the public could use special Chromadepth™ 3-D glasses to get a better viewing of the work. Without a doubt, the effect worked but logistically was a bit complicated. This has only spurred me on to produce more posters. Below is the latest attempt using an image editing program similar to Adobe Photoshop™.The program called Xfinity™ is not subscription-based, nor as expensive as the aforementioned. The Rocks were scanned and edited, digital photography of floral and butterflies were added to a highly textured and colorized background. The final printout will also be modified using fluorescent gel pens and interference acrylic.

Click on image for a larger view

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


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.

Monday, March 9, 2020

This Month's Rock of the Month

Okay, now we have a "Glider Rock toy". By the way, I have switched the title of the blog from "The Rock of the Week" to "The Rock of the Month". This is not because there are no updates, either. Rocks get painted every week and some are more worthy to be showcased than others. This is a journey, not a destination. It is important to bring rocks that have a new style to the fore in a timely fashion. Rock Art can be hit or miss proposition (no pun intended). Some rocks are painted with fresh new color, texture, coating or adornment. Some of these rocks can even unveil a specific function. Other than using one as a paperweight, they can be fashioned into a spinning top, a massage tool, a refrigerator magnet, a keychain or even a bottle stopper

A craftsperson wants to explore the methods and materials used to create a unique piece. Such is the argument for a "Rock of the Month" as opposed to a weekly one.

A flat rock with four glass beads adhered to the bottom will, perhaps, make for a new gift possibility. These glass beads with holographic stickers glued to the back can have a rainbow effect when seen magnified from the top. This simple addition makes the item visually pleasing and the rock is now a glider that can be slid across a marble top counter or a linoleum floor. If the front side of the rock is left unpainted and is large enough, it can be used as a trivet for hot pans to be supported. The "Spinner rock toy" mentioned in past blogs is now joined with a "Glider Rock Toy" to keep almost any curious kid entertained.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

This Week's Rock of the Week

I enjoyed putting this rock together. It's an image of two small birds that my sister Tara ( my mentor ) painted years ago. The subtlety and use of colors are visually pleasing, and I like how the three flowers complement how this scene is composed. I found that the rock I placed this sticker on, had to be flat so that I could work around it without too much trouble. Pulling out all the stops, liquid crackle, Stickler™ sparkle and interference acrylic were added to enhance it's brilliance.

Friday, February 21, 2020

This Week's Rock of the Week

Okay, so I did not say which week would be the rock of the week, nor did I say which rock ( this has given me an "out" that I hope will explain the lapses in my postings). It has to be said that in the past I have not repeated my designs. This is not true. There are a handful of images that I find sell well at the farmer's market. Namely, dragonflies, the yin-yan symbol, a wolf howling at the moon, and the treble clef. Other than these, I try to have a stable of one-of-a-kind rocks. It is said that your rock will choose you if you are meant to have one of these. I still hold this to be true. It is certainly that way when I am on the beach collecting them. Below is this week's rock which is definitely one of a kind. Will it be repeated? I doubt it.

Friday, February 7, 2020

This Week's Rock of the Week

Okay, so as you can see, I haven't posted for a while. I've been busy with friends, paying bills, going to the doctor, etc. etc. and of course... painting new rocks! This week is a commissioned piece that I did for a friend who has a friend who has a dog. She sent me a picture via email as a .jpg which I can easily modify in my image editing program Affinity™. Then I have to find a rock which is flat enough and large enough to accommodate the image. The image editing software can adjust the resolution, physical size, and integrity of the picture.

Now, it's time for the output. The Epson printer I use is an inkjet that produces lovely pictures on glossy/sticky-back photo paper. The image is then cut to size and fit onto the rock. After peeling the image from its backing, a stronger glue is added to adhere it to the flat side of the painted black rock. Some would call this decoupage.

Now the rock is ready for a clear coat of Triple Thick™ a high gloss finish which is quite viscous upon application. It is better to use one's finger to move the coat around one side of the rock, rather than using a brush. The streaks left will slowly even out, much like water finding its own level. Leaning the rock upright against a board is the best drying method. Ten minutes later, I do the same process on the opposite side of the rock.

Now the rock is ready for the glow/glitter adornment surrounding the picture. I add dots of Tulip™ brand glow paint, and like the E600™ glue used, are a skill that will get better over time. These liquid mediums are quite viscous, and one has to be careful about the blobs, nozzle blockage, smears and misalignment that can occur. This is the most difficult part of rock decorating. Keeping the nozzle of the squeeze bottle clear with a paper clip is essential. Having lots of Q-tips around is another necessary tool. Gingerly squeezing out just the right amount of paint/glue/glitter can be challenging. A whole assortment of accidents can occur which will certainly test one's patience. Lastly, making sure that the dots are the right size and evenly spaced is another practice to refine.

Lastly, I will use an Exacto™ knife to pull the dots out to a point. This method is better than trying to do the same thing with a thin brush. Just because.

Monday, January 20, 2020

The Balance of Nature

Admittedly, I have taken the rocks I've painted from a certain beach along the northern California coastline. I've even stacked rocks (built small desk-size cairns) occasionally, but only in my studio. Every time I have visited the beach, a large expanse of rocks have disappeared and a great number of rocks have reappeared as the variety of tides has brought them closer and further away from the beach and near the trees close by. This has been the case over the past ten years I've visited this place. The seasons have also disrupted the flora and fauna as wind, rain, sun, and surf have had their way with the flourishment of living creatures throughout its ecosystem, of which I too am a part of; however infrequently.

Personally, I don't subscribe to the notion that I've intentionally or unintentionally upset the balance of nature by the action of selecting a few rocks to be used as canvases for the creations that emerge after adding paint to them. Everything that is not physical, is spiritual. I say that, not be glib but because space and time can be limitless (and limited) simultaneously. These are just thoughts that occur to me as I let the rocks dictate the direction and thought process that goes into painting each one.

The following is an article which brought me to some careful consideration about a variety of subjects about the disruption of the ecosystem.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Where do we go from here?

It is already the 10th of January and thankfully, no resolutions have been broken. This is mainly because the only resolution was to not make any! Now setting intentions is quite another matter. My hope is that our best intentions don't lead us down a dangerous path. Whether it is our intent to do good or to not, let it be for the highest good for all concerned. The chips will fall where they will.

The rocks below are reminiscent of the kind I've done in the past, but these follow a different geometric pattern. May 2020 be the year that we all go forth and prosper.