Important Update...

Visit: Your Spirit Rocks! on Facebook . Our vendors booth is appearing periodically at our local Farmer's Market(s) due to Covid19

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Falling Forward

 So, rather than Falling Back, let's Spring Forward since it is almost Fall. My oh my, what day is it, anyway? The summer heat hasn't waned yet, and probably won't until November. However, the sky is sorta blue today, so everything is apparently okay, right?  The boogie is still in a mess as my friend Eric used to say, so there are still lifeboats available on the Titanic. Keeping a positive attitude will always render good results. This will always happen in God's time, not ours. Yesterday, I received an email from a deacon at the church I attend that reads: 

A while back I read a story of a visiting pastor who attended a men's breakfast in the middle of a rural farming area of the country.  The group had asked an older farmer, decked out in bib overalls, to say grace for the morning breakfast.

 

"Lord, I hate buttermilk", the farmer began. The visiting pastor opened one eye to glance at the farmer and wonder where this was going.  The farmer loudly proclaimed, "Lord, I hate lard.  " Now the pastor was growing concerned.  Without missing a beat, the farmer continued, "And Lord, you know I don't much care for raw white flour".  The pastor once again opened an eye to glance around the room and saw that he wasn't the only one to feel uncomfortable.  Then the farmer added, "But Lord when you mix them all together and bake them, I do love warm fresh biscuits.  So Lord, when things come up that we don't like, when life gets hard when we don't understand what you're saying to us, help us to just relax and wait until you are done mixing.  It will probably be even better than biscuits Amen."

 

Within that prayer, there is great wisdom for all when it comes to complicated situations like we are experiencing in the world today.  Stay strong, my friends, because our LORD is mixing several things that we don't really care for, but something even better is going to come when HE is done with it. AMEN!


It's easy to default to catastrophe, but it is best to remember that "panic is the nature of the beast".It is always best to pause and breathe before reacting in a way that we may regret.


Your Spirit Rocks™ supports your well-being and good nature by reminding you that:


The light within is producing perfect results in every phase of my life now.


Everything I need is now coming to me easily and effortlessly.


This or something better is now manifesting for me in my life in totally satisfying and harmonious ways for the highest good of all concerned.


So be it, so it is.



Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Applying puff paint

 This is about what is necessary to indulge in rock painting using what is called puff paint. First of all, it can be said that "Painting" with puff paint ( Tulip Glow™, Slick™ Scribbles™, or Glominex™) is more like trying to control the flow and application of products like Elmer's™ glue. It will dry quickly and smear easily. Naturally, when squeezing the product through a nozzle, one must take into consideration that the nozzle will clog and has to be cleared constantly. This is done by using either a paper clip, plastic toothpick, or sewing needle.

The next thing to consider is how to hold and squeeze the container. Squeeze bottles, no matter how large or small must be treated gingerly. Press with the thumb and forefinger like you were gently pinching a cotton ball. If the paint blobs out onto your rock, you may have squeezed it too hard. If it spits out a small blob, you may have hit an air bubble. ALWAYS tap the bottle upside down on a hard surface before starting the process.

Now if you accidentally bump your hand or anything else against the paint, use a q-tip to remove the excess paint you left on the rock by "slowly rolling the tip" over the area you want to remove. This will make it easier to reapply the dot or line you want to put down. Admittedly, the lower the amount of paint left in the bottle will dictate the effectiveness of even your best skills at applying lines and dots to your finished piece. Remember to always keep the nozzle clean with a needle, and keep the paint tamped down towards the opening of the bottle. The final product ( your rock ) will look so cool with texture, color, and glow-in-the-dark features. Good luck and stay with it!




Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Solitute

 It's one thing being alone. It's quite another if you are lonely and feeling isolated. Truthfully, falling into either can cultivate more feelings than mere loneliness. Self-pity, bitterness, resentment, mistrust, paranoia are just some of the boogeymen that can tackle us from behind. Solitude, on the other hand, proposes that we are at one with ourselves. Solid. It can also imply that it is possible that we can be good company to ourselves.

Working alone with the goal of furthering my artistic ability is a way that I foster something that contributes to my integrity. Good music, a warm beverage, the occasional meal, are ways to nurture oneself both creatively and developmentally. This is how I go through my day. If an appointment is on the horizon, things get reprioritized. This is as it should be. Having flexibility has been a lesson in maturity. Feeding one's imagination and desire sometimes will require a break from the ordinary. Calling a friend, going to a museum, or on a hike is an absolute necessity when maintaining positive mental health. This is my hope for everyone as we move through these difficult times of change.

Below is this week's "Rock of the Week".



Thursday, July 22, 2021

A lucky find

 This shell was found on the beach where I go to collect rocks to paint. It is quite unique and regrettable that a picture wasn't taken before it was made into its new jewelry piece. The shape was intriguing, so I made it resemble an ice cream cone with vanilla and strawberry topping. My next-door neighbor runs an ice cream parlor in town so it became a key chain that was hoped to be the ideal business gift. Perhaps more shells with similar shapes will be found in the future but for now, the cone became the perfect symbol to work with. 







Wednesday, July 7, 2021

When the old becomes new again

 My friend and patron, Senne brought me a rock I had painted years ago. It was an early design that I had proclaimed would not be repeated ( right ). In fact, it was the beginning of a particular way of working that I was not yet aware of upon starting out. Needless to say, things have evolved since then. It is known that I use metallic acrylic and no spraying was applied to achieve the gradient from orange to green and then to blue. I use a higher grade of Phosphorescent paint that gives a superior glow-in-the-dark effect. My final coat is done with resin, which gives it a nice glossy finish and protects it from the elements, and from grimy hands that tend to dull the brilliance of a newly painted rock. In any event, the refurbished rock looks a whole lot better than the original. Naturally, it's been chosen to be "The Rock of the Week".

Front 
Back 


Thursday, June 17, 2021

The Rock of the Week

 It's back! It has been a while since we've presented the "Rock of the Week". Now it was time to re-introduce this feature to the blog again. Most who have visited this site are regular customers of mine. They have purchased rocks or have met me just to talk. I am always inspired by the creativity and tips that are shared with other artists, students, parents, and teachers. Initially, the painted rocks were meant to be meditation objects. They have evolved into much more, given that are only just rocks.

 The stones that are displayed on my table are flat, smooth, round. The rocks used are mostly Sandstone or Mexican pebbles. Granted, almost all of them are painted with a base coat of Gesso and then second-coated with metallic acrylic and lastly with a border of dotted puff paint. A final clear coat of resin gives the rock a beautiful shine and protects it from other elements like water, sun, scratches, and breaking. It is understood that this can be a time-consuming endeavor, but well worth the attempt.

Sometimes I like to incorporate decoupage, a technique that involves adhering pictures to the rock. Other techniques involve such components as glitter, nail polish, glow paint, alcohol ink, invisible ink, fiber texture, and other flourishes. Perhaps you can think of some material or method that will make these talismans more attractive and useful. Below is another recent creation...




Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Addicted to Painting Rocks

Yes, this is a good habit... but it's an addiction nonetheless. Will I continue with this activity? It looks that way. Since sheltering in place due to the epidemic, Creativity has really been on the increase. Not only have my painting and drawing skills increased, but an interest in methods and materials has sent me off in otherworldly directions. Speaking of which, a company called "Culture Hustle™" has inspired some explorations using a richer and darker black paint.

The use of these products has been intriguing. Their application has piqued their effectiveness, and now that the virtual wallet has been pulled out, funds are being allocated generously. Black is now the premier pigment for anything that requires deep contrast. Below is the just-completed Owl that will be gracing the display table at this Saturday's market.


This glowing, horned owl has something that looks like a flying saucer over his right shoulder. Actually, it is a moon that follows the curvature of the rock it is painted on, giving it an oblong appearance.



Monday, May 24, 2021

Changes Ahead

 Okay...For the longest time, I've been talking about moving on from painting rocks to some other medium, method, or material. Recently, a text was sent to the manager of the Sebastopol Market with the idea of trying my hand as a quick sketch artist. Perhaps you may have seen one at an amusement park. I have never done this before and am quite nervous about even attempting it. She texted back seeming very enthusiastic about the idea. Her remark was akin to the Nike slogan..." Just do it!" 

Good ideas seem to come in waves, and if one fires me up then that's the one to go after. So, in that vein, another idea came to me. This idea was still within the context of rock painting. It has been relatively easy to mount sticky-back images of celebrities, pets, or loved ones onto a flat rock. Then after encircling the image with gold or glow dots, the rock gets sealed in resin. They come out looking something like this one below.

Who would like something like this to memorialize a pet or friend that has passed on. However, this would mean that the picture would have to fit on a particular rock. No problem. Except that I am stuck in the ennui of collecting, painting, and selling rocks. This has been going on for over ten years!

The last idea two ideas that have floated my boat have been making mobiles, chimes, or producing small framed pictures. Settling on a singular idea is challenging to say the least. I will be attempting one of these ideas in the very near future. Stay tuned as these ideas either catch fire or sizzle out.


Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Rocks at Russian Gulch

 Many people know where to go to get the rocks used to create "Your Spirit Rocks!™". For most of the more studied rocks (i.e. the ones that are larger, perfectly round, and symmetrical) it's just as easy to go to Landscaping yards to find ones that will work best.

  • The rock to the left is an example of that. You usually have to scout around to find a proprietor who will allow you to rummage about the rock bins trying to find one that will work well for your project. They may charge you a couple of dollars depending on how many and how much your purchase weighs. It usually isn't too much for a bag full.
The one here on the right is a finished product that was ready for Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, these larger rocks aren't always what people will purchase for their gardens along with their vegetables at the local Farmer's Market. However, from time to time it turns out to be the exact item someone is looking for to fit a certain spot in their garden.


On the other hand, going to the ocean not only to find rocks but for respite and peace of mind will always be rejuvenating (especially in these times). Watching the waves come in, the seagulls fly about, and the shoreline moving closer and then retreating accordingly to a predictable schedule of tides should not be missed by anyone feeling the so-called "Cabin fever" of staying indoors. Finding the time to take in the beauty of this sanctuary is very important. It feeds the soul. Waves crashing against the rocks will wash away the ennui of everyday living.


The kind of rocks found at the Russian Gulch Beach vary in size and shape. For the most part, they are oval-shaped. Some are longer and thicker than others, some are grainer (if they are sandstone) and will have dimples or slight imperfections. After a while, your eye will be trained to find the ones most suitable for your purposes.

Occasionally, an odd one will appear and make you wonder where on earth did this one find its way onto the beach, and how did it get all those markings? How many centuries old is it? Did it move from a deep place under the ocean's floor? How many tumblings did it take to become as round as it is? These ponderings continue to present a mystery for our inquiring minds.
The many shapes of shells, seaweed, wood, and other items will appear and disappear in every season and during every visit.
















Monday, April 26, 2021

Black 3.0

 Exploring new mediums is one way I stay inspired. Black 3.0 (made by Culture Hustle™ ) is supposed to be the blackest paint on the planet. It's pretty black as the picture below will reveal. It's not cheap either. Compared to other acrylic paints, this is the most expensive paint applied to any special rock project. Another paint purchased was called "Mirror" which is supposed to render a chrome-like finish on whatever smooth surface it adheres to. It is a step-by-step process and if a step is left out, you can rest assured that you won't get the results to be expected. 

Stacked Black Rocks

Like the Black 3.0 paint, the mirror paint was also expensive. The only thing that can be said about buying art supplies, is that they do motivate one to further their creative skills by applying different methods and materials. Nail foils on rocks are another challenge that was explored. So far, none of these mediums have produced any of the results expected. That being said, to return to the tried and true metallic acrylics are always the best bet.



Chromed Mirror Rocks





Friday, April 9, 2021

Materials used in the process

 I suppose I should stop telling people that I post a "Rock of the Week" since I always seem to be lax in putting one up. At least a picture of some sort will accompany this blog. 

    Today, a new type of black paint arrived at my door. It's called "Black 3.0" promising to be the blackest black in the world. Naturally, I wanted to give it a whirl. So far, some test rocks have been painted and they look pretty doggone black.

Using either black or white as a base coat will influence whatever color used to showcase the image that will be painted onto the rock. The surface of the rock has vital importance as well. Is it too rough? too absorbent? too many dimples? Is the rock smooth, flat, and large enough size to accommodate the imagery? All these are considerations that have to be made in the process.

    The brushes used, the amount of paint, the careful approach to detail all matter. Some of the mediums used besides just the acrylic will present challenges of their own. Puff Paint, E6000 glue, Resin, Stickler Glitter, Triple Thick, and Krylon Clear Coat are only a few of the materials used to produce the desired results. At last, the final piece can be a sight to behold. No one can tell me I have better things to do during the Covid crisis.




 

Monday, March 29, 2021

To be inspired

 My friend Tom has many collaborative ideas that he is encouraging me to follow. I like some of them and we talk about what will not only inspire him but both of us. Lately, my inspiration has been waning. Sales have been so so, and if nothing fuels my fire it is likely that I will be putting rock painting on the back burner so to speak. I'm all about selling, marketing, and creating new products. So far, I have sold over a million rocks since I began doing this "Hobby" ten years ago. You read that right...over a million rocks.

People like Tom mean well, but unless they are willing to lift a finger regarding their own helpful suggestions it can be annoying. He is also looking to be inspired to create something new. We bat it back and forth, and if the idea has merit, we pick at it until it is time to go to work on it.

I can't rag on Tom too much though, because this is mostly my stuff. Besides, the guy is eighty-seven and has that many years of project experience as I do. He readily admits that I render my work much better than he does. That being said, I can't wait to see what he creates. We were talking about a handmade "Rock" made using clay with a flat surface like a mini canvas. I like the idea as we discussed the size, material, and properties thereof. 

My hope is that Tom won't get discouraged and lose interest because he is prone to do that. 

Anyway, the rock below has nothing to do with the aforementioned, but I like to keep my fans happy




Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Rocks of the week...Rockshrooms !

 This particular idea came to me after a fellow vendor supplied me with a bag full of corks that he thought that I may be able use for a craft project. I know that corks have been used to make bulletin boards, trivets, corny figures dressed up in felt, etc. I found that placing a small flat rock on top of the cork inspired me to put together a little amanita mushroom. The look caught on and I have since painted and sold a bunch of them. Naturally, the dots on top of the "Rockshroom" glow in the dark.

A month ago, another vendor who sells mushroom jerky and medicinal mushroom tea traded me a couple of these Rockshrooms™ for a bag of his jerky ( which is delicious by the way ). His girlfriend Carly liked them so much that she made a little terrarium and created a sweet little gnome environment. If I can get her to send the pics on to me, I will be sure to post them. Below is a pic I took which shows you what they look like.






Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Variety is the Spice

 Between cooking for myself and creating new things to sell, my muse is back pushing me forward again. Going through the regular peaks and valleys of the sober life is still challenging, yet adventuresome. Currently, the gift rock business inventory needs a little help so the days have been going by quickly as preparation for the work, addressing my other commitments, and generally, multitasking is what has kept this mojo working. Making coffee drinks, chopping vegetables, mixing sauces, and trying some off-the-wall flavor combinations have kept it all very intriguing.

The mixture of Chipoltle sauce and peanut butter seems like an odd combination, yet it is really yum. Butter in general though has been too much of a go-to item that my stomach is beginning to pay a price. Other creative endeavors have included scallop shell night lights, mushroom rocks, spinner rocks, and the latest... a cupcake candy land UV lamp! Who says that food and rock creations don't go together ?!

Target had a sale on these small desk lamps, so naturally, I purchased two to feed my decorative curiosity. The pictures below show what one looks like both on and in the dark.








Monday, February 22, 2021

The Search for Serenity

 My hikes with Sam (not his real name) have been educational. Sam is a NEW friend who I have known for a long time. This means that I've seen the guy around for about thirty years and am just now getting to know him a little better. We have made it a point to go for a walk on Wednesday mornings around eleven. He is pretty close to my age ( now in our 70's ) and will only go as far as is comfortable. The last time we met we walked over five miles. It was surprising that we covered that distance. Recounting mutual tales from the past has provided us with many stories to fill the time. It has been refreshing to talk and listen without that annoying sense of time urgency that has been the hallmark of this modern age.

Sam grew up in San Francisco and relocated to the Napa Valley like me. We have both appreciated the good fortune of living in such lush cultural environments as are both places. We spoke of meditation and other topics that support an inward journey. It seems that the older we get, the less certain of what is happening in the world around us. More importantly, the necessity of finding solace in activities that require focus, reflection, and an appreciation of beauty that surrounds us.

 Initially, the usual topics came up... Covid, Racism, Climate Control, Fires, Floods, Freezing temperatures, and the like, and of course Trump. It seems we cannot get enough of what we never really wanted in the first place! (Where have we heard that before ?) In an era of seeming transparency, people have become overly concerned and more mortally guarded than (seemingly) ever before.

I am so grateful that I grew up in a much more innocent time. Our freedom will probably never be matched like what we both had experienced in the sixties. Perhaps what has stood out is how blessed we were to experience an idealized form of Eden. Even if it eventually devolved into chaos.

Below is a picture that was taken on our hike. The rock below the first picture is one that sits on my window sill atop a brass holder that resembles seaweed. It was taken early in the morning, showing the glow that has been the distinguishing feature of all the rocks that I paint.






Monday, February 15, 2021

Astonishing output

 Today is the day after Valentine's Day and I am happy to say that I did receive a nice valentine from a close friend. Even though it was misty and overcast at the Sebastopol Farmer's Market, it was still a pleasant day, and getting out of bed in the morning wasn't half as bad as I thought it would be. The week before was quite fruitful, so it was thought best to return...despite any forecast to the contrary.

Quite a while ago, a video was made of a wizard-like creature that was painted with both fluorescent and phosphorescent paint. It was painted on a small canvas purchased at the Dollar store. Then it was made into a video shot on the IPhone™ The video featured different lighting effects made using a small UV flashlight. Even a strobe effect was featured that really made the various views exciting.

The final step was to make a Lifeprint™ Hyperphoto that would activate the small printout when held up to my iPhone. The "Hyperphoto" triggers a link that will animate the still printout of the image. What can I say? what was produced still blows my mind. Watch the video below








Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A Calm before the Storm

 It is Tuesday afternoon, January 26th, 2021 at 1:12pm Here is the situation as it stands now. We are currently in a holding pattern as we have been alerted that Flash Floods may be occurring this evening, which gives us yet one more reason to shelter in place. The sun was out this morning, so I rode my bike to Ace Hardware™ to purchase some bungee cords to "Batten down the Hatches" so to speak. Last week we had a terrific wind storm that blew the tarp off of my sun deck. I am hoping that the same thing does not occur again tonight. Sometimes I think that all we need in an emergency are duct tape, bungee cords, tarps, and a staple gun. Hey, that's not a bad start. This morning, it seemed that the whole neighborhood was doing something in preparation for this big event ( ...like we haven't had enough big events as of late? ) Besides dumping the Trumpmeister, we have had major fires, rampant racial injustice, insurrection, viruses, climate catastrophes throughout the world, and so it goes.

Yesterday, I got a shot to protect myself from getting a virus. No, not Covid 19, but Shingles. I had a horrible bout with this nasty condition last year. Waiting until January to have this done was a good idea. My new insurance policy which now covers these shots with a co-pay, cost me 40. as opposed to 165. which is what they would've cost me had I not switched. However, I cannot get a Covid 19 shot until after two weeks have passed. No biggie... ain't going nowhere except to Grocery Outlet to stock up on food.

Sleep patterns have not been consistent. I purchased an app for my iPhone called, "Synctuition". It's pretty good. Initially, I was convinced that it was a Russian brain-washing program designed to overwrite my core beliefs but have come to trust the 3D sound effects and the binaural beats that are designed to lull my mind into a perfect Gamma or Theta state. It also uses affirmations to reprogram the usual cynical frame of mind I resort to when getting too lonely, tired, angry, or most especially hungry ( or at times... horny ). 

When things get stale around here, I break out the paints and put on some good music to breathe life into this one-bedroom apartment. Limiting the coffee intake has served to keep things stable for the most part. Exercise is what challenges the schedule lately. Riding the ten-speed around the perimeter of town has sufficed for now. I do miss the hikes to Coyote Peak at Bothe State Park though. I was told by ranger Jessica that the trails should be partially back open in the Spring ( trusting that there will not be much erosion resulting from the Glass fire last Fall ). 

We cannot expect any sort of "New Normal" type stability to ramp up on such short notice these first few weeks of January. Time takes time.

That being said ...it's time for a nap.

This Week's Rock is a double-sided bedside piece designed to bring about restful serenity. Four views, same rock under different lighting ( blacklight, no light, and normal light )






Saturday, January 9, 2021

Old Hat?

Some years ago, at the height of the Movie Ratatouille's popularity, I produced something that I thought would be of value to both the Pixar and the Disney team. After much angst and preparation, I was able to secure an appointment with a marketing director at Disney, and drove to LA to meet them. To do this, was to show them this thing I had created which I thought would be a fabulous gift for anyone who enjoyed the overall theme of the movie.

 At the time, the movie had already peaked, and since the Remy™ character wasn’t going to be "evergreen," more promotional ventures wouldn’t be viable. ( as it was explained, characters like Mickey Mouse™ and Donald Duck™  were iconic, and therefore long-lasting )

    When the film came out in 2007, I had been working at the Culinary Institute of America as a Concierge. Students there are required to wear clean, disposable chef’s toques in the kitchen during class time ...not just for identification but for sanitation purposes. When I wasn’t busy assisting tourists who came to visit the school, some time was spent sketching out ideas for fun. That's when I began working on a new chef's hat. Having seen the movie, the very idea of having a rat inside a chef’s toque was amusing. Finally, I figured out a way to imprint the shadow of  Remy™  the hair-pulling rat on the interior of a toque.






Some of the staff at the Culinary Institute encouraged me to build on this idea, which I did to the point of annoyance.
   
    Finally, when an opportunity to meet Celebrity Chef Thomas Keller became available I quickly provide him with one of my prototypes in appreciation for his advisory contribution to the movie, and to perhaps endorse this as a potential product. Needless to say, it didn't fly, but at least I got a chance to further my creativity.










Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Grateful

Today I am grateful for the life that has been given me. I’ve done nothing to deserve such a gift. Thanking God each day for my sobriety has kept me on the right track. It has not been an easy road to be thankful for all the misfortunate experiences over the years. Today has afforded me a different perspective in this regard. 

Seeking Gratitude has been a major key to spiritual renewal. Resenting others (including myself) has sabotaged all types of human relations because of this. Not surrendering the ego and the shame state can render paralysis, and thus making one unavailable for growth. "The degree to which we discount ourselves is the degree to which we can damage others" *. The way out is through, and a way out of this particular state is to become other-oriented by "paying it forward" as my niece has reminded me through her abundant generosity. 

It's baby steps for now, but this simple (and no one said easy) strategy is beginning to allow emotional growth once again.

* Roberta Meyer- "Listen to the Heart" ©1989 Warner Books ISBN 0-446-51432-2 Creating intimate families through the power of unconditional love. 


Creative Communication Experiences (CCE)
Staff with the birthday boy, March 1979


Some of the same happy group in later years