Important Update...

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

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Paintings and Drawings


This slideshow features paintings and drawings that have accumulated over the years that I've always wanted to showcase at some time in the future. The future is now. The mediums I've chosen are anything from Watercolor, Acrylic and Prismacolor™ pencils done mostly on Canson™ paper and other types of paper.

The background music is by Justin Leary in a piece called "New Age".

Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Process of Elimination

 We have all heard the saying about throwing something against a wall to see what sticks, as being a way of deciding something that otherwise may be difficult in the process of making a particular decision. The same has been true in following my own creative instincts. That which sticks has been, and will continue to be, akin to "Taking what you like and leaving the rest". Some will see this as being a bit foolish by not exploring or questioning what has evolved up to that point. More about that later.

    Honing and refining one's skills and choices in the creative process is very important. Happy accidents can and do occur depending upon how much time and energy you may devote to a process ( which in many cases gets abandoned because of an ineffable result ). However, two things may occur in that process. Your skills using a particular tool or medium will advance and/or it may remain a "Work in progress" until you are able to produce something masterful.

    Making something masterful is the result of trial and error. It takes a lot to make a rock look beautiful. Sometimes the process can interfere with the outcome and the rock looks disastrous. Thankfully, that hasn't occurred so much lately. Below is really a state-of-the-art rock, of which I am very proud.

  

The rock on the right its the same rock under a blacklight

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Making Money vs. Making Art

 We all have to make a living. Some do it creatively by cultivating their skills and pursuing their talent. Others follow their calling and will adhere to a legacy passed on by their parents or relatives. The pinnacle of a particular skill can be called artistic and will have value both ascetically and commercially. A true artist is gifted in rendering both, by carefully evaluating their work both personally and collectively. However, putting the cart before the horse in this instance can be a delicate balance of priorities.

    The appreciation of art is all fine and good, but the time, skill, material, and marketing that go into an agreed value are commonly measured in dollars and cents.

    The other thing that an artist (as is commonly known), is the creator of a work of art., not that they have commanded the manipulation of materials or the environment by which something has been created, but that they are the vehicle by which the event of its manifestation has occurred. 

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




Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Enjoying Meta's Occulus Quest

    I recently purchased a Meta Quest 2™ Headset which allows one to experience Virtual Reality. In fact, this blog entry is being typed in a virtual space as it syncs with my computer screen. When I've figured out how to add a screenshot of one of the apps' backgrounds with a current rock creation, it will be posted below. It has been fun and challenging to explore the fantastic art that some of these new apps offer in VR.

     One app downloaded onto the Headset is called "Tripp™" which is a very psychedelic meditation app that invites the viewer to be totally immersed in the scene instead of just being able to view it on a 2D flatscreen. Being able to observe and interact in a 3D environment is where technology is now headed.

    Your Spirit Rocks!™ will attempt to stay up with these innovative experiences and creativity as it emerges. The learning curve for this type of interaction is fairly steep. Especially if you are not a "Gamer" of sorts, as it is presupposed that these were the early adopters of this technology... so please stay tuned.

Getting back to the purpose of this blog which is to showcase the latest creation. Below is this week's " Rock of the Week ". It is a new rendition of the Phoenix, with a screenshot background found on the Tripp™ application.










Wednesday, August 31, 2022

This Week’s “Rock of the Week”

    Okay, I’m back at it, because this is a fun thing to do. I like to tell my rock patrons about this blog so that they can see what I have been up to lately. This blog has been published beginning in 2010 when I first started this “Adventure “. It has been a joyous ride for sure. I still enjoy going to the Farmer’s Markets and meeting new people from across the U.S., and other places worldwide. You may want to scroll back in the blog archive by clicking on a year in the side panel below the links. The first entry tells about how I got started doing this.Feel free to comment on my work or anything else that you may want to submit. And...please check out “Your Spirit Rocks! “ on Facebook (now Meta™) and follow me. I love hearing about your own adventures and pursuits. All the best to you and your families,

Christopher 

P.S. The rock below is simply called “Daisies” but you probably knew that ;-)



Thursday, August 18, 2022

Embellishing with Gold

The latest rock creations are ones that do not really involve the glow factor as such. I've discovered the value of using Gold puff paint on a very black background ( i.e. Black 3.0 ) after which the rock is coated with resin and ends up looking like an ornament from Italy (or Ireland as someone suggested). Below are samples of what is being described.












Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Messing around with Resin

 I know, I know. Resin is toxic and it is advisable not to use this material without wearing latex gloves or wearing a mask. The fumes can be bad news and if the stuff gets on your hands and skin it can be tough to get off. I have used hand sanitizer as the go-to substance for this problem.

 That being said, I find that this is the best clear coat for anything like rocks and shells that you might want to make waterproof and shiny. It also makes the rocks practically indestructible ( which they already are pretty much ). After coating a rock or shell with the one-step UV resin I use by Decor Rom™, its put it under a large black light for around a minute then put it out in the sun for a few hours. Viola! a beautiful finish with a hard, clear coat appears.

   Casting resin is another issue entirely and can be said that unless you are adept at this process, I would take a pass unless you know someone who has worked with this medium and knows exactly what they are doing. 

    As a novice, the work I've produced so far has me glowing with pride. My hope is that this process will work for you too if you are a rock painter starting out. The other option, of course, is to use a product called Triple Thick™ which gives a nice clear coat that dries fast but will not really withstand the elements as well as resin. The other plus is that you can get a project done quickly and it will not yellow over time which can happen with the resin. 

The rock below is an example of something that just happened to come together pretty nicely. This of course is how it looks under UV light. Enjoy!





Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Still trying new stuff

 Gold puff paint has been my latest "Go to" medium of choice, especially on a dark background. It looks sort of regal when illustrating natural backgrounds like bullrushes emerging from a swamp. This provides a suitable setting for frogs, dragonflies, and concentric rings that often occur when dropping a pebble into a pond. These composed scenes remind me of what it is like to get out of town and venture off into different settings and find quiet, peaceful surroundings where surprising little critters abound.

Painting on panels of wood has provided me with a more preferable surface than the small canvases purchased at the dollar store. Although these aren't rocks, a small format invites one to experiment more than a large canvas which can be a bit intimidating. With time being of the essence, it's a bit easier to paint over a rock after some mishap, than sanding and painting over a mistake made on a large canvas. The rock, however, has many more opportunities for display than even a small canvas

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Passing it on

     It has been twelve years since I began selling rocks at craft fairs and farmer's markets. This continues to be wonderful odyssey. Over the years, an appreciation for acrylic paint and the absorbent surface of sandstone in began. Acrylic paint for the most part was unappealing to use for college art projects. The colors appeared flat and lifeless and dried too quickly. Oils, on the other hand, seemed more fluid and forgiving. 

    This has changed as the use of extenders and textures bring about more pleasing results. Metallic acrylic and phosphorescent puff paint have became the medium of choice. Then came interference acrylic. Then came resin and one-step craqule. The rest is history. As much as I enjoy sharing the value of these materials, it is better for budding artists to find this out for themselves. Art is about discovery after all.

    Sandstones called out to me because of their smoothness, flatness and symmetry and turned out to be the perfect canvases to paint on. The size was irrelevant because smaller stones could be made into pendants and larger stones became paper weights or door stops. 

    Taking it a step further, stones that could be held comfortably in the hand became meditation objects and talismans. This was when the idea of calling them Spirit Rocks came into being. Australian Aborigines have it that the spirit of their ancestors are returned to natural forms like trees and rocks.  

                                                                                            Certain rocks call to me.

They are timeless reminders of what went before. By all appearances, they don't change. Adorning them with color, texture, sparkle and a clear coat of resin brings these objects to life. It is difficult to release them. It is still my contention that the rocks will choose their keepers. It is an honor to learn that they have been gifted or passed along.... even hidden for others to find and enjoy. Below is this week's Rock of the week.





P.S. Notice the little QR code in the middle. Whoever scans it gets taken to this site. The plan is to hide more rocks with this sticker on it to bring more people to this blog site.                                                                                                                          


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Rockin' on...


Hi There! Welcome to " Your Spirit Rocks!™ " Not to be confused with the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Fairfax, CA. which is a beautiful place in Marin County founded by Jack Kornfield for the purpose of bringing Peace through quiet meditation.

 This blog is about rocks, painted and decorated to be used as meditation objects, talismans, place-holders, heirloom gifts, etc. It is my hope that these items will bring peace and joy to those that find them useful.

If this is your first time here, you have arrived at a time when Rock painting has really taken off. Ever since Covid struck, people have been looking for an activity that brings them much satisfaction in accomplishing something while they "Shelter in place". It sure beats watching the news on TV or stuffing your face with food.

If you have followed this blog, you will know that I have been doing this activity now for over 12 years. The moment that this become relevant to me was a short time after my employment had ended and my unemployment had run out. Now I have something that continues to unfold in new and exciting directions. 

Some will counter with, " Well, I'm not an artist so this would be pointless for me to get involved". This is exactly the point. Everyone creates from nothing. No thing is a thing. Just try it. What do you have to lose? a rock?

 Start by finding a rock that speaks to you ( figuratively, of course ) then get some acrylic paints and some small brushes and get to work. This activity fosters new ideas, even if you never paint another rock again. I can attest to the transformative properties of taking that first step.

I wish the same for you. Ideas are powerful but only when we put them into action. As the old saying goes, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained" so take some time to convince yourself that you can do it, whatever it takes to get you started. Remember...

Your Spirit Rocks!

 

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Your Spirit Rocks (even under water)

     For a long time, I have warned kids not to put their Spirit Rock in the aquarium, especially if there are fish in it. Sometimes they will find a nice spot for one if the aquarium is not filled with water and are using it for plants or a little gnome village. I also sell these cute little mushroom rocks for that purpose.


https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1nGju3lO-70eqjNK5xlXNSw3YwzlfFQfm  




    In my last post, I mentioned that I have been using resin as a clear coat on my painted rocks. This type of clear coat has replaced an acrylic coat called " Triple Thick™" which dries quickly and leaves a lovely gloss finish. Unfortunately, it can be bad news for live fish. This clear coat can soften over time, whereas resin won't.
 
    Aside from its coating, sealing, and moisture-proofing qualities; the epoxy resin is completely safe and inert once cured - making it a perfect solution for aquatic areas. Waterproof or Marine-grade epoxy resin is widely used both in and around aquatic tanks by aquarium professionals as well as home hobbyists.
 
 Resin,  aside from being waterproof when dry can yellow over time. For this reason, I will use only dark colors or yellow for a base coat. Now if you have a rock garden, an aquarium, or even a fish bowl, this may be just the upgrade your painted rocks need. Naturally, this will look stunning (when activated) at night in the garden or on a sun deck. 



    Oh yea, did I mention that Your Spirit Rocks glow in the dark? ( you knew that ) Check the previous post to learn more about clear coating with resin or Triple Thick™




Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Dog days and clear coating

     Usually, when we think of "Dog Days" it usually means those days where we are slogging our way through certain tasks and running at half speed... if even. These are to be expected from time to time. This has been one of those days. It has been challenging to keep up with the inventory and still produce commissioned pieces for those that want a personalized gift rock for someone special. 

    The decoupage work employed in making a rock like this involves a process. The first step is made by printing out a .jpg onto glossy, sticky-back photo paper and then cutting it to size to fit on a rock. An archival varnish is sprayed on top of the image to preserve the color and left to dry.

    Next, Clear coating the rock can be a bit troublesome if the viscous material seeps under the pasted image and bleeds through. The whole process has to begin again if this happens. Two types of coats can be used in the final preparation of the rock. One of those types is called Triple thick™, which is not bad for something that dries quickly. 

    Resin on the other hand is best but can be a rather touchy beast. Getting this type of coat to stay on the rock is one thing ( mask and latex gloves are essential here ). The other delicate feature is to prevent drip-over and air bubbles that can form after pouring the one-step resin used in this process. No mixing is required.

    After a brief stint under a large UV blacklight, the rock is then set to dry again outside. The finish looks fabulous if done right. The double-sided rock below is one such specimen. 

    The first side is of a daffodil, which was painted entirely by hand even though you don't see the template photo which was attached to the rock. The second pic is on the other side of the same rock featuring a lady and her pet dog. This was the side that gave me a lot of trouble. The resin, the clearcoat, the puff paint, it was all very messy until it finally passed inspection.     Phew!






 

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

The Saxophone Man

     I recently enjoyed a Zoom concert (if you will ) that my friend Gene hosted, which featured a mutual friend of ours named Phil who happens to play the Saxophone. He played some standards for us, and they were just beautiful. He has been an accomplished musician for years, playing both as a solo performer and with a combo called " The gentlemen of Jazz." He currently is living in Hawaii, and most of us knew him from the mainland, mostly here in northern California The audience hailed from many places throughout the U.S. and at the end of the recital, we all hung out for a while and eventually bid each other goodbye as we proceeded to log off.

    Afterward, with the creative juices flowing, an idea came to me as I went back to painting rocks. Given that the glow paint dries hard, it is not inconceivable to move the paint around to form a figure before it sets. Then I recalled Phil playing the saxophone. It took a while to push and pull the paint atop the rock with a skewer stick to fashion a semblance of someone playing the saxophone, but it could be done. The end result was what could be considered a cameo icon of a saxophone player… with musical notes included! Below is the final result.











Monday, April 18, 2022

Bling and Glow

The rocks you see below feature three of my best to date. I have used a high-grade phosphorescent paint, a one-step crackle finish, adornments ( i.e. flower of life hologram sticker ), and a final coat of resin on each rock. The showing is how they appear in regular light ( an incandescent bulb ), a UV blacklight ( a large Industrial strength studio lamp), and moderate darkness to show what the rocks look like when activated. To activate a rock only takes a few seconds, and depending on the quality of Phosphorescent Paint will determine the intensity of the glow and the length of time it will glow. 




Below is the link to this video as it appears on Meta™ ( Facebook )
You can hear it with music and special effects... enjoy !



Thursday, April 7, 2022

Pendants to Keychains

 It seems to me that the Keychains have become pretty popular as of late. It has come to my attention that kids like to hook them onto the zippers of their backpacks. Unlike the pendants, which people purchase to have something to wear that is light, colorful, and stylish. The pendants though have had a limited appeal. For a while, They have been ignored on my display table at the market. It still takes around the same time to produce both the keychains and the pendants. 

The solution I came up with was to turn the pendants into keychains. No problem. I just got some extra lanyard cord, beads, and ring loops to transform each rock creation. The glow, bling, and image appeal are still there. 

The resin casting has been a little tricky. Some resin will be set up quicker than other brands I've tried. The Industrial strength UV light will usually cause the resin to harden in less than two minutes. The resin I've experimented with lately works better if I place the rock outside in the sun.

The step I didn't mention is rock drilling. A diamond tip Dremel™ is perfect for making a hole even if it takes a while to drill through sandstone. Eventually, the bits will get chewed up if you don't place the rock on top of a wet sponge in a small bowl when drilling. Pushing the rock down to have the water covering the rock is the trick. It keeps the bit wet, causing less friction than trying to drill the thing raw. Below are some samples of the pendants I've turned into keychains.


The pendant shown below was transformed into a keychain without much effort. The design is from an early watercolor I had painted.







Friday, March 25, 2022

Downsizing

     Yep, I'm scaling back and moving forward at the same time. Today I purchased a smaller table for my new smaller car (Yes, I traded in the 2017 Ford Escape for a 2017 Ford Focus Hatchback ). I've also been painting smaller rocks that collectors can carry with them and show to friends. 

    Besides, it has become clear to me that most of my clientele are usually tourists who like to get a little gift item to bring back for the kids. They pack easily and won't get stopped at the gate when taking them on the airplane. The other group would be women who would like to add one for their meditation altar or to have a bedside bookmark stone to save a page while reading the latest novel. 

    Then the other group would be girls ( and boys ) between the ages of seven and thirteen. They like to buy my keychains to put on their backpacks or have a pendant to show off to their friends with the little black light that dazzles the color in the dark. Lastly, there are the individual collectors who admire my work and gravitate towards something uniquely one-of-a-kind. I'm beyond grateful to be able to have these gift rocks for anyone who enjoys rocks and their possibilities.

Below is this week's "Rock of the Week" it has some invisible qualities once it is place under the UV light






Monday, March 14, 2022

Ideas waiting to happen

 We have all heard about how intimidating a blank canvas can be. Sometimes, I feel that it is important to work backward, just to reflect and to see where we've been when it comes to value placement. What has been discovered in terms of methods and materials that have been incorporated in an artist's work? What results have been effective and have been carried to the next level? Is an artist ever satisfied? The jury is still out. 

    Form, content, structure, medium, spatial relationships, complementary colors, vibrancy, etc., etc. all play a role in the successful output of a piece. Monetary compensation should be the least of concerns but always is. One has to make a living, or basically, an agreed-upon value of the work produced. Time, materials, inspiration, perspiration all count and should.

    You set the standard for this assessment.No one can place a value on a piece higher than the one who creates it... even if a client's price offering may be much higher in a monetary sense. This agreed-upon evaluation is usually proposed (if not by the artist themselves, at least by their agent) to ascertain its worth on the open market.

     It has been said that some notable art teachers have had students fishing their sketches from a wastebasket and were able to sell these items on the dark web for a considerable price. All this unbeknownst to the artist that had ever intended for such a transgression to occur. 

    Truly, art appreciation and speculation, in the final analysis, are quite subjective. Even if society has placed a high premium on a contemporary piece, that work will ultimately be time-tested in the grand scheme of things.

    Will Banksy or the Beatles remain historical figures in say... three hundred years? Considering their relative importance in a specific area should render their contributions to future societal imperatives. 

    What does all of this have to do with one's idea waiting to happen? Well, there is nothing more powerful it has been said, than an idea whose time has come. The same is true not only in the art world but in the world as a whole.

Below is a stress-out rock



Saturday, February 26, 2022

Russian Gulch





About four miles north of Jenner is the Russian Gulch. It is at the bottom of a long steep ravine. Many people pass it by, not even aware that it is a State Beach with a restroom and parking area.

Although to get to the beach, one has to travel through about one-quarter of a mile of jungle brush until you reach a clearing, and there it is...  the great Pacific Ocean. The beach itself is only about one hundred yards in length from one end to the other.

There is one caveat. You then have to cross a creek to get to the actual beach. This means that you will probably have to roll up your pant legs and take off your shoes to get across. This can be tricky because there are a gazillion rocks covered with green slime, that can be quite slippery. 

The beach itself also has a billion flat, round rocks that are left on the shore if the tide hasn't taken them out. These are perfect for collecting and carrying back across the gulch in a canvas bag. The creek isn't necessarily there to cross if the weather has been dry for a long time ( which it has because of the draught ). However, all it takes is one good storm, and then a river forms which makes it near impossible to cross.

Also, if you have brought a picnic lunch, don't leave it unattended. Several seagulls have shocked many tourists to find their sandwiches and potato chips strewn across the shore. A huge boulder at the north end of the beach is a pretty good spot to throw down your backpacks. You can even climb up a few crags and find a spot to sit down to watch the waves roll up and crash against the shore. You may be surprised to not see another soul on the beach depending on the day of the week and the time of day.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, go and discover this place for yourself. It is the best place I know to gather a few rocks to take home and paint.




Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Valentine's Day 2022

 Maybe "Groundhog Day" should be given more prominence than Valentine's Day this year. After all, the news seems to be the same. The weather here also seems to be about the same ( at least here in California ... i.e. continued draught ) and the news protocol for the masses has been all about the Covid 19 pandemic. Enough about that. Let's talk painted rocks.


Personally, I do enjoy spending my time painting rocks for the upcoming Farmer's Market every weekend. I alternate my participation in both the Calistoga and the Sebastopol markets, but this is another story. The thing that has occupied my attention lately is the materials and processes discovered in making an appearance upgrade to the recent stones.




Aside from resin casting for a more permanent protective clear coat, I've incorporated the use of a one-step craquelure that gives the rocks a very spontaneous, antique look that makes for an intriguing finish. I still use a border of glow paint as is my usual signature style, but this process has me very interested in future projects. Below is the rock of the month which is a pendant I created through the use of an old watercolor that was shrunk and adhered to a pan base.