Where do you get the rocks?
I get most of the rocks from the seashore, because the action of the surf breaks the rocks if they are prone to breakage and the surfaces are finished off with smooth edges.
Do you try and see what the rock will be when choosing it to take home?
Not usually. I just look for rocks that have had a "rough life"-- for example, rocks with distinctive shapes, with big chunks missing from their surfaces.
I try a figure out what the subject will be later when I am comfortable and after the rocks are cleaned and primed.
How big are the rocks you choose?
Most of the rocks that I have painted are paperweight size, but a few have been over 40 pounds.
How did you start doing rock paintings?
I was looking for something to do with my 12-year-old daughter. I found that painting a rock using its shape was fun and received a lot of attention from her teachers and fellow students when she took them to school.
With all the great comments and the fact that I enjoyed doing it, I decided to do more.
How long have you been painting rocks?
I have been painting rocks off and on for over 25 years.
How do you decide what the rock will be?
That is the hard part. The rock pretty much decides what it will be by its shape. I just have to find the most workable subject to fit the shape and then bring out the subject by applying paint to it.
Do you modify the rock by changing its shape?
No, that would be too easy, if you want to call carving a rock easy. I consider each rock as a puzzle to be solved and all the bumps have a reason for being there.
If there is a bump that is "in the way," I try to think, "What could this be?" and most of the time, there is a reason and it adds to the charm of the piece.
For example, a bump on a leaf became a ladybug and a bump on a leopard's head became a baby leopard on its mother's head.
How long does it take you to paint a rock?
If the question is, "How long does it take to finish a painted rock from start to finish?", well, first I have to go out and find the rock, which is a nice visit to the seashore. I have to wash, scrub and rinse the rock.
I have to paint the entire rock with a primer coat of gesso. I have to (and this is the fun part) figure out what this funny shaped white thing looks like. This can sometimes take a long time.
There are some rocks where I still can't figure out the puzzle. Once I have determined the subject of the rock, I search for reference material to help me with the details. Then I paint and apply the final finish to the rock.
Total time, who knows? The simple answer is, some subjects with a lot of detail require more time to paint and subjects that are less detailed require less time. The "simple" rocks can take a couple of hours the "complex" rocks a day or so.
What kind of paint do you use?
I use acrylic paint on the rocks, from primer to the final varnish. Acrylics are tough and are better for the environment, because there are no toxic chemicals and solvents involved.
What kind of rock do you use?
The kind of rock isn't as important as its shape. It also needs to be stable-- in other words, not likely to break or crumble easily. I believe that most of the rocks I use are granite.
What is the price range of your rocks?
The price usually starts at $40.00 and some have sold for $200.00.
How are your rock paintings different from most of the others out there?
There is a lot of great work out there. The differences, I believe, are the amount of detail I put into the pieces and the use of the rock's shape to define its subject.
I think this intrigues the viewer and helps them to tap into their own imagination. In today's world it seems that everything has to be specific and to the point.
I hope my rock paintings might give the viewer permission to imagine again, like they did as a child.
Do you do commissions?
Yes I do. I have done portraits of animals, people and automobiles on rocks.
I also have completed requests for specific subjects, like a crushed Pepsi can and the Naval Academy's logo.
I have also done concept pieces to illustrate an idea-- for instance, a rock showing a favorite book's great questions and answers coming from its pages.
What are the subjects you paint?
Anything, I guess! If I can visualize it, I guess I could paint it on a rock. It is a lot harder to find a rock to fit a subject than it is to see the subject in the rock to begin with.
I have found that looking at a bunch of rocks with a subject in mind will sometimes yield a match, but not always.
I could always just paint the subject on the rock without using the rock's unique shape, but that usually disappoints both the client and me.
How many rocks have you painted?
At first I didn't keep a record of the rocks I had done, but I would say I have done over 300 rock paintings.
How do you price the rock paintings?
I use several parameters to develop the price.
(1) How well the idea works. Some rock subjects work better than others.
(2) The amount of detail. Some require more work to finish than others.
(3) The size of the piece. Larger rocks are harder to work with than the paperweight size.
Why do you paint detail on the bottom of most of your rocks?
These pieces just beg to be picked up and I have noticed the happy look of surprise on people's faces when they see that there is more underneath.
This added detail creates more work but I feel it is a great feature when the object is picked up and handled as these rock paintings are.
Why do you paint rocks if you can't get much money for them?
I do these as a labor of love and I want people to enjoy them, if I wanted to mass produce them, then I guess I would do everything I could to finish them as quickly as possible.
I don't want to do that, so I do them as a "shape dependent", one-of-a-kind painting, with all the detail I can.
Some of these pieces have taken me longer to do than some of the two dimension works I have done for more money.
Can these painted rocks withstand being outside?
Acrylic paint is tough material and so is a rock. I have not done tests on how well these will do in the elements, but I do have one client who says she keeps her "frog" rock outside in her garden and it has stood the test of time so far, and that has been a few years. I guess my answer is, I don't know!