Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Painting rocks

I just returned from two weeks vacation and though we spent 8 days in Los Cabos, my biggest discovery from my time off (other than I don't like working) is that I like to paint rocks.

I learned this by helping my ten-year old daughter gather rocks from the stream that runs through our backyard. The rocks are exceptionally round, smooth and for some reason are all black. I had gathered some before to fill in steps that lead down our hillside towards the stream. But this was the first time I'd gathered rocks for their artistic potential.

Apparently painting rocks isn't a new phenomenon in Western Washington. There are groups popping up on Facebook with people who paint and hide rocks around for other people to find. My daughter had found some and that inspired her to paint her own rocks.

I decided to join her. She had a bin full of acrylic paints including some metallic paints that really popped when applied to the black rocks. I started by painting a heart shaped rock gold with bronze accents. Then I painted gold angel wings that looked cool on the black rock I'd chosen.

That hooked me. I launched a "day of the dead" series that I'm still kind of obsessed with.

But now I'm back at work and all I'd really like to be doing is sitting in my back yard painting rocks. I thought about it a great deal while I was doing it and came to the conclusion it's because I am deeply lacking in a creative outlet in my work and life right now.

I always wanted to be an artist. I only became a writer because I was good at it and I figured I could make money at it. Being an artist is a rockier road and it isn't often paved with gold. But of the times I've been happiest in my life, it has been creating art for art sakes. Not art for money or art to please others.

I worry at times about aging. I'm probably 8-years away from retirement and the time when I'll theoretically be free to create. But what if my body betrays me and my hands won't hold a brush and my eyes won't work on the details. I worry the same about my guitar playing.  I've been playing guitar for 40 years and as I approach a time when I can devote more time to it, I worry my hands and aged fingers won't manage the chords.

I have other fears as well: senility, invisibility, lack of mobility. All of the -ity's. It seems so unfair to me that in my youth I feared none of those things but when I finally have time to relax they all gather around to roost on my mind and peck at my brain.

That's where painting rocks helps. There is no deadline for painting rocks. They feel good in my hands because I can relate to them. They are worn with time but have escaped the wrinkles that time has left me. The rocks have nothing but time as water rushes over them and smooths their fears away.

I wonder, though, how they feel about being plucked from the stream, washed and lined up to be painted. Is it their equivalent to 15-minutes of fame?  Is it their one time to shine until time and light fades the paint and they return to be a rock waiting to be worn away to sand? Or nothing.

This is assuming that rocks have any kind of consciousness. I am projecting a great deal on them. And I've come to the conclusion, after writing this post, that I enjoy painting rocks...river rocks to be exact...because I can relate to them.

Though, unlike me, they truly rock.

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