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Rock Art, My Outside Masterpieces

Updated: May 20, 2020

‘I’m rather hot sitting here on a deck chair off the shoreline painting my rock, but at least, my feet are cool in the water, even as the curious tiny fish swim around my toes. The bullheads have always been attracted to my nail polish.’

My large loon on rock painting, (I have since touched it up.)

As you may have read in my previous posts I have painted a lot of rocks here at my lake over the years. The cabin inside is sprinkled with many creature rocks I have painted, and, a few my children have painted. There are the more realistic-type painted rocks, some Spirit Stones, a few of my children’s ‘Birthday Rocks’, and one or two I painted to look more like BC Coastal Native (I apologize if I misrepresent the proper name for our indigenous people) art rocks.

What I would like to share with you in this post is the story of the bigger, and outside ‘masterpieces’ I have painted around my property. Some are even in or under the water now. I always used water-based acrylic paints and the pieces were clear-sealer protected. One large ‘Loon with Spread Wings’ weathered so heavily over the years I finally had to touch it up and reseal it a few years ago.

Touched up loon rock painting along the water.

It was quite a job to paint these bigger projects because I had to sit in the water in the hot sunshine for several hours to paint them. This meant I had to have all my materials, that is the paints, brushes, a jar of water, and multiple brushes on my person as it was too far to reach over to balance or place things on the shore.

Imagine me then, big, wide-brimmed hat, swimsuit, craft apron (with pockets), aqua shoes on my feet, sitting on a chair (most of the time) on an uneven lake bottom surface trying to lean in to paint. Often when a boat passed I had to hold on and buckle-down to weather the breaking waves around me as they reached myself and the shore. My family just shook their heads as they observed me from time to time. (Apparently, I’m the entertainment from time to time, too.)

On our beautiful lake, down towards the ocean, famous are the Native Coastal Pictographs, (often called Pyrographs). I was inspired in my little world here to be the modern artist as a multi-decade cabin dweller. It might be considered a personal ‘right of passage’ for me, (at least in my own mind). The paintings I created, I think, turned out spectacularly, and I have had friends and neighbours bring people by to admire them over the years on several occasions.

The rock point loon painting is easier seen from out on the water.

I have a loon painting facing out on a rock off my rock point, and another loon with its wings fully spread on a rock nearer to the cabin. There used to be a pair of loons with their chick right on the big rock adjacent to one of my docks, but it weathered so badly over the years, I let it fade away and never repainted it. I really had tried to be as responsible as I could with the materials around my lake water for these paintings, and so I used water-based paints, etc., which do not last forever. The Native Coastal Indian pictographs on our lake were painted with some pretty amazing substances as they have weathered the coastal climates and seasons and still remain very visible today. (See an upcoming post on their information).

The pictographs found on the lake rock cliffs a few miles from me.

I painted a group of blooming purple irises, if for no other reason than they looked pretty from my deck, on a large rock coming out of the water in a small channel of water visible from my deck. There are several natural plants along the water there, and so you really have to look to see my painted ‘garden’, even though they are a couple of feet high in scale. I am still questioning why I painted the irises in the first place, as they are not native to my lake, but I do remember I loved them, and my mother loved them, and so there they are. As with all my paintings, it was my intention to honour the vegetation and wildlife in my paintings and not have them stand out, they are meant to blend in and be part of my environment for my immediately family and future generations and cabin dwellers and guests to enjoy.

My rock irises in the channel.

Rock painted irises along the water.

I also did a small, life-sized, scampering Douglas Squirrel on a big rock adjacent to my point property walkway, and it blends in so well you really have to know it is there to catch a glimpse of it. The rock has mosses and other growths on it, and the squirrel is in browns, and so it blends into the environment and is hard to see. Its height is just above hip level, so if you know it’s there you will find it. It is slowing disappearing with the weather elements now.

My little squirrel is slowing eroding away...

I once had a frog painted on a rock right at the water line on the left of my ramp to the point. The frog looked like it was just perching there waiting for its next meal of bugs and such. However, this painting is long gone now because the water levels of my lake have been altered and subsequently raised for the most part, and so this little frog painting has long since been completely under water and has finally faded away. At least I have the memories, and my kids have the memories. I did that painting in honour of an old frog that lived in that shallow, swampy part of the water for years and years, and we would hear him croak every night for decades. I remember we all used to wish he would be quiet, but the day he finally was, in all honesty, we missed him. His croak was part of the ‘sound landscape’ of the lake.

Along the path there is another loon rock painting. I step on it every day, and it always brings me a smile.

I have always been a painter and crafter, and so spending the hours to produce something very special for my family and for future generations to enjoy was one of my goals and a pleasure to do. My paintings were also a way for me to lend respect and honour the creatures and flora (okay, maybe not irises), of my lake world, and, of course, it was a wonderful way for me to spend time on a lazy, hot afternoon. I was very careful not to do anything that would be considered toxic, or to remain permanent with regards to the waters of the lake and the environment. I did use a jar of water, and did not clean the brushes in the lake. I wanted my art to be enjoyed with minimal impact on my lake surroundings. I hope I have accomplished that. I know I am proud of my work and the satisfaction of it has brought me much joy for both myself and my family. I hope me sharing my story and pictures with you has brought you a few moments of joy as well, or maybe a little inspiration?

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