Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stratalicious!! It's not just about rocks ya know

I am crazy about rocks, most of my friends know this odd fact about me. I pick them up everywhere and have several displays in my studio. I thought I would talk about the history of this journey.
I have to say my obsession started when I was a kid and spent so much time piddling around in the creek. That was back in the days when we didn't have air conditioning; we only had one car; we certainly didn't have computers or electronic toys, so the summers were long and they were hot. I swear my Mom used to throw us out of the house and we couldn't come back till mealtime. I exaggerate, but it was nearly that bad.
It is definitely true that we played in the creek a lot. With rocks and crawdads mainly. Me with rocks, my brothers with crawdads.
So I have alwaysalwaysalways loved the way that rocks look, especially when they are in water. It is so amazing because their color intensifies and there is so much variation of hue.
Several years ago, I went up to St. Joseph, MI for an art fair and found the most amazing rocks there; finding them brought back childhood memories like crazy. I ended up carrying a ton of them home and even did a series prompted by these rocks, "The Community Series."
St. Joseph, MI - the east side of Lake Michigan

8x8 on claybord, part of my Community series

Then, I visited an Open Mine in New Hampshire and ohmygoodness, that was all she wrote. I could.not.get.enough. The idea of depicting cut away views of rocks kept nagging at me and I knew I had to play around with this idea. That is when I started my Stratalicious series.  Here are a few paintings I have done:

Then, some friends asked me to teach them. Which I did, here in St. Louis.
I was stunned at the work they made. Beautiful, amazing interpretations, all very diverse. Look at just a few student's work. One person had never painted before.......ahem.....sweet, huh?

But ya know, it's not really all about the rocks. It's more about layers and how to build effective color and texture and especially trying to create numerous variations of texture. In fact, the pieces end up being practically texture samplers that are lots of fun to make.

I'll be teaching this class at Art Unraveled and also at Squam (where we will include an Encaustic layer too!) Still room in both classes......would love to see you there!


  1. working on a strata piece myself :-) Like you I love rocks and love the layers of texture required.
    Know you're going to have a great class wish I could be there!

  2. rocks, rocks piles everywhere! toni and I spend hours looking down to see what rock we need. enjoyed your layers and especially your students work! They rock!

  3. That's so neat to hear where your idea came from. The work is beautiful and SO different that what is out there now. God, imagine our kids playing in a creek with no computers, tv, a/c... ahh. that would be nice.

  4. I remember those days well. Playing in the creek, walking on paths. I have a fascination with paths. I love walking down them, anxious to turn the corner to see what's up around the bend. Yeah! Those were the days.

  5. Love the paintings..all!! Beautiful! It is all about texture and layers!! Very cool!

  6. i hate to wish away my summer but i am nearly crazy with anticipation to take this class at Squam! i'll bring you some Lake Ontario rocks in september. and yes - i remember those days! imagine the confusion the other day when i mentioned something about "long distance phone charges" to my stepkids. you'd think i said something about rotary dial!

  7. Mary Beth, I've done collage pieces in the past that I named Strata this or that. They were strictly paper collage with a tiny bit of calligraphy. I dearly love these interpretations of the earth's strata. Your students' work is exceptional! What a workshop that must have been!

  8. I would love to take your class Mary Beth! (does someone have a plainticket for me?) You know I LOVE your work! I have the same thing you describe, but for SHELLS... and yes, they look gorgeous under water too!

  9. Oh, but I wrote my two (!) last posts about rocks... is that a coincidence?

  10. Will you be doing another class in St. Louis? I missed the last one and would love to play!

  11. Sandy3:03 PM

    Yep, rocks in my house, rocks on my porch, often rocks in my head. Love them. Went to the Arkansas diamond fields a few years ago and came home with buckets of rocks. I am so ready to try this one. Let's hurry up and get you scheduled!

  12. oh, my heavens, way swoonworthy. Just love your work.

    i like rocks, though, so mine may be all about rocks.

  13. Your paintings are beautiful! I love rocks, too, most especially the rock formations of the American southwest.


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