Nearly 30 years ago, my mom began painting – first with watercolours but then in a variety of media that, in the mid-nineties, included painting on rock. She collects rocks of appropriate size and texture from the local beaches on Vancouver Island, as well as other locations that she visits in Canada and elsewhere. The images represent her world and life over time, and are often commemorations of special moments and acknowledgements of change as life goes on. My collection includes – shown above:
- Holly Hobbie in her garden. This was a one-off created just for me based on a childhood favourite, and is from the earliest days of mom’s work in this medium. It is a pair of rocks – the nearby one with the same pink flowers extends the garden and the sense of space, innocence and tranquility.
- Y2K butterflies. These were an extensive series of butterfly paintings, each accompanied by a note that read, “May the only bugs in your new millennium be butterflies.” These were a great counterpoint to the mass hysteria in the year leading up to 2000, and all the havoc that Y2K was feared to wreak on the world. In the end, it was indeed butterflies.
- Mementoes from my wedding. When I got married in 1998, Mom painted nearly 200 rocks with a floral design that became our wedding token to our guests. Undoubtedly the most unique and special treasure for our guests, I still have several in my own collection, a fond remembrance of that day and time.
My collection is scattered around my home and life. There isn’t a room without at least one – including at my office – and assembling them for a photo was both easy and hard. There were plenty at hand, but several photo attempts were needed as I remembered where more and more of them were. They’re now redistributed to the various bowls and shelves, nooks and crannies, many likely in new locations. Each time I pick one up, I have a moment of reminiscence and a smile at the beauty, simplicity, care, and love behind each one. I have even shared a few with special friends, who each treasure their rock and the story behind it.
For Fathers Day yesterday, Mom assembled a different collection of painted rocks, ones that she had given to her father, my grandfather, over the past 20+ years. With his passing a few months ago, his collection was returned to her, the size and diversity of which truly reflected the depth and meaning of their long and close kinship. Mom spent Sunday returning several rocks to their homelands on the beaches and bays near her, enjoying a sunny drive and some brief walks, basking in the light and memories. The lucky finders of these treasures in the future likely will not fully appreciate the meaning behind her art and gesture, but will be fortunate in the discovery of a unique and thoughtful piece, and so these may end up further afield bringing joy to others.