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Rock Painting: 5 Questions for Denise Scicluna

Ever since the dawn of time, human beings have aspired to create art. One of their earliest materials? Rock. Flash-forward several millennia later to Denise Scicluna, author of "Rock Art! Painting and Crafting with the Humble Pebble," who is reenvisioning these monochromatic slabs of stone into bold, colorful creations: everything from googly-eyed toys to refined home decor.

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Reprinted with permission from "Rock Art!" by Denise Scicluna, published in North America by Barron's Educational Series ©2015. Photography by Natasha Newton.

1. To start off, please tell us about yourself as an artist. Why rocks?

 

I have been painting and doing creative and craft-related projects for over 10 years. My other interest in art is that of understanding and appreciating their psychological and therapeutic aspects. Apart from making art, I am also training to be an art psychotherapist here in London.

 

I've also been a big fan of collecting and recycling items which I can then use to create some completely unique. I sometimes use clay to make jewelry and other creations -- at times, the clay beads look like they are made of rocks. Painting on clay is very similar to painting on the surface of stones and pebbles. My passion for handmade items went as far as founding a contemporary crafts fair five years ago, in my hometown. Patches Fair takes place in Malta and is usually packed with vibrant, creative and handmade objects, which are created by the Maltese. The aim of it is to promote contemporary artisans who lacked a creative platform to promote and spread their handmade work. It has grown remarkably in these past five years and now takes place three times a year.

 

Malta's a small island in the Mediterranean sea -- surrounded by plenty of sandy, rocky, and pebbly beaches! I used to love collecting shells and pebbles -- particularly those with odd shapes and colors. I remember using shells as pendants, and varnishing my collection of shells and stones to protect them. Being from an island has definitely had an impact on my attraction to painting on stones! "Rock Art" has been the biggest pebble-related project I have ever worked on and it has been such an amazing experience.

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Reprinted with permission from "Rock Art!" by Denise Scicluna, published in North America by Barron's Educational Series ©2015. Photography by Natasha Newton.

2. What inspires you as an artist? And where did you find the inspiration for the projects featured in your book?

 

Just like a canvas to a painter, anything can be attractive to a creative individual. You can create the most amazing item or project using the simplest things. And a pebble is perfect example. It is natural, beautiful, and the perfect canvas. They can be used as a decor item or as a practical item such as a paper weight. There is beauty in the simplicity, and the simplicity offers so many opportunities to be creative. I think that in itself is an inspiration.

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Reprinted with permission from "Rock Art!" by Denise Scicluna, published in North America by Barron's Educational Series ©2015. Photography by Natasha Newton.

3. Is there a "perfect pebble"? What do you look for when hunting the perfect pebble?

 

One has look out for the texture of the pebble's surface -- I found smooth pebbles easy to manage, especially when using markers. However, I think there is a perfect pebble for anything you want to create if you use your imagination. You can have a project in mind that requires a certain kind of pebble. You can alternatively let a pebble that you find inspire you. It could remind you of something like a bird or leaf and suddenly this drives you to create what you have imagined.

4. Do you have a favorite rock from the book?

 

It's a difficult question considering I have painted over 200 pebbles. I really like all of them, but I think that the standing pebbles with the owls painted on them are my favorite. They look great on shelves or desks.

rockart-paperweight-0315.jpg
Reprinted with permission from "Rock Art!" by Denise Scicluna, published in North America by Barron's Educational Series ©2015. Photography by Natasha Newton.

5. Any tips for aspiring rock artists?

 

I think rocks are a unique way of expressing and unleashing your creativity and imagination. Another benefit of painting on stones is that it is cheap, and if you live in rockless terrain, you can purchase pebbles from garden stores.

 

Check out some of Denise's rock projects, as well as her book.

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