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The beauty of rocks displayed on a swatch card.

The Beauty of Rocks | How I Use Our Most Abundant Resource

If there’s one resource we have an unlimited supply of here in the Ozarks, it’s rocks. There are many reasons I love the rocks here at Wild Ozark. But I think I can narrow it down to the functional beauty of rocks. I love things that are both practical and beautiful. But not everyone feels this way. Many people hate them. Rocks can really get in the way if you’re a farmer needing to mow a field. Sometimes the rain leaves our driveway with too many big rocks and not enough small ones. But in the end, I’ve benefitted from having abundant rocks and I’m happy to have them everywhere I look.

The Sensory Beauty of Rocks

Rocks come in so many colors, shapes, textures. They appeal to all of my senses, and yes, they even have a smell. Especially when it rains, but some of them have smells when they’re crushed. That smell is usually sulfurous and not pleasant, but it does add depth to the sensory nature of the rock. Technically, the smell of rain on rocks is probably the smell of rain on the dust that’s on the rocks… but that dust originated from the rocks, too.

The beauty of rocks is that they’re pleasing to look at, touch, and arrange. When it’s hot outside, my favorite large flat rock in the creek is cool. My bare feet feel nice on it. In their natural habitats, they’re adorned with lichens or moss. Human intervention leads to other pleasing to the eye arrangements. Stacked in walls or lying flat for pathways… A truckload of smaller rocks distributed on a driveway- nice to drive on and helps with soil retention and conservation. And I absolutely adored the cobblestone paved roads in Germany. It might take the rest of my life, but I’d love to cobblestone pave our driveway.

And those are just the sensory benefits of rocks in their natural state. Crushed rocks add a whole new dimension to my exploration into the beauty of rocks. When I look less at the form and more at the colors, there are whole palettes waiting to become my art supplies.

Whole rock Ozark pigments - shipped to you so you can smash them yourself!

The Longevity of Rocks

Secondly, I love their longevity. The idea of a very long life appeals to me, and it is my great hope to have one myself. Science doesn’t consider rocks to be living things because they’re not ‘organic’. They’re inorganic, meaning they’re not composed of anything carbon-based, which is the foundation of living things. However, I step off the path of logic and science sometimes, and this is one of those areas where my path diverges.

The beauty of rocks is that they basically ‘live’ forever. If anything represents immortality on earth, I think rocks are closest. They are the most ancient source of information about our planet. I love to collect the fossils that tell the story of that record.

Rocks hold the soul of the earth. This is why my paint collections that I make from the rocks here are called ‘Soul’ of the Ozarks collections.

The beauty of rocks is that they hold the story of our earth. Part of a Lepidodendron tree from about 300 million years ago.
The beauty of rocks is that they hold the story of our earth. Part of a Lepidodendron tree from about 300 million years ago.

Functional and Useful Rocks

Thirdly, but not lastly, rocks are useful for so many different things! I’ve used them mainly in artistic ways, but even those ways are still functional and useful means. There are instances where I’ve needed a quick fix for an object I needed to level, like the garbage bin by the back door. Put a rock on the low end and voila, now it’s level. Well, it may require a few more rocks and a bit of time to work it out, but it gets there! A shed or structure can be built with rocks for the foundation… no soil contact and stave off the rot without needing to buy concrete or pour a pad. All of the old houses and sheds here were built on rock foundations when this area was settled in the 1800’s.

The Beauty of Rocks – How I Use Them

Here are the main ways I use our beautiful rocks – as pigments for my art, and to make functional, artful landscape features. But I also use them for non-artistic, purely functional purposes too, like to level things on an unlevel ground. Or to chuck the wheels of a trailer so it doesn’t roll when disconnected. To fill holes so I have to use less dirt. Or to add weight to the tub of water so the horses don’t push it around. The ways to use rocks are endless. That is the true beauty of rocks.

A paint swatch from one of my watercolor collections using the pigments from Soul of the Ozarks | Watercolor Pigments | 2021-05, made from rocks in our creek.
Here the beauty of rocks truly shines. I'm using some of our larger stones to build steps in the garden to get to a higher terrace.
Here the beauty of rocks truly shines. I’m using some of our larger stones to build steps in the garden to get to a higher terrace.


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Author/Artist Info
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Madison Woods is a self-taught artist who moved to the Ozarks from south Louisiana in 2005. In 2018 she began experimenting with watercolor painting, using her local pigments. She calls them Paleo Paints, and her artwork features exclusively the lightfast pigments foraged from Madison county, Arkansas. Her inspiration is nature – the beauty, and the inherent cycle of life and death, destruction and regeneration.

Her online portfolio is at www.MadisonWoods.art.

Click here to join her mailing list.

Photo of Madison Woods, artist and Paleo Paint maker, and her social media contact information.
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