Stacked rocks still life painting by Madison Woods

Stacked Rocks Still Life Painting- the Process

The Process Story of “Ozark Rocks and Leaf”

This painting started out plein air. The grandkids were visiting and wanted to go splash around at Felkins creek. While they played, I began painting these stacked rocks with a sycamore leaf.

When it was time to leave, I wasn’t finished yet, so I snapped some photos and packed it all up to finish later.

The painting as it stood when it was time to go back to the house.
The painting as it stood when it was time to go back to the house.

Time passed

It took me a little while to get back around to working on it. I’ve learned from experience that my rendition of an in-situ scene isn’t going to look like the real thing in the end, so this time I didn’t worry about it.

My goal was to make a painting that looked good to my eye, even if it didn’t have a lot of resemblance to the actual thing in the end. So my rocks are different, and the leaf is, too.

But, I didn’t know how to make the sand look like sand, or how to put all the many little rocks in the sand. And at this point, I didn’t the painting much. It sat on the easel untouched for a couple of weeks.

At this point I was stumped, and set the painting aside again. The stacked rocks didn't look the way I wanted, and I couldn't even imagine how to make the sand and small pebbles work.
At this point I was stumped, and set the painting aside again. The stacked rocks didn’t look the way I wanted, and I couldn’t even imagine how to make the sand and small pebbles work.

Try Again

I pulled it back out to take with me to the gallery on my work day. Since I like to paint between customers while I’m there, I decided to try working on it some more, to see if I could get to a point where I could at least feel it had promise.

Magic Happened!

My efforts paid off. The stacked rocks might finally work out. The sand drifts looked more like sand, and the pebbles looked like pebbles. Or close enough, anyway.

Whoo-hoo! Now I liked it. I wasn't finished yet, but I could tell it was going to work, finally.
Whoo-hoo! Now I liked it. I wasn’t finished yet, but I could tell it was going to work, finally.

So I worked on the leaf a little more.

Close up of a sycamore leaf painting

Delayed Again

I had some things come up that caused a delay, but this time when I pulled my stacked rocks out again, I really liked it. I finished the leaf and added a few more details to the rocks and sand, and called it done.

Still life of stacked rocks and leaf. Ozark Rocks and Leaf, in Ozark pigments. 9.75" x 7.75". Prints and original are available.
Ozark Rocks and Leaf, in Ozark pigments. 9.75″ x 7.75″. Prints and original are available.

Want a Stacked Rocks Print?

The original is for sale too. Email me about that if you’re interested. Unframed it is $250 and ships flat. Framed is $375. Prints are available through Fine Art America (linked below).

Photography Prints

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

To see her paintings click here.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

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Paint Making Tools of the Trade

When I first started experimenting with handmade watercolors, I didn’t have any special tools. I had some ideas, a little bit of information, and a whole lot of curiosity. Along the way I discovered these things that have become my paint making tools of the trade.

Paint making tools of the Trade
Pigment on the mulling board, a muller. Some of the Paint making tools.

Making Do

Some of the tools are pricey, and if you went out and bought everything at once, it could add up to quite a hefty tab.

Thankfully, you don’t need it all, and you can make do with a bare minimum.

Here’s the post that marked my first time making art with my fresh idea for making my own paints.

These are the things I’d suggest as minimal:

  • spatulas
  • mulling plate
  • pans
  • small jars
  • dust masks – VERY important!
  • gum Arabic

A note about the mulling plate. When you first get it, the surface will be smooth. That won’t do for mulling paint. So you’ll need to run several trial batches on it with a gritty pigment to etch the surface enough to be able to actually do any good with your mulling. If you don’t want to waste valuable pigment, use coarse rubbing compound to get it started.

Leveling Up

After you’ve made some paint and tried out the process, you’ll know whether or not you like the paints enough to keep using them. That’s when I’d suggest getting a tool like the muller. There are also much more expensive mulling plates, or boards. I am still using my inexpensive tempered glass cutting plate from Walmart, but wouldn’t turn down a large slab of marble, lol.

My Favorite Paint Making Tools (So Far)

Some of these items are only applicable if you intend to start with foraged rocks or bought mineral specimens to make paint. Those are marked with an asterisk. I’ve linked to the Amazon listing for these, because that’s where I usually order my supplies.

There are other companies that sell these things. You can often find mullers used or less expensive on EBay. I do get a small amount of change if you order through Amazon after clicking these links, and the prices for you are the same whether you click and order through this post, or go there separately to shop.

Pigments of Other Places

At the moment, I’m a purist and only use pigments I’ve made and in my art I try to only use Ozark pigments. On occasion when I really want a blue or green, I use lapis lazuli, azurite, and malachite- none of which are Ozark pigments. However, I’m in the beginning stages of collecting pigments from other locations.

I’ll be creating collections from those places and calling them “Colors of Place”. I’d like to also collaborate with other regional pigment foragers so I can offer colors of their places, too.

Future Paint Making Tools

There are a couple of items I’d like to acquire in the future. A larger rock tumbler/rock grinder and a roller mill. I’d need to start making much larger quantities of paints (and accompanying sales) to make those practical buys!


Paint-Making Supplies from Wild Ozark

Madison Woods is an author, artist, and Paleo Paint maker living
with her husband in northwest Arkansas far off the beaten path. She uses Ozark pigments to create her paintings.

To see her paintings click here.

Contact Info:
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @wildozark
Facebook: @wildozark

If the Creeks Don’t Rise… Springtime in the Ozarks

Wild Ozark will be at Terra Studios tomorrow.

But with the rain we might get overnight and in the morning, the odds are looking poor. If I can’t make it there on Saturday, then on Sunday I should be able to make it. Springtime in the Ozarks usually means more rain.

UPDATE: I made it out in time so I’ll be there today 😁

Ordinarily we do get a lot of rain in springtime. But we’ve been getting a lot more rain than ordinary since *last* spring.

Framed some Paintings

All week I’ve been getting ready for this weekend’s South x Southeast Art Tour. I’ve framed a few more paintings, with the intention to sell some original art this time.

When I framed the last one, I thought I might do something a little different. The painting is a monochrome using only the pigment from a red sandstone. I named the paint “Intoxicating”, which is also what I named the painting.

So I added a little nugget of the same kind of sandstone to the frame, so the owner can see the kind of rock I used to make the paint.

Paleo Painting with the rock used to make the paint on the frame.
I think I’ll make a point to save some of the stones from each of the paints I make so I can add more interest to the frames. Paintings using more than one color will get graced by more than one stone.

Springtime in the Ozarks

Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.
Springtime in the Ozarks means trout lilies blooming.

Just in case I don’t get any pictures this year of the ephemerals, because springtime in the Ozarks sometimes has a tendency to knock the blooms down before I get to take their portraits, here’s a link from previous year.