Monday, February 4, 2008

Mountains Underfoot

Not being much of a geologist, I’m not sure what it was I picked up along the shore of the Hudson River.


I’m guessing a chunk of coal? Charcoal? Maybe you know. But what attracted me was the wonderfully complex form, with all the intricate planes and cracks.

I brought it home and spray-painted it with flat gray primer. The paint unified the surface, and made it photograph clearly. Below is how the same little rock looks in real sunlight. Now I’ve got a great reference tool for the future, whenever I need to paint a jagged rocky mountainscape.

It’s hard to sculpt such forms from clay or foam, and hard to find existing photos that meet your specific lighting needs. Why bother, when you can find great rocks everywhere? I got this idea from Maxfield Parrish, who had a small collection of "bonsai" rocks to help him imagine his mountain backdrops.


Next time you take a walk in a rocky place, keep an eye out for mountains underfoot.

Tomorrow: How About a Book?

8 comments:

Jen Zeller said...

What an interesting concept... I have always collected these 'bonsai mountains', as you call them, yet never been interested in them beyond the aesthetic, of course...
Your find looks like a common piece of wood charcoal (is it light?) -I think coal is heavier and has an almost glass-like sheen. But I am not geologist either. :} I look forward to seeing this little beauty again amongst the pages of the next Dinotopia Adventure, or amongst the pages of National Geographic. :}

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Looks layered - sedimentary rock?

I've aquired a lot of unusual rocks from other parts of Britain - black basalt and slate etc - but only once used pieces in this way in a painting. Good tip.

The BBC does a virtual rock analyser for British rocks - should be a general one somewhere on the net if you're interested.

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Oh, man, I love that idea!!!! Even for diorama making, that rock would make a sauropod herd look beautiful!

Spencer

Tom Scholes said...

Ha! Awesome idea.

K_tigress said...

Very cool rock find. I have one from the Adriatic Sea. The salty sea chewed the rock up over time, so it’s all covered with tiny holes. It reminds me of an asteroid in miniature.

Nonie said...

Wow, never thought of that. I'm so going rock hunting!

Scott Altmann said...

Awesome - I also did this...
and I also stole the idea from ole' Maxfield :)

Jared Shear said...

Time to go rock hunting!.....thanks for the tip. Also I have found that old weather worn tree stumps can have a nice "cliff" look when photographed up close.