“Once you start hunting for rocks to paint you’ll never look at them the same again!” Mari McGuire said laughing. “You look for what you can see in them – LL Bean boots and lady slippers – and never in the same spot.”
Rocks have been the canvas for McGuire and her whole family, from her siblings to the grandchildren and great grandchildren for 11 years. Everyone gets involved: The non-painters are the gatherers, some of whom evolve to base layer coaters.
“From an 18-month-old baby (then) to a 95-year-old aunt sitting next to a 10-year-old sitting side by side at a picnic table on the rocks at our camp, it’s an incredible thing it’s morphed into,” said McGuire. “Great-great uncles, aunts, parents … get to spend time together. My picnic tables all have a patina now!”
Over the years, designs have included turtles, owls, tic-tac-toe turtles (a hot commodity); ladybugs, butterflies, honey bees, professional sports teams or sports, hobbit doors, princess slippers, tigers, puffins, the Milky Way, suns; poet rocks (rocks with lines of poetry on them); “Jaws,” Steller eagle, the VW bus, cartoon characters, floral gardens; peace rocks; seasonal rocks: veteran’s holidays, Fourth of July, Nurses Week; and during COVID-19, Dr. Nirav Shaw – masked, of course. Those flew off the rock table. Maguire sent one to Shaw at the Center for Disease Control. The CDC said he loved it. It was a fairly good sized boulder. Other designs have included inspirational sayings; rock rocks have included Pink Floyd (“The Wall” and “Dark Side of the Moon”) and Jimmy Buffet (a large shaker of salt); currently, McGuire is working on a request: The Beatles, circa “Yellow Submarine” complete with a yellow submarine.
The song lyrics rocks bring a fun story: Last summer, a woman out walking stopped to check out the rocks. McGuire came out and the two talked briefly. “She said, ‘You’re not going to believe this, but I’m Art Garfunkel’s son’s girlfriend. I’m getting this ‘Feelin groovy’ turtle rock for him because (the phrase is) in one of his father’s songs. I can’t wait to give it to him in England.”
From the poetry rock stories: “One woman started crying,” McGuire said. “She didn’t see a rock her dad had from here that was used for his eulogy when his ashes were scattered. It was one of the poetry rocks … so I made her another one – and one for each of her sisters, too.”
McGuire said there are many stories after 11 years, like the cancer survivor who had to have 20 tiger rocks to put around in her garden.
Thank you notes are not uncommon in the “donations” mailbox. “Love the rocks, we come every year;” and when the Steller eagle was here a young girl wrote McGuire saying her grammy didn’t get to see it when it was here, so McGuire painted Steller eagle rocks. “The girl wrote again to say her grandmother loved her Steller rock … and she passed a short time later,” recalled…
Read More: The ‘Rock Lady’ of Ocean Point