Sticks and Stones

We’ve all heard that familiar childhood rhyme. Stick and stones may break my bones…” The rhyme is intended to strengthen us against hateful or harmful words directed our way, and I could definitely write an entire post about words.  Despite the claims of the nursery rhyme, words can hurt us, especially the words that come out of our own mouths or out of our own minds. I’ve written before about my cranky art teacher — the make-believe Miss Crabapple who criticizes everything I do — but the power of words is not the topic of today’s post.

Instead of some thought-provoking treatise on artistic self-esteem and the need to encourage ourselves and others, today’s post is simply about sticks and stones.

We’ll start with the sticks. I’ve talked about wanting to use sticks as tools for painting, but I haven’t gotten around to that quite yet. It’s been hot and humid, and I haven’t spent much time outdoors this summer. As the weather cools off a bit, I’ll be taking walks along the hiking trails at the park, and no doubt I’ll be picking up lots of sticks.

I love sticks. I guess that’s an outgrowth of my love for trees, and yes, that pun was intended. It’s literally true. Sticks do grow on trees, and every stick seems to have a character all its own.

I remember sitting outside last summer and drawing this stick:

Old Stick (2)

Sorry for the poor photo. It’s always hard for me to get good pictures of drawings in my sketch books.

I enjoyed drawing this old stick, although I had doubts about doing it. I took my time, slipped into a quiet state of mind, and in the end, I was pleased with the results.

Now and then I come across a stick that has so much character that I have to keep it. Sometime last summer, I found such a stick. I set it aside in my herb garden and guarded it ferociously. At one point my husband — my dear, beloved husband — actually picked it up and tried to throw it away. To him, you see, it was just an old stick. I quickly rescued it, put it back in the herb garden, and there’s where it stayed for many months. I had plans for it.

Finally, last week, I started putting my plan into action. The stick, you see, bore such a strong resemblance to a snake, it was uncanny. So, I grabbed my acrylics and started painting it. It’s not finished. I’ve only done one coat of black, white, and red, and later I’ll be adding bright golden yellow eyes.

Here’s how the fellow looks right now:

Acrylic Snake (2)

I will be adding little rings of black between each red and white section. Hopefully when it’s all done, it will look a bit like a ring snake.

I have to tell you, though, painting this stick was a lot harder than I’d expected. It was difficult to hold on to it with one hand and paint with the other, and the acrylic paint I used didn’t cover the stick too well, thus the need for at least one more coat. Once it’s finished, I’ll give it a good coat of varnish, too, and then Mr. Snake can return to the herb garden. I like to think he’s out there warding off creatures that might want my herbs.

But sticks are only one part of the rhyme, and stones are becoming more and more popular with artists. My daughter, Elisabeth, is one of those, and for heaven’s sake, I have no idea where this child got her artistic talent. She certainly didn’t get it from me.

Here’s one of her latest creations, a commission for a friend:

Heartfelt Rocks
By Elisabeth Sherwood, “Heartfelt Rocks”

Stepping back from the easel and getting away from traditional ways of creating art can be a lot of fun. It can bring a few frustrations, too, but in its own way, I suppose that’s also part of the fun of it all.

So, when you see sticks and stones lying about, don’t be too quick to dismiss them. Maybe they’re just waiting to be picked up, brought inside, and turned into some fanciful creation.




  1. I can see why you liked that stick, but whether I would have spotted that in the stick myself, had I found it, I don’t know. I look forward to seeing your finished product.

    The stone art looks really great. I have done a couple myself, which you probably seen on my blog. I need to do some more, but I never be that good as that stone art. I really admire stone art as good as that one.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love your imagination to see a snake was possible with the stick. Such a fun idea to put it in the garden.
    The rock art is beautiful. Such a cute puppy dog – the real one, and the painted one! I do love painting on rocks, and now I want to paint a stick! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Painting the stick was harder than I thought it would be. I’m going to give that snake/stick another coat this weekend and try adding the little bands of black. The stick absorbs the paint so it’s hard to cover it.

      Liked by 1 person

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