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Painted Rocks by George Witham
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Rock Paintings by George Witham

When is a rock not a rock? When it’s a beagle, a crushed soda can, a tennis shoe or a hamburger! Townsend, MA. artist, George Witham, takes rocks that he finds along the New England shore, and paints them to resemble the various objects in our daily lives.

The artist began painting rocks over twenty years ago after his thirteen-year old daughter held up a rock that she had found at the beach, and remarked how much it looked like a shoe. Witham painted the rock to look like a blue running sneaker, complete with white shoelaces and racing stripes. After the painting was finished, Witham was struck by the way it had ceased to be simply a rock, and actually became that running sneaker!

He primarily uses rocks from the shore, as they have been smoothed by the surf and are, therefore, ideal for painting. Witham does not attach anything to the rock, or chisel pieces of it away; he prefers to work with the shape provided by nature. The natural imperfections, such as chips, streaks or holes, often work to his advantage; a rock with one edge broken off became the half-eaten side of an apple.

Usually, Witham must study a rock for quite some time before deciding on a subject. Then he draws an outline on the rock in pencil to get a feel for the proportion. He uses acrylic to paint the actual image, then adds a protective coat of clear acrylic varnish. Witham has found that a layer of glossy varnish, followed by a layer of dull varnish, gives the rock a soft look ideal for animal fur or feathers. Glossy varnish can produce the look of metal (the crushed soda can), or an animal’s eyes and cold, wet nose.

The artist has painted over 300 rocks, and his work has been sold in shops that sell crafts and fine art. Many of his painted rocks are owned by co-workers at the company in Massachusetts where he worked as a graphic artist for 32 years. The rocks have ended up in far-away places. One crushed beer can went with a National Guardsman to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Storm. Another went to Africa. He has exhibited at: the Transportation Building in Boston, MA.; Groton Center for the Arts in Groton, MA.; Ogunquit and East Boothbay, ME; The Marblehead Artists’ Gallery in Marblehead, MA.; and the Dunstable Artisans annual art show in Groton, MA. His rocks were included in the May 1997 issue of North Light magazine. On January 22, 2002, Witham and his paintings were featured on the WCVB television show “Chronicle.”

Witham was born in Auburn, Maine in 1944. He relocated to Massachusetts in the 1960’s, and received a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art with a major in illustration. He has combined his love of model making and realist painting to develop this unique art form.

You can reach him at geo_witham@yahoo.com.






More painted rocks coming soon


George Witham
12 Reagan Rd
Townsend, MA 01469-1173

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