Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Fun Begins!

This one is just in!  #57 in Hudson Wisconsin.
 The Mystery Stone Project has launched, and it all started with these humble rocks!

Here's Dale at Sturgeon Bay Sand and Gravel.  If this project inspires you to paint a large quantity  of rocks check out your local quarry or gravel pit.  We bought 5 pounds of washed landscaping stones for 2 dollars!  Considering this project is COMPLETEY FREE to all participants, a great deal on stones is vital.
Harvesting stones from public places is often illegal, so check the laws, and consider a trip to the gravel pit.

In my last post "The Magical Mystery Stones" I wrote about the ideas and thoughts behind the project.  Now that the Mystery Stones have launched I have things to say about the REAL EXPERIENCE of starting and witnessing the progress of a free and public art venture.  I thought it would be fun, but already I am realizing that I had no idea how magical and rewarding this kind of interactive art experience can be.

The photographic adventures of the stone "releasers" are another art form in themselves!

Street Art finds its' niche.

Seeing the photos of released stones thrills me, my little creations are out in the world.  And people are excited to find
them, and the experience of releasing stones seems to bring out the kid in all of us... it is such a pure form of PLAY.

I have already heard back from a handful of "finders" whose enthusiasm seems evident in their facebook posts.  I feel a certain amount of awe that these people have found a stone, looked up the website address scratched into the back of the stone and followed the links to the Facebook and instagram pages where they are able to report the stone number and location of their find.  I had no idea what to expect for when I started painting little stones, but the fact that less than two days into it I am connecting people with these little one of a kind characters that I individually painted is thrilling.  I feel like I'm a kid again, and I'm loving it.

FOUND!!! The finder of this stone found it on facebook and says she's planning to bring it along on a trip to the UP.

FOUND!!!!  These finders reported back less than a few hours after we left it in a Chicago park... in the rain!

FOUND!!!  Left in a parking garage in downtown Chicago, this one was reported the next day.
 I am certain that I will never tire of hearing back from "finders," the excitement is contagious!

Some of the stones are small and uneven, jagged... not perfect by any standards.
I think these are the ones I'm cheering on the most, if they keep re-appearing online in new locations
it will refresh my love of the underdog every time!

Please keep up with the project on Facebook:
and on Instagram:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Magical Mystery Stones

The Mystery Stone project will launch at the end of June.  Hundreds of little painted stones will be released into the world.

It’s time to write about the mystery stones.  It all began when I woke up one day and decided I needed to paint a thousand stones and get them out into the world.  This made sense to me, as the natural evolution of "Brilliant Stranger."  Brilliant Stranger is a name that came to me in a dream, was once a curious traveling character in my sketchbooks, then for seven years a busy retail shop, and now... a mystery.

I’ve been increasingly absorbed in this project, sharing my progress and ideas on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter.  (Well… I’m a pretty terrible Tweeter, but I do share photos of the stones there. )  All this social media is what you make it, right?  After all, a computer and its' many functions are meant to be a tool, but like any creation, it can control you, or be controlled by you.  I have often reflected on the question: what am I doing with the technology I have at my fingertips?  (And what is it doing to me?)

Two summers ago I had a dream.  In the dream I was led around a room by a man who placed his hand on my shoulder and calmly spoke to me.  This being led me through what would best be described as a computer lab, with many people working at their screens.  Suddenly the screens went blank.  Everyone reacted differently, some pounded on their keyboards, some shook the screens, some sat back and stared.  A few screens began to come back into focus, but not all.  My “guide” told me this: “Those who know why they are doing what they doing will control the technology.”  Then I woke up.  What I took from that dream was the realization that mastering the tools may be a doorway,  but mastering the art of self knowledge is the key.  

So now I am using new technology and a raw material as old as they come to create the Mystery Stone project.  My "why" is this: to share what to me is the most magical thing about being an artist - The MYSTERY.  In the process of making art, things "become" what to me feels like what they are meant to become.  We (artists) facilitate, we nuture, we work very hard and we may apply a great deal of effort.  The way I see it, we don't determine the outcome, but we can control the technology that leads to an art experience.   And then it goes out into the world, and like our children, has a life of it's own.  It flows through us and we flow through it, and everyone who engages with it has their own experience.  Those experiences are what I understand to be the path to self knowledge, an acceptance of what IS, rather than a need to keep or control what we WANT TO BE.  So this project is my way of sharing that experience with hundreds, perhaps thousands of strangers and friends,  friends and strangers.  We can all watch the Stones "become" as the project unfolds over time.

"We should never turn away from what nature has to show us. "  Jana Levin

Back to the Stones.  In a time when our tools change everyday, when there’s a new app, program, operating system and gadget born every hour I like thinking about the tools of antiquity.  How stable and seemingly unchanging, a tool pounded from hard stone.  A tool for communication, a slate tablet.  A Rune.  A Beti Stone.  All these ignite my imagination, especially because they do change.  Over time, in new and different settings, even a stone changes. There is nothing in life that doesn’t change.  Permanence does not exist.  So perhaps our fast changing world of phones and screens is no less “real” than a world of stone and steel? 

"There is not a single true work of art that has not in the end added to the inner freedom
 of each person who has known and loved it."  Albert Camus
Rather than debate WHAT IS REAL and WHICH IS BETTER, I feel better equipped and much happier to wonder, marvel and witness this changing world we live in.  So I chose something so seemingly concrete, old, and stable to be the primary subject of a project based on the concept of impermanence and change.  The main suggestion (I am not calling it a rule, because it is a choice) in the Mystery Stone Project is to release the stones back into the world.  Anyone who is given or discovers a stone is asked to return it back into the world, into the flow where it can be found again and again and again.  And we can all just see where it goes.  And what it does, sees, and tells us, through all of our actions, our eyes, and our words.

Please join us on Brilliant Stranger on Facebook and/or Mystery Stones on Instagram to take part in the project.  If you find a stone you are invited to share a photo, thoughts or feelings on Facebook, instagram or via email.  Instructions/Guidelines are posted on

Pin It button on image hover