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Bringing rocks to life with a lick of paint

Update: June, 24/2018 - 09:00
Lifelike: Thành poses beside an artwork he is working on. Photo courtesy of the artist
Viet Nam News

by Minh Thu

Đậu Quang Thành’s skill of painting on rocks has earned him the nickname, Thành The Rock.

Once a poor student who used to sketch portraits for tourists to earn a living and afford his studies, 31-year-old Thành has today become a famous artist in Nha Trang, in the coastal province of Khánh Hòa.

Thành was born to a poor family in the central province of Hà Tĩnh. After finishing high school, his parents could not afford for him to study further, and Thành had to work to make ends meet.

He had a passion for painting since he was young. He interrupted his studies for two years and got admission into Huế University of Fine Arts to pursue his dream of being an artist. There, he had the opportunity to learn professional painting. Even during his school days, Thành used to sketch portraits for tourists in Huế City.

He graduated in 2013 and moved to Nha Trang to start his career. After painting on many materials, including canvas, paper and walls, the idea of painting on stones came to him when he noticed stones with strange shapes on the bank of a river.

“Once when I had gone on a picnic with friends, I saw stones of various sizes and shapes that intrigued me and I tried to paint on them, to turn the lifeless stones into lively artworks," Thành says.

“What can you do with your painted stones? Lots of things. Turn them into magnets, decorate your garden and home, make paperweights, write inspirational messages on them,” Thành says.

Animals: Artworks painted on stones by Đậu Quang Thành.
Lessons: Beside creating art, Thành also organises painting classes for children. Photo courtesy of the artist
Colourful: An artwork painted on a stone by Đậu Quang Thành.

He soon found an endless inspiration to paint on stones, although he faced some difficulties.

“The first problem I faced was getting on well with the new material as the surface of stones is not flat and smooth,” he says.

He mastered the art gradually and was able to paint on both smooth, rounded stones and rugged stones, with each stone offering a different experience and inspiration.

“Each stone is perfect and can have a different effect,” Thành adds.

He often wanders along the bank of rivers and streams to collect stones. Sometimes, he rides a motorbike to a mountainous region 50km from Nha Trang to find stones.

Though his favourite subjects are landscapes and animals, he collects any stone with a unique shape since he knows how far his imagination can drive him. 

“When I have a certain design in mind, like a cat, an owl or a caterpillar, I am on the lookout for the right shaped stone to paint on,” Thành says. “Finding stones with strange shapes inspires me to create my art.”

After collecting the stones, Thành washes them with water and soap and pats them dry. He first paints a layer of coating on the stones. Then he uses a pencil or chalk to draw small details. The main part is painting on the stones with acrylic colours. Once he finishes painting the design, he covers the stone with a coating of PU (polyurethane) glue to ensure the artwork lasts long. He uses a hairdryer to dry the paint faster.

When Thành first uploaded pictures of his artworks on Facebook, he did not expect many takers. But he soon started receiving orders for painted stones.

“I love painting on stones because I feel close to nature,” he says. “The art is unique as no two stones look the same.”

Apart from painting stones following orders from souvenir shops, Thành also paints murals for tourist sites and cafes. VNS

 

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