Donald Austin is a California artist who creates contemporary prehistoric works in stone from ancient rock art.
Petroglyphs are written messages from people in the past. They are messages of events that occurred, snapshots of lives long ago. Donald Austin is a California artist who creates contemporary prehistoric works in stone from ancient rock art, especially from the Southwest United States.
Most renditions of rock art that we see today are simply paintings or photographs, but the media in which the originals were carved are stone. Donald is one of very few artists who render the prehistoric images in stone as well, the way they were intended.
After 30 years in electronics and manufacturing, Donald had the opportunity to do something different — to help preserve ancient rock art. Through that process, creating his own artistic works is now his passion.
First, Donald photographs the original rock art with a camera and digitally processes them using a special computer program. He outputs the image and details it with pen and ink. Then he makes a negative from the processed photograph on photo-resist material, using ultraviolet light, and develops the image in a water wash.
He selects the stone he wants to use, and adjusts its size to the negative image by breaking it down with a hammer. Then he applies an adhesive negative resist to the stone and sandblasts the image. He removes the resist residue by washing the stone with a hose.
Then he begins carving detail using small hand tools. To finalize his work, he makes an oak frame for each petroglyph. The stone is then mounted directly into the frame or is framed and suspended on brass pins.
Donald's spectacular sand-carved petroglyphs are not only art but windows into the past, perfectly preserved. His art is a reminder that there were others here before us and that there will be others here after us.