When the pandemic forced the shut down of playgrounds in Langley this past Spring it sparked creativity for these Langley grandparents who found themselves picking up a paint brush to help keep the local kids occupied.
Herb and Cherri Kwan’s home backs onto to Routley Park in Willoughby, and when the City of Langley announced the closure of playgrounds in April to help curb the spread of the virus they noticed the kids were looking for something to do.
“The kids were just kind of wandering around, not having anything to do,” Cherri recalled. “So we thought, well, let’s just paint up a few rocks, and we’ll put them out in the park. So we did that, and they would disappear, and then the kids would come and search around for rocks again.”
The treasure hunting evolved and the couple began hanging the decorated rocks in a container strung to a tree with a note that encouraged the young explores to leave a rock in place of one.
“And so it almost became self-sustaining,” Cherri said. “You could hear them (the kids) coming down the pathway so excited to see what was left, you know, in the little box of painted rocks.”
Kids from as young as three to eight years old exercised their creativity in the early stages of the pandemic, Cherri said, whose artistry notably evolved.
“But it was very interesting, you know, just watching and seeing the progression of their artwork… they started off with just like a little sticker on a rock,” she described. ”But it evolved so that they were actually painting hearts and worms and messages – inspiring little messages.”
But once the parks re-opened in June the Kwan’s decided to forgo the painting project for the kids and took on larger, more intricate illustrations.
“We just started experimenting and and it’s kind of evolved and become a little business,” Cherri said.
The couple now have clients commission artwork such as painting portraits of their pets.
Cherri, a retired designer, and Herb a retired architect, called the rock painting project a hobby the two could do together.
“And we just love it,” Cherri said.
She estimates it takes about three days for her to complete her larger animal paintings, while Herb’s paintings can take as long as a week to complete.
“The ones that Herb does – his are the architectural ones with the straight lines and precision, and they take quite a bit longer,” Cherri said.
And a notable piece Herb recalls completing was ‘Forbidden City,’ a first in what he said is a tour of China series.
Herb has called the experience “rewarding and humbling.” The couple’s Instagram account has gained nearly 600 followers.
“We’re retired, obviously, and given the fact that we’re older, we’re worried and we’re super cautious about going out,” Herb said. “So we spend a lot of our time indoors and at home. And so we have a lot of time on our hands”
The pair credit their kids for helping them get their work online.
“They’re showing a mastery of painting and illustration that neither I, nor my husband, realized they possessed,” said their daughter-in-law Bernadette Amiscaray.
“They’ve always been creative busy-bodies, which has been a trickle-down blessing for their eight grandkids, but we see that their rock creations have allowed for an elevated and fulfilling form of personal expression. It’s pretty inspiring.”
Herb and Cherri’s creations can be viewed online at www.instagram.com/rocks.unlimited.