An Interview with Carolyn Haas

Creating Modern Petroglyphs

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

A love of geology can inspire creative self expression. Welcome to an interview with Carolyn Haas, a fine artist who has been inspired to connect histories of human and geological development by creating modern petroglyphs.

What is your name and your background?

Carolyn Haas
Carolyn Haas
I am Carolyn J. Haas, and I am a fine artist, rock collector, nature lover, gardener, and photographer.

How did you become interested in geology?

My interest in geology began in grade school, having what must have been a dried river bed behind my house in Cincinnati.  That was my sister and my playground, where we were constantly bringing home fossils and semi-precious rocks, a fully intact curled trilobite being the prize find.  Years later, as a tourist, I was able to participate in a fossil dig near Stuttgart, Germany, where many of the discoveries ended up in the Urwelt Museum Hauff.  So, along with fossils, I've collected rocks most of my life.

How do you make modern petroglyphs?  Are they related to ancient ones?

I began seeing images in most rocks in the past couple of years.  I photograph the rock, and then with my computer skills, I bring forth what I am seeing by intensifying the contrast, which I am comparing to the method of chiseling but in a metaphoric sense.  I liken it to the difference between the contrast of a dry stone and a wet stone but on a grander scale.  Other than this contrast, I do not alter or add anything to the image of the rock -   even as much as a sparkle of light in an eye.  It is all already present on the rock.

To my knowledge, there is no relation to ancient petroglyphs.  My images lean more towards realism than the stick figures and symbols of the past.  It is as much a mystery to me as it is to anyone else.  I have no idea if the images have always been there or if it is a new phenomenon.  I just bring them forth the best that I can.

Please describe your work and your goals.

Before discovering my rock images, my background was in fine arts, using the traditional mediums of paints and colored pencils.  My style was predominantly realism of still lives, landscapes, animals and an occasional portrait.  I am currently a signature member of CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America) by means of being accepted into three international competitions, but ultimately achieving five, which earned a five-year merit award.

My work with rocks usually starts with seeing eyes; then, other features start to become apparent.  The subjects range from a single figure to multiple figures, usually of animals and otherworldly creatures.  Periodically a human will surface.  I believe many of them hold some sort of meaning or are there to provoke emotion.  Some of them are the most endearing faces I have seen, and  I can't help but stare at them in wonder.  Occasionally they are incorporated into the shape of the rock, appearing to be emerging from it.  I have also begun attempting to work the entire rock.  In some cases, this leads to images that seem to have no end, as if I'm going deeper and deeper into the rock.  As part of the patterns, there seems always to be spheres on these rocks.  I often overwork the rock, which causes it to lose clarity, but I love them all.

I would have to say that my main goal is to try to perfect them - if there is such a thing.  I've had to start over with many to bring out what I believe is trying to be shown.

I am also striving to bring awareness to these images.  Initially, I was quite hesitant, but after sharing them with friends and family, I was convinced to do so.  Finding a way to do that has been quite a challenge.  I currently have my first piece accepted into an art gallery, but I do envision them being exhibited in a museum venue at some point.  My love of art and rocks have somehow been intermingled, and I'm making the most of it.

What are your plans for the future?

Quite honestly, I am taking this a day at a time.  I love my life as it is and don't picture myself making significant changes to it.  I am a creator and do want to continue to do so, but feel the need to share my; or should I say; the universe's creations.

Images Submitted

It was very difficult to choose the three images, but if you would like to see many more, you can visit my website at:


This image, to me, depicts the pure, wide-eyed innocence of some of our little animal friends, that appear to be cats and dogs. Below is a human face that looks to be leering up at these animals. I imagine that ill intent is looming behind those eyes.


This rock was delivered to me by a dog playing in the creek, along with my dog and others. He picked the rock up in his mouth, came out of the water, and dropped the rock at my feet. The images are a myriad of faces, dominated by a red, central figure that could be a crouching dog. As I work with the rocks, sometimes a variegation is part of the outcome, which I just love! I imagine that the type of rock dictates the color but not sure how that gets to be translated through the computer. It’s all a mystery to me! This is an example of a rock that I worked on longer, trying to bring forth everything I see, but I could have kept going on it forever, perhaps!

The dog that delivered the rock to me is named Legend.

Cave Dwellers

Cave Dwellers
Cave Dwellers
The images on this rock appear to be creatures that you might find living in a cave or perhaps painted on a cave wall. A cave painting is what this actually puts in my mind. Is it a bear, hyena and some other unidentified critter? Maybe!

What Can I Do?

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