Drawing on stones is nothing unusual for artists, but there are only a few people who can earn a living by doing it and make their artworks known to a wide audience.

However, a young man who lives in A Luoi is able to do both: drawing on stones and earning a living from the artworks.

Drawing on stones, why not?

After graduating from the Hue University School of Arts, Nguyen Viet Cong Thanh earned money by drawing murals to decorate restaurants and cafés. In order to ‘survive first,’ as Thanh said, he put aside his passion for art to make ends meet. 

The idea of painting on stones came to Thanh unexpectedly during a picnic with his friends three years ago. Walking along the spring and looking at stones in different shapes, Thanh wondered why he should not use the stones, of which there are so many in his hometown, as a material for drawing.

He immediately began to try his hand at the idea. He carefully searched for and collected stones, washed them before drying them in the sun, and then set about drawing on them for the first time.

It turned out that drawing on stones was not as easy as he first thought.

Because of the rough surface and asymmetrical shapes of the stones, it is a challenge for him to express his creative ideas.

In the mountainous area of A Luoi, there are many springs of all sizes. In the dry season, when it rarely rains, many stones in different colors and shapes appear at the bottom of the springs.

Thanh often waits for such times to do his work. With a small backpack, he wanders along all the springs in his hometown to find suitable stones.

When he finds ones, he often thinks about what he wants to draw on them in advance. Thanks to his creative hands, the stones that once lay idle in the bed of the spring seem to don a new appearance and come to life.

In order to create such beautiful works of art, Thanh has spent a lot of time gathering, drawing, and gaining more and more experience himself.

Some stone paintings by Nguyen Viet Cong Thanh. Photo: L. Chi / Tuoi Tre

Some stone paintings by Nguyen Viet Cong Thanh. Photo: L. Chi / Tuoi Tre

Making a living with art

The locals come across Thanh sitting silently by the spring, gazing at the streambed in the afternoon sun.

At this time, he is looking for stones suitable for his artwork, which may surprise some people.

Even Thanh’s mother wondered what her son would do with the raw stones he collected at home.

Since the day he decided to pursue art as a career, she was truly worried about her son’s future.

She was afraid that he would not be able to make a living as an artist!

But it turned out that was not the case. Thanh himself was surprised when the first bricks of drawings he posted on social media for fun caught the attention of his friends.

Since then, more and more people have heard about his 2D and 3D stone paintings.

Thanh’s first customer, who is passionate about collecting stone paintings, is from Hai Phong, a coastal city about 120 kilometers from Hanoi.

He heard about the young artist’s artwork on social media and came to buy it in person.

Other customers also find their way to Thanh. In this way, the young man’s stone paintings have been distributed to many cities and provinces such as Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hanoi, and more.

The more complex each stone painting is, the more time Thanh has to spend finishing them.

For simple works, he only needs one or two hours.

Paintings with a lot of details take him up to three hours or more to create.

“I have found that it is the roughness and asymmetrical shapes of each stone that make it unique and from which each stone painting is created, which becomes the first and therefore exclusive,” he said.

Each of Thanh’s stone paintings fetches up to a million Vietnamese dong. (VND1 million = US$42.3)

The young man’s artworks captured a lot of attention during the COVID-19 pandemic as many customers showed their interest in them.

Thanks to their support, Thanh’s extra income became his main source of living.

Currently, Thanh is still working as a muralist, just like what he has been doing for several years.

After working for hours to make a living, Thanh spends his free time painting stones as a passion.

Bringing stone paintings to life

Nguyen Viet Cong Thanh chooses to paint landscapes or animals on this 2D and 3D stone drawings.

Under his skillful and refined brushstrokes, the paintings convey lifelike feelings to people who look at them.

Thanh currently teaches drawing to local children at home. He hopes to one day hold an exhibition of his stone paintings.

The young man is also working with some host families providing homestay services in A Luoi District to offer experience tours where tourists can try their hand at painting on stones and other natural materials.

There are many other intentions and plans that have grown gradually in the young artist’s mind over time along with his skills and determination.

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With skillful hands, Nguyen Viet Cong Thanh, a young man from the mountainous district of A Luoi in Thua Thien Hue Province, central Vietnam transforms ordinary and lifeless stones into vivid, lifelike artworks with animated brushstrokes.

Drawing on stones is nothing unusual for artists, but there are only a few people who can earn a living by doing it and make their artworks known to a wide audience.

However, a young man who lives in A Luoi is able to do both: drawing on stones and earning a living from the artworks.

Drawing on stones, why not?

After graduating from the Hue University School of Arts, Nguyen Viet Cong Thanh earned money by drawing murals to decorate restaurants and cafés. In order to ‘survive first,’ as Thanh said, he put aside his passion for art to make ends meet. 

The idea of painting on stones came to Thanh unexpectedly during a picnic with his friends three years ago. Walking along the spring and looking at stones in different shapes, Thanh wondered why he should not use the stones, of which there are so many in his hometown, as a material for drawing.

He immediately began to try his hand at the idea. He carefully searched for and collected stones, washed them before drying them in the sun, and then set about drawing on them for the first time.

It turned out that drawing on stones was not as easy as he first thought.

Because of the rough surface and asymmetrical shapes of the stones, it is a challenge for him to express his creative ideas.

In the mountainous area of A Luoi, there are many springs of all sizes. In the dry season, when it rarely rains, many stones in different colors and shapes appear at the bottom of the springs.

Thanh often waits for such times to do his work. With a small backpack, he wanders along all the springs in his hometown to find suitable stones.

When he finds ones, he often thinks about what he wants to draw on them in advance. Thanks to his creative hands, the stones that once lay idle in the bed of the spring seem to don a new appearance and come to life.

In order to create such beautiful works of art, Thanh has spent a lot of time gathering, drawing, and gaining more and more experience himself.

Some stone paintings by Nguyen Viet Cong Thanh. Photo: L. Chi / Tuoi Tre

Some stone paintings by Nguyen Viet Cong Thanh. Photo: L. Chi / Tuoi Tre

Making a living with art

The locals come across Thanh sitting silently by the spring, gazing at the streambed in the afternoon sun.

At this time, he is looking for stones suitable for his artwork, which may surprise some people.

Even Thanh’s mother wondered what her son would do with the raw stones he collected at home.

Since the day he decided to pursue art as a career, she was truly worried about her son’s future.

She was afraid that he would not be able to make a living as an artist!

But it turned out that was not the case. Thanh himself was surprised when the first bricks of drawings he posted on social media for fun caught the attention of his friends.

Since then, more and more people have heard about his 2D and 3D stone paintings.

Thanh’s first customer, who is passionate about collecting stone paintings, is from Hai Phong, a coastal city about 120 kilometers from Hanoi.

He heard about the young artist’s artwork on social media and came to buy it in person.

Other customers also find their way to Thanh. In this way, the young man’s stone paintings have been distributed to many cities and provinces such as Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hanoi, and more.

The more complex each stone painting is, the more time Thanh has to spend finishing them.

For simple works, he only needs one or two hours.

Paintings with a lot of details take him up to three hours or more to create.

“I have found that it is the roughness and asymmetrical shapes of each stone that make it unique and from which each stone painting is created, which becomes the first and therefore exclusive,” he said.

Each of Thanh’s stone paintings fetches up to a million Vietnamese dong. (VND1 million = US$42.3)

The young man’s artworks captured a lot of attention during the COVID-19 pandemic as many customers showed their interest in them.

Thanks to their support, Thanh’s extra income became his main source of living.

Currently, Thanh is still working as a muralist, just like what he has been doing for several years.

After working for hours to make a living, Thanh spends his free time painting stones as a passion.

Bringing stone paintings to life

Nguyen Viet Cong Thanh chooses to paint landscapes or animals on this 2D and 3D stone drawings.

Under his skillful and refined brushstrokes, the paintings convey lifelike feelings to people who look at them.

Thanh currently teaches drawing to local children at home. He hopes to one day hold an exhibition of his stone paintings.

The young man is also working with some host families providing homestay services in A Luoi District to offer experience tours where tourists can try their hand at painting on stones and other natural materials.

There are many other intentions and plans that have grown gradually in the young artist’s mind over time along with his skills and determination.

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