Mark Dorman Is The Abstract Impressionist King of Rock Art


According to Google, “Rock art refers to symbols or marks with no obvious purpose that have been painted (pictographs) or engraved or scratched (petroglyphs) onto natural rock surfaces.” Digging deeper into Google, I stumble upon ‘Rock and Roll Art‘. No matter my amount of poking around, the powers that be don’t give a definition for this one. Mine is: a bunch of rote images relating to rock and roll music that are sold at lofty prices pretty much everywhere. Then there is another form of ‘rock art’ pictured on Google. It also lacks a definition given in any form of verbiage. Which is fine, the pictures do it justice. It’s when people paint on stones, or rocks. Now I invite you to meet Mark Dorman. He paints ‘rock art’ as well. Mark’s definition of his ‘rock art’ is his abstract Impressionism painting style of musical subjects. Truly Rock Art.

Meet the Artist, Mark Dorman

Mark is originally from the South Texas Rio Grande Valley. He was initially inspired as an artist in the fourth grade when a classmate was drawing a rocket with lots of interesting patterns. Mark thought that was fun and he could do that, too.

As a teen, Mark moved to Enid, OK. This is where his journey as a musician also took off. He formed very strong brotherhood bonds through music and played on and off with various bands for about 20 years. Moving back and forth between Texas and Oklahoma every 2-3 years the whole time. Finally, in 2002, Mark moved to Kalispell, MT. He lived there for almost 10 years and half heartedly began to pursue art again.

And somewhere in here, Mark managed to attend North Texas State University in Denton (now called the University of North Texas) for music/art. He also studied low voltage electrical engineering at a technical school. Just because he wanted to learn about that, too.

The Beginning of Rock Art

Mark Dorman is not a complicated man. And the evolution of his style of Rock Art was much the same. When he was in high school, he began taking classes that did the spadework for Rock Art. Later, when he was working in a recording studio, he became acquainted with Photoshop, which taught him digital editing, and Quarkxpress, which helped with page layouts. The two tools lead Mark to designing CD and cassette covers for both his band and other bands traveling through the area. And so Mark Dorman’s Rock Art was born.

Producing His Rock Art

Like many artists, Mark’s art comes from the “zone”. That place…physically, mentally, emotionally… that artists achieve to create their art. When Mark is in the zone, it is very much a mirror. He is reflecting himself. So much so, his paintings become an extension of himself as his mind, heart and soul are all in, and thus set free, with every brush stroke. During those “zen moments”, Mark forgets all else.

Mark credits the sensory input of the music he listens to while painting as a primary guide of his art. Just how much Mark is able to immerse himself into the music of the subject he is painting, as he sometimes does, is so evident in a magnificent piece he did titled “Miles”. This piece normally would taken much longer (actually weeks), as it is acrylic on canvas, but Mark was able to finish it in just days.

Miles Davis painting by Mark Dorman
Miles Davis painting by Mark Dorman

One other aspect that Mark observes in his studio while creating Rock Art is that as he is getting things started, he will smudge some sage as a blessing on his studio, tools and his body.

Mark Dorman’s Artistic Inspirations

As an artist, Mark cannot pinpoint one, or even a few artists, that inspire him the most. He says he has been lucky enough to have met so many other artists who have been completely gracious in answering all of his questions. And not surprisingly, Mark’s biggest inspiration in life is, “People who give freely of themselves…..who expect nothing in return.” For which he is always mindful to do the same. Still, as an afterthought to both questions, Mark says his biggest inspiration comes from sensory input.

Mark is Inspiring

Mark Dorman tries to paint every day. Whether it is good or bad art. With the patio door open to hear the birds and get some fresh air. With music playing. He says the best thing art has taught him about life is that it can be anything you want it to be. If you mess up, try to fix it. If you can’t fix it, try again. And the worst thing Art has taught him about life? “You’re going to screw up. See best.” And Mark not only uses his art to decorate his own home, he also uses that of other local artists, among others, as well.

Mark Dorman and Music

If Rock Art is what Mark Dorman is all about, then ‘Music’ has to be his middle name. He writes on an acoustic guitar a couple different ways, the electric guitar another style and piano is completely different yet. Even with all of that, he is still continually picking up and trying new instruments. To name just a few of his favorite musical artists, Mark highlighted: Big Head Todd and the Monsters, 3 Legged Monkey (Mark’s own band), Los Lonely Boys, Sting, SRV, Bon Iver, Eric Johnson, Rolling Stones, Lyle Lovett….and that list went on and on and on. One of Mark’s characteristics about his penchant for music I, myself, found endearing is that he LOVES music. A kindred spirit indeed.

The Real World

Mark has made a career as a computer supervisor. He teaches others how to use different computer programs and how to find, understand and implement company processes. As well as how to interact with customers, conveying empathy and providing solutions. However, daily, Mark steps away from the business world and remains true to his passions of Rock Art and music. Not merely creating them, but doing so with a fire that changes the world.

The Rest of Mark Dorman

When he has time to burn, Mark loves exploring nature. Oddly enough, the King of Rock Art lives right down the block from the largest petroglyph national monument in North America. He finds the mountains and the Ponderosa pines extremely gratifying. And add a waterfall to the equation and Mark “is in Heaven!” Mark is also a self proclaimed foodie, always on the lookout for new eateries. He loves good comedy shows and made mention of an improv troupe local to Albuquerque called The Show. And of course, being and artist, his heart is always drawn to the galleries looking for anything new.

Mark Dorman is a Private Guy

Mark does not describe himself as shy, not mysterious (as I offered). He doesn’t really say much despite the fact he feels it all. Mark Dorman gets the “raw emotion” in most every situation, art and otherwise. His partner will attest to the fact he is a careful and caring listener. And when Mark really finds something interesting, instead of launching into an in-depth comment or discussion, he sticks to his go-to phrase, the Mark Dorman seal of approval – “Dig it.”

Mark Dorman currently lives in an almost completely renovated house in Albuquerque, NM with his beautiful partner, Kristi, and their 4 rescue dogs. (Kudos on the rescues.)

Mark Dorman Abstract Impressionist Rock and Roll Artist
Mark Dorman, his partner Kristi and their beautiful dogs.

Find and Follow Mark Dorman at:

Additional Rock Art Paintings by Mark Dorman

Eric Johnson painting by Mark Dorman
Eric Johnson painting by Mark Dorman
Bootsy - painting by Mark Dorman
Bootsy – painting by Mark Dorman

About the Writer

My name is Nikki Finnigan. Art is my go to for everything. It surrounds me in my world because I let it. Writing about these fabulous artists is just such another opportunity. Please follow me at Granny Finnigan’s Art on Facebook.





2 responses to “Mark Dorman Is The Abstract Impressionist King of Rock Art”

  1. NancyRausch Avatar

    Fascinating glimpse into the person behind the paintings. Mark’s rock art really conveys the emotion of the musician and the music!

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