Rockey is a retired art teacher, an artist, a man beloved in Manitou Springs. At 85, he often is found in his print shop and apartment — adjoined and both full of art — on Cañon Avenue downtown. He watches passersby and welcomes those with the curiosity to open his door.

In the third post in “Words with Rockey,” a series of free-association conversations, I listen to Rockey’s words on love.

Love is a recurring topic of conversation with Rockey, and often is the subject of his artwork, including a book he wrote and illustrated. 

What does the word “love” mean to you, Rockey?

You’ve seen the book. There’s 115 love stories in here, and they’re all illustrated.

I’m doing another book now, and it’s with love, but instead of just doing stories about love … What is love? What is involved when you talk about love?

To me, that’s a way of living. I’m writing a new book called 16 Manners of Being, in which you utilize love, the word love, 16 ways of getting more out of life. So, I’ve got about 10 stories done and some illustrations even done for it.

Words with Rockey, Manitou Springs Artist |

In the first one of those 16 is just to open up your mind instead of closing down. People have a habit of zeroing in on, like, their job and everything, and so they’re concentrating more on that than they are on —

Just the other day, I was driving home from downtown Colorado Springs up to Manitou on highway 24 and I saw this beautiful mountain. Of course, Pikes Peak, most people see it everyday, and I had realized I was driving up this road and here’s this fantastic mountain. It was like one of the first times I’d ever really looked at it.

In the 16 Manners of Being, the first thing to do is to open up and really get into what you’re doing, and me driving home and seeing this mountain for like the first time, like I’d never seen it before, almost. I said, “That’s a magnificent mountain.”

And it had snow on it and the light hit it just right, and it was a spectacular scene where most people will have just driven on, “Yeah, I see it every day going home from work and I’m tired.”

That is my best example, because it happened to me. To open up, to experience things and really realize what you’re experiencing.

Now, I’m at the point of where I wake up every morning and go, “Thank God, I’m awake for another day.” Of course, when you get old you start thinking more about that.