A veteran sculptor is still attracting onlookers by the banks of the Ottawa River with his whimsical rock figures.

Every spring for more than 30 years, Ottawa artist John Ceprano has scoured the flat limestone bottom of the river for rocks of all sizes.

What started as a passion project sees him stacking stones by hand into gravity-defying sculptures treasured in town and funded by the National Capital Commission.

“Every year I find new rocks,” Ceprano told CTV News Ottawa.

“There is a lot of trial and error, but I don’t call it trial, I say exploration -- I explore what the potential is for each rock.”

Ceprano’s striking sculptures are built in the same spot he stumbled upon one sunny day in 1986.

“What I do is I use these other (smaller) rocks in between the surfaces of the larger rocks to stabilize the balance. I never know exactly what will fit,” he explained.

“I’m producing a body of work that enhances the sense of community for people who can identify with it so that they have a gathering place.”

Ceprano studied physics at school, but quickly discovered he was better at art.

“The art was always alive in me but growing up in the 1950s, people would say, ‘You want to be an artist? Well that’s not going to make any money, you have to think of a career choice,‘” he said.

“I really love living here and this is one small way of saying thank you for providing with me an absolutely graceful life.”