A few days ago, we visited our favorite Waffle House. Out of nowhere, a little boy of about 3 or 4 let out a squeal rivaling Sooie! “A wock! A wock!” he shrilled. Clutched in his tiny little fingers, he held his treasure – a painted rock. His poor, bewildered grandfather, didn’t quite grasp the hidden rock game when David tried to explain it. However, he helped the boy hide it again, only to find another in the window. The little boy decided to leave both of the rocks together on the windowsill. I left them in place, but could not resist getting a photo.
I could not quite make out the hashtag on the smaller rock but assumed that the same person probably left both rocks in Waffle House that day. I tagged the photo on Facebook, and told the story about the delighted child, hoping the artist found it. She did. And the story she shared is the heartbeat of this new hobby.
What is the heart and soul of painting rocks and hiding them?
The artist’s baby cousin, Jenson, recently passed away at just two months old. Heartbroken, she posted to Facebook. In an outcry of support for Jenson’s mother, rock painting fans around the country began sending supportive letters, prayers, books, and painted rocks with the #LivingForJenson hashtag. While on a road trip vacation to Pensacola, she hid the rocks along the way, including the one at my diner.
My own son found a rock, too. It matches the exact blue and yellow in our bathroom and bears a message David and I worked diligently to instill – Be Kind. He brought it home to me.
I remember painting pet rocks in the late 1970’s. However, I feel this beautiful resurgence spreading positive messages, uplifting images, and supportive remembrances are the real heart and soul of the rock painting phenomenon. Other than vicariously through my son and this little boy at Waffle House, I’ve never found a rock. But I decided to paint a few when I saw the positive impact they made – whether it was just a child’s exuberance or helping share the remembrance of a lost love.
How to Paint Rocks
Not surprisingly, painting rocks is very easy. But, there are a few things you should know to make it a success. I invited my oldest son to help me paint rocks, but some people find it more reflective painting alone.
- First, select your rocks. Flat stones work best. But, sometimes, a shaped rock may inspire you.
- Wash and dry your rocks. Remove all the dirt and debris. Dry them overnight.
Spray your rocks with a base coat. We used Krylon Semi-gloss white. If your rock is already light-colored, a bottom coat is not absolutely required, but the base coat helps the colors shine truer. We even sprayed a white rock with glitter paint over the base coat. That rock turned out great (photo below).We learned that, on rainy days, it takes longer for the base coat to dry. My suggestion is to either do this on a sunny day. Or, if you live in a high-humidity climate, allow them to dry longer than the manufacturer recommends before you begin decorating.
- Select your decorating paint. Some people paint the rocks with brushes and acrylic. Personally, I’m not that artistic. My son and I used Sharpie oil-based paint markers. We also liked these dual-tipped brush pens. They give you more control and made it much easier to write hashtags.
- Cover your work area. Things get messy!
- Start rock painting!
Looking for Rock Painting Inspiration
I had some difficulty selecting the right images and messages. You’d think someone who writes as much as I do would never find herself without words, right? I let the shapes on some of the rocks guide me. Sometimes, the shape spoke out.
Write motivational messages that speak to you. Or draw pictures.
Or just be silly and try to make someone laugh:
Choose Your Hashtag
Most artists tag their painted rocks with a hashtag. They hope the person that finds it will photograph the rock and use the tag (in a public post) on Facebook. When the artist searches for their hashtag, they can see that their rock was found and touched someone’s life.
If you join a group, they may have preferred hashtags. Our local group uses #PensacolaRocks. The traveler that hid the ones I found used #SoOhRocks (South Ohio Rocks), but also #LivingForJenson. She said LoveRocks painted her Jenson rocks. You could also get involved in the KindnessRocks project.
Since the month just started and August 8th is National Happiness Happens day (yep, it’s a thang!), I thought of no better hashtag than #HappinessHappens. My son chose #KeepTheBeachClean and plans to hide several of his rocks at the beach.
So, if you find a rock (I’m still hoping to locate my first), be sure to upload a public photo to Facebook and let the artist know you found it. It really keeps it fun!
Have you ever found a rock? How about hidden any you painted? Is this trend popular where you are?
Looking for more kindness inspiration?
World Kindness Day is November 13, and I believe we all need a little kindness in this unkind world. But, you have to start teaching your children kindness at a young age. Empathy is a skill we learn and children learn best when they are at play. So make it a game! Here is a “Simple Acts of Kindness” printable game from Personal Creations to teach your children how to care for others – not just on a holiday, but on every day.
We enjoy hosting parties and my husband and I are both avid gamers. You can find me on PS4 as SunshineFlaGirl. We also play tabletop RPGs and eurogames.