How To Paint Positivity Rocks that encourage people

Positivity Rocks - How to Paint Rocks and Spread a Positive Message
Positivity Rocks – Spreading a Positive Message Through Rock Painting

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.

Painted Rock my son found - says be kind. The back says #PensacolaRocks
Painted Rock that my son found – says be kind. The back says #PensacolaRocks

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.

  1. First, select your rocks. Flat stones work best. But, sometimes, a shaped rock may inspire you.
  2. Wash and dry your rocks. Remove all the dirt and debris. Dry them overnight.
  3. Spray rocks with a basecoat
    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.
  4. 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.
  5. Cover your work area. Things get messy!
  6. Start rock painting!

    Rock Painting is easier with paint markers
    Rock Painting is easier with paint markers

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.

My son felt his rock was shaped like his favorite rabbit character. I thought this one kinda-sorta needed a fish.

Write motivational messages that speak to you. Or draw pictures.

Paint what you like. Paint positive messages and pretty images.
Paint what you like. Paint positive messages and pretty images.

Or just be silly and try to make someone laugh:

Painted Rock with silly message
Me: This the sign you’ve been waiting for?
My son: yeah you know. Just in case someone is looking for one.

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.
Our Hashtags on our painted rocksSo, 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.

Learn how to paint rocks, find rock painting inspiration, and select hashtags. Also find out what's behind the latest internet obsession.
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Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

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.

Alicia Taylor

Happily married to the love of my life. It's just us, our 5 cats, and our beautiful woods. I'm loving living back in the Florida panhandle being close to family. I love cooking, living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our cozy home, and trying new things.

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.


  • Is being grateful good for your health? How can being thankful help you?

    January 22, 2018 - 8:28 am

    […] I do like to focus on the positive! […]

  • arainofthought (@arainofthought)

    August 15, 2017 - 11:17 am

    so cute and clever. I love the paint pallette rock. Adorable. would love to own some. Takes ‘pet rock’ to a whole new level.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 15, 2017 - 11:52 am

      I agree. It reminded me of the pet rocks, too.

  • Sylvester Vanessa

    August 15, 2017 - 11:00 am

    This is a cool idea. The message on the stone are reminders of your values and happiness goals in life.

  • Diane

    August 14, 2017 - 5:22 pm

    These are such a lovely idea, they would be great to create and pass on to someone special.

  • Amber K

    August 14, 2017 - 2:22 am

    I love it! I am a huge fan of “rock art” and make inspiration/wish rocks quite often. These are great.

  • Fashionable Librarian

    August 13, 2017 - 7:02 am

    This is such a great idea. Easy for kids of any age to do and it spreads positivity. What’s not to love about this activity?

  • Adaleta Avdić

    August 12, 2017 - 2:49 pm

    THis is so awesome, i remember doing this as a kid!

  • Kiwi

    August 12, 2017 - 12:02 pm

    This is a cute concept to paint on rocks. I love the versatility and I love the this is the sign you been waiting for!

  • kristal

    August 12, 2017 - 1:23 am

    I have been seeing these at the beach and all other Facebook. I was wondering if it was apart of a group.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 14, 2017 - 11:30 am

      If you find another, check the back for a #hashtag. It usually has a group name. I’m not part of a group. I’m just joining in on the fun.

  • chichiuguru

    August 12, 2017 - 12:37 am

    I love this idea. I have never found rocks or painted one. This would definitely be a fun project with the kiddos. I particularly like that hidden rocks can bring a message of hope to the finder. Thanks for this post.

  • Hey Sharonoox

    August 11, 2017 - 9:43 pm

    This is so cool idea! I’m going to find a nice river rock and do crafts with my little guy. I know he’s going to like it.

  • Olivia @ Olivia's Cuisine

    August 11, 2017 - 9:08 pm

    What a beautiful way to spread a positive message. I’m so glad that the painted rock brought David so much joy!

  • alisonrost

    August 11, 2017 - 6:36 pm

    These are the sweetest! They remind me of those my kids painted when they were little. Many of which I still have to this day. They’re on a shelf in my office and I smile every time I look at them. x

  • Lydia R (@lydsrich)

    August 11, 2017 - 3:01 pm

    This is beyond fun. I’m strongly considering doing this with our Girl Scout troop!

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 11, 2017 - 3:02 pm

      That’s the first time I painted rocks! I was in brownies in the 70’s!

  • Wanderlust Vegans

    August 11, 2017 - 2:14 pm

    What a great activity for kids. I hope they had a great time.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 11, 2017 - 2:36 pm

      Well, my kids are grown – but my adult son came over and painted with me. We did enjoy it

  • Corinne & Kirsty (@corinnekirsty)

    August 11, 2017 - 12:33 pm

    Art has always been a great way of expressing one’s feeling. Painting on rock is just another way of doing it. And I think it’s the sweetest idea ver!

  • Jessica Taylor

    August 11, 2017 - 10:09 am

    This is such a cute idea! We do something similar for our church!

  • keisha1989

    August 11, 2017 - 8:36 am

    This is such a cool idea. Gonna try this soon.

  • toastycritic

    August 11, 2017 - 5:21 am

    I know that designing and decorating rocks is such a cute idea. And putting inspirational messages on them would be great as well. After doing fairy houses at the library I imagine that these rocks would be very popular for the kids.

  • Hannah Marie

    August 10, 2017 - 11:50 pm

    This is a good idea! I would love to see one and be encouraged. But I also want to join the movement and be an encouragement.

  • munniofalltrades

    August 10, 2017 - 9:44 pm

    This is such a cool idea. It won’t cost much but it definitely a make a thoughtful present for friends and family. Great idea!

  • brigettedanielle

    August 10, 2017 - 9:15 pm

    What a cool idea! I think I will do this with my kiddos and have them leave some around our new neighborhood!

  • Benita

    August 10, 2017 - 8:29 pm

    I have never found any painted rocks but I like the idea of putting words or motivational messages on them. I would like to make some give them to families during our memorial services,

  • Marissa Zurfluh

    August 10, 2017 - 8:15 pm

    I need to hunt down rocks that are so jagged. My yard is full of them but no smooth ones.

  • Krizia Velez | Reckless Babe

    August 10, 2017 - 5:17 pm

    What a beautiful story! Painting rocks is a great way to deal with stress, I should follow your steps on how to do it and start painting!

  • kellyhutchinson37920

    August 10, 2017 - 2:50 pm

    I love this idea! What a great project to work on with your kids!

  • RonRon

    August 10, 2017 - 1:46 pm

    Love this kind of idea. Amazing. Gotta make one soon!

  • Terri Ramsey Beavers

    August 10, 2017 - 11:39 am

    I’ve been seeing a lot of rock painting ideas lately and I want to get onboard to do some myself. I’m not sure where to get the rocks around here though. I’ll have to check in at my hardware store. I remember painting some back in the 70’s too. Groovy themes lol.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 10, 2017 - 12:09 pm

      One person suggested using sea shells if you live near the beach. I’ve also found some rocks near streams and rivers. I know that Home Depot sells them in huge bags in the gardening center pretty inexpensively – and so does Lowe’s.

  • Tara Pittman (@momknowsbest15)

    August 9, 2017 - 5:19 pm

    This reminds me of when I was a kid and we painted rocks. What a cool idea.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 10, 2017 - 12:09 pm

      Yeah – it takes me back, too!

  • parentingpatch

    August 9, 2017 - 4:58 pm

    What a great idea! I should find some rocks and paint some saying on them and leave them around town!

  • minlang01

    August 9, 2017 - 3:30 pm

    Found my first one at work and left it there for someone else to find~ I love the idea behind it all. We all need more of that in our life

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 9, 2017 - 7:06 pm

      I agree. You never know when a little positive message is just what someone needed.

  • Spatulas On Parade - Dawn

    August 9, 2017 - 2:47 pm

    Welcome to our group Taylor and no I haven’t found any rocks yet but a friend of mine found 2 this week and posted on FB. There is also a restaurant near me that has painted and hidden rocks around town. If you find one and bring it in you get a free meal. I love the positive messages and since I am an artist at heart I am planning to paint some and hide myself. I live in a tourist area so who knows where the rocks might end up.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 9, 2017 - 2:48 pm

      Ooh! I would love for restaurants near us to do that! What a cool promotion. I also live in a tourist town. I live in Florida – about 30 minutes from the beach. Of course, the part that I live in doesn’t look anything like the beach. Mostly, cows and chicken farms – even a beekeeper

  • Yolanda

    August 9, 2017 - 8:52 am

    This is a neat craft and one I think I can pull off with the girls without messing up anything. Thanks. – yolonda

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 9, 2017 - 2:09 pm

      Yes – it’s really not messy if you use the paint markers instead of paint brushes. We had fun doing it.

  • Lynndee

    August 9, 2017 - 7:52 am

    Gotta love the painted rock that your son found that says Be Kind. I’ve never tried painting rocks. Looks like a lot of fun though.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 9, 2017 - 2:10 pm

      It is awesome. I almost feel bad keeping it since the idea is to re-hide it for someone else. But it just matches my bathroom so well – and my son would be sad if I gave it away.

  • Cindi

    August 9, 2017 - 5:45 am

    Started in March when family in Florida told me about it. Totally addicted and have painted some 400 rocks so far. Most get hidden, some become gifts and I’ve done a couple specific requests for people. I keep doing it for the joy of the reactions of people. My first rock left on a ledge in Dunkin Donuts when vacationing in Florida said “Don’t stress, forget the rest, do your best. The woman that found it posted it saying she’d just had the worst work week ever and that this rock changed her perspective. Too many other stories to tell but we are touching lives one rock at a time. We are #ftncityknoxrocks out of Knoxville, TN.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 9, 2017 - 2:11 pm

      I bet it’s awesome to hear how your rock touched someone’s life – especially your first rock. I am almost as eager to see someone find my rock as I am to find my first one.

  • Tamara Gerber

    August 9, 2017 - 1:03 am

    I think my comment didn’t make it through, so here I go again…

    I love the “hid a painted rock” movement, heard about it before, so I was excited that you posted about it! You created such wonderful rocks!

    I tried to get my son to make some with me, but he’s not into arts & crafts. In all my spare time I may still try and paint one or ten on my own sometime and hide them in Switzerland, not sure if I am going to be the only one.

    Nice work, Alicia! 🙂

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 9, 2017 - 2:13 pm

      Thanks Tamara. Maybe you can get something started! If it’s not a fad in Switzerland, yet, maybe you can hide a note along with the rock to explain it – to see if it catches on.

  • Diane

    August 8, 2017 - 9:42 pm

    oh, wow! What a pretty neat idea. This is a perfect activity for kids. Thanks for sharing!

  • Erin

    August 8, 2017 - 9:12 pm

    These are such a wonderful idea!! It seems we always hear so much negativity and so there is a definitely need for this! (not to mention, doing the actual painting itself helps with positivity too!)

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 9, 2017 - 2:14 pm

      Yes! That was part of the reason I did this. My son has been going through a bit of the blues lately. I was hoping that focusing on the positive would lift his spirits for a little while

  • Dawn McAlexander

    August 8, 2017 - 7:49 pm

    Those are really nice. I especially love the “sign” one. 🙂

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 9, 2017 - 2:15 pm

      Ha! Yes. My son has a sense of humor.

  • Gigi

    August 8, 2017 - 3:13 pm

    I started Des Moines Rocks in Iowa, and have painted and hidden a couple hundred rocks in hopes of bringing happiness in our community. The other day I found my first rock! I was delighted! The funniest thing~it was one of my own that I had painted and hidden. I guess it found its way back to me! Can’t wait to hide it again! We now have over 600 people in our group so maybe I’ll chance upon another soon.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 8, 2017 - 5:05 pm

      That is the very definition of irony. At least you know that people are enjoying your rocks! 600 people is a pretty good sized group.

  • Tamara Gerber

    August 8, 2017 - 1:42 pm

    I have heard of the painted hidden rocks movement before, and I love that you wrote a post about it! You made so many creative and inspiring rocks!
    I tried to get my son to make some but he is not into arts & crafts 🙁

  • Angela Ricardo Bethea

    August 8, 2017 - 11:10 am

    I believe that the simple act of painting a rock with positive things to brighten someones day or to promote something good is a brilliant idea. Thinking of trying this with the kids someday 🙂

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 8, 2017 - 11:15 am

      I think doing it with kids is a great way to teach them that brightening someone else’s day is an enjoyable activity.

  • Jenn @ EngineerMommy

    August 8, 2017 - 9:19 am

    We have painted rocks before and th ekids had sooo much fun. I love this idea and I want to do it again now!

  • Louise x (@withlovefromlou)

    August 8, 2017 - 7:00 am

    Ooh, I really like this idea! I’m going to have to try it at home 🙂

    Louise x

  • Victoria Heckstall

    August 8, 2017 - 2:07 am

    This is brilliant idea, rock painting is a really amazing way. Those rocks are totally fabulous and beautiful.

  • Tatanisha Worthey

    August 8, 2017 - 12:54 am

    We took part in this in our town. We still find them from time to time. We love it and it always brightens our day.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 8, 2017 - 10:51 am

      I wish I could find one 🙂 For now, I’ll have fun hiding them

  • OurFamilyWorld

    August 8, 2017 - 12:09 am

    These are great ideas. This would surely brighten up someone’s day. Thanks for the tutorial.

  • loisaltermark

    August 7, 2017 - 11:55 pm

    What a great idea! I love the artsy aspect of it but I love the message about spreading positivity even more!

  • Ricci

    August 7, 2017 - 10:12 pm

    I love all of the rock painting and hunting that has been going on lately! I have seen lots of rocks on Facebook that have had inspirational messages on them!!

  • Bree

    August 7, 2017 - 10:00 pm

    I love this idea! It’s such a great way to unexpectedly cheer someone up or make their day. And it’s a fun project for the kids. They have been doing this in the city I live in and even have a Facebook group that posts about them.

  • Michelle Dave

    August 7, 2017 - 9:49 pm

    What a beautiful idea! I’ve always loved collecting rocks and I’ve drawn on a couple but never thought of adding a base coat and really putting a lot into it. I think I’ve found my next craft project! <3

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 8, 2017 - 10:53 am

      Ooh! Be sure to post photos if you do. I’d love to see them. The base coat isn’t entirely necessary, but it gives you an even color to work with. OF course, sometimes, the rocks natural markings may be an inspiration.

  • Karissa @WithOurBest (@withourbest)

    August 7, 2017 - 9:33 pm

    This is a great activity!! I would love to collect rocks, grab some paints and make these with my nieces!

  • Lisa

    August 7, 2017 - 9:09 pm

    This has been going on around us and such a small thing brings so much joy to kids (and even adults!) My son and his friends painted some to hide 2 months ago!

  • reesann723

    August 7, 2017 - 8:31 pm

    I love this. We do this in our town and leave the rocks all over. My daughter’s girl scout troop did it too!

  • Scott

    August 7, 2017 - 8:11 pm

    We must be on the same wavelength! We just got done doing a positivity rock project and wrote about it. The post goes live tomorrow morning!

  • Dawn Nieves

    August 7, 2017 - 7:50 pm

    This looks like such a fun activity to do with the kids. My kids would love this to do this. I think I found my next rainy day project.

  • Rebecca

    August 7, 2017 - 6:15 pm

    I love that these are spreading everywhere. I also like that they promote happiness and positivity. We all need a little positive vibe every now and again.

  • marilyn trueblood

    August 7, 2017 - 5:38 pm

    this is my Group On Facebook, people are starting and joining groups dedicated to the community being built around these painted rocks. They post pictures of their families and friends hard at work, putting their creative energy into these tiny pieces of art. These folks also post pictures of where they have dropped rocks, so other people can go hunt for them and hide them again. Some show off meticulously detailed and tiny masterpieces. Others post tips for painting and hiding.As a whole, the sense of community is strong within these groups — online and out in the world. Hashtags, websites, and the like are often painted or pasted onto the backs of rocks so that unsuspecting and pleasantly surprised strangers can find the groups after picking up a colorful rock on a hiking trail or in a local park. New people are welcomed, shown the minimal ropes, and encouraged to participate by painting and hiding their own rocks.
    This sense of community is what has allowed this trend to spread across the country and the globe. Originating in the United States, there are painted rocks popping up all over the world. More and more towns and cities are forming groups and encouraging others to join in. One person may find a rock while on vacation at the beach with their family, then bring that rock back to where they live to drop off in a favorite place!!
    YES Your Art is good enough~~Now have fun painting,creating 🙂 get everyone involved Kids, Parents,Grandparents, Bothers ,Sisters Friends.. LET THE FUN BEGIN *Marilyn*

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 8, 2017 - 10:55 am

      Thank you, Marilyn. I think it’s a beautiful thing.

  • Carrie Chance

    August 7, 2017 - 5:22 pm

    This is so much fun. My daughter and I found 5 rocks this weekend and had a blast rehiding them for someone else to find.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 8, 2017 - 10:55 am

      Five? Wow! Lucky girl. I guess I need to get out more.

  • Claudia Krusch

    August 7, 2017 - 4:25 pm

    We have a few rocks we have painted over the years. I love to look for the perfect rock to paint when we are out. I have a few ideas I want to do when I find the right shapes.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 8, 2017 - 10:55 am

      Yes – the shapes speak to me, sometimes.

  • fashionbeyondforty

    August 7, 2017 - 3:31 pm

    Such a fun project! My kids and I have always had an affinity for rocks. When they were little we did this too but you gave me a few better ideas. Now just waiting on grandkids lol

  • neuroticbaker

    August 7, 2017 - 3:17 pm

    I’ve never heard of or seen these, but I love the idea!

  • Talin

    August 7, 2017 - 2:56 pm

    That story gave me goosebumps <3 This is such a wonderful, sweet idea. Love it!

  • Marcie W.

    August 7, 2017 - 12:56 pm

    What a wonderful way to brighten someone’s day! My kids recently painted rocks to help decorate my inlaws garden, but I love the thought of doing it to spread joy.

  • Amber

    August 7, 2017 - 12:42 pm

    These are some fabulous rocks. I have never found a rock before, but I love this idea.

  • Cherri Megasko

    August 7, 2017 - 12:41 pm

    I’ve been wanting to do this ever since I first heard about it. I love the idea of spreading positivity and love.

  • Holly

    August 7, 2017 - 12:38 pm

    We also have a program going in our little town. I was at the store grabbing supplies when a man said I don’t get it. It’s just a stupid rock. I had to explain that the “stupid” rock I found first had brought me joy to know that it was there. That “stupid” rock gave me joy as I thought about where I would hide it next. That “stupid” rock had been prayed over before I hid it again. And finally that “stupid” rock would hopefully go to someone else who needed the message too. Keep up with the positive and creative spirit!

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 8, 2017 - 10:57 am

      I know some people don’t get it. However, after I connected with the woman that hid the rock that little boy found, I felt moved enough to write about it. It’s more than a rock. It’s a reminder. It’s a message.

  • Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle

    August 7, 2017 - 10:44 am

    That is the sweetest idea ever! Everyone can use a little encouragement, and this is the cutest way I’ve ever seen to do it!

  • bakinginatornado

    August 7, 2017 - 10:11 am

    Your tutorial is just in time, my son found 2 rocks on 2 different occasions and brought them home to me. I’m going to make 2 and put them back out there. This started on Cape Cod, in my home state of MA, the connection to my home is just an added bonus to this spread-the-love project.

    • Alicia Taylor

      August 7, 2017 - 10:14 am

      Very cool, Heather! I didn’t know where it started. I just know that I will be so tickled when I find my first rock.

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