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Hiding Your Art? That’s What Community Rock Painting Is All About

Carrie Sharp’s granddaughter just wanted a ladybug painted on a stone. But Sharp fell in love with paint and rocks. She began painting rocks and hiding them in parks and other places near East Dallas, where she lives. Soon others joined in, and community rock painting had begun.

Community rock painting is an interactive art experience that engages art lovers of all ages and skill levels. Anyone can participate, and thanks to social media, the beautiful creations inspired by this movement can be shared worldwide.

Rock painting is part art, part hide-and-seek, and part serendipity. After painting their rocks, enthusiasts tuck them away in public spaces. Sometimes the painters go online to give clues about the hiding places. Other times they simply hide the rocks and hope that someone will find a hand-painted stone and perhaps join the movement.

How Do I Get Started with Rock Painting?

Begin by joining a community rock painting group. Most groups utilize an open community Facebook page to encourage participation and to share photos of the rocks being found about town. Search for “rock painting” and the name of your community. As of July 2017, Salt Lake City Rocks is one such group.

  1. Choose a rock. It needs to be a hideable size; most fit in the palm of the hand.
  2. Decorate with water-resistant markers and paints. Use the rock as a canvas while creating any design of your choice.
  3. Write a note. On the back of the rock, write a note with a hashtag or link to your rock-painting group. This encourages finders to share the found treasure and get more information on participation.
  4. Hide your artwork. Tuck the painted stone in a fairly easy-to-find location in your community.

You can also search for others’ rocks. Check your rock painting group for clues. When you find a rock, take a picture and post it to your group page; then rehide the rock for someone else to find.

What Should I Paint on My Rocks?

Carry Sharp's Turtle and Fish Rocks

Avoid subject matter that might offend, since the rock painting community includes many children. Anything else is fair game. Here are some ideas.

  • Share something that is important to you, from an inspiring quote to a favorite cartoon character.
  • Get geo-specific. Some artists will even consider the location in which they are going to hide their rocks to help stimulate in-sync creativity. For example, if you plan to hide your rocks outside a local grocery store, you may want to paint pictures of food-related items. If you plan to hide your rocks outside of a movie theatre, painting your own interpretation of the poster art for some of the films could be the perfect subject matter.
  • Let the shape inspire. A long, thin rock can become a snake. A chunky rock can become an apple or even a sun. Just as you would with any other art medium, let the materials inspire your subject matter.
  • Create an art series. Some creative participants have created series featuring the main character of every Disney movie ever made and the state flower of each of the United States. Some, like Carrie Sharp and her sea turtles, have favorite subject matter they revisit again and again.

Preparing Your Rocks for Any Type of Weather

If you plan to hide your rocks outside or if your community has a robust outdoor group, you may want to coat your rock art with a weatherproof sealant. This will keep your art looking fresh regardless of the weather and will help to prolong your design even after the stone has changed hands multiple times.

What If No One Finds My Rocks?

Carry Sharp's Turtle Rock

If a few days pass after you have hidden your rocks and no one has located them, perhaps you need to offer some clues. You might post pictures of your rock in its location with familiar landmarks. You could combine rock painting with geocaching by giving the GPS coordinates of the rock location. You could even create coded messages that seekers can decode for a clue.

An interactive discovery process can be just as fun as finding rocks organically by stumbling upon them while going about everyday tasks.

Get Involved in the Rock-Painting Community

Carrie Sharp's Rock Art

Whether you are just starting a painted rock trend in your area or joining an existing group, there are many ways you can enhance the community aspect of this movement. One common way community art groups thrive is through meet-ups.

At a designated time and place, usually at a local park on a weekend, seekers and creators meet to share the wide variety of rocks that they have found and the stories behind their discoveries. Individuals involved in the meetup will swap rocks to build a collection that they love to display.

Having encouraged people to paint and create, rock painting communities also sponsor painting parties where the organizers will provide paint supplies, weatherproof seal, and rocks. In addition to enhancing relationships within the group, involving locals in the creative process can also build the number of participants in the group—and it’s a great way to take part in the Salt Lake community art scene.

Carrie Sharp knows that community involvement makes art more fun. “I started this three years ago,” said Sharp. “It is a lot of fun, especially since it has blown up the way it has.”

Her next big project? Writing a book. Oh, and also painting 300 rocks and hiding them in October across parks in Lakewood, Texas, for an enormous rock hunt for children. She’s still painting for the kids.

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