About a week ago, my Facebook news feed began to look like a colorful gravel pit, full of photos of brightly painted rocks.
These rocks are part of a trend that is bringing families, friends and communities together to spread a little joy and brighten others’ day. They are showing up in Warren, Monticello, Star City, Dumas, McGehee, Camden, Crossett, Hamburg, El Dorado, Lake Village, Magnolia, Rison, Fordyce, Pine Bluff and other South Arkansas towns (and beyond) at businesses, parks, libraries, courthouses and other public places people frequent. When someone finds a rock they take a photo of the rock and post it to the 870 Painted Rock Hunt (PRH) Facebook group page, commenting that they will either relocate or “adopt” the rock.
Rocks are painted with acrylic paint and sealed with Mod Podge or some type of sealer then hidden for others to locate and document on the Painted Rock Hunt Facebook group page. Adding the hashtag #870PRH allows others to follow the rock. The Facebook group has around 20,000 members and is administered by April Anderson of Warren who cautions participants to place their rocks only on public property and away from grassy areas where the rocks could possibly damage lawn mowers or property.
The Painted Rock Hunt project is a local adaptation of the worldwide Kindness Rock Project which started as a hobby by a Cape Cod, Massachusetts woman, Megan Murphy. Murphy painted and hid a few rocks and something amazing happened. She began receiving messages from strangers about how much the rock they found meant to them. So she stepped up her rock painting and encouraged others to join her. She says her hobby has turned into a movement and grown into inspiration rock gardens around Cape Cod. Now there are similar projects in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ireland, India, Thailand, Haiti, Italy, England and other countries.
Many rocks display words of inspiration, such as Love, Peace and Joy. Some have inspirational quotes or Bible scriptures and some are humorous. The rock paintings range from simple toddler art to cute doodle art and school mascots to elaborate landscapes. Some are painted with a grid of squares like a patchwork quilt pattern so that those who find it can paint their own design in one of the squares before relocating it.
After learning a little more about painted rocks and the Kindness Rock Project, I joined the 870 Painted Rock Hunt Facebook group and asked my daughter, Olivia, if she would be interested in painting a few rocks. She was all for it but before we got around to painting our own rocks, Olivia found her first one. She spied it at a Monticello business, took a picture of it and posted it on Facebook, saying she would relocate it.
That evening I cleaned a bucket of rocks that Olivia found in Union County and the following day we pulled out our paints and brushes. I painted a simple mandala on one rock while Olivia painted six rocks: the Cheshire cat, a dog, a fox, the Jigsaw character from the Saw movies, donkey from the Shreck movies, and a red and white fishing cork. Olivia’s fiancé, Chris, an avid duck hunter, even joined us. Yep, he painted a duck on a rock.
While the creative aspect of the activity is a great stress-reliever, the point is to spread joy to others.