Rock Painting Ideas – How To Get Started

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Rock Painting Ideas - How To Get Started

There’s a movement of kindness going on in the world.  Spreading joy to others has actually becoming an obsession.  How?  By painting rocks into works of art and hiding them for others to find.  Each town has their own Facebook rock group and on the back of every rock is directions where to post pictures of the found treasure.  You can keep the rock or hide it again.  Usually what happens is the person that found the rock starts rock painting his or her own masterpieces and joins in on the fun. Sometimes getting started is the hard part. Good thing we’ve got you covered. Here are some Rock Painting Ideas to get you headed in the right direction.

“It is the sweet simple things in life which are the real ones after all.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

There are touching stories on the Facebook rock groups that range from a woman who went to purchase flowers for her daughter’s grave and she found a rock with an inspirational message tucked inside the pot of flowers she was going to purchase to a four-year old child who found his first rock and wanted to immediately go home and paint rocks for others to find.  It’s such a simple way to give back to others and infuse a little joy in your own life.  A little shimmer of love is poured into each hand painted rock and the bliss of hiding or finding each piece is something we could all use a bit more of.  What’s stopping you from starting this fun tradition in your area?

The side benefit of this project is the way you’ll start looking at rocks.  Instead of just casually glancing  at “just another rock,” you’ll be tapping into your creative side to find what amazing work of art you can turn that stone into.  This movement also brings friends and family out in droves to go rock hunting.  Heck, even the family dog can take part on spreading the love…my dog Grayson went out with me this morning to look for rocks to paint.

Three rocks that I found in my area:

Rock paintings found @montanahappy.com

I have personally found three hand painted rocks and each time I find one it makes me smile.  Because of those found rocks, my area Facebook group has a new member and someone else creating these nuggets of happiness.  Going through the group threads to find the best supplies to start rock painting was a bit of a chore, so I created this list to help you get started. A great thing about painting rocks is you don’t have to be an artist to get going.  All you need are a few basic supplies to take part in this spread kindness movement.

Here’s step-by-step instructions on rock painting ideas:

1)  Rocks.  You want smooth flat rocks to create your masterpiece unless an unusual rock acts as the body of your art piece.  Keep your artwork ideas in mind when selecting the perfect stones.  Make sure you’re able to remove stones from where you find them.  Removing stones from National and state parks isn’t okay. Removing rocks from waterways can also be against the rules.  It is illegal to take rocks from railroad tracks.  If you live in an area that it’s hard to find rocks, head over to your nearest home improvement center, landscape supply store and garden centers to purchase some.  On Amazon, you can get free shipping for a 20 pound bag of these rocks.

2) Wash. Paint won’t stick to dirty rocks.  A smooth surface is what we’re aiming for, so washing your rocks in warm water and soap will ensure that.  You might want scrub it with an old toothbrush to make sure all debris is removed.  Allow rocks to dry before painting.

3) Sand.  If there is any light bumps or grit on your rock, you can sand using 150 grit sandpaper.

4) Paint.  Use acrylic patio paint for best results if you will be hiding your rocks outside. Adding a white layer before painting the color you want makes it pop.  Let each layer of paint dry before applying the next layer.  You can find acrylic patio paints here.

5) Paint brushes. A selection of various sized paint brushes will help you create the perfect look you are going for.  Here’s a brush pack with a variety of sizes.

6) Markers.  Adding text with markers is easier than painting words.  Through trial and error, I have found that Posca Markers work best for rock painting.  You can find them here.  Make sure you look at the tip size before purchasing to make sure you have the right size.

7) Fineline Applicator. This Fineline Applicator lets you control your artwork.  You can find them here. 

8) Dots. Dotting tools make perfectly round dots 

9) Seal.  This is one of the most important steps to rock painting.   All that hard work that you put into your stone would be wasted with any type of moisture.   You want a seal that won’t curdle if the stones are subject to the outdoor weather.  Here’s the sealant that I recommend.  Two thin coats works best.

10) Brush Cleaner.  How many have us have been guilty of not cleaning our brushes right away and throwing out a rarely used brush because of it?  Soak your paintbrushes in this, and you’ll never have to do that again.

Where NOT to leave rocks:

Lawns or anywhere that a mower can run over it.

Leaving rocks in state or national parks are not allowed.

Anywhere that a person has to climb to get the rock.

In the middle of pathways where people can trip on them.

Businesses that don’t give you permission before “hiding” them there.

Anyone’s private property.

Tips:

Using a hair dryer can speed up the drying process.

Check Craigslist, Offerup and Freecycle.org to find free rocks.

Clean the nozzle on the seal spray can in between uses.

Place rock in a box in a well ventilated area before spraying.

Keep prepared rocks in your car, you never know when you might find the perfect place to hide one.

Take a photo of a hint of where you hid your rock and post to the Facebook group page.

Make sure you “hide” the rock someplace that it will be found – finding the rocks is the whole point of this movement.

Placing rocks around businesses at night after they’re closed may trip the alarm.

On the back of every rock, let the “finder” know they can keep the rock or reside, but to post a picture of it on the local Facebook Group page before hiding again. You can write, “Keep or Hide.  Post selfie picture to ________ Facebook Group.

Ideas on where to hide your rocks:

1) One of the members of the Facebook group I belong to added a painted rock with his tip at a restaurant.

2) Nooks of trees.

3) Coffee stands.  That’s where I found two of my rocks.

4) One person left a hot dog rock painting on a grill at a sports store.

5) At farm stands or farmer’s markets.

6) On top of a neighbor’s mailbox.

7) At your town’s visitor’s center.

8)  A corn cob painted rock was found in the frozen section of the grocery store.

9) The check-out stand of grocery stores.

10) The playgrounds sets of schools.

11) Veterinary offices.

12) Gas station pumps.

13) Drive-thru windows of your favorite eatery.

14) Motivation rocks would compliment any gym.

15) You could leave cat and dog portrait rocks in pet stores.

16) Food related rocks could be left at various food festivals. Dog shows would be a perfect place to leave dog related rocks. How about rocks featuring musical instruments left at a symphony?

17) You can place the rocks flower pots of nurseries or flower shops (ask permission first!)

18) How about leaving some rocks at local hotels to show visitors to your area just how fun your town can be?

19) Someone knows how to add a little irony to a hiding place…they placed the rock in front of the spray paint cans!

20) One of the rock group members travels in an RV six months a year and leaves them behind at every campground they visit.  Well-played RV’ers, well-played.

21) One of the Rockettes of St. John Parish Rocks has a son with brain cancer.  She obtained permission to bring the painted rocks to the children’s hospital and hides them in cancer wing.  This idea brings lots of smiles to the children who can’t get out and hunt for rocks.  They also place rocks at schools for children of special needs and Veterans hospitals and nursing homes.  LOVE THIS!

22) The Reedley CA group is expanding their painting and hiding participation in: After School Programs, day camps, Boys & Girls Clubs, church youth groups and even wine and cheese parties.  They also started hiding rocks in their historic downtown area to encourage rock seekers to spend their money locally.  Another idea they have is to put the rocks along a walking trail to encourage people to get out and exercise!  Thanks Reedley for all these great tips!!

23) How about contacting your local foster care programs to hid rocks at any of their gatherings?

Ideas on how to spread the rock painting movement:

Create a Meetup group where everyone gets together to paint rocks.

The Lakeland Rock group suggested hiding the rocks in churches and diners.

Contact local nursing homes about adding painting rocks as an activity the seniors can participate in.

Create a Facebook group for your area and invite friends, family and neighbors to join.

Take completed rocks with you on vacation to spread the movement in other areas.

Give your family and friends a rock painting kit by purchasing the needed supplies and putting them all in a tote bag.

Become a walking billboard.  Create a group t-shirt on a site like Cafe Press and walk around advertising your new rock painting group.

Reach out to local blogs, newspapers and news channels about doing a feature on your organization and how rock painting is changing lives.

The more rocks your group makes and sends out into the world, the more other people will want to learn about your group and rock painting.

Share this blog post on social media.  Let’s rock this movement!

Ideas for Rock Group Administrators: 

Jean and Albert from Oakley Rocks wakes up their Facebook group every morning with a different rock and says “Good Morning Rockers!”  They also do the same thing every night “Good Night Rockers!”  I love this idea.

Whidbey Island Rocks celebrates every thousand member milestone with a very special rock and gift basket.  They hide the special rock just like all the others.

Mansfield Rocks pairs children’s books with a rock painting of one of the characters of the book.  They put the book in plastic to protect it.  This idea would delight any child and encourage reading.

Wharton County Rocks is having a “Painting in the Park” event soon.  They are also having a Toys for Tots drive at the same time.

Laurie from St. John Parish Rocks! uses a hand painted rock created in her image as a profile picture. Very cute!

Tori from Bothell Rocks has a “Welcome” rock painting that is on her group description.

Fallon “FAMILY” Rocks created a contest in their rock group by hiding 26 little rocks painted and numbered. The winning numbered rock was painted silver and the prize was a rock wreath. They also did a Glow Hide at night and painted the rocks with glow paint. All the members had to find the rocks in the dark.

Several groups have already linked to this blog post in their introduction page, feel free to do so.   I will  be constantly updating it, adding new ideas and practices.

Rock Theme Ideas:

Quote or Inspirational rocks.  One of the rocks I saw said “Be a little BOULDER.”  Just a little rock humor.

Bugs.  Bumblebees, ladybugs, spiders with webs, caterpillars, butterflies and snails are all fun ideas to paint.

Monsters.  One-eyed monsters, toothy monsters and googly-eyed monsters will make everyone smile.

Owls. The rock painting members love to paint owls and the reason is because they are all so darn cute.

Birds.  It’s not just owls anymore.  Birds on branches.  Flying birds.  Flamingos. Nests. CHICKENS.  I love chickens! Peacocks.  You get the drift.

Flowers and Hearts.  Roses, tulips, forget-me-nots and daisies. You can never get enough of these.

Silhouettes.  These are just gorgeous.  Google silhouette rock painting and you will see what I mean.

Sun, Moon, Stars, Rainbow and Clouds.  You can add glitter or bejewels to your rock painting art to make them a bit more special.   Simple, but always in demand.

Teacups, coffee mugs and teapots.  Everyone could use a little “buzz” in his or her day.

Mushrooms, trees, leaves, feathers and acorns.  Everything in nature can be used as an idea for your masterpiece.

Mandala Rock Painting.  Google this.  You’ll be happy you did.

Quote that says, “Let me be your rock today.” Had to throw that in to make sure you were still reading.  More rock humor.

Fruit.  Pineapples, watermelon, strawberries, lemons, apples and bananas are just some of your choices.

Beach Themed.  Anchors, beach chairs, beach balls, sunglasses, waves, surfboards, sailboats and kayaks.

Under the Sea.  Jellyfish, whales, stingrays, dolphins, octopus, fish, MERMAIDS, sharks, seashells, starfish, seals, otters, crabs and lobster are just some ideas to use.

Peace.  Peace signs, earth and doves.  We could all use a bit more peace, don’t you agree?

Patriotic.  Flags, eagles, past presidents, coins, dollar bills, Uncle Sam, Statue of Liberty, and Liberty Bell.

Transportation. Bicycles, roller-skates, ice-skates, skateboards, airplanes, trains, cars, trucks, hot air balloons, trailers and tractors.

Signs.  Stop signs, caution signs (“Caution falling rocks”), Yield signs (“Yield to rock painting”), street signs (“Have Fun Boulevard”) and traffic lights are just some ideas.

Food.  Hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, corn on the cob, tomatoes, pickles, pizza slice, fried eggs and sushi.  Great, now I’m hungry.

“Hello, my name is Rock” name tag.  Even more rock humor.  It never gets old.

Let us eat Dessert.  Cakes, cake slices, pies, cookies, cupcakes, ice cream cones and ice cream sundaes.

Farm Animals. Cows, pigs, sheep, horses, goats, rabbits, llamas, and ducks.

Farm Stuff.  Barns, haystacks and tractors.

Pets.  Dogs, cats, goldfish, hamsters, turtles, frogs and snakes are just some ideas.

Wild Animals.  Deer, bears, moose, tigers, elephants, giraffes, alligators, hawks, mountain lions, hippos, panthers, zebras, lions, tigers, antelope, mountain goats, buffalo, rhinoceros, leopards, elk, pandas, polar bears, cheetahs, foxes, camels, monkeys, wolves and raccoons are just a few to paint.

Sporting Equipment.  Baseballs, footballs, soccer balls, tennis balls, hockey sticks, tennis racquets and boxing gloves.

Hats.  Cowboy hats, top hats, berets, derby, fedora, baseball hats, Viking horns and chef hats.  Now I’m dying to paint hats.

Cottages, Cabins and Magical Doorways.  No need to explain further.

Magical Stuff.  Fairies, dragons, unicorns, magic wands and wizards.

City Skylines. Daytime and night.

Pirate Theme.  Pirates, parrots, pirate ships, treasure chest, skull and bones flag.

Space.  Solar system – use glow-in-the-dark paint for painting rocks and you will have an out of this world experience.  (Space humor!) Spaceships, astronauts, and aliens.

Emojis.  You know what those are.

Holiday Themes Rock Painting

New Year.  Clocks, champagne glasses, party hats, “Happy New Year,” 2017 and streamers.

Valentine’s Day – Cupid, bows and arrows, box of chocolates, heart candy with sayings, love letters and roses.

St. Patrick’s Day – Pot of gold, leprechauns, horseshoe, four-leaf clover, green top hat and Irish flag

Easter – Easter bunny, chicks, colored eggs, lambs, tulips and daffodils, various animals wearing bunny ears.

July 4th – Flags, fireworks, “Happy 4th of July,” and “Happy Independence Day.”

Halloween – Ghosts, black cats, haunted houses, witches, spiders, bats and jack-o-lanterns.

Thanksgiving Themed.  Turkeys, thanksgiving quotes and pumpkins are all the rage for this time of year.

Christmas.  Christmas trees, stockings, Santa Claus, Reindeer, presents, ornaments, candles, Christmas lights, “Happy Holidays,” bells, Santa hat, sleighs, candy canes, peppermints, garland, holly, mistletoe and elves.

Hanukkah.  Menorah, dreidel, gelt, gifts and Star of David are some ideas.

Seasonal Themes Rock Painting

Spring.  Umbrellas, rain boots, baby birds in nests, watering can and bird houses.

Summer.  Palm trees, thongs, lighthouses, sand pails, sunglasses, life preservers, snorkeling masks  and flippers.

Fall.  Squirrels, autumn trees, leaves, squash, apples, socks and sunflowers.

Winter.  Snowmen, mittens, fireplace, sleds, snowflakes, wreaths, frosted trees, penguins and igloos are just some ideas.

More resources on rock painting:

Rock Art! Painting and Crafting with the Humble Pebble.

The Art of Stone Painting: 30 Designs to Spark Your Creativity.

Cute Owl Canvas Tote Bag


Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve found a rock or if you’re involved with rock painting and how it’s impacted your life.  Thank you for stopping by.

Make sure you subscribe to our newsletter, where you will receive more garden ideas, home decor and recipes. New subscribers will receive my MOST requested recipe: Chicken with Blackberry Cream Sauce.

Don’t forget to pin this post to your rock painting ideas Pinterest board!  I will be continually updating it.

Rock on, rock painting angels. Rock on.

How to Start Rock Painting @montanahappy.com

28 Comments

Glorie Illian

This is excellent info! We’re rockin the east bay of SF!
Just shared with our.group Oakley Rocks! Love this movement! Thank you!

Reply
Fawn Conner

I’ve found many, started a group in Moses Lake, WA to spread happiness and get families out in the community, getting excercise and reconnecting with each other. This group has given me something to look forward to, wether it’s painting rocks for others or finding them, it just makes my day

Reply
Bobirae

Hi, I’m from Montana and me and my family are down in Seattle for medical reasons. While I was at the Children’s hospital the other day u found some beautiful rock’s. I shared a picture of them and I said that I never saw or heard of the rock painting going on back home…. Well until now, Thanks for starting it where you live. I think I might start it myself in my hometown because it sure brought a smile to myself and also my family’s face’s.

Reply
Wendy Duhe'

I actually saw an article about rock painting a couple of years ago. It was in Vancouver. A lady painted rocks and placed them around town to spread a little cheer. I thought it was a great idea then, but didn’t think about getting it going. I have been pinning images of painted rocks on Pinterest for years in case I finally got to paint rocks. I stumbled on the SJP group Laurie started from a post about the rocks by a Facebook friend. I added a bunch of my Facebook friend to the group that I thought might like it. I have been painting rocks since I saw the post. I don’t generate as many as I’d like because I take a while painting them. It’s very therapeutic. I would love for this to spread all over the country. 😃

Reply
Diane Matthes

I got my rocks at home depot. 30 lbs of white smooth rocks 3-5″ for about 13.00. They are easy to paint on. They are found in the lawn and garden section. I think Lowes carries them also. Oh and another idea in lieu of painting is decoupage. I saw that on you tube, they were painting pots but it could be used on rocks.

Reply
Ashleigh

Love this! Perfect timing as so much anger is in the air! I’ve never heard of the rock movement, but I’m excited and definitely sharing on my fb page. Thanks for this post!

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Kim Zagarenski

Great post!! I started our group 06351 rocks about a month ago in our area. We are up over 500 members already, which is awesome for our quiet little town!
Something that we’ve done in our group is have local businesses donate something that the finder of a special rock wins! We’ve had everything from pumpkins, oil changes, gift cards to restaurants, pizzas and Scentsy wax tarts donated. It’s a great way for businesses to get some advertising as well as a way to drum up more excitement for rock hunting!!

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Kathy Bassett

Super Awesome blog . . . and tons of great information. Thank you so much for helping to spread the “fun”
We are just getting started here but it is starting to catch on. I am my mom’s caregiver and she has dementia, so painting the rocks helps me a bunch and she understands some about the rocks . . so she gets tickled when she learns that someone found a rock, or when I take her out for a ride to hide some. Some other great places to put rocks would be in a mall where there are so many places to put a rock . . the more you look around the more you find places where a rock would fit. I find myself now carrying rocks in my pockets when I go anywhere. Yesterday while at the Grocery Store, the cashier that checked me out, had big tears in her eyes and she told me that a little man had just come through her aisle and didn’t have enough money to pay for his groceries, so the people behind him, paid the entire bill. She said . . there are still good people left in the world. I handed her one of my favorite rocks and said I hoped she would find some cheer in the rock and she was so amazed and her face went from sad to glad in a hurry . . she was so excited. People have a hard time at the holidays and I don’t have a lot of money but I thought I would put a rock in a baggie along with a $10 bill or so and hope that whoever finds it could use if for nothing else a cup of coffee & a sandwich. I also would like to pay for a large pizza and make a special rock which when presented to the pizza place, their pizza would be paid for. Thanks again.

Reply
Loralie Cruz

Thank you for all of this great information. I just started a new FB group for a community–however, this community is not geographical, it’s the walking community of Volkssporters. The Group name is “Volkssport Rocks”. I hope to generate interest in placing painted rocks along our Volksmarch routes across the country. (Check out ava.org if unfamiliar with volkssports.) I did mention your site in my introduction since you have included such a wealth of information and I figured there was no reason for me to try to restate it all in my own words when you have already done such a complete job. Thank you so much!

Reply
Laurieleu Wells

This is great, we are always having new painters join our group looking for guidance I’ll send them here.I’ve been a rock painter for over ten years and love gifting them, so keep on rock’n!

Reply
Rose Holland

How do I find out if there is a rock painting Facebook page in my area?

Reply
Cynthia Golebie

I started Pittsburgh Rocks March 10, 2017. We have been growing each day.

Reply

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