Brighten someone’s day with an inspirational note
Story By Beatrice Taylor, Rocks painted by Sharon Morris and Diana Best
“I see one, I see one!” cried the little girl as she ran to a bench on the Warrenton Branch Greenway that sat at the side of the paved path. She carefully picked up a brightly colored rock that had been left in the crook of the armrest where it might be discovered. “It’s pretty,“ said her mother. “This is the best one yet!” replied the child.
This mother and daughter are part of a growing population of people who have become involved in the Kindness Rock Project. Who paints these rocks and who are they for? How did this get started, and how can someone get involved in it? Sharon Morris of Warrenton has been painting rocks and leaving them for people to find for several years. We spoke with Ms. Morris to find out about the popularity of this inexpensive way of sharing kindness with those around us.
How did you get started painting rocks?
Sharon: I saw an article on the Kindness Rocks Project and actually found my first rock in the summer of 2017 at Colonial Beach, Virginia. The project was started by Megan Murphy in 2015. She wrote, “You’ve got this!” on a rock and left it on a beach in Cape Cod. The response from a friend who found it was the beginning of her painting more rocks with inspirational messages. All you do is paint a positive message or something happy and put the rock out for others to find. The movement has now spread to the UK, Australia, New Zealand, as well as other countries.
What are the steps to painting a Kindness Rock?
Sharon: You can get your rocks from anywhere: in rivers, on the side of the road, or buy them at a local landscaping company. You’re not supposed to take them from state parks, and you should ask permission if you get them from a private property.
Wash your rocks first and paint the top of the rock white so the colors will show up well. Use acrylic paints to make your design and then spray it with a clear topcoat for a protectant in case it rains so it won’t peel. I’ve seen two-year olds paint rocks and then parents write a word on it. You don’t have to be an artist!
What do you do once your rock is painted?
Sharon: Then put it somewhere in town where people will see it. It doesn’t have to be hidden. Parks are a good idea because it gets the family out. You find spots for them while you walk, and others will pick them up. I’ve even seen them in shopping centers or in Old Town Warrenton. I wouldn’t recommend putting them in a store though. I once saw a nice rock someone had left inside a store and when I went back a couple of days later, there was a price tag of $3.99 on it!
What if you find a rock while out walking?
Sharon: You can keep it for yourself or you can hide it somewhere else for someone else to find. One person made a little rock garden with her found rocks. I encourage you to go to Facebook and locate the group associated with where you found it, such as Warrenton Virginia Rocks, Culpeper Rocks, Haymarket Rocks, or The Burg Rocks, which is for Fredericksburg. Almost every city in the U.S has a Facebook group for painted rocks. Ours in Warrenton is Old Town Warrenton Rocks. That way the person who left it will know someone’s found it and enjoyed it.
I understand that you do a couple of specialty rocks.
Sharon: Yes. I do one group that is called Lois Rocks in memory of my sister. I take the rocks to as many of the LOVE signs in Virginia and take a picture of the rock with the sign. I post a picture of each place I go. There are more than 200 LOVE signs, and I have been to twenty of them.
Another group of rocks that I do are called, “Chubby Chicks.” These originated in Colonial Beach and have a beach theme. They have their own Facebook page. These rocks display a beach scene with an “unapologetic, confident woman” in a bathing suit and wearing a hat. They were so popular that there was a Chubby Chicks art show in Colonial Beach, and they have been written up in the Westmoreland Times as a rock to look for.
Why do you want people to know about Kindness Rocks now?
People have been so stressed with Covid-19 and with having to stay in. Kids are home from school, and they are needing something to do. What is better than to share a little kindness during this stressful time? It gets the children and adults involved, gets them out into nature, and allows them to spend time doing something together. They leave inspirational messages, and I think people need it right now. I’m in the process of painting some now that will be ready in the next couple of weeks. You’ll have to see if you can find them!