Perhaps you've come across one yourself - a painted rock peeking out at you while at Washington Park, or perhaps even at Hy-Vee. It's a trend that has taken off in cities across the country - painting and hiding rocks for others to find.
Apparently some places, like Jefferson City, have been doing it for over a year now. A Facebook page for Springfield, under the name Springfield IL Rocks, more recently popped up. The idea is simple - paint a rock, add a message linking it to the Facebook group, and see who finds it and how far it travels. I just recently became aware of it when a local artist friend invited me to a rock painting gathering on a weekend afternoon.
Some of the area's most talented artists, Kristin Diehl, Eric Craddock, Mehr Tumulty and Felicia Olin were there. Felicia had organized the fun. "I totally would have painted 100 in one sitting and been engrossed in it, but I liked the idea of a rock painting party. More people equals more fun and more variety in technique and color usage and vision. It's a good excuse to play with your friends," she says.
Felicia's resulting Facebook post about it was shared over 75 times. I hadn't really known what I had gotten myself into but I had a blast getting crafty with friends. Felicia says, "What I really liked about the concept was that it was localized to just Springfield and I liked the idea that rocks were pretty sturdy so they would be pretty weather resistant. Leaving rocks didn't feel like littering."
It was certainly fun to get together with friends old and new for the painting part, there were kids and adults both taking part. I missed out on the hiding process which also sounds like a blast and good excuse to travel around the city. What's really great is seeing pictures online that people who have found the rocks post. It may seem cheesy but it's a wholesome way to connect with strangers - something that seems comforting in these polarized times. Who wouldn't want to brighten someone else's day?
People like Felicia are no stranger to gifting strangers with art. "A couple years ago I left little pieces of art on people's porches in my neighborhood. Last year I left 100 little bunny paintings in New York." I can say from experience, she is one of the most generous people I know - which really rules considering her artwork is so awesome. She's a member of The Pharmacy artist collective, and I remember one Pharmacy show around Easter where I found a sweet little painted egg ornament with a simple tag on it - "Finders keepers." Of course Felicia was behind it.
To get involved - check out the Facebook page for ideas on how to label the rocks you paint (acrylics work best and you can seal the rocks with Mod Podge or the kind of sealant that comes in an aerosol can.) Join the group to track the rocks that are being hid/found as well. If you don't feel like being artsy - at the very least, keep your eye out! You can keep the rocks or re-hide them to keep the fun going.