Community Rocks!! How Rock Painting Brings Our Community Together

November 2, 2023 at 3:35 p.m.

By Tonya Bramlage, Lemon Bay Conservancy


On the surface, rock painting sounds like yet another craft project, but if you take a closer look underneath the paint, you will discover a whole new way to reconnect with the outside world. Painting rocks may have become popular over the last several years, but the practice has actually been around for thousands of years. Painted pebbles date back from the period of the late Ice Age and beginning of the Holocene, according to the Archaeological Heritage Office in Dresden, Germany.

Painted pebbles were given a renewed sense of purpose in these modern times due in part by Megan Murphy, a Massachusetts-based women’s empowerment coach who founded The Kindness Rocks Project as a meaningful way to give back to her community. Her mission is brilliant in its simplicity: decorate rocks with vibrant designs and inspiring messages, mark them with a distinguishing hashtag, hide and scatter them everywhere possible in an effort to uplift the people who find them. Neuroscience research suggests that the person who finds your surprise gift might experience a surge of mood-boosting neurological brain chemicals.

Studies indicate that a sense of community is foundational for our feelings of safety and security as humans. Anyone who finds a rock is encouraged to take a photo of it and then use the hashtag to connect with other rock painting enthusiasts on social media sites. The rock finder can then either replace the rock with one that they have painted themselves or hide the one they found in a new location. These kindness rocks have been a worldwide phenomenon ever since.

Rock painting is more than a relaxing and fulfilling ritual. Mindfulness and creativity are both important components of art therapy - many use it as a way to manage their anxiety and stress. When we engage in activities, like rock painting, that require our focus in a gentle, mindful way, we benefit on both psychological and physical levels. Our empathy towards one another increases when we offer a kind word or gesture that communicates to others that they are not alone.

The process of mapping out a pebble design and executing your masterpiece undoubtedly keeps your mind focused on the task at hand, distracting it from outside stressors and temporarily relieving anxiety and worries. On a more scientific neurobiological level, calm-inducing GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) levels increase every time we engage in mindfulness-based tasks. The mind and body also benefit from increased levels of serotonin, a feel-good neurochemical, as well as dopamine, which is often called the brain’s primary rewarder of neurochemicals.


The rock garden at Lemon Creek Wildflower Preserve was established in order to provide members of our local community with an opportunity to experience these benefits for themselves. Each month, Lemon Bay Conservancy facilitates a rock painting workshop at the Preserve. You are invited to join us for the next rock garden painting session on Wednesday, November 29 at 5pm at the outdoor classroom area in the meadow at Lemon Creek Wildflower Preserve located at 3120 Gasparilla Pines Boulevard, Englewood, FL 34224.

We will provide paint, brushes, some cocktail napkins, mod podge for decoupage, and several different types of acrylic pens for group use. New techniques, such as working with colored glue, using cake decorating tips, and metal paint, will also be explored. Instructor Bonnie Stuhlmiller is always happy to assist in picking out rocks with natural character. Everyone is welcome to participate and join us for our monthly guided labyrinth walk following the session.

For more information, email [email protected].