Rock Art Adventure

I can’t remember exactly what led me to paint my first rock. I might have seen people on social media finding rocks others had left. Covid hit, some people went into lockdown. We did. I knew it would eventually be over and people would show back up to the RV Park. With souvenir shops closed, I decided to leave something fun so visitors could remember the beauty of Pagosa/The Last Resort and smile in uncertain times. I also needed a pleasant distraction from the pandemic. 

While there was an endless stash of rocks, I had to find other supplies. I love Sharpies, but didn’t know if they would work well on rocks. I wasn’t sure what to paint so I bought some stencils. I wanted whatever I used to be non toxic so it didn’t get in the Rio Blanco river or hurt any animals. My first round was sloppy but fun. 

I wasn’t sure if people would pick up the rocks. I hid all my stencil rocks around the property. Some very obvious on the road. Some very hidden in the foliage or on the beach with other rocks. I waited to see if anyone would take the rocks. With the exception of a rock hidden in a space with limited traffic, all the rocks were taken. AWESOME!  I started writing captions (“Smile”, “Love”, “Gone Fishing”) on the back of the rocks. I placed the word side up so the unsuspecting finder would be curious. I wanted it to be mysterious and also practice my artistic penmanship. 

After multiple rounds of just stencils, I came up with ideas for more complex designs. While my hummingbird started out as a stencil, it evolved into a more interesting image. I was thrilled with it and my creativity began to take hold. I bought non toxic paint pens and some inexpensive acrylic paint. I started freehand painting on the rocks with subjects related to the area – bugs, fish, flowers, animals, mountains, streams, etc. I would check the status of rocks I put out and replenish any taken rocks when Bluebonnet (my dog) and I went for a walk and dip in the river. In the chaos of an epidemic with little guidance or facts, it was very relaxing. 

If you do any research on the internet about painted rocks, you discover a whole section of the art related to Mandala or dotted rocks. People make amazing, beautiful designs. It took me a while to make a decent dot. I’m still not great at this particular genre of painted rocks, but learning to make a perfect circle is valuable knowledge which I converted into other ideas. Having the right amount of paint and tools is learning experience. Quickly, I realized I needed to paint a background on the rock so I could paint over errors. I dotted and dotted and dotted. I painted over and painted over and painted over mistakes. With the eraser on a pencil, the wooden end of a foam brush and the awesome dot painters Beau bought me, I’m doing pretty well with the dots. 

Since May, I painted about 85 rocks. I put out about 60 for people to find, still have a few and gave the rest to friends who visited. I officially put out my last rocks just before Labor Day. I haven’t seen any, but I suspect there is 1 or 2 lurking around the property. One of the funniest things, sometimes people would move the rocks around. It was hard to know why that was happening. I couldn’t decide if they thought they should leave it or if they decided to leave it for someone else. The paint on the rocks survived heavy rains and went all over the country without me have to come in contact with anyone.

Hopefully, in a scary time, I brought a little excitment into people’s lives. I definitely became a better painter and dotter. Summer of 2020 in Pagosa Springs was ROCKING!!!!

I present you with a gallery of my favorite painted rocks: