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A Complete Guide to Rock Painting and Spreading a Little Kindness Through Art

A painted rock, sometimes called a kindness stone or rock, is simply a rock that someone has taken and decorated with an inspirational message.

Author: Inspire Kindness Team

 "Take the time to be kind. You can make all the difference in someone's life." - Lucy MacDonald


1. How can rocks spread kindness

2. What materials do you need to paint rocks? 

3. How do you make a painted rock? 

5. Where do you get the rocks? 

6. What kind of paint do you use on rocks?

7. What do you use to seal painted rocks?

8. Where can I hide painted rocks?

9. Are you supposed to take a painted rock? 

10. What is a rock garden?

11. What do you write on the rocks?
12. What are easy rock painting ideas?


Have you ever stumbled upon a colorful, hand-painted rock that has been painted in bright colors or has an uplifting message written on it? You may have just found a kindness rock! Rock painting or rock art is a trend that has picked up popularity in recent years. Whether you're an artist who is looking for a new art project or someone who wants to share a positive message with others, painting rocks might be for you. 



How can rocks spread kindness?


This painted rock, sometimes called a kindness stone, is simply a rock that someone has decorated with an inspirational message. They can be any size or shape, as big or small as you like! The point of this stone painting is to sprinkle positivity around your community. Once you create one, the idea is to leave it somewhere for another person to find and enjoy. As we all know, sometimes a simple message of love and compassion can spark joy and brighten someone's entire day. 


Before you get to painting, here are a few common questions that you may have.



What Materials Do You Need To Paint Rocks? 


Here's the list of things you'll need:

  • Smooth rocks or stones
  • Acrylic paint
  • Sponge brushes
  • Acrylic paint pens
  • Sealer


How Do You Make a Painted Rock?


Learn how to paint rocks; it's easy! 


  1. Find or purchase your desired rock (think smooth and flat). Clean it with soap and water and allow it to dry in the sun. (Dirt can mess up your designs)
  2. Once the rock is dry, paint the top with a base coat of acrylic paint—pick any color you like. Wait for it to dry. 
  3. When the base coat is dry, add a fun design, or write a positive note like, "Be the Change" on each one. You can find lots of painted rock ideas using the links at the bottom of this article or just search rock painting ideas on Google. Add small details using a fine or extra-fine tip acrylic paint pen or a small paintbrush. 
  4. Allow the design to dry completely (for best results, dry overnight), and then seal the rock to protect your design.
  5. Spread love and joy by leaving the rock in a place for someone else to find. 


complete guide to rock painting infographic


If you make a mistake, paint over the whole rock and begin again! That's the beauty of working on such a small canvas. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to paint a rock. The point is to spread a little love and compassion and to have fun while doing it! 


Quick Tip: If you don't have paint or don't have the time to do a base coat, feel free to write a positive message directly on the rock itself! 



Where Do You Get The Rocks?


Well, you can get them just about anywhere! A hardware or craft store in your area most likely sells rocks of many shapes and sizes. Some local landscaping businesses may also offer them for sale, and this is especially good if you are looking for larger sizes. Avoid buying stones that have a waxy film as they will be harder to decorate. 


Or, just go outside and find some. From picking up pebbles on the beach to stones in your local park, any rock can make an excellent painted rock. Choose the type of rock that you think will fit your designs best and don't take all the rocks out of one area. We want to be kind to our environment, too. 



What Kinds of Paint Do You Use for Rock Painting? 


We recommend using acrylic paint for both the base coat and your design. For more intricate, hand-painted designs, we suggest that you use paint pens to draw on top of your base coat. With paint pens, you can be a bit more accurate when you are writing on or adding details.


Best practice: make sure the paint you get is multi-surface and works outdoors. 


How Do You Seal the Rocks?


Your creations need to be sealed to preserve the paint and the beautiful designs you worked so hard on. Mod Podge or a spray-on sealer will work just fine—just make sure it's a waterproof sealer. Our favorite sealant is Deco Art Multi-Purpose Seal. You can find this and other types of sealers at your local craft store.



Where Do You Hide a Painted Rock?


Once you've painted, it’s time to hide the rocks for others to find! Now, use the term 'hide' loosely; you want someone to actually find the rock. Think of somewhere that gets a lot of foot traffic where someone may notice it. A local park, a bench in town, or outside of a community center are all excellent options.


You can also be more intentional about where you place the rock if you want to be sure that someone will find it. Leave one in the common area of your office building, place one by the bathroom sink at school, or on a teacher's desk. They don't even have to be hidden at all. You can keep them on your desk or dresser for inspiration. Give them as a gift, or hand a rock off to someone that you think could use words of encouragement. 


Be considerate when looking for places to put the rocks. Don't leave them at a private residence or business where you don't have permission. National parks are also a no-go as most have a "leave no trace" policy. The purpose of creation is to be kind, so let's be respectful of our environment. 



What Do You Do When You Find a Painted Rock?


You've found a painted rock. Now what? Do you take it? First, read it! Take the message to heart, and know that you matter and your happiness matters. Someone else went out of their way to paint that rock for you to find. How cool that you're the one who found it! 


Then, if you want to, share the love. These rocks have gained popularity on social media, so share your photos for others to see. Check to see if there may be a local rock group in your area, and consider joining. The group can get together to paint and place them around town. Write the name of your group on the back of your rock so people can search for it when they find the rock.


Lastly, pay it forward! Once you've read and enjoyed the message, you can either hide the rock somewhere new for another person to find, or if it meant a lot to you, keep it. All we ask is that if you keep the rock for yourself, that you paint another rock for someone else to find. Think of what the message meant to you. Make sure you help somebody else get that unique feeling too. 



What is a Painted Rock Garden?


People have found that placing a group of painted rocks together to form a garden can make a wonderful impact on a community. Pick a spot that has plenty of people coming and going. Think about parks, libraries, schools, and public grassy areas near stores and restaurants. Then, leave a group of rocks and a sign that explains the rock garden. The sign should tell people that they can take a rock, leave a rock, or simply read the kind messages, smile, and continue on with their day. These positive phrases are sure to make so many peoples' days. Check out examples of rock gardens.



Rock Painting Sayings and Quotes List


Not sure what to write or paint on your rock? Here are some ideas to get you started!


You matter 

Have a nice day

Trust the process

You rock

Be kind

You are loved

Not all who wander are lost

Chase your dreams

Be the change

The world needs you

Here comes the sun

Kindness wins

You are not alone

Inspire Kindness

Be Happy

Don't give up

Have hope

Intention over attention

Inspire others

Today is a gift

Keep it kind

Spread kindness

You're beautiful

You can do it

Spring into action

Be a rainbow in someone else's day

Love yourself

Kindness matters


Easy Rock Painting Ideas


We recommend starting with more simple designs and try to work up to more advanced illustrations if you would like, but you can design the rock however you want! Designs do not have to be intricate. Paint simple things like smiley faces, hearts, flowers, and polka dots. Or just focus on your message and leave a little inspiration on the rock.


Need design inspiration? Here’s some help: 


Rock Painting 101

50 Easy Rock Painting Ideas for Beginners

Family Days Awesome and Easy Rock Painting Ideas



Now that you know everything you need to know about painted rocks, you're ready to get started! You have the power to make someone's day with the kind messages you write. Start the trend of rock-painting in your community, and watch the ripple effect you create. Thank you for helping us inspire kindness. 


The ROI of Kindness

Ever wonder if there’s an ROI of Kindness? We say…yes! Learn helpful nuggets like the one below, plus how to create a Kindness Value Proposition (KVP) at your organization in this simple book by Inspire Kindness founder Mac Anderson and Brian Biro, The ROI of Kindness.

Fact: Turnover reduction/employee retention…The average annual turnover in the Quick Service Food Industry is 170%. The two companies that constantly focus on kindness as the “magic” ingredient more than any other in their cultures average 14% and 24% annual turnover. In other words, these two companies retain their employees 8 to 10 times more than their competitors.