Spouse puts new value in rocks
For Allissa Bates, it comes in rocks.
Bates, wife of Sgt. Mathew Bates, Cyber Protection Brigade, finds happiness in painting rocks and leaving them behind for people to find. And she’s recruiting like-minded people to find similar joy through her Facebook group, Augusta “Rocks!”
“It’s all about bringing a smile to someone’s face,” Allissa said.
Allissa hosted the group’s first public gathering March 9 at Pendleton King Park in Augusta. Dozens of painters came out for the event; many of whom had been contacted on social media and were meeting in person for the first time.
Before Augusta “Rocks!” Allissa co-founded Vancouver “Rocks!” in July 2016 while living in Washington state. That group now has more than 30,600.
Painters are free to paint anything they choose on rocks but asked to keep it rated “PG,” or kid friendly. Some people paint characters, some paint encouraging words, some paint extravagant designs, and some paint food. Painters are also asked to write Augusta “Rocks!” on the back of rocks in hopes the finder will turn to the group page and post a picture of the rock, join the group, and become part of the movement.
Finished rocks are then placed throughout the community waiting to be discovered by its new keeper. Public parks, storefronts, outdoor patios, walking trails … when it comes to “hiding” rocks, painters can place them virtually anywhere so long as they don’t trespass or put them somewhere that could potentially damage one’s property.
The variety of designs is about as wide as the variety of rocks. Allissa insists anyone can do it, regardless of artistic ability.
“If you just write the word ‘love,’ or ‘hope,’ or something inspirational on a rock, and somebody finds it, it could turn someone’s day around,” said Allissa. “Some people just seek, and that’s okay, too. It’s whatever makes them happy.”
“The rock shape kind of speaks to you, and then when you get home and wash them, they become different because the colors change, some of the textures come out, so then you can think of something different to do with them,” Corcino said.
Brianna Scott, of Hephzibah, draws her inspiration from Pinterest and designs she thinks young children would like to find. A seasoned canvas painter, Scott decided to give rocks a try after her friend told her about Augusta “Rocks!”
“Compared to rocks, canvas is a lot easier to correct mistakes,” Scott said. “It takes a lot more precise strokes and concentration with rocks, but seeing pictures of kids finding the rocks on social media makes it all worth it.”
And that’s what it’s all about. Allissa admits it can be difficult letting go of a rock, especially if it’s one she has spent hours creating. But in the end, she finds happiness in knowing her rock could be exactly what a person needed.
“Sometimes it breaks my heart a little bit to put it out, but I know that somebody’s going to find it, and that it’s going to make their day,” Allissa said.
One such instance occurred when a person posted a photo of a child holding a painted rock at Children’s Hospital of Georgia. The child was a cancer patient, and the rock said “somewhere over the rainbow.”
“That right there … it totally hits you,” Allissa said. “That’s the little thing that could make somebody happy or give them strength for the day.”
Along with spreading joy, the group is intended to bring people together and outside exploring. Painting and hiding rocks is a great way for families to spend quality time together. In some cases, it’s a way to meet new people.
“I first met Brianna (Scott) when I was buying rocks,” Allissa said. “It’s fun to get out, and it’s about the joy that it’s bringing.”
To learn more and find out when the next group painting will be, visit the Augusta “Rocks!” Facebook group. The page has a wealth of information including how to get started, where to find rocks, and rock painting tips.