Under the shade of twisted trees and along a worn timber railing, perched upon a large rock and even peeking out amongst town signs is something bright and full of fun that is popping up all over the Sunshine Coast and hinterland.
by Rebecca Mugridge
Have you seen them? Pieces of tiny art, easy to miss. Pieces so little you must open your eyes and really look about you to find one. From a bright red ladybug glistening in the sun, to a frog in a tree so hidden you only spot it out of the corner of your eye.
The next time you are out and about, if you really look you just might find a painted rock from the group, ‘Sunshine Coast Rocks’, founded by local mum Kathleen Halliday.
As Kathleen shares her story you are immediately drawn to her warm smile and generous nature. You can see why this tiny art movement is such a beautiful and heartfelt one as her face lights up as she talks.
“I thought it was something we could all do as a family and even a great way to meet new people in the community,” she said. “I think I even look forward to it more than the kids!”
And it all started with just a bag of smooth rocks. “When I moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2017 I had a bag of rocks that I didn’t know what to do with, and my daughter loved painting at the time so I thought, ‘let’s start painting these rocks’.
“My daughter then went down to the park one day and put some rocks there and some children started playing with them. I thought it would be lovely to put rocks around the Sunshine Coast and hinterland.”
The group has just hit around 470 members and is growing every week as more people find the stones and become enchanted by the whole idea.
“It’s lovely to hear about the outings and the things families have done to go out and look for these rocks. The fact that they get out to do some exploring and have family time together is just wonderful.”
Around the base and in the hollows and branches of trees has proven to be one of the most popular spots to find one she has found. Places like the botanical gardens, libraries and parks are always good spots to look, she said. The rocks sometimes even have their own tales as they get around too.
“Sometimes you even re-find one your family has painted,” Kathleen laughed happily, “we found the same rock we had painted and hidden but in a totally different location, which was funny and great to see. It shows they actually get around and families are often re-hiding them!”
Kathleen said painting the rocks gives you such a beautiful hobby in your life, “It’s so calming to just sit and relax and paint rocks. It’s nice to give to someone else and not expect anything back.”
Sunshine Coast artist Jill Valliere also loves the rock movement and puts her special rock pieces out there for lucky people to find.
Her exquisite stone artwork includes story stones, mandalas, birth stones and intuitive art, and is so beautiful she also sells them and shares images through her Facebook page, ‘Art from the heart by Jill’. It would be a lucky day indeed if you were to find one of hers.
Jill and her family became involved after finding a painted stone from the Sunshine Coast all the way in Brisbane and now she and her boys love to go out there and hide the rocks.
For those who don’t think they have the skills, Jill is the first to say you don’t have to be a professional artist to get involved.
“It is not about how talented you are; it is about having fun and the nice little things you can do to connect with your children. I definitely think it brings out the artistic talents in a lot of people,” she said.
“For me, art is my special time and something I do to fill my cup up. I know it would be like that for a lot of mums too. It’s something I do when the kids are in bed, I sit down, and I paint.”
Jill encourages those new to painting rocks to head to Pinterest for inspiration, she also highly recommends people use paint pens like the ones by ‘Posca’ or acrylic paints.
“I find the pens easier to use, they do cost a little more but investing in good quality paints really helps. I often put a white base underneath to really make the colour pop and I use a good clear sealer on top.”
Jill recommends using a sealer like ‘Dura max’ by Dulux in a semi-gloss spray but says there are quite a few types you can use and to ask at your local paint or hardware store.
“It’s about having a go and keeping at it,” said Jill. “Really it is just practise, practise, practise. What I did a year ago compared to what I do now, you wouldn’t even think it was the same person. You just get better with practise.”
But Jill also says not to let your artistic skills, or lack thereof hold you back either, “It is all about having fun at the end of the day,” she smiled.
And it is an interactive art experience we can all enjoy; I know for myself, I have two girls eager to hunt rocks and have a go, get out the paints and release some painted treasures of their own into our hinterland!
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