Downtime from pandemic is a chance to get creative painting rocks

Posted 25 March 2020 at 9:40 am

‘Rock’ groups are also a chance to stay connected with larger community

Photos courtesy of Susan Wilson: These rocks are painted in a theme of the four houses at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter books.

(Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing “Pandemic Perspectives” series, with people sharing how they are coping with life during the coronavirus pandemic. We welcome more submissions. Send them to

By Susan Wilson

Susan Wilson

When I saw the opportunity to send in an article for this column, I was originally considering writing in with some perspective on what it’s like right now in Rochester, NY. It’s really making me nostalgic for simpler times and I’m waxing rhapsodic about all the wide open spaces in Orleans County that I grew up with compared to the close quarters of my apartment and the chaotic grocery stores here in the city.

But then I changed my mind and wanted to instead talk about something positive from Orleans that’s helping to stave off cabin fever a little bit.

Susan Wilson painted this rock to look like a dragon’s eye.

A lot of people are using this time at home to catch up on Netflix or go for a napping championship, but I need to keep my hands and brain busy to distract myself, especially considering my work-from-home schedule the rest of the week. Although I’m grateful to have a job that translates well to working remote, I’m not very enthused about just moving around my apartment from screen to screen all day every day.

That’s why I’m so thankful for the Albion NY Rocks rock painting group on Facebook. I go through periods where I’m extremely active, then other times where I am only clicking “like” on random posts that come up through my news feed. But being stuck indoors, it’s been an encouragement to get involved again even though I will have to hold off on hiding rocks.

For those who are unfamiliar with what these rock painting groups are doing, you find rocks to paint with a positive message or image, then you hide them somewhere for someone to find. The rocks usually have a note on the back suggesting the finder should take a photo with the rock and post it to the Facebook group before re-hiding for someone else to find it. (Although finders are also welcome to keep the rocks.)

I’ve been an artist for a long time, but most of my art has been done digitally. Having a physical craft to create with more than mouse and keyboard is a nice change of pace. It’s relaxing to do something hands-on and not be concerned with perfection or how to market my work for sales. Instead, I’m doing it for fun and with the hope of making someone I’ll probably never meet smile.

This rock was turned into art showcasing a sunset.

I’ve painted rocks for holidays and seasons. I painted a set to hide on my honeymoon last year when we drove through the Appalachians. I’ve painted for supporting causes. This weekend, I’ve been painting and making a pile of Harry Potter rocks for Hogwarts House Pride Week that I’m really excited to hide when this is all over. You can paint whatever you want and as long as you’re having fun, you’re achieving the goal of the group.

The best part is that it’s making connections between all of us in the group. We share ideas and celebrate the efforts of others. I’ve never met most of the members, but I am always really happy to see posts or receive comments. It’s nice that this cyberspace meeting space has carried us seamlessly into this current situation. It’s been a perfect way to foster social interaction between all ages and lifestyles where the only thing that’s important in the group is that you’re supportive and making the world a prettier, more positive place while having a good time.

If you have art supplies on hand that have been sitting and collecting dust, this is a great time to do something hands-on that works perfectly while social distancing. And thank you to the awesome people who operate as group administrators. Your little corner of Facebook is one of my favorite places to be and I appreciate it!

(Susan Wilson, 32, is a former resident of Albion. She does graphic design and marketing in Rochester. She likes to make hands-on art in her spare time.)

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