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Auburn Rocks: Painted Rocks Scattered Around Town


If you’ve ever come across a painted rock while out and about you might have wondered what it’s all about. The idea is to use art in small ways to make someone smile. Every rock has an uplifting or funny quote or a beautiful picture.

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Courtesy Photo

Typically, these rocks have instructions for the person who finds the rock, including a corresponding Facebook group or page. The finder is asked to take a photo of the rock post it to the group or page. Then they can replace the rock with one they’ve painted or re-hide the rock they found.


There are several Facebook groups and pages for rock painting in the Auburn area.  Auburn Wa Rocks and Kent/Auburn Rocks! were both started in August 2016.  Other area rock groups include 253 Rocks, King County Rocks, Pierce County Rocks, Sumner Wa Rocks, Sumner Rocks

Rock Artists

Tacoma resident Candida McDonald is a member of the Auburn WA Rocks group who was tagged in a post about her rock making its way to Ireland. “While in Ocean Shores, Washington, last month, we bumped into some ladies who handed us Candida’s rock and asked us to place it somewhere special. I took it to Ireland, and it is now resting in the rose garden, Bed Number 59, of the former Guinness family property (now public) and known as St Anne’s Park in Clontarf (outside of Dublin), Ireland. Best wishes to Candida Shane McDonald and the movement of her rocks!”

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McDonald’s rock being hidden in Ireland | Courtesy photo, Candida McDonald

McDonald was absolutely thrilled while relaying the story. She works in Auburn and leaves rocks often in the downtown area. McDonald started painting rocks two years ago and never expected to see one go that far.

Geofery Joshlin and his family have been painting rocks since 2018. “My mother has been finding and hiding [rocks] the 12-years that they’ve lived [in Auburn],” said Joshlin. “We lost a baby, a little girl earlier this year. Her name was Isadora. Painting rocks as a family helped us get through that very difficult time.”


Ashlyn Reed, a 6-year-old Auburn girl, loves painting rocks with her nana. They recently decided to take some of these rocks to the zoo. While at the zoo Reed dropped one right at the penguin exhibit! So, look for hidden stones the next time you’re at Point Defiance Zoo.

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Rock art by Auburn Wa Rocks member Lena Hall | Courtesy photo, Lena Hall

Some rock painters, like Lena Hall, are trying new techniques with their rock art.  Hall recently shared one of her new methods on the Auburn Wa Rocks group.  “I was going through my scrapbooking stickers and came across these real, dried flowers. So, I used mod podge on the rock with a paintbrush placed the flower on the rock, then painted all over more mod-podge to seal it.  After it completely dried, I sprayed on a heavy coat of acrylic sealer spray for a big shine.”

Raising Awareness Through Rock Art

Another rock painting group, Suicide Prevention Rocks, was recently in the Auburn Wa Rocks group. This group was “was formed after we lost our 20-year-old son Joshua to suicide,” the group description states. “We decided to paint rocks with our children to help them begin to heal – encouraging them and others to paint positive messages on rocks to promote suicide awareness and prevention. We realized that in creating this group, we found a community of support for ourselves and others. It is a beautiful thing to see people supporting one another and just talking about the human experience.”

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Suicide Prevention Rocks | courtesy photo

With rocks painted with messages about sharing the road and looking twice to save a life, that helps raise awareness. ‘Motorcycle Awareness Rocks‘ is another rock art group aimed at raising awareness through rock art.

Lyme Awareness Rocks are “spreading Lyme Disease awareness in a fun, creative way by painting rocks and placing them where people will find them in public places,” explains the Facebook group description. “The people that find the rocks hopefully will post a picture of the rock they found and learn about Lyme Disease.

From posts in these groups, it’s clear that these rocks bring smiles to people’s faces. It’s a fun, low cost, hobby worth trying this summer!

Kayla Brooks is a guest contributor to the Auburn Examiner. She has been lucky enough to find a painted rock herself: While at walking around Memorial park with my son one evening, I came across a painted rock with the cutest mermaid on it. On the back were instructions to keep or re-hide and to post on the Facebook group ‘Auburn Rocks’ when it was found. We hurried home and took pictures to post of it. We were both very excited.

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