Mitchell Atencio/staff photo 
                                Cynthia Bemis displays one of the rocks she found in her years as an administrator in the Bothell Rocks, in Lynnwood on Feb. 20.

Mitchell Atencio/staff photo Cynthia Bemis displays one of the rocks she found in her years as an administrator in the Bothell Rocks, in Lynnwood on Feb. 20.

Bothell and Kenmore rock painting groups inspire community and creativity

Rock painting groups have grown in popularity over the last five years, inspiring local groups to connect.

Some may remember the first time they picked up a rock at the park and asked to take it home with them. Some people were given permission, some were reminded that “if we all took one rock, the park wouldn’t have any left,” but very few ever bring their rocks back.

That’s starting to change, however, with the rise of rock painting groups that pride themselves on adding beauty and art to their community, leaving rocks around their cities for others to find and enjoy.

For example, Tammora Nedoroscik and her 5-year-old and 2-year-old daughters of Kenmore, regularly paint rocks of various shapes to pass around to their neighbors.

“I just kind of stumbled across rock painting, and I was like, ‘Oh, that’d be a really cool thing to do with my daughter,’ at the time she was about 3,’” Nedoroscik said. “I thought it was going to be a fun thing to do with her. And then sho rtly after I picked it up, I think we found our first rock”

Nedoroscik joined the Kenmore Rocks group about two years ago. She paints about one to five rocks a day, depending on the season. When she and her daughters finish the rocks, they slap a sticker on the back that invites the finder to post the rock on social media with an associated hashtag (usually #KenmoreRocks, #BothellRocks or something of the sort).

A display of Cynthia Bemis’ rock, in Lynnwood, the back of which instructs finders to keep or re-hide the rock, on Feb. 20, 2020. Mitchell Atencio/staff photo

A display of Cynthia Bemis’ rock, in Lynnwood, the back of which instructs finders to keep or re-hide the rock, on Feb. 20, 2020. Mitchell Atencio/staff photo

Most accounts trace the trend of rock painting back to The Kindness Rocks Project, started by Megan Murphy who wrote “You’ve got this” on a rock, then proceeded to leave it at the beach in Cape Cod. That evolved to more rocks with inspirational messages and painted rocks. Now, rocks may contain motivational quotes, art inspired by movements like Pride Month, or simply characters such as Baby Groot from the Marvel “Guardians of the Galaxy” movies.

For some, the joy of rock painting projects isn’t just the painting, it’s the hunt for rocks and what they can discover. Blake Baird, a principal in the Monroe School District, recalls a week that was made better by a rock he found.

“I found a rock that was inspired by the musical ‘Hamilton.’ I’d been having a particularly rough week and it was this beautiful connection to an opportunity I had three years ago to take all of my students to go see ‘Hamilton,’” Baird said. “It was that lovely connection to my fellow humans out planting things of beauty in the world and it really grounded me back to a delightful moment of joy in my work life.”

Baird said the activity isn’t just about the joy of finding rocks but the joy of finding anything at all.

“There’s something delightful about an unexpected spot of beauty created by a fellow human out about in the world,” Baird said. “I also highly value being outside and being aware of the beauty of what’s around me. And I wanted to contribute to that in others…Whether it’s the rocks that I paint or whether it’s looking for rocks and happening to notice a particularly beautiful mushroom or caterpillar or a fascinating stick.”

Baird was in the Sultan Rocks group and joined the Kenmore group after moving to the area two years ago. Membership has remained pretty consistent for the “well-established” group according to Baird. The Kenmore Rocks group has 305 members on Facebook and the Bothell Rocks group has more than 3,200 members.

The groups don’t just represent an opportunity for fun, they also serve in the community. Cynthia Bemis, a 20-year Bothellite and one of the administrators of the Bothell Rocks group, said they regularly meet together to create rocks dedicated to causes. The group has held a Save Shelton View Forest event and a Save Yakima Fruit Market event. Bemis has been a part of the group since December 2016.

“When I first learned of it…it was during a particular time of my life where…a rather major negative life circumstance that occurred and I was struggling to get through that. And I found a rock,” Bemis said. “I look at it now as a small act of kindness that made my day and it changed my life.”

Bemis said the group has grown from about 1,000 when she joined in late 2016 to the 3,000-plus members it has now. She tends to paint rocks more than she does search for them and has an affinity for hiding rocks in parks and places where younger kids can discover them.

Mitchell Atencio/staff photo 
                                A display of some of Cynthia Bemis’ painted rock collection, in Lynnwood, on Feb. 20.

Mitchell Atencio/staff photo A display of some of Cynthia Bemis’ painted rock collection, in Lynnwood, on Feb. 20.

In Bothell, there are also a number of rock trading gardens, where people can paint a rock and trade it for one at the garden. Birdie Kitty, another administrator of the Bothell Rocks group, shared that the gardens are established to ensure young painters will always have a place to find a rock.

“(Rock painting) can be done by all ages and all degrees of ability,” Bemis said. “I think that’s a key factor that brings so many different people together, there’s something for everybody.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Life

Savannah Lynn and Will Chadek in the Second Story Repertory of Redmond’s production of “The Fantasticks.” “The Fantasticks” had been performed three times by the organization until coronavirus concerns resulted in the cancellation of the remaining dates. Photo by Michael Brunk
How is the coronavirus affecting the arts?

Representatives from Eastside arts institutions discuss their experiences.

Northshore Senior Center responds to COVID-19

Facilities will be closed but emergency services are still available.

Photo courtesy of TAD Management
                                ABBAFab has been doing shows for a decade.
ABBA tribute band to dance, jive, have the time of its life in Bothell

ABBAFab formed in 2010 and has been playing shows internationally ever since.

Courtesy photo
                                Charlene Freeman, a local artist and owner of Bothell’s Cloud 9 Art School, will launch the first Bothell Art Scene with Ken Stodola and Hannah Waters March 12.
Local artists to launch Bothell Art Scene this spring

The first art walk will be March 12.

Mitchell Atencio/staff photo 
                                Cynthia Bemis displays one of the rocks she found in her years as an administrator in the Bothell Rocks, in Lynnwood on Feb. 20.
Bothell and Kenmore rock painting groups inspire community and creativity

Rock painting groups have grown in popularity over the last five years, inspiring local groups to connect.

Skater Park Art Exhibit opens at Kenmore City Hall

Arts of Kenmore, City Hall and 4Culture collaborated to bring the Skate Park Street Art Exhibit to Kenmore.

Courtesy photo
                                Tim Sellard has been collecting records for the past 50 years.
Kenmore man to share love of record collecting at Vinyl & Brew event

Vinyl Brew will have about eight vendors and more than 7,000 records.

Making a human connection in a sea of social media

A monthly health column about natural medicine.

Kenmore selects Dixon as Walkways & Waterways project artist

Of the 16 submissions, Dixon was one of two artists and one artist team to be interviewed for the projects.

Centro Cultural Mexicano exhibit opens doors to discussions on immigration, border issues

“Border Doors” features art by students who have visited the United States-Mexico border.

Photo by Rosemary Dai Ross
                                Carolynne Wilcox, Devika Bhagwat and Cindy Giese French in As If Theatre’s first production, “The Clean House” last year.
As If Theatre celebrates successful first year in Kenmore; looks forward to 2020

The theater company announces its spring show, “The Cake.”

From left to right: the city of Bothell’s Christi Cox and Friend of North Creek Forest’s Paula Quigg and Melissa Gugala. Blake Peterson/staff photo
Friends of North Creek Forest, city organize work party on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Community members and other groups came out for the gathering.