Painted Rocks Beautify Kodiak, Engage Families

Rock painted by DeAnn Medina. Photo by DeAnn Medina
Rock painted by DeAnn Medina. Photo by DeAnn Medina

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The sale of acrylic paints has peaked in Kodiak, and it’s because of a new art craze in town.

Painted rocks have been popping up on the local trails, café tables, and even in the meat section of Safeway.

The activity, which found success in the Lower 48, has struck it big with Kodiak’s crafty population, and like many other community endeavors, social media has proved a uniting force for the city and its villages.

The group’s Facebook page covers the rules of the game, which is to basically decorate a rock and then “hide” it somewhere in plain sight around town.


DeAnn Medina searches through a plastic bag full of rocks she’s painted. She says she’ll place them in more obvious areas so that kids can spot them.

“I got off of work at 4:30, so I was trying to paint a few so we could hide more than just one today. Honestly, I love every part of it from the painting to the finding to the hiding and the sharing on Facebook.”

Joining Medina is her husband, daughter, and granddaughter, who just got out of daycare.

Medina says it’s such a nice day that people have probably already wandered the trail and found most of the other rocks, but the group does have some success.

Medina’s daughter, Nakita, replaces a rock they find with one she had found on another trail, which she says is something she does a lot. Like her mom, she’s also gotten into finding and placing rocks.

“I like the fact that everybody is so involved with this. It’s not just something that’s gone away real quick. I feel like it might actually change the community. I know it’s helping me a lot.”

Teacher Erica Thompson is behind this recent movement and its Facebook page, Kodiak Island Rocks. But her mother is largely responsible.

“She had the idea to send my son a ‘starter kit’ which included I think about six different colors of paint, a couple of packages of paint brushes, permanent markers of all different colors, and she created labels, and she said let’s start a rock group.”

Thompson says she and her family began placing rocks after Christmas, and then she created the Facebook page and invited roughly a hundred Facebook friends to join it.

She says when the group reached 800 members, she decided to offer a giveaway if they reached 1,000 members.

“I was kind of excited. I’m like, this is pretty cool. That’s a lot of people for a small town. So, I as more of like a thank you was like I’m gonna give away a starter kit. I want to give somebody one like my mom gave my son.”

She says within hours people had added their friends to the group and they’d hit 1200 members.

And the group is now 2,000 people strong and going island-wide.

“I talked with Island Air and they are completely willing and people can, in smaller numbers, drop a couple of rocks off and the pilots will take them out to the villages around the island which will get the town rocks out to the villages so villagers can participate, and then kids in the village or adults in the village, artists in the village can send into town.”

Local businesses and organizations have also been sponsoring starter kits or hosting painted rock activities. The Kodiak Arts Council, the Kodiak Area Marine Science Symposium, and Wal-Mart have all participated. And based on the weather, it’s just the beginning.

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