FEATURE - "Rockin' with the 'A' team"

HONEYVILLE - By Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist, October 21, 2021

Pictured above: The Young sisters, from left, Alisa Miller, Alivia Eyre, Amanda Fisher and Amy Kilburn, are part of a rock painting group, 801 Rock, that randomly distributes rock messages to offer encouragement, support and smiles. Courtesy Photo



Alisa Miller has always enjoyed drawing. Back in high school, she would sit with her sisters, Alivia, Amy and Amanda, for hours, enjoying an evening of sketching whatever came to mind. They would discuss boys - and draw, laugh and cry over life – and draw, or just talk about nothing – and draw.


But then, Alisa says, living got in the way.


“There was graduation, then college, family. I didn’t draw or paint. I kind of stopped doing any art,” Alisa said.


A simple phone call has changed all that.


Today Alisa and sisters Alivia Eyre, Amy Kilburn (all living in Honeyville) and Amanda Fisher (Kaysville) get together often to rekindle those earlier bonding moments. But now their artwork really ROCKS!


The girls all belong to a Facebook community called 801 Rock, a “do good” group whose purpose is to “spread kindness to random strangers” through rock paintings. Members paint fun images, uplifting sayings or positive encouragements on small rocks and then hide them, hoping they will be found.


Alisa said younger sister Alivia first joined the group as it was starting four years ago. She called Alisa and encouraged her to pick up a brush again and get on board. She did.


“I started painting rocks and it was kind of neat,” she recalled. “I liked hiding them and then posting clues to help people find them. It was a lot of fun.”


Soon the other two sisters became involved. Now this ‘A’ team often get together over a pile of pebbles, a few bottles of acrylics and a bundle of brushes to paint.


“We have been texting and talking more than ever, meeting and painting with each other,” Alisa said.


This rock painting hobby is nothing new, Alisa said, but the last couple of years has grown, simply because it is something anyone can do, even in isolation, and still offer support and encouragement to others. Here is how it works.


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Pictured above: Alisa Miller said using natural rock as a canvas is not only fun but a great stress reliever, as well. Courtesy Photo



Alisa said you begin by collecting the desired size and shape of rock. She has painted on ones about the dimensions of a penny and some much larger. A three-inch chunk is about the right size, especially for messages, she said. Many of the ones these four rock artists use come from a landscaping business in Clearfield, a local “rocker” in Brigham City, or are shipped in from out of state. Alisa likes Lake Erie stones because they a nice and flat.


But just because they may be picky about the shapes and the colors, doesn’t mean they haven’t had some chance finds along the way.


“Utah rocks are a bit more jagged,” Alisa noted. “But we have all been out camping and looked down and said, ‘Hey, that’s a good rock!’ Then we begin filling our pockets. I literally have rocks in my purse right now.”


The rocks need to be washed and scrubbed so they are clear of debris, and then dried thoroughly before paint is applied.


Alisa said there are several methods for painting, from doing a Paint Pour, using alcohol inks to watercolors but her preference is acrylics. This style of paint is especially good for those who don’t want to spend a lot getting started.


“Anybody can do it. You can find your own rocks out in the yard. You can buy paint and brushes fairly cheaply. We get a bag of eyeliner brushes that are disposable. They are great for super tiny details. This doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby.”


Subject matter is a matter of choice, as well, Alisa said, and for her it is “whatever comes off my brush.” She loves freestyling with flowers and is feeling more confident with other subjects, as well. She hopes to get into portraits but is now content with caricatures. Many of her creations are personalized and given as gifts to friends and family.


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Pictured above: Flowers are Alisa Miller's favorite subject for her artwork and she often gives them as gifts. Courtesy Photo



801 Rock administration often makes suggestions or presents challenges for painting. Alisa said Memorial Day, 4th of July or anything patriotic are extremely popular. Halloween is another easy rock painting holiday.


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Pictured above: The 'A' team (Alisa, Alivia, Amy and Amanda) recently hid some of their creations from Logan to Bountiful, just in time for the Halloween season. They hope those who find them keep them or rehide them for others. Courtesy Photo



She and her sisters recently completed a set of Halloween related rocks and then spent the day hiding them from Logan to Bountiful. More will be finding their way into the community on Friday, just in time for Halloween. Some were delivered to the garden at McKay-Dee Hospital to help cheer up patients and visitors, alike.


Most of the rocks painted and dispersed usually have the same label on the back: Facebook Rock 801. Keep or re-hide. Please post when found.


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Pictured above: Often those who find these palm-sized treasures post about it on 801 Rock and then hide them again for others to find. Courtesy Photo



But Alisa said many do not get found or are found by people who haven’t access to computers, so their fate is often unknown. “Sometimes when you send it out into the world, it’s gone. But you still know it is doing its thing, even if you never hear about it. It’s great to hear back about how it touches others lives, but you aren’t going to always know.”


She has had notification on some of her creations, however, from people who were down and in despair. “They look down and there is a rock with just what they need. It is kind of weird how it works. Sometimes the rocks just find the right people.”


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Pictured above: Smooth, evenly shaped rocks lend themselves to this artform but Alisa said Utah's more jagged rocks find a place in her work, as well. Courtesy Photo



While painting, hiding and sharing rocks is a worthwhile hobby, Alisa said it has also been a lifesaver.

“Painting is a great stress reliever, and it has been a bad year for that,” she said, “so it has helped me. The bonus is it has also given me more time to hang out with my sisters. We can meet at each other’s houses for a paint party for a few hours and we are back in high school.”


And that ROCKS!

Pictured above: For the sisters, rock painting has become a way of strengthening and renewing family ties. Courtesy Photo