By Jane Hudson

How can a rock spread joy?

When it's painted and hidden around Greenville as part of the #GreenvilleNCRocks campaign.

You may have noticed a stone painted with a cute pink piggy peeking out of some tall grass beside a walkway, a lady bug-painted pebble basking in the sun beside a fountain, a round rock eyeball peering at you from a bench.

You may wonder: Who, what, when, where, why?

The decorated rock is part of a movement that's sweeping the nation, inspiring creativity and encouraging folks to explore their town and notice the little things that make it special.

The rocks are decorated and hidden by Greenville residents, young and old, who want to join in on the activity. Anyone can do it. You don't have to join an organization or pay membership dues. And you don't have to be a professional artist.

Just grab a rock (since Greenville isn't in the mountains, your best bet is to purchase a rock at a hobby store, home improvement store or gardening/landscaping store or Winterville's New River Pottery). Do not take rocks from private property or someone's landscaping!

Using a brush and acrylic paint (you can find a variety of colors for 50 cents each at Walmart), paint whatever you like on the surface of the rock. Paint markers are great for fine lines and details. The way you paint and what you paint is totally up to your imagination -- but make it a fun image or a positive message. After all, the point is to spread joy.

On the opposite side of the rock, paint a message to the finder: "Post a pic of this rock to FB page GreenvilleNCRocks." You also can include a date or the instruction to re-hide the rock.

When the paint is dry, cover the rock with Mod Podge clear coating or a similar polyurethane sealant to protect the decorations from the elements.

Then find a spot to hide the rock. Be careful where you leave it; you don't want someone to trip over it or for a lawn mower to run over it. And do not trespass. Leave it in public spot where it can easily be found.

The rock you painted is an anonymous gift to someone in the community who happens to find it. It's a present meant to bring a smile, encouragement and connection.

If you'd like to be part of the Painted Rock community, ask to join the "GreenvilleNCRocks" Facebook group created in May by organizer Rebecca Lynn. Share the link to your personal Facebook page to help get the word out to your friends.

Photos are from the GreenvilleNCRocks Facebook page.

When you see one of these art-adorned rocks at random locations around town, here's what to do:

1. Grab your smart phone and take a photo of it in its resting place.

2. Turn it over to see the message painted on the back. (You may find a rock that was created by someone in another town that has been left in Greenville.)

3. Share your photo on the Facebook page mentioned on the back of the rock, so the artist can see that you discovered their gift and where you found it.

3. Then you can do one of two things: Carry the rock to a new place and re-hide it, or keep it for your enjoyment. You can hide the rock in Greenville, or take it with you wherever you're heading. Some rocks painted in Greenville have found their way to Nags Head -- and even to Hawaii. If you decide to keep the rock, you are asked to decorate a rock yourself and hide it somewhere in town, to keep the activity going.

Don't know what to paint on a rock? Here are the August ideas from #PaintedRockChallenge: 1st: Sandwich 2nd: Horse 3rd: Shrimp 4th: Cookie 5th: Bell 6th: Emoji 7th: Raft 8th: Peacock 9th: Game 10th: S'mores 11th: Instrument 12th: Flip Flip 13th: Leaf 14th: Laundry 15th: Cross 16th: Treasure 17th: Artist 18th: Team 19th: Honey Bee 20th: Mosquito 21st: Moon 22nd: Map 23rd: Zodiac 24th: Olive 25th: Money 26th: School 27th: Football 28th: Seahorse 29th: Waterfall 30th: Dots 31st: Cake

Jane Welborn Hudson, a native of Greenville, is a former staff writer for The Daily Reflector, where she was editor of Her... magazine and Greenville: Life in the East and several other niche publications. Email her at