Taryn Fullmer wanted something fun to do with her son after stay-at-home COVID-19 orders were issued in March.
"So we started doing scavenger hunts, that was our big thing, to go walking but we ended up with a bunch of rocks back at our house and I was like, 'Oh well, we have some paint, let's paint these rocks,'" said Fullmer, a Rock Creek resident.
To date, she's painted more than 70 of the brightly colored small rocks that feature birds, watermelons and homages to Harry Potter, as well as popular characters such as the Minions, Pokémon and SpongeBob SquarePants.
"I just try to make stuff people want to find," said Fullmer, noting that some of the rocks contain cute quips as well as artwork. "I'm a crafty person, but I've never been a painter."
While she started out leaving her rocks around her Rock Creek neighborhood in unincorporated Washington County, she decided to expand that area to include locations along the Rock Creek Trail and Bethany Pond, near Northwest 185th Avenue and West Union Road.
Along the way, she has enlisted help in painting the rocks from her son Jaxon.
"My favorite rocks are the Minions," said Jaxon, a kindergartner at Rock Creek Elementary School.
Taryn Fullmer said she often places the brightly colored rocks, which are painted using acrylics and a dab or two of Mod Podge to seal them and give them a glossy look, in plain sight.
"I like them to be found so I don't really hide them," she said. "I try to stay out of the grass so they don't get caught up in lawnmowers."
Recently, she discovered an organized group, Beaverton Rocks, on Facebook, which also makes and distributes the rocks with designs or positive messages.
Last week, Fullmer went out to Bethany Pond to distribute her rocks, finding the location packed with walkers and bikers.
"I was out here on Friday evening and there were so many people out here and I was just trying nonchalantly to put (my rocks) down, watching people just pick them up behind me," she said. "They can pick them up and take them or they can leave them."
Fullmer, who works as a caregiver for the state, said she'll continue the craft as long as she has the time and her son remains interested.
"People really enjoy it," she said. "I never realized how much they enjoy it." Fullmer has noticed that many of the rock painters in Beaverton area tend to focus on placing their creations in the area's larger parks. Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro is a favorite rock distribution location as well, Fullmer said.
"But I've never really heard of anybody doing anything (in Rock Creek)," she said "We can use some happiness over here."'
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