The only goal of local artist Sara Deericks is to brighten somebody’s day and make them smile.
Deericks paints characters and sayings on rocks and leaves them around Delaware for people to find.
“I’ve been painting them the last couple of months and dropping them around town to try to make people smile,” Deericks said. “It’s different, but so fun because you’re never going to run out of rocks.”
While on vacation in North Carolina, Deericks was inspired when she saw a rock that said “relax.” Once she returned home to Delaware, she picked up some rocks and started painting.
“I thought it would be a fun way to make people smile,” she said.
Deericks said she likes flat smooth riverbed rocks because they’re the easiest to paint. However, she really doesn’t need to forage for rocks on her own, they seem to come to her. She said that one of her birthday presents was a bag of rocks.
“They were all different shapes,” she said. “I had a lot of fun with them and it was the best birthday gift ever.”
Deericks’ idea of making people smile has become a creative work for her because every rock’s shape is unique. She finds new inspiration every time she paints.
“See this shape,” she said holding up a rock she had painted as a typewriter. “I was used to painting on the flat ones that you can do anything on. This one made me so happy because I turned the rock into something it wasn’t before.”
She held up another that she thought looked like a snail and then one that looked like a lady bug.
Deericks loves seeing the smiles on faces of people who find her little creations unexpectedly. She is the graphics coordinator at the Arts Castle on West Winter Street. On her way into the office, she will place a rock near the entrance.
“My favorite part is hiding them here and looking out my window and seeing someone find one and get so excited,” she said. “Or we’ve sat downtown, had some dinner and watch people come pick up rocks.”
Deericks said she probably paints a hundred rocks a week.
“Every one is different,” she said.
She has also painted theme rocks.
“I did a Beatles theme where I made each of the characters where they weren’t completely the same images,” she said. “I’ve done an owl family where I added a bow tie or hair bow to make each one look unique.”
Deericks said when children find them they “scream and screech.” She said their parents will tell them to put the rocks back where they found them until they realize they can take them.
“I put some around town during the Ironman,” she said. “Someone found one. She was so super excited because she was into little chicks and it had little running shoes on. It was like it was meant for her. Those are my favorite when they get so excited. I’ve had some parents laugh really hard at some of the quotes that only a parent would get.”
On the back of every rock Deericks places a sticker for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
“We put those on so if somebody hides it they can see where the (rock travels),” she said. “People are picking them up and taking them with them back home or going on vacation and leaving them. The furthest I’ve tracked is Colorado.”
Deericks said the other day her son commented about how happy she is when she’s painting the rocks.
“He said that it’s like my coffee because when I paint a rock I get really happy like other people do with coffee,” she said.
Deericks said she is now giving rocks to members of her family to hide. She said they don’t hide all the rocks she gives them because they find ones they like and tend to keep them.
“I’m okay with that because if it makes them happy and brings joy to them,” she said. “I’d much rather they keep it.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.