Pictographs found in Carroll County
By Chuck Palmer
Pictographs are paintings or drawings that have been placed onto a rock’s surface. Often found in ancient sites and caves, in North America they may date back as many as 15,000 years. Today, smaller, perhaps less historic versions are turning up all over Carroll County.
Val Runyon and her friends have organized the already growing "rock painting craze” in this area. Not long after a friend in Florida shared with her about the growing popularity of “painted rocks,” Ms. Runyon created the VR Rocks Facebook page and later, the Temple Rocks page. Carrollton Rocks and Douglasville Rocks soon followed suit. Ms. Runyon, Darla Runyon, Tina Burnett, "PINK" Deborah Landers, and Kitty Holdbrooks joined forces to spread the enjoyment of the painted rock movement.
“At first I thought it would be a good way for my friend, Doc Burnett to create positive public relations for his veterinary practice,” said Runyon. His artistically talented wife Tina painted many of those first rocks that also included an offer for a free gift on the back for whoever found and returned the rock to the business. Other local businesses have joined the fun, including O'Charley's, Mirror Lake Towing, Johnny's Pizza, Domino's Pizza and Uncorked on Main in Villa Rica.
Meanwhile, families all across the area were catching on. Kids and parents were joining together to paint rocks and hide them or simply leave them somewhere in public to be found. Often they have inspiring messages, sometimes exceptional art, always in the spirit of good fun. Today church groups, civic groups, art classes, and countless others have joined the fun.
“It’s a chance to get kids out of the house, away from the tablets and televisions, and actively doing something that is positive, creative, and adventurous," said Runyon.
The concept is straightforward: Paint rocks that are interesting and uplifting. Place those rocks for others to find in safe, public places. If one chooses, post a clue on the Facebook page about where they are to be found. Repeat. Those who find the rocks are encouraged to post a picture of the find on Facebook and re-hide the treasure in the same or another place, or redeem it with a business if there is a prize involved. Some of the rocks are so artistic or carry so much meaning for finders that they end up being collected, but that is also part of the fun.
The origin of what has become a worldwide craze is uncertain, though it seems likely to have had its roots in March of 2011. An artist and children’s author in Michigan named Aaron Zenz sought to find an outlet for his young daughter who had become interested in guerilla art after watching a movie. His concerns were that such art was often expressed as unlawful graffiti and damaged property. He wanted something that was “artsy, public, stealthy, fun, and in no way damaging to property” and came up with painting faces on rocks. His entire family participated and loved the idea of a stranger’s day being brightened by finding one of their painted rocks.
Runyon and her group held an event where boxes of rocks were painted to be sent overseas to American troops serving in Kuwait. “We just want to bring a little color, a little love, and a little piece of home to those soldiers,” said Ms. Runyon. Unlike those ancient pictographs from thousands of years ago, these brightly colored rocks may not reveal much about our distant past. Perhaps, though, they tell us something good about who we are today.
For more information and even suggestions about what kind of paints to use, visit VR Rocks on Facebook.