Shuswap breast cancer patient finds joy in hiding painted rocks

Blind Bay resident’s art project sees work shared world over

A Blind Bay woman being treated for breast cancer has found joy in hiding painted rocks throughout the Shuswap for others to find, and seeing those rocks re-hidden world over.

Last year Constance Huls was forced into an early retirement after she was diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer. With the treatment leaving her too tired to work, she found herself with more time on her hands than she knew what to do with. To alleviate the boredom, she took up creating various arts and crafts. After filling her house with dream catchers, she realized the imminent space problem and had to change crafts. One day she saw painted rocks being picked up and photos posted of them on the internet.

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Inspired, Huls started painting rocks of her own and created the Facebook page Shuswap Kindness Rocks. With the help of her husband, they drive around the Shuswap and hide the colourful stones in parks, beaches and other public places for people to find.

“Being that I have stage four cancer, I’m in treatment and sometimes I don’t have energy, so its nice that I can do this whenever I want,” Huls said.

The stones are gathering no moss either. Huls Facebook page is filled with people finding her artwork throughout the Shuswap, and as far away as Australia. The reason for the stones rolling so far from the Shuswap is due to the message Huls writes in black paint on the back of them. Each stone suggests the finder take a photo with the rock and tag the Shuswap Kindness Rocks Facebook page. Also written is the phrase, “keep or re-hide.” Some people have taken the re-hide suggestion to new levels by taking the rocks with them on their vacations.

“They’re all different and they’re all different sizes, and some are really kind of small and you can just tuck it in your luggage. I didn’t expect people would do it but I’m pleased they are,” Huls said.

After a year of painting, Huls has created more than 500 colorful stones. With no artistic background to speak of, she started out simple and gradually learned from the internet and increased the complexity of the designs.

“I try to look usually for something that’s bright because it will be more noticeable and just pretty. If I think it looks pretty and I think I might be capable of doing it I am going to give it a try,” she said.

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Along with giving her something she can do while recovering from her treatment, Huls enjoys seeing the rocks again when they are posted to her Facebook page.

“I love to see the people who post the rocks and their smiles and I like now that there are other people out there who are starting to paint rocks too and tag Shuswap Kindness Rocks,” she said.


@CameronJHT
Cameron.thomson@saobserver.net

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Constance Huls often includes messages like “you are amazing” or “joy” on the backs of the rocks she paints. Here she paints “be kind” as the finishing touch on another stone at her home in Blind Bay on Wednesday, August 7. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

Constance Huls has painted over 500 rocks, learning new art techniques from the internet. Here she puts the final touches on another stone at her home in Blind Bay on Wednesday, August 7. (Cameron Thomson/Salmon Arm Observer)

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