Was there a Facebook algorithm behind this encounter? Or did Maria and I stumble upon each other virtually by chance? Anyway, I’m scrolling through the news when suddenly the picture above with five beautifully painted stones jumps into my eyes. I read the positive beliefs and am in love with shock! I really need to meet this artist who paints such unique wall stones. I write her an enthusiastic note.
Getting to know each other via video phone call
Maria and I arranged to have a video phone call. It’s unbelievable how sparks can fly when you look each other in the eye while talking on the phone and perceive each other’s facial expressions as a complement to your voice. We are immediately on the same wavelength, laugh together, play creative balls like ping-pong. Together we come to the (obvious) realization: creativity generates joy and can strengthen our mental health – even in difficult times. This is exactly what Maria has achieved with her hobby “painting wall stones”. We are arranging this joint article as a supplement to my article “Giving Joy Delights and Boosts Our Mental Health” published at FemalExperts on July 24, 2022, the Day of Joy.
What are wall stones?
But first a roll backwards: What is hidden behind the term wall stones? The trend came from the U.S., but now there are more and more people in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and probably other countries with the hobby of painting stones in color. They then release them into the wild where they await discovery. Maria’s stones have already traveled to Greece, Italy and even Africa in the hand luggage of an acquaintance who loves to travel, and they are sure to have brought a surprised and beaming smile to people’s faces there as well.
A colorful stone that gives joy
The Wanderstein painters want to give joy with their art. Small, colorful and unexpected – a cheerful or comforting message from person to person in the sometimes so gray everyday life. The sign: You are not alone. Giving without expecting anything in return – and yet giving so much joy itself.
Maria’s start with the walking stones …
Of course I would like to know how Maria, who is very involved in her job as a company auditor in the field, came to paint wall stones. “During the New Year’s walk in 2020, I found my first walking stone. I was so excited by it that I immediately got the materials and started painting.”
Then came the Corona Lockdown
“But shortly after that came the first Corona lockdown. Suddenly, all my business trips were eliminated, my work was completely shifted to the office. I first had to come to terms with that, because I’m a very outgoing person. My weekends also suddenly felt strangely empty. Before Corona, I was very involved in club work and, as a national taekwondo judge, was often away on weekends. All that fell away without replacement. In the first few months, I found the new idle time really great and relaxing, since I had previously worked like a machine and always pulled everything through. But I just couldn’t find a new rhythm, my inner exhaustion was probably too great. An incipient depression became noticeable. It was clear to me that, as a mother, I absolutely had to seek professional support because, after all, I don’t live for myself alone, but want to take responsibility for the well-being of my family and bear responsibility for my son.”
With professional support and a lot of creativity out of the mental crisis and towards more mental health.
“The combination of psychosomatic treatment with therapeutic support, along with wall stone painting, became my personal way out of the crisis,” Maria continues. “The forced break from Corona had really pulled the rug out from under me. Ultimately, however, this detour in my life has meant that I now pay much more attention to my mental health. Creativity gives me peace of mind and allows me to recharge my batteries.”
No contradiction: enormously creative and yet inwardly decelerated
Since January 2020, Maria has painted an incredible 2,800 (!) stones and exposed them in nature or occasionally designed for special requests even times as a commissioned work. Their stones – like those of the other Wandererstein artists – wait outside in nature until sooner or later they are found by someone who may either keep this stone for themselves or later put it out again in another place. Often on the back of the stones is the name of the artist and a Facebook group where you can post your find with a photo, location and time. “When I’m notified in this way that someone has found my stone, I’m always thrilled.” Mary beams.
Networking within the Wanderstein scene
Maria founded the Facebook group #RheinNaheSteine in June 2020 for the purpose of networking with other local Wanderstein artists*, a regional group with around 1,800 participants that is now run by other admins. There are other regional groups like the #ElbStones with 40,000 members. In addition, there are Germany-wide groups, such as #Wandersteine (the original) with 31,700 and the group #Deutschlands Steinemaler with 25,000 members (the scene is very active and continues to grow, so there is no claim to completeness in this list of Facebook groups and their number of members). Mary posts her works on Facebook under her artist name MaryStone. On Instagram, she can be found as @mary.stone72.
Maria’s new quality of life
“Without that forced break due to the Corona lockdown, I probably would have steered straight into burnout,” Maria sums up two years later. She is clearly doing well with her new life: “When I’m painting stones, I always listen to soft piano music and can relax wonderfully. This time belongs to me alone, it gives me so much strength and peace – which then gives me the energy for family, job and voluntary work again.”
The hobby of hiking stones and its fascination
“But what, pray tell, is so fascinating about this hobby for you?” I want to know from Maria in concrete terms. “You know, Nora, painting stones and setting them out in nature – there’s so much joy in that, so much positive energy. And on top of that, it’s totally easy. Anyone can paint stones, because the surface is so small. You can start with simple motifs. My first wall stone, for example, was a laughing emoji with sunglasses. And if you paint, you can let it dry and paint over it.” Sounds easy as pie, I think. And as if she had read my thoughts, Maria adds, “By the way, there are a lot of children painting with the wall stones!”
My conclusion: Thank you, Maria, for your openness
What a beautiful experience to have come across such a creative, cheerful friendly woman and artist as Maria through a touching photo in a Facebook post and a spontaneous contact. Our exchange was unexpectedly profound and characterized by genuine human closeness and mutual appreciation. I am especially pleased with how sincere Maria was to me and thus to all readers, allowing us to share in her life. There is a reason for this, according to Maria: “I want to encourage other people with my story. In a life crisis, professional support is of great value. For me, this especially in combination with lived creativity was my path to mental health.”
Take part in the Wandersteine competition
You would like to call a Wanderstein your own? Then take part in the competition and receive with a little luck a hand-painted stone from MaryStone.
Even get the desire to paint wall stones?
- Stones from nature
- White acrylic paint for priming
- Acrylic paint in tubes with fine brushes or
- Acrylic pencils
- Water-based clearcoat for sealing
About the author
Nora Hille was born in 1975, is happily married and has two children. She studied history, literature and media studies, worked in communications/public relations for 12 years and has now retired for health reasons. Today she writes articles on the topics of mental health and mental illness as a sufferer and experience expert. She also writes literary essays, poems (preferably haikus) and short prose. She regularly publishes her mental health column here at FemalExperts Magazine and is Editor of eXperimenta - the magazine for literature, art and society. Anti-stigma work is close to her heart: she is an encourager at Mutmachleute e.V. and is committed to Anti-Stigma-Texts against the stigmatization (exclusion) of the mentally ill in our society for more togetherness, tolerance and equality. In autumn 2023 her book "When Light Defeats Darkness" will be published by Palomaa Publishing. A book of encouragement about how to live a good and rich life despite bipolar illness - and the enormous challenge that this means every day for the inner balance of those affected.