Teia Moran gazed down through her thick-rimmed glasses and slathered another blob of teal paint onto her rock. It mixed with the blueish smear already drying under the sun and sky landscape she’d finished earlier.

“You can express your creativity in a rock and let the world see it because you can just go out and place it somewhere rather than painting a picture and then hang it up on your wall,” she said very seriously. “So, this way you can express your creativity and get it out to the world instead of it being locked up in a cage.”

The world, specifically St. Petersburg, Fla., is the destination for Moran’s colorful creation. She’s been painting rocks for a few weeks now. Next to her, Emily Blakeman, spends her 13th birthday painting a round rock to look like a hamburger.

“Don’t bite that,” I advised her.

The rock looked good enough to eat. In fact, all of the hundred-or-so rocks spread out on tables in the Bilmar hotel along Treasure Island Beach looked beautiful Each one was hand-painted by someone who saw Kim Laskey’s post on Facebook last Thanksgiving Day.

“I’m on my eighth bag of 20-lb rocks,” she said with a laugh.

Laskey, who has worked at the Bilmar for 26 years, gathered some of her #StPeteRocks friends together for a painting party this day. Acrylic paint was dabbed on store-bought rocks at all four corners of the table. At one point, Laskey even brought in a few extra tables.

“I painted 15 rocks last night,” said Karen Santos.

The Facebook group, which is over 1,800 members strong, started by Laskey, urges art lovers to paint designs on rocks and then hide them all over St. Petersburg. After hiding them, group members post on the Facebook page where rocks have been hidden.

“It’s very rewarding when somebody’s posts on Facebook,” said Deb McElroy.

Once the rocks are found, the finder will see the instructions written on the back of the beautifully painted rock: Post a pic on Facebook with #StPeteRocks

From there, keep or re-hide. The fun goes on.

“I’ve hidden 500 rocks,” said Laskey, who admits she got the idea from a friend who is part of a similar group in Lakeland. There are rock painting groups in Palm Harbor and New Port Richey, as well, along with others in the state.

“I really didn’t think I was going to be into it as much as I am,” said Santos as she put the finishing touches on her flower-themed rock. “I usually have a game night every week and now we have changed it to a rock painting party.”