Painting on Stones Is a Craft That Rocks!
Meet Your New Hobby: Painting on Rocks!
I have recently discovered the enjoyable craft of decorating stones. What's not to like? Your canvas is free! Okay, maybe it's not so free if you actually purchase a bag of stones from Michael's Crafts. But that's still okay. Stones are cheap no matter what! And if you have little kids and you want a project for a rainy day, a bag of Michael's stones can be your best friend!
What can you do with your finished, painted stones? Lots of things!
- Make them into magnets.
- Decorate your garden.
- Create seasonal decorations.
- Unleash your inner artist and create a mini masterpiece. (And if you make a mistake? It's okay. Just get another stone!)
- Have craft time with the kids (indoors or outside.)
- Make paperweights or gifts . . . or give paperweights as gifts. ( I think creating decorated stones for gifts is a great idea. Kids love to make them and grandparents love to get them.)
- Make your very own pet rock (with google eyes, bows, or hair attached)
- Write inspirational messages on them.
- Sell your creations! If you get good enough, that is . . . there are plenty of Etsy shops that feature artsy stones for sale.
- A million other things I haven't thought of yet!
How to Paint Rocks Step-by-Step
- First, of course, you need to find the perfect stone. Look for smooth rounded stones. River stones are best, or stones found on the beach. If you have a certain design in mind, like a cat, an owl, or a caterpillar, be on the lookout for the right shape stone to be your canvas. Searching for just the perfect stone is part of the fun!
- If you don't have time to wander around looking for just the perfect stone, you can march on down to Michael's Crafts or another nearby craft store. Michael's has bags of natural stones that come in small, large, dark or light colors so you can take your pick!
- If you're picking up your stones from mother nature, be certain you're allowed to take the stones. National and state parks prohibit their removal.
- If you picked up your canvas from the outdoors, you'll want to make sure it's nice and clean. Wash it off with some warm water and soap and pat it dry. You could even scrub it with an old toothbrush.
- Some stones have rough patches on them that will make painting a little more difficult. You can sand it down with sandpaper, starting with 100 grit and moving to 150 and 220 grit until the patch is gone.
- At this stage, you're ready to draw your design onto the rock. It might be good to try practicing your design on a piece of paper beforehand to perfect it. When you actually draw your picture onto the rock, you can use a pencil, chalk, or soapstone - or even an ultra fine Sharpie marker which offers a lot of control and the ability to draw small details.
- Now you're reading to start painting! Be patient and move from the biggest parts of the design to the smallest, letting each coat dry before moving on. You can use a hairdryer to dry the paint faster.
- Once you've finished painting your design, it's time to seal it! Use a sealer and add a coat or two to make sure your art lasts for a long time. See below for some notes on what kind of supplies to use.
Choosing the Right Supplies
Here are some other supplies to have on hand:
Paints All kinds of craft, water-based, or acrylic paints work well for rocks. One downside of acrylics is that they tend to be difficult to wash out of clothes, so be careful when using them. Wear a smock and put down something to protect the painting surface. If you're painting with very young children, tempera paint is the way to go because it washes out much easier (though the colors aren't as bright). If your rocks will be living outside, make sure to use patio paint or outdoor-friendly paint. Test out your paint on paper before painting your rock to make sure you don't have any surprises with consistency or color.
Fine point markers These are great for adding details that can be tricky to do with brushes, especially on smaller stones. Markers in general can be fun to use for "painting rocks."
Marker paints These are perfect if you like the control of a marker but the look of a paint. Both markers and marker paints come in cool metallic colors, too!
Mod Podge or other sealer You'll want to use a sealer to make sure your creations last for a long time. If you'll be using your finished product indoors, you can use an acrylic spray that will make the colors brighter and glossier. You'll need to use it outside, however, and only under adult supervision. For rock art that will be outdoors, you should use a spar urethane sealer which will prevent cracking and wear. Modge Podge is also a good option for indoor art.
Magnet backings For if you want to use your finished stones as magnets! Just attach magnet circle to the back. When making magnets, be sure to use stones that are not too big or too thick, or you will need a super strong magnet to keep your stone from sliding down the fridge!
Newspaper or other protective covering for your table
Paint Palette You can either purchase a paint palette or make one out of a paper plate, a piece of cardboard covered in foil, or something similar. If you're going to be painting over a long period of time, you might want to invest in making or purchasing a wet palette, which will keep your paints wet for longer.
Paint brushes Get some stiff, cheap brushes with wooden handles in a wide variety of sizes. The stone's surface will quickly wear brushes out, making expensive brushes a waste. Wide, flat brushes will be good for parts of your design that are bigger, and smaller, pointed ones will be good for adding details like faces or whiskers (cute!). Look for brushes with long bristles that can hold a lot of paint.
Google eyes Eyes are a must for those pet rock and rock monsters you plan to make! Also, any other mixed media that you want to use in your art
Glue If you're attaching stones to each other or some kind of media to the stones, you'll need some glue. Elmer's can work just fine. Hot glue guns can also do, but if you want your rock to last for a long time outside, you should ask about an outdoor-safe glue.
Rocking Painting FAQs
What kind of paint is best?
Bright acrylic paints work well. And when I say bright, I mean BRIGHT! Trust me, this makes the difference! Do you want to create a truly remarkable and dynamic stone? Or just a sort of "blah" one? I thought so! Martha Stewart offers acrylic paints in bright, dynamic hues. If you don't have bright paints, you can always add white to your regular colors to lighten and brighten them up.
How should I start painting?
You can always outline your picture with a fine-point marker, and then fill in with regular paint. If you really want to "cheat," you can use highlighter markers and tell people it's paint. Highlighters will work well on a very light colored stone. Shhh . . .you didn't hear it here)! Both markers and marker paints come in cool metallic colors, too! Using a silver marker on a dark stone creates an interesting look. Personally, I prefer light color stones with bright color paint.
What about a background?
If you want a painted background on your stone, be sure to use two coats of paint, allowing the first coat to dry completely before adding the second. Then you can start your actual "picture" after the second coat of paint dries. You must have patience! Little kids don't, of course, so you can just let them go ahead and start painting on the stone.
Some people like to paint a white background on a dark stone, for a really cool look. A black background also creates a very interesting look. Just be sure to paint your picture on top with a bright color, such as bright yellow.
What else can I use besides paint?
You can utilize mixed media on your stone by gluing on material, magazine cut-outs, and sequins. You can even stick on some stickers!
What should I draw or paint on my stone?
The possibilities are limitless! Animals are popular, such as cats, owls, fish, birds, ladybugs, butterflies and dragonflies, turtles, caterpillars, frogs, flowers, and suns. There are also holiday designs such as snowmen and pumpkins, hearts for Valentine's Day, or why not turn an egg-shaped stone into a pretty decorated egg, for Easter?
Here's an idea for Valentine's Day: Make that special someone a pet rock with a heart painted on the side and a Valentine that says, "YOU ROCK!"
Most importantly, have fun!! This is art so remember there are no limits to what you can do. Get out there and create!
P.S. The video below is really beautiful and fascinating. Maybe you'll get some ideas from it!