Painting on Stones Is a Craft That Rocks!

Updated on October 14, 2016

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!

  1. Make them into magnets.
  2. Decorate your garden.
  3. Create seasonal decorations.
  4. Unleash your inner artist and create a mini masterpiece. (And if you make a mistake? It's okay. Just get another stone!)
  5. Have craft time with the kids (indoors or outside.)
  6. 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.)
  7. Make your very own pet rock (with google eyes, bows, or hair attached)
  8. Write inspirational messages on them.
  9. Sell your creations! If you get good enough, that is . . . there are plenty of Etsy shops that feature artsy stones for sale.
  10. A million other things I haven't thought of yet!

Check out these super cute and shiny monster magnets sold on Etsy!
Check out these super cute and shiny monster magnets sold on Etsy!

How to Paint Rocks Step-by-Step

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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!

Painting a Butterfly on a Sea Rock: Speed Painting Video Tutorial


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    • profile image

      Nan 3 weeks ago

      I have so many rocks, just from our property ! Most are very rough, all different kinds, none that are smooth. What recommendations can you give on painting these rocks ??

    • profile image

      Derrick 2 months ago

      That was very entertaining and educational.


    • profile image

      Jamie Hughes 4 months ago

      I came across your website and really liked what I saw. I am in the progress of setting up a website to sell hand craft supplies, ideas and patterns. Does your store dropship and if so what policy do you have with it? I am looking forward to hearing from you.

    • profile image

      Chez 4 months ago

      Going to give this a go with my granddaughters tomorrow! :)

    • profile image

      rok 5 months ago

      my fave hobby!!

    • profile image

      forrest 5 months ago

      I was painting rocks before I seen them posted my friends thought I had Lost it.

    • profile image

      Dipen Das 6 months ago

      Will you

      Tell me what colour I should I use on stones to keep them inside an aquarium.

    • profile image

      Shivani paintal 6 months ago

      Thank you so much..your article on painting stones is of great help..beautifully explained..all doubts got cleared..thank you once again

    • profile image

      Sandy 7 months ago

      Great info! I am putting together the crafts an activities for the kiddos at our neighborhood picnic. Will have all ages, so thinking stickers for the really little kiddos might work best. If they want to use it outside (the hidden rocks are big in our local parks right now). I am seeing Modpodge, Clear Acrylic Paint and Elmers followed by one or the other for paints and markers. Would it be the same for stickers or would you suggest something different? Thanks : )

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      GLee 7 months ago

      Great article! It had ALL the information I needed to get started AND some great ideas/samples too! Now I can go shop for my paints, since I already have a collection of rocks! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Cee 7 months ago

      Can't wait to start painting.. so inspirational. Thanks

    • profile image

      sunflowergirlntx 7 months ago

      Can you recommend the best type of paint that stands out on the rocks that won't fade with the weather?

    • profile image

      Jan 9 months ago

      Love all the great ideas. ,, is there any paint that shines in the dark? Would like to paint our name on a rock in front of our house

    • profile image 9 months ago

      This was really amazing enjoy it and can wait to try it...... Thanks

    • DeborahNessmith profile image

      Deborah Nessmith 9 months ago from Florida

      Great post. For the summer, me and my kids are going to paint rocks for Tallahassee Rocks. My friend got started with it and my kids want to paint, hide and find other rocks. I'm inspired by paintings I saw and can't wait to get started.

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      Samantha Louise Allen 9 months ago

      Hello what kind of paint can you put on the stones and the paint that don't come off the stones please help me

    • profile image

      JoAnn 10 months ago

      I am new to rock painting and love it. I have a lung problem which prohibits me from using spray sealers. I would like to,use out door modge podge, but am finding that 3 days after applying it still has a tacky feeling to it. Do you have any recommendations?


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      Mckayla 10 months ago

      How do paint them in steps please

    • profile image

      Touseef 10 months ago

      Plz can any one told me what is the name of that art painting or drawing on stones called?

    • profile image

      Cheryl 10 months ago

      Your blog was very informative and encouraging. Thank you

    • profile image

      sabina 11 months ago

      I am the author of the 2nd and 9th Rock. It is very incorrect not to indicate the source of the images! I asked the author of this article to write the names of the artists who painted these stones, but I did not receive an answer.

    • profile image

      Tanya 11 months ago

      Simply beautiful!

    • iamradiantrose profile image

      iamradiantrose 12 months ago

      Love your hub! I've been collecting smooth stones to paint so your hub is very timely! I'm all inspired to get out my paints. Thanks for a great hub.

    • profile image

      Lori 12 months ago

      You can hide them in your town so people can find them.

    • profile image

      Gayle 13 months ago

      Inspirational. Great for telling family stories and children's favourite stories. Put into a basket or tray with fluffy fabric children learn great skills. Importantly communicating, listening and turn - taking. Love it.

    • profile image

      Pat 14 months ago

      Very inspiring videos

    • profile image

      Delina Youngs 14 months ago

      Beautiful work ! What a gift and treasure you have !

    • profile image

      rocky 14 months ago

      i have been painting rocks for about a year now. LOVE IT!!! After I have about a dozen or so, I take them to the walking path at the lake and set them out for other people to see them. Once in a while I will paint a few as houses, make a little town and set it out . I would love to see the face of the people that find them. Hope it makes them smile.

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      DrDokatz 16 months ago

      I just finished this one:

    • profile image

      Mary 20 months ago

      Using acrylic paint on smooth stones and can't get the brush strokes out. They look awful. Have under coated them and still have brush strokes. What can I do?

    • profile image 20 months ago

      Hi, I am about to undertake this project. I bought a huge bag of 3-5" smooth river stones at a local masonry store for $15! I am planning to paint the names of each of my 35 fruit trees on the rocks and leave them in the trench at the base of the tree. These stones will take a beating with weather. What would someone experienced with this suggest as the best sealer for a long life? Thanks!! Love all the comments/photos/ideas/inspiration!

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      JF Kara 20 months ago

      I just love your rocks. I received a Happy Birthday Greeting Stone last year with a handwritten message on the back. I decided to decorate the front of the stone using a fine Sharpie. Do I need to add a sealer?

    • profile image

      Paula 22 months ago

      This isn't a painting: it is a masterpiece!!

    • profile image

      Jo Schram 23 months ago

      Hi i have painted rocks in the past and got my stones free from the shores of Lake Michigan when i lived in Illinois. Now i live in CA and dont have access to any stones and cant see to find a place that sells them. Would you have any idea on where to buy them at a reasonable price as my budget is limited. you can let me know at thanks so much as i am really in need of them for a project. Thanks so much once again jo

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      Kelly 23 months ago from New Jersey

      These are Amazing. Such talent thank you for sharing. Brings me back to my days as a child where painting on rocks and seashells were such an enjoyment. I try and get my kids to do things like this, with the technical age we are in I try everything any anything to pry kids away from their computers, phones and video games......

    • NiaG profile image

      NiaG 24 months ago from Louisville, KY

      Great article! Love the idea of rock painting. May give it a shot one of these days. Thanks for the tips!

    • roob profile image

      Ruby 2 years ago from United States

      i have always wanted to paint rocks but never really inspired to except once with my mom. We will have to try it again! Great read... or look.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      I really like this idea, and your designs are so clever. The girl hiding in the rock is my favorite. Pinned & shared!

    • KarenCookieJar profile image

      KarenCookieJar 2 years ago

      I've done this once and really enjoyed it, but the stones were stolen out of my garden in the front yard!

    • chic robe profile image

      Sabina 2 years ago from Paris

      it's looks like very intresting and i want to try it

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      This rocks--no pun intended. I love this idea. Two thumbs up! Great hub!

    • Morayma Rodriguez profile image

      Morayma Rodriguez 2 years ago from Lehigh Acers, Florida

      This is so cute! I love your designs! This is a wonderful idea for a class project too!

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 2 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      This is a great idea! I've been looking for stuff to do with my son and he'd love creating these monster face. Cheers.

    • Rabadi profile image

      2 years ago from New York

      I LOVE THIS! I am an artist so I love sketching and painting but I have never painted on rocks I need to do this. This is awesome!!

    • sajupalu profile image

      Sajesh 2 years ago from India

      Nice creation and I am trying to do something like this for my home showcase! Thanks

    • profile image

      Endearing Joshent 2 years ago

      such a very nice idea!And I love the pictures as well, like the pictures I got from

    • Jonas Rodrigo profile image

      Jonas Rodrigo 2 years ago

      Very cute! Imagine going for a normal stroll around the park and you see these adorable things. It just might brighten someone's day.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Beautiful examples and cool idea.

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 2 years ago from Minnesota

      Very cool! My mother used to take rocks from Lake Superior, glue felt onto them and paint them like little rock turtles. This was way back in 1972.

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      Babs 2 years ago

      What a delight. Thank you for sharing. How would you make them weatherproof so the will stand up to the elements?

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      D. Gomez 2 years ago

      Very creative! Thank you for sharing the information, I plan to start painting on rocks and pebbles as a hobby and you certainly have given me the inspiration to do so. God bless you!

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      Drop Sea Stone 2 years ago

      If you are interested in painting stones join DROP SEA STONE on facebook . I have set this up to encourage art in the community. It is a cross between Geocaching and you don't know what art is going to turn up where. It is good for amateur crafters and professionals but especially for families looking for a cheap day out. Please chack out the profile Drop Sea Stone . Note the page is still under construction.

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      Arwa 3 years ago

      Hi. I started painting on rocks as well. I love it. But what to you glue the magnets with? Any particular kind of clue?. Thanks

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      shirley 3 years ago

      Great ideas u could use flow in the dark paint as well x

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      safa essam 3 years ago

      I just love your work. this is real art. I have been collecting stones all my life and i wanted to use them and display them in my home but I did not know how. you offered me great ideas that I can share with my kids. thank you so much.

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      Jane Sabio 3 years ago

      I'm so inspired by just looking at all your creative work. hmmm I wish I can also be like you so so love to start and make a living at home to help my husband. God bless you more real good. Thank you very much...

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      3 years ago

      Thank you. These are wonderful designs :)

    • profile image

      Levi Herris 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing such great ideas to paint creative stones. This would be great art project for my child. I have tried painting on rocks with the help of video tutorial before, that is going to be useful now -

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      Shruti 3 years ago

      These are fabulous and so simple. Luckily am surrounded by smooth stones up here in the Himalayas. So, I picked up a few and tried my hand at the simple stuff. I wanted to ask, can one use oil paints on stone? If yes, what's the procedure? Thank you!

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      candi 3 years ago

      I am so in love with this post! My daughter and I are about to have a good time! Thanks for this!

    • profile image

      sharon 3 years ago

      very inspring

    • PURPLECANDY profile image

      PURPLECANDY 3 years ago from ANYWHERE

      Model Magic both seals and makes the stone shiny! You can buy Model Magic in any craft store or from Amazon. It's a great product to have on hand!

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      poppy 3 years ago

      love the stones,just collected stones from beach yesterday,to paint today for family birthday.

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      jane 4 years ago

      I have a Beautiful rock, I just want to leave it... I want to seal it, can I make is shinny, what do I use? fun fun fun

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      Aimee 4 years ago

      Love it! going to have a go at making some for my wedding.

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      leeor 4 years ago

      thank you so much for the article.

      after reading about this I wanted to learn to draw by myself and I found a great video course on the topic. enjoy:

    • profile image

      retrat-arte 4 years ago

      I´ve made some of them, I hope you like it! :)

    • profile image

      eachean 4 years ago

      Love these ideas. My family has been doing this for a few years now and leaves them out for people to find. You can see our adventures at RentonRocks on Facebook.

    • profile image

      Lori 4 years ago

      This is amazing! I love how you have so many examples to show all the possibilities. :)

      Just wondering, have you used pencil crayons before? If I use pencil crayons, do you think I'll need to spray with a waterproof finisher or something?


    • profile image

      adrienne 4 years ago


      do you sell this? im planning to have this on my wedding. hope you can email me:

      thank you.

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      Doreen 4 years ago

      your talented. Been painting rocks too.

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      Ellie 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for your perfect explanation! :-)

    • Melissa Schmidt profile image

      Melissa Schmidt 4 years ago from Camano Island, Washington

      What a neat idea you have! How creative.

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      Tamie 4 years ago

      I love this idea and craft. This certainly goes faster than counted cross stitch and still looks relaxing.

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      manu soni 4 years ago


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      Rhonda 4 years ago

      You can find the rocks you need at just about any garden or landscaping center. If you live in an area that has any running creek or river beds you can pick up more than you could ever need in all types of neat colors shapes and sizes. They are cheap to buy at landscaping and garden centers though!! Happy painting !!!

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      Mazzie 4 years ago

      I would like to try this Creative Art as I recover from my Operation which will be later in the year. Im just curious as to how to preserve the paint on the stones if they go outside..

    • Joyful4u profile image

      Joyful4u 4 years ago

      Dawn, The only place that I have found them is at the beach. Micheal's has some, but they are expensive. I had someone to bring me a bunch back from the beach. They were FREE!!! :)

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      ahtesham 4 years ago

      I like it,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    • profile image

      Dawn 4 years ago

      Does anyone know where I can purchase the smooth unfinished grey river stones??

      All I ever find are the polished multicolor ones around here :(

    • PURPLECANDY profile image

      PURPLECANDY 4 years ago from ANYWHERE

      Mod Podge! It is a glue/sealer you can get at any Craft store...not too expensive! You can buy either matt or shiny version...there is also a glitter version!

    • Joyful4u profile image

      Joyful4u 4 years ago

      Love! I have done this with the children in my class. are some of the rocks painted so shiny? Thanks!!! :)

    • Ms Louise profile image

      Ms Louise 4 years ago

      These are amazing. I love to create things with my kids. I think I will try this next!

    • Crystal Tatum profile image

      Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

      This is so awesome! I really wan to try this. I'm not much of an artist, but this looks like so much fun. Love the foot stone and the penguins. Voting up, awesome and sharing this one!

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

      Thanks for this neat look at painting rocks/stones with all of the fun examples. They make me want to paint tonight!

    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 4 years ago from West Kootenays

      Wonderful Hub. I've often wanted to try this, as rock makes an interesting surface to work with.

    • KerryAnita profile image

      KerryAnita 4 years ago from Satellite Beach, Florida

      Wow! these are awesome and beautiful! You are a talented artist! You've inspired me to try rock painting!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Your stone paintings are simply awesome. Very creative, thanks for sharing. Voted awesome. Shared and pinned.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Lovely! I really enjoy painting on rocks. I usually carry a sharpie pen in my purse too so that I can doodle on small stones when I am bored. Enjoyed the pics!

    • preweb profile image

      preweb 5 years ago from UK

      I enjoyed looking at all the pics, great idea...i loved the penguins rocks most.

    • PURPLECANDY profile image

      PURPLECANDY 5 years ago from ANYWHERE

      Thanks, I enjoyed collecting all the many great ideas!

    • TheHoleStory profile image

      TheHoleStory 5 years ago from Parsons, West Virginia

      This is a great hub, and I love all of those beautifully painted rock photographs that you've included in this hub. The painted foot rock is the best photo of all. But most of all the title itself really rocks!!!!

    • PURPLECANDY profile image

      PURPLECANDY 5 years ago from ANYWHERE

      Yea, that foot rock is cool. the first time I saw it, I did a double-take.

    • MAGICFIVE profile image

      MAGICFIVE 5 years ago from New York

      I love the foot rock! That's so creative!

    • bigeyegirl profile image

      bigeyegirl 5 years ago from New York

      These are great pictures! I never thought about painting on stones before, but now I feel inspired!