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Easy Paint Pouring Rock Guide for Beginners

I'm hooked on paint pouring. This easy, fun project makes a one-of-a-kind gift for others to enjoy. No skills required, just mix and pour.

This is my first paint pour. It's an example of the marbling method or paint pouring using acrylic paint.

This is my first paint pour. It's an example of the marbling method or paint pouring using acrylic paint.

What Is Paint Pouring?

Acrylic paint pouring is an abstract art form that consists of pouring different colors of paint over rocks, canvas, or even wood. Since I use rocks, I will teach you the "dirty pour," which is layering different colors into a cup.

Paint pouring should be freeing and effortless. If you happen to make mistakes, you can always scrape the paint off and start again. I have done this, and it's no big deal! The best part of paint pouring is you never know what you're going to get, and the finished product turns out to be unique and beautiful.

Painting on a smooth non-porous surface is easier than a rough, pitted rock.

Painting on a smooth non-porous surface is easier than a rough, pitted rock.

Supplies You'll Need for Your Rock Pour

  • Clean, smooth rocks. Home Depot offers these for $8, and it's a decent-sized bag. If you live near a river, you're in luck! Always make sure it's legal to remove rocks. I wash mine with Dawn detergent and use a small scrub brush, then rinse and allow to dry.
  • Disposable baking pan and wire grill. I found my grill for a quarter at a second-hand store.
  • Wax paper for lining the baking pan to catch the paint drippings.
  • Small bathroom cups found at the Dollar Store.
  • Ice cream sticks are also at the Dollar Store.
  • A variety of acrylic paint. I use two different brands: Apple Barrel and Deco Art, available at Walmart or through Amazon.
  • Liquid Gesso is an acrylic undercoat. It provides a light "tooth" for acrylic paint and is non-toxic.
  • A medium to mix with the paint. You'll want this for a smoother pour. Floetral is my choice for a pouring medium.
  • Paintbrushes. I like to have available a variety of sizes, which I find at Walmart.
  • A base for the rock. You can use anything from wide bottle caps to an upside-down egg carton. It just needs to be big enough to hold your rock above the surface area for paint runoff.
  • If you prefer to lacquer the finished dried rock, I like using Kryon.

Step 1: Prime a Rock

Begin by priming a clean, smooth rock with gesso. Let it dry and apply another coat for adhesion. Allow to dry for a good 24 hours.

Step 2: Mix Paint With a Medium

Decide how many paint colors you want for your rock. I use white and pastel for the colors that go between the different layers of paint. These are called buffer colors. Select as many colors as you like. I have experimented with as few as two colors and as many as eight. This is where the fun begins.

Pour each color in its own cup and mix in the pouring medium using a craft stick. You'll only want to blend in enough medium to thin out the acrylic paint for pouring. You don't want it too thick, just enough for it to flow over the rock.

Basic Paint Pouring Recipe for Beginners

  1. Select paint colors that "pop" for a nice contrast.
  2. Mix 1 part acrylic paint (for example, 2 ounces) to 1 part medium (for example, 2 ounces of a medium) along with a bit of water (for example, about a tsp.).
  3. Stir well.
  4. Lift your stirring stick to check. The paint should run off the stick like honey.

Suggested Color Combos for Paint Pouring

Vibrant colorDark Color2nd Vibrant (or Metallic) ColorAdditional Color

Turquoise

Navy

White

Burgundy

Pink

Gold

White

Another shade of pink

Green

Gold

White

Yellow

Navy blue

White

Gold

Speck of red

Purple

Gold

White

Pink

Aqua blue

Copper

White

Gold

Step 3: Prepare the Dirty Pour

Using a larger cup, start pouring the paint into small amounts, creating a layering effect with all the colors. Once all the paint is emptied in the “pour” cup, the magic begins!

Step 4: Begin Pouring the Paint Over the Rock

Now the excitement begins. This is the beginning of your creation, and it will be a one-of-a-kind piece of art. Be sure you have your pan and grill ready to set your completed rocks on as you pour the paint.

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Begin pouring the dirty pour from the large cup over the rock slowly, in any desired direction to cover the entire rock. I like to experiment with circles, a zigzag or two, swirls, and stripes.

To spread the paint, gently tilt the rock in different directions but don't go overboard.

To spread the paint, gently tilt the rock in different directions but don't go overboard.

Step 5: Apply a Crystal Clear Gloss

Allow the rocks to dry overnight. If you prefer a high gloss, give them a light spray using short bursts and let them dry for another 24 hours.

Safety Note: Spray the rocks outside where there is plenty of ventilation and wear a mask to prevent inhaling the fumes. Another thing to be aware of is insects, especially those that fly. They can get stuck in the gloss, causing damage or death to the insect.

The finished art rock. It only took a few minutes to complete this project.

The finished art rock. It only took a few minutes to complete this project.

How I Turned a Negative Time Into a Positive Experience With Pour Painting

I had never painted anything in my life, except for trim on the house. And rocks were the last thing on my mind to paint. But sometimes, life has a way of introducing us to a new path—a different direction. And two years ago, this is precisely what happened.

A massive forest fire broke out here in our mountains, and my dog and I were evacuated. I had no place to go. Every hotel was filled with other evacuees, and I was turned down by a "friend" because of my dog. But luckily, a beautiful family came to my rescue and opened their hearts and home to us for three weeks. Libby invited me to paint river rocks with her during this time, and I've been hooked ever since.

Flex Your Creative Muscle

With social distancing being the new normal, most of us are stuck at home and running out of things to do. It doesn't have to be this way. Use this extra time to flex your creative muscles and learn how to turn plain rocks into a unique, beautiful work of art while creating a positive outlet.

Rock painting provides a peaceful outlet. The author gives a "thumbs up" during the Covid-19 crisis as she uses this time to discover creativity.

Rock painting provides a peaceful outlet. The author gives a "thumbs up" during the Covid-19 crisis as she uses this time to discover creativity.

Display your rocks indoors or outdoors. Every rock has a story.

Display your rocks indoors or outdoors. Every rock has a story.

© 2020 Audrey Hunt

Comments

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 09, 2020:

JP Carlos

Many thank yous for your wonderful comments. You go right ahead and post this. I appreciate your sharing my article. Thanks again.

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on August 08, 2020:

What a wonderful art activity. This is very creative. this will be another bonding time activity for the family. This is really worth sharing with other parents and teachers. With you're permission, I'd like to post this on our parent group in FB.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 24, 2020:

Nithya

I do hope you give this a try. It's so much fun and easy to do. Glad you like the look of my rocks.

Thanks so much.

Sp Greaney

How nice to read your comments. And your idea of using painted rocks for a paperweight is great!

Thank you

Sp Greaney from Ireland on July 24, 2020:

This is such a brilliant idea. Your designs came out really good. Great idea for paper weights.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on July 24, 2020:

The rocks look amazing with vibrant colors. I would definitely love to do this, thank you for sharing this beautiful art form.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 22, 2020:

Rajan

I find Rock art to be therapeutic. It brings me peace as well as a feeling of fulfillment.

Thanks so much for your kind comments. I'm glad you liked this tutorial.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on July 22, 2020:

These rocks have literally come to life. Great creative idea. Thanks for the How-to!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 21, 2020:

Hi Chris

Rock art is keeping me sane these days. For the first time in my very long life, I'm feeling a little on the lonely side. I'm sure plenty of others experience the same with our world turned upside down.

Thanks so much for being here.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on July 20, 2020:

This looks fun. Thanks for the complete guide for how to do it.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 20, 2020:

Hina Moin

Thank you for your very kind comments. I'm glad you like my art. Be safe now.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 20, 2020:

Genna

This is so much fun. I'm not a pro at rock painting - especially the pouring method as the paint does all the work. I think you would enjoy this. It's a creative way to spend some time and so relaxing.

Sty safe, my friend. Thanks so much!

Hina Moin on July 19, 2020:

Your work and your words are very inspiring.

May You stay safe and do more art.Ameen

Hina

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 18, 2020:

Linda

I'm still quite surprised with how much I enjoy this new hobby. It's especially fulfilling during this isolated time. Thanks, so much

Ruby

How lucky you are! It appears that rock painting is exactly what you should try. You tube offers a wide selection of videos...some good and others are just plain boring. So, have fun, my friend and stay healthy.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 18, 2020:

Thank you for taking the time to read about paint pouring for rocks. This hobby is becoming very popular and is relaxing for the mind. I'm glad to see you here.

Please stay safe and blessings to you

Shauna

Thanks. I haven't displayed them at all yet. Some of the local artisan shops are interested and I may look into this. Many of the rocks I paint end up hidden for others to find and hopefully they brighten up someones day.

Be safe, my friend.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 17, 2020:

Hi FlourishAnyway

How lucky you are to have a river close by! Here's a link to painting on wood which might help you with the bench project.https://youtu.be/7kM58H_5KFM Let me know if you try it and how it works out.

Thanks

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 17, 2020:

Peggy

Thanks so much for pinning my article to your craft board. I'm pleased that you enjoyed this and I'm working on another article about different ways to use these rocks after they are painted.

Take care and stay healthy.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 17, 2020:

Linda

Thanks for the suggestion on how to use these painted rocks. I will start on this right away. I appreciate your idea. Kool!

Stay safe, my friend.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on July 17, 2020:

Bill,

When stressful thoughts begin to take up space, in my otherwise positive mind, I grab my paints and let the creative process begin. Thanks, my friend, for your visit.

Love ya

Audrey

Genna East from Massachusetts, USA on July 16, 2020: