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12 Easy Rock Painting Ideas for Beginners

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Posted by Aubrey Santana
Having traveled to practically every corner of the world, I draw inspiration for my art from the people, foods, and traditions of many different cultures.
12 Easy Rock Painting Ideas for Beginners

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Rock Painting Ideas for Beginners

Many artists like to experiment with the surfaces they paint on and recently many have been expressing their creativity on rocks. Rock painting has technically been around since the days of cave paintings. Some of the first artists on Earth would depict the animals they had seen, leave directions for other humans or would even record important events. Rocks allowed early humans to express themselves and leave their mark on the world. While artists have come up with a variety of new surfaces to create on, it’s always fun to revisit classic surfaces artists have been using for centuries.

Our Arteza artists have come up with 12 unique ways to create fun and easy rock art. You can use various media, like acrylics, metallic acrylics, pouring paints, 3D fabric paint and glitter to show how versatile painting on rocks can be.

Give these techniques a try and make your own cute, decorative or inspirational rocks for yourself or as special gifts for family and friends!

How do You Prepare Pebbles for Painting?

If you’re wondering where to find rocks, you’ll be surprised once you start looking as you’ll see them everywhere. Find them in the garden, on the sidewalk, in the parking lot, on a nature hike, beside a lake, even at a beach. Still can’t find the perfect stone? Check garden centres, hobby shops and craft stores where they can be purchased.

The only criteria is to find ones in the right size, shape, and texture for what you have in mind. Smooth rocks are easier for painting, but those with texture might add more realism to the finished piece. Its shape might add to the work in unexpected ways and even be an inspiration for what to portray. A triangular one might look like a slice of pie, while a circular one looks like an adorable turtle.

What's the best paint to use?

Acrylics were used in all the works shown below. Acrylic paints are constructed with a plastic acrylic resin, so they dry to a strong, permanent finish. Once covered in a protective sealer or varnish, your art will retain its colour and design forever. Acrylics also dry fast. This means you can add multiple layers of colours and details in a short amount of time without having to wait days for one layer to dry before doing another. They also easily wash off hands and brushes with water, so there are no smelly or noxious cleaning solvents to deal with.

To make a painting with acrylics even more fun, Arteza has all kinds of colours to choose from, such as neons, metallics, and tons of other colour choices. The possibilities really are endless!

Things to paint on rocks

Acrylic Paint

Galaxy (Outdoor acrylics)

Here’s another example of using a uniform stone to create a scene worthy of a canvas. Our artist has intentionally used a vertical orientation to give depth and distance to this enchanting galaxy scene. She used a limited number of colours, blending them together to create gradients in the night sky.

Acrylic Paint

Cacti  (Acrylic Premium Artist Paint, Acrylic Markers

Create interesting pieces by using a solid colour as a background and adding rows of small dots. The effect can be abstract but in this case, by using green as her background, our artist created stones that look like cacti.

Acrylic Paint

Scales (Metallic Acrylic Artist Paint)

Metallics really add a glow to your rock art. To demonstrate this, our artist used metallic acrylic paint to create these glistening scales. Doesn’t it look as though part of a mermaid’s tail has dropped into your hands? If you’re afraid to freehand these scales, use pre-cut stencils to make a design.

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic + Glitter (Acrylic Premium Artist Paint, Glitter Shaker Jars, Acrylic Markers)

Who doesn’t love a little glitter? By adding it in this example, a mystical design was created. To do this, paint the design first, then dust with glitter while still wet to get a shimmering result. To further enhance the colour, use a marker, as our artist did. To make sure the glitter stays on permanently, once it’s dry, apply a coat of varnish. 

Acrylic Paint

Gradients (Outdoor Acrylic)

One of the easiest things to do, that also adds a lot of punch, is to form gradients of colour. Take two shades and apply a strip of each colour along the top and the bottom. Then use a brush to combine the two at the line where they meet, blending them until there is a soft transition. Place these throughout your garden or in outside flower pots for a fun pop of colour.

Acrylic Paint

Landscape (Outdoor Acrylic)

Don’t limit yourself to just making designs. Here, our artist used her rock as a canvas for a landscape. This beautiful scene turns it into a mini-masterpiece that could be used as a paperweight or as an artful reminder on a table or shelf of a trip or vacation.

Acrylic Paint

Strawberries (Acrylic Premium Artist Paint, Acrylic Markers)

Once you start looking for stones, you’ll see how many shapes they come in. Use this to your advantage by studying each one and see if it reminds you of something. In this case, the triangular shape reminded the artist of juicy, red strawberries.

How cute would this look if you did a bunch of these and put them in a small basket on the kitchen table?

Acrylic Paint

Fish (Outdoor Acrylic)

Sometimes a stone’s form is the inspiration not just for a particular subject, but the movement of that subject as well. This scene of a Koi fish swimming among the water lilies looks more vibrant by using the curved shape of the rock to enhance the curve of the fish. The artist has also added shadows and the rings of water created by the movement to give this a realistic look.

Acrylic Paint

Lettering (Acrylic Premium Artist Paint, Acrylic Markers)

A level stone is an ideal place to experiment with hand lettering. It’s a good place to write inspirational words that you can place throughout your work or living space to keep positive and motivated throughout the day. Use your handwriting or experiment with different fonts with stencils or letters found in magazines or on the internet.

Acrylic Paint

Abstraction (Acrylic Premium Artist Paint, Acrylic Markers)

The most important thing is to have fun. If you don’t consider yourself skilled enough to replicate literal or realistic objects, use your imagination to play with creating abstract designs that emphasize colour and patterns. Match these to your home’s colour scheme for an interesting visual display on a coffee table or shelf.

Acrylic Paint

Pouring (Pouring Acrylic Paint)

One of the hottest trends right now is pouring. This technique works especially well on rocks because pouring paint includes a special medium that makes it more fluid. Here, our artist added different ones into a cup and then poured it over a rock. Tilt the stone in different directions, so it runs around the surface, creating some pretty magical designs similar to geodes. Use multiple small stones with this technique to create talismans to carry for good luck.

Acrylic Paint

3D Dots (Craft Acrylic, 3D Fabric Paint)

For this example, either a slick or textured stone would work. Here, our artist used Arteza craft acrylics to place an initial dotted design. Then to give it the 3D effect she used 3D fabric paint and added more dots that puffed up and added extra texture. This gives it an organic appearance much like a sea anemone.

Things to Paint on Rocks

This is only the beginning of the wonderful things you can create! The best thing about using rocks is there is a never-ending supply of them and they don’t cost a thing. You can pick them up wherever you go and create a collection that’s always handy and ready. We hope these ideas have inspired you to give this kind of painting a try.

Let us know how it goes in the comments and tell us your favourite thing to paint on a rock. 😎