I paint rocks.
I don’t paint those adorable and sometimes very realistic looking animals that make people go “WOW! I thought that was REAL for a moment, there!”
I paint abstracts, scenery and flowers. Daisies and roses are my favorite flowers to paint. Not only are these fairly simple, one can use one's imagination to create a different kind of daisy.
I was on a landscape craze for a couple of years, during which I painted dozens of ocean and beach scenes. I've painted dragons, symbols, birds and insects...
I call my line of insects Peace Bugs. Every bug has at least one peace sign on it.
Peace Bugs by Karla Domanski
I've managed to pile up a fair amount of finished creations in my home. I have considered selling them. I’m just not really good at setting up as a vendor and doing the shows. Besides, these don’t fit in any particular category. Some would look good in a garden, while others are best displayed on a shelf or used as decorative doorstops.
The smaller ones may sell online, but when it comes to the bigger rocks, shipping would cost much more than the rock itself and there aren’t enough to justify spending money on the marketing. I have sold a few on consignments.
I have moved back to Tucson and I had to leave most of my beloved rocks behind, but I have been managing to fill our home just enough to irritate my husband. ;-)
My sister asked me if I ever felt bad about not making money off of my rocks. After all, with all the time I spend on them, I should get SOMETHING in return. The truth is that I do get something out of it. I love to create.
I never work off pictures. Everything I paint comes out of my mind’s eye, which explains the unidentifiable flowers and the bejeweled fungi, but I don't have a particular type, other than my bugs.
I paint rocks because it is easier than not painting, and in all, I’ve probably put in two or three hundred dollars for the paints, brushes and sealer. That isn’t bad for the amount of hours, well, years that I’ve put into this enjoyable hobby.
I only use rocks that I find in nature and never take from other people’s property. It was easy to find rocks in Michigan. My mom’s house is made of stone and so there are several stone piles out back. It’s like a “canvas” smorgasbord.
I’m not claiming to be an artist and I am certainly not a photographer (see my photos), but there are some things people do just because they enjoy doing it. That would include me and my decorative garden rocks.
More Rocks and More Rocks...
The funny thing about painting on stones is watching people react to them.
Some fall in love with my flowery rocks while others think those are “boring”. Some will go on about my abstracts as though I’m some kind of genius (if they do represent anything, it is the mood I’m in when I paint). I overheard one person complain that a five year old could have done as good a job and I’ve gotten other comments that I should be selling them. People think what they think, but in truth, I don’t paint for other people. I paint whatever comes to mind.
Yes, whether or not people like my rocks matters to me. I hope most people like them, but I paint because I enjoy the activity.
I have managed to fill up the shelves, corners and even the coffee table in the living room before having to start storing them in my bedroom. Now, most of them are on my patio.
One summer, I spent many, many hours sitting at the outside table, brush in hand , eyes squinting just a bit, and tongue peeking out from my lips. I placed most of them in and among the flowers in my mother’s flower bed.
Fifteen of those that were in my mother’s flower beds are now missing. They vanished into thin air at some point. Somebody must have really liked those rocks.
Painting Your Own Stones
Painting on rocks can be be enjoyable from start to finish because they are inexpensive to make, fun to create, and easy to display.
You don’t have to be particularly talented to paint and when you paint on rocks, you have a special advantage over using a canvas: You can wash it all off with soap and water if you don’t like what you’ve done, provided you have not already sealed it with polyurethane.
What You Need
- A package of paint brushes ranging from the teeny-tiny detail brush to 2 inch wide
- Acrylic paints – You can buy the craft acrylic paints for much cheaper than the paints in the tubes and these go much further. Buy all the primary colors, plus brown, silver, gold and shades of other colors. Of course you will be mixing some colors, but there are certain hues that are just easier to buy. I have over 20 colors in my “paint box” and two containers of every primary color.
- A 24 to 48 ounce container filled ¾ full of water
- A palette – I use Styrofoam or cardboard egg cartons
- Plastic wrap for placing over your palette
- A chalk pencil (optional – for sketching out your design)
- A rock – The perfect rock for making a garden stone is smooth on all sides and round, or perfectly flat on one side. However, I have used rocks with varying shapes and formations. Sometimes you can use the bumps and grooves as part of the scene.
- A can of polyurethane sealer
- A well-ventilated area for sealing your rocks - I like to paint outside whenever possible, but a room with plenty of open windows will do just fine
- Lots of newspaper
- A flat surface
- A comfortable place to sit
Start by washing the rock with soap and water and drying it with paper towels. If you have chosen a rock that has has a rough surface, use a scrubber to get the dirt and grime out of the pores.
Once you have decided what it is you would like to paint, you can either sketch it out with a chalk pencil or just start painting.
If you don’t like what you have done, it is easy to wash off the chalk or paint using warm water, soap, and a rough cloth. You can even paint over it after you have used a sealant. Just be prepared to use at least two coats of paint to cover the original paint and then reseal it.
You do not have to finish it all in one sitting. You can take a break whenever you like and come back to it as you choose. Be sure to rinse your brushes well, pour out the paint-saturated water and refill your container with clean water. Don’t forget to cover your palette with plastic wrap and carefully seal it around the edges. This keeps your paint from drying out too quickly.
Once you are satisfied with your creation, place the rock on a flat surface covered with newspaper. Shake the can of polyurethane ten to fifteen times and spray evenly in a back and forth motion, keeping the nozzle 8 to 12 inches from your rock. This keeps it from concentrating too much in one area.
Leave it to dry for an hour or so and then spray it one more time.
If you do not want to use polyurethane spray, you can also use a mod podge sealer. I like to paint two coats of sealer on my rocks with the second coat going on half an hour or so after the first. Yes, it dries that fast :)
If you are going to display your painted rock outside, bring it in the house when the temperatures drop. As your rock gets cold, it will contract and the paint will chip. While one winter may not be enough to cause chipping, continuous exposure over a a couple of years will cause the paint to chip.
If you live in an area where the sun shines the majority of the day, make sure your rock is in the shade. The sun can fade the color.
If needed, you can dust your rock with a dry towel or carefully wipe it with a damp towel.
If You Don't Know What to Paint...
Buy books on how to paint. Many of these focus on particular things such as flowers, animals, insects or landscapes.
Work from a picture, a model or your own imagination.
If you are planning to put your rock in a garden bed, flowers, butterflies, birds and inscriptions are nice.
Of course, you don’t have to put it in a garden. You can use rocks for paper weights, doorstops, or use them to decorate as you would with nick-knacks. In this case, the possibilities for what you put on your rocks is endless.
I have painted many ocean landscapes, dragons, abstracts and desert scenes. If you are especially talented (I’m not), you may even want to paint a portrait.
Not ready to try your hand at "free" design? Stencils are an option.
Fast Food Fun
Painting rocks may become addictive. I have personally painted dozens of rocks that vary in sizes from “itsy-bitsy” to the “I can’t believe you lifted that thing!” size. I have also been known to paint for hours on end and have five or six finished rocks sitting all around me at the end of the day.
Janel granberg on January 25, 2016:
I love your rocks.I too paint rocks and Im addicted for sure . lol
I have many simular to yours.
Susan Ream from Michigan on December 05, 2015:
Great hub filled with helpful tips for painting rocks. My grandkids painted rocks this past summer and placed them in with the other rocks in my garden.
I love them! You gave me a tip, in this hub, that will help my little painted rocks keep their good looks and last longer - polyurethane sprayed over the top of them. I'm so gonna do this.
Thanks for sharing - your pictures are great!
Julia M S Pearce from Melbourne, Australia on August 31, 2014:
These are great! Look fantastic in the garden or anywhere really.
Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on August 01, 2013:
Outstanding...who would have thought a rock could be turned into the spectacular works of art? Not that I do not think many rocks are lovely in their own right, but these are definitely remarkable. Voted up, pinned, and shared!!!
The best I have ever done at decorating a rock is painting one blue, attaching two googly eyes, and a tiny red yarn tail . I would set it on the desk of a child who misbehaved and tell them it was there to help with their work. They loved it.
Thanks for sharing. Angels are on the way ps
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on July 03, 2013:
Thanks for the input, Lori. I am going to add that in and try it for myself.
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on July 03, 2013:
lori on May 14, 2013:
actually you do not have to bring your rocks in in the winter 2 or3 coats of mod podge they will never fade or chip
nancymaggielee on March 11, 2013:
You do really nice work!
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on June 08, 2012:
Thank you! You are going to love it!
lj gonya on June 04, 2012:
Trust me, a five year old could not create these works of art! These are fantastic, and I cried when you said you were leaving them behind. I have done a lot of painting, and guess who's going to be going out and finding a rock today. It won't be as beautiful as yours, but it will be fun!
sdaisytx from Bedford, DFW, Texas on March 23, 2012:
Your rocks bring a smile! They are all so beautiful, and I'm especially drawn to the ones across the top of the last slide-show pic. The feel of the landscapes is so peaceful and the details are amazing! Thank you for sharing your work!
jamiesweeney from Philadelphia, PA on September 02, 2011:
Very nice design. Thanks for sharing.
andrebreynolds on August 31, 2011:
You really have the talent, SEO IT. Great hub.
MD Jackson MSIOP from Western United States on August 07, 2011:
Your art rocks! Sorry I had to say it but I think it's s wonderful art form ! These would make great paperweights, or I can see using them as trail heads when you are hiking (can you imagine how fun that would be) voted up!
marellen on May 02, 2011:
Those are so adorable. I live in an area full of river rock and started painting scenes on rocks years ago. Isn't it amazing what we can do? Great hub
Sandra Cobb from South Carolina on May 01, 2011:
What a great hub! I've been wanting to try this myself, and now that you've inspired me, I think I will! I look forward to reading more of your work.
Fluffy77 from Enterprise, OR on February 19, 2011:
Love this! This sounds like something I would want to do, great tips and advise for making one of these adorable gardens, thank you.
RTalloni on February 14, 2011:
Great hub in every way! I see walls the way you see rocks...a blank canvas. :) The dangers of putting garden art in one's yard can leave one wondering...
Thanks for sharing your ideas in this hub. Hope to see more of your work soon!
Scarlett My Dear from Missouri on January 07, 2011:
LOVE your Peace Rocks! Copyright that name!
I've painted rocks with my kids since they were old enough to lift a paintbrush. My favorites when they were little were my Duck Rocks. I found three smooth rocks small enough to fit inside the palm of a child's hand, one larger rock and then painted a mama duck and three fuzzy, yellow babies. We placed them in the yard beneath the blackberry bush along with our Toad House. (;
We've also painted rocks of all sizes to use as garden markers around our veggies. Amazing Asparagus... Glorious Green beans... Super Sweet Strawberry Patch, etc. Made a few with the kids hand prints and added quotes, as well.
What a wonderfully fun talent you have! Rock On!
Jaynie2000 on October 20, 2010:
Nice work. I think my kids would love to get into this. I'll have to share your hubs with them. Thanks!
PassinItAlong on August 05, 2010:
I like the idea of this, I just might give it a try. Thanks for the hub
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on July 04, 2010:
Thanks for the positive feedback and links :)
Athlyn Green from West Kootenays on July 04, 2010:
These painted rocks are wonderful! I linked to this Hub in one of my craft articles and Stumbled it.
Art 4 Life from in the middle of nowhere.... on June 03, 2010:
Your rocks are beautiful!! You are very talented! I am glad I found your hubs~
Paula from The Midwest, USA on May 25, 2010:
I really like your peace rocks :) Very creative and fun, and I bet its really fun to see people's reactions. Thanks for sharing, Ocean
K J Page from Pacific Northwest on May 25, 2010:
What a spirit lift!! To open the door, walk in the yard and see beauty in the rocks!!!
Amy on May 20, 2010:
These are beautiful, nothing is more creative to me than doing what you feel. I went out looking for garden rocks today and couldn't find any......now with your ideas I think I will try my hand at creating my own. Keep doing what you do, they are wonderful.
Micky Dee on April 22, 2010:
Very, very nice. I'd like to do this. I hope I can some time! Thank you!
lender3212000 from Beverly Hills, CA on April 07, 2010:
Looks like a great project to enjoy with the kids!
IvaIlieva on April 06, 2010:
Hi, I really enjoyed the hub, I decided to try it too!Thanks for the good idea! :-)
Nell Rose from England on April 04, 2010:
Hiya, these are wonderful. I love the bugs! the eyes made me laugh. you should sell them, I am sure people would buy them. I collect stones and small rocks, and I remember my brother made a painted rock years ago, and he used it for a door stop, for at least 20 years! I think you should try craft shops near you. just ask the owner if you can have a corner to sell, and give them a small percentage if they sell. I love them, and I am sure other people will too. You say you don't know how to sell them, I always say, if you can't figure out a solution to a problem, instead of going for the obvious, go around it! in other words think outside the box. Try the craft shop, or another like it. great stuff. cheers nell
Peter from Australia on April 04, 2010:
SEO IT! I'm one of the people who like to paint the animals on rocks :-)
I like your designs very much and can understand your addiction to this wonderful craft.
Now you have a new fan, that would be me :-)
callmefoxxy on April 03, 2010:
That's a great way to personalize rocks in your garden, and a great conversation piece too. Thanks...
callmefoxxy, my pen is a mighty sword.
heart4theword from hub on March 31, 2010:
I love painting rocks, it is such a great family project. Fun!
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on March 30, 2010:
:) Thanks everybody! Miztahcool - LOL - good one!
miztahcool on March 29, 2010:
SEO IT! rocks.
pete379exh from Lake City, Mi on March 29, 2010:
I always thought your rocks were beautiful!!! You are a very creative individual, whether its rocks writing or something else...it must be in the genes!!!!
John David LeCoq from San Antonio, Texas on March 28, 2010:
I am taking a drawing class and hope to move on to painting in due time. This is a great idea and one I will surely use in my garden. Thanks for the ideas and also a very great hub.
kowality from Everywhere on March 28, 2010:
These remind me of painting Easter Eggs. Happy Easter. This is a very good hub with great ideas. Thank You
sheila b. on March 28, 2010:
Oh, but I do think you have to have talent! Your pictures show me that you do have it, and what a nice way to spend your time. Too bad you have to leave them behind now. Thanks for the article and the photos.
Karla Domanski (author) from Cadillac, Michigan on March 28, 2010:
Hello - Thanks for the nice comment :)
Hello, hello, from London, UK on March 28, 2010:
This is a wonderful hub with great ideas. These samples look beautiful and surely very decorative wherever you put them. Thank you so much for giving this oppoertunity.