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Rock Painting -- How to Paint Rocks


My Rock Painting Journey

I saw an article online about rock painting and decided that I had to try that! I don't consider myself to be artistic at all, but I do love crafts. I have no problem trying new things (or stopping if I am no good at it!). I figured painting on rocks would be a perfect new thing to try.

I already had a bunch of acrylic paint and paint brushes (cheap craft brushes, which won't work; oil and watercolor brushes, which I use very rarely and that are probably a little too nice for rock painting but hey, I already have them).

That meant one thing; I just needed to find some rocks!

Photo of my first rock painting project. (It's a ladybug.)

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Scarlett O'Hairy helps me with almost all of my craft projects.

Scarlett O'Hairy helps me with almost all of my craft projects.

Starting to Paint on Rocks

Starting is sometimes the hardest part for me.

I got a book by Lin Wellford called The Art of Painting Animals on Rocks and looked at the pretty pictures. I marveled at her skill. I wondered how she made those tiny strokes so evenly yet natural looking. This went on for at least a week or two.

I am an expert at studying something and never acting till much later (if ever).

Finally the other day I found the right rock, scrubbed it, and got busy. This photo shows Scarlett O'Hairy laying on the book. I slipped the ladybug rock, the recommended first project, on the book to get in the picture with her. See it by her right paw?

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Whimsical Painting on Rocks

Painted rocks

Painted rocks

I painted these rocks today (May 22, 2014) because I felt like it. Sometimes a fun and totally whimsical craft is just what the doctor ordered!

Later I added a coat of Mod Podge to shine them up.

What You'll Need to Paint Images on Rocks

Just a Few Craft Supplies and Of Course Rocks!

To get started painting on rocks, I'll summarize here what you'll need:

- some smooth rocks, cleaned

- acrylic craft paint

- small paintbrushes

- paper, pencil, and scissors

For more detail, please see Lin Wellford's great books. The step-by-step instructions make it easy to get started and have a little rocky treasure when you're done!

The Art of Painting Animals on Rocks... and more by Lin Wellford

These books by Lin Wellford offer inspiration and ideas on what to paint on rocks. Then, when you have a clear plan, use the book and follow the directions on how to get started painting rocks.

Try it out. It's really easy and fun!

Rock Painting Tip:

Put an old towel or cloth (instead of newspaper) on your work surface to set the painted rocks on.

When the rocks dry, the paint might stick a bit to the fabric but won't pull up any of the cloth like if the rocks dried on newspaper.

Got Rocks? - These unpolished river rocks are waiting to be painted.

Supplies to paint a ladybug on a rock.

Supplies to paint a ladybug on a rock.

Rock Painting -- Project No. 1


Lin Wellford recommends painting a simple ladybug on a rock as the first project and for once, I did what I was told. I guess I waited so long because I hadn't found the right rock yet. So, with rock in hand, I had at it.

I followed her step-by-step advice and think I did okay, not great, but okay for my first rock painting project. I need to get a small liner paintbrush. And I used a toothpick to paint the antenna and the eyes on the ladybug. Oh, for the small black dots, I used the end of the brush handle.

The finished ladybug rock is shown in the introduction above.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Get Painting - Rocks Love Craft Acrylic Paint

I use acrylic craft paint to paint on rocks. It adheres well and is inexpensive. If I paint something I don't like, it's easy to paint over it and start again! Trust me. I've done that a lot.

Rock Painting Tutorials - More Tutorials for Painting on Rocks

Check out these links. They offer a way for you to learn to paint on rocks from experienced rock painters. Use these individual rock painting tutorials and see which ones you want to try.

Glow in the Dark Paint - for Painting Rocks

Yes, you can paint rocks with glow in the dark paint! This is perfect for Halloween or to just line your sidewalk or driveway with large or small rocks. Paint them all one color or get fancy and paint designs. Either way, rocks that glow in the dark are just plain fun!

Rock for Project No. 2.

Rock for Project No. 2.

Rock Painting -- Project No. 2


I found the rock. Now I have to figure out what to paint on it. Any idea? I'm thinking a cat but I'm also thinking that might be too ambitious for my second project.

Okay, I finished painting this rock this evening. I've added the completed CAT rock below. This rock was tricky to paint. I'm not thrilled at all with how it turned out, but then I don't have a lot of patience so I slapped the paint on, pretty much.

Hmmm. Maybe I should stick with round flattish rocks.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Paisley lady bug.

Paisley lady bug.

Rock Painting -- Paisley Lady Bug

I like to say that paisley and plaid are my favorite colors. I know that's not quite right. Blue paisley and blue plaid are my favorites. Any hoo, since I love paisley so much, I decided to paint a lady bug with paisley on her back.

This was a fun one! I used a toothpick to dot on the little dots around the black paisley swirls and inside. I applied the eyes using the end of a paintbrush. I have no idea if these tactics are kosher, and I really don't care. I figure if it ends up with the result I want, it's okay.

Photo Credit: Peggy Hazelwood

Painted rock with flowers and grass.

Painted rock with flowers and grass.

Flowery Painted Rock

This little rock was kind of tricky to paint but I got 'er done. The opposite side tilts southward a bit so I couldn't get a decent photo of it.

Again, I used toothpicks for some of the fine strokes. It's okay. Nothing great.

I hope I've inspired you by my primitive painting. You can surely do better!

Painted Rocks Available on eBay

Here are more lovely painted rocks available to buy on eBay. Naturally, I didn't paint them.

Painted Rocks by Other Painters - These are great for inspiration and some are for sale.

Halloween Rock Painting

Halloween Rock Painting

Halloween Rock Painting

Christmas Rock Painting

Make rocks to give or keep to celebrate winter and Christmas.

Make rocks to give or keep to celebrate winter and Christmas.

More Books for More Rock Painting

Once you start painting on rocks, you'll want to do more! These books provide lessons in painting garden stones, painting zoo animals, and more.

A book, paint, paintbrushes, and a few nice rocks make a great gift for anyone who needs a new hobby.

Affiliate Disclosure

This author, Peggy Hazelwood, participates in Amazon, eBay, All Posters, and other affiliate advertising programs. When you click an advertising link on this page and make a purchase, I receive a small percent of the sale. Thank you for reading this far!

Have you ever painted rocks? Dripping paint on a gravel driveway counts!

Sheilamarie from British Columbia on August 12, 2014:

Peggy, these are really cute! I remember giving my kids some rocks and painting supplies when they were kids.

nicey on August 12, 2014:

Beautiful! It's amazing what the human mind can do.

Mala Papachan from Matlock Bath, England on June 10, 2014:

Wow, some of the pictures are really beautiful and inspiring. Prior to visiting your lense, I had never heard of rock painting before!

Nancy Carol Brown Hardin from Las Vegas, NV on May 24, 2014:

Nope have never done it, but they're pretty cute. Thanks for sharing, congrats on your rank!

Ann Hinds from So Cal on May 24, 2014:

I have a rock painting lens too. I like the cat rock, excellent!

DreamsBloom on May 24, 2014:

I recently heard that if you paint rocks to look like strawberries and put them around your strawberry plants that the birds will peck at them, decide that these strawberries aren't edible, and then the end up leaving the real strawberries alone too, thinking that they are the same as the rock ones.

I'm not sure I am going to try it, but I am considering it because while last year they left the strawberries alone this year they seem to have discovered them.

Stephanie from Canada on May 10, 2014:

I love painted rocks! They're always so cute. :)

My sister and her husband did everyone's names on rocks for their wedding as name "cards." They're a great souvenier.

Anna from chichester on May 07, 2014:

This is such a great idea! I'm going to get started today! I love the idea of painting the flowers on rocks. Thank you for the ideas!

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on May 03, 2014:

How cool! I love your rocks! I have always hesitated to paint rocks simply because I am not a very good freehand artist, but I do know it would be a lot of fun! Just might try regardless! I will have to thank our Little Crafty Kids Contributor for sharing this article today on Review This!

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on May 03, 2014:

What a cute and clever craft project. I'd never thought about painting on rocks until I read this. Love your 'paisley' lady bug! :)

TommysPal on January 21, 2014:

You did good. I collected a bunch of rock this past summer, just waiting to get paint all over them. I think you inspired me to get them out and give it a try. I enjoyed your lens. Thanks!

Chocolatealchemy from London, United Kingdom on December 21, 2013:

We have some small river stones and you've inspired me. Great Lens.

Amy Trumpeter from Oxford on November 25, 2013:

No I haven't, but painting animals on rocks looks like great fun!

WebMarketingPro on October 13, 2013:

No I haven't. But the thought crossed my mind when I came across some "inspiration rocks" at the local New Age store... Love your ladybug rock and the cat too.

josietook on August 29, 2013:

I've never painted a rock, it looks like a good idea though. I love the paisley ladybug.

anonymous on August 13, 2013:

i have just started painting beach rocks and each time i am getting better and better :) love doing this sooooo much with my two year old :) thanks for all the cool info :) and links.

tonyaalves3 on August 08, 2013:

Wow! This is a great craft for my daycare. Very creative. Thanks

Birthday Wishes from Here on August 07, 2013:

No, it is the first time that I read about it! I would love to try it out! Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful lens!!!

anonymous on July 30, 2013:

Very nice indeed. Makes me think a bit of easter egg painting! Not sure what I would like to catch more when thrown at me, but they both can be amazing pieces of art. From eggs I knew, I had not heard nor seen rock painting as that you have so lovely described on your lens. Very inspirational. Thank you.

ScentsWithBling on July 28, 2013:

I live on a river and have a creek that runs in back of our property. There are some amazing rocks (I go hunting often) and I have always wanted to learn to paint on them. Thanks to your lens, I will give it a try!

wyzeguru on July 27, 2013:

I've done paintings of rocks! Does that count?

Lee Hansen from Vermont on July 01, 2013:

I have, and my daughter also painted on seashell fragments collected along LI sound one summer 30 years ago. We love to paint on rocks, shells and old stuff. Thanks for suggesting this lens as a part of the tribute lens roll at Purple Star Pastiche!

Peggy Hazelwood (author) from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on June 29, 2013:

@mcsburlea: Go for it!

mcsburlea on June 29, 2013:

this is so cool. hmm my parents have a huge garden so I wonder if they would let me paint some of the rocks there :)).

noner on June 23, 2013:

I have not painted rocks, but it is on my to-do list. Probably next spring when I attempt to grow flowers again.

Organic-Mommy on June 13, 2013:

This is so cool! My kids are going to love this!

clevergirlname on June 08, 2013:

So much fun! I am going to have to get some paints - I already have collected a bunch of fun rocks! I have never painted them before if sidewalk chalk doesn't count ;)

Peggy Hazelwood (author) from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on June 07, 2013:

@AstroGremlin: Perfect! That is hilarious!

AstroGremlin on June 07, 2013:

So many rocks, so little time. I have a rock that I found recently and love it. Perfect size and shape. Were I to paint it, I would use an eight-ball design and place it on a pool table as a gag.

Hal Gall from Bloomington, IN on June 05, 2013:

I'm sure you remember Pet Rocks from the 1970s. This takes it to a whole new level!

Two Crafty Paws on June 05, 2013:

I love rock painting! I live near a river so there's a lot of rocks suitable for painting around. It's very relaxing - well most of the time. I am currently working on painted rock accessories so we will see how that comes out.

Love the ladybug. I see you too have a little helper to help you with your crafts =) (or play with your supplies ;)

Genesis Davies from Guatemala on April 26, 2013:

I've painted quite a few rocks in my lifetime, but most were when I was much younger. I think my kids would really enjoy this type of craft.

Jordan on April 20, 2013:

I have never painted them. Thought i really like the rocks that look like bugs or animals!

siobhanryan on April 08, 2013:

Blessed-it is such a simple idea with great results

justramblin on April 05, 2013:

I haven't tried rock painting, but it's a good idea for a garden accessory. You rocks turned out well. Love your obliging model, Scarlett Ohairy.

Dusty2 LM on March 29, 2013:

This is a very interesting and well done lens. When I saw the title I had to satisfy my curiosity as to what rock painting was. Must say your first few rock painted projects turned out good. Thank You for stopping by my Traditional Irish Stew Similar To Grandmas lens and giving it a "thumbs up" as i really appreciate it. Hope you give the recipe a try to will enjoy it. Bon Appetit! (^_-)

Rob Hemphill from Ireland on March 21, 2013:

Great idea to keep children busy as they usually lap up any sort of art work. I love the Halloween rock painting.

Sniff It Out on March 07, 2013:

Oh dear, yet another way for me to use up my spare time :-) I really must try out some rock painting.

TheLoneWriter LM on March 05, 2013:

What a fun gift! Or even a rainy day project with the children. Aw, who am I kidding. I'd have just as much (if not more) fun as them.

TommysPal on February 22, 2013:

This is really awesome. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for the idea

acreativethinker on February 17, 2013:

Looks like a fun and very creative art for anyone to do. Thanks for sharing. Take Care :)

WinWriter on February 16, 2013:

I love learning something new. I think you did great and you've inspired me to try this! I'm big into flowers so I'm thinking about designs (simple ones) that I could try. *Blessed*

bloggerjon on February 15, 2013:

Really interesting article and I have started to doodle on rocks myslef with some of my artwork.

Clairissa from OREFIELD, PA on January 31, 2013:

I guess I qualify for the paint on the gravel driveway. Rock painting sounds interesting and fun.

gradientcat on January 18, 2013:

No, I have never painted rocks. I did buy a very pretty rock that was painted as a cat.

Lynda Makara from California on January 14, 2013:

I haven't done rock painting for years. I love your ladybug rocks. Good job! Angel blessings.

webmavern on January 11, 2013:

What a lovely idea! I must try this out for some unique decorations.

sheriangell on January 10, 2013:

When my son was little, we painted rocks and then put them in our special rock garden.. Nicely done and Angel blessed.

John Dyhouse from UK on January 10, 2013:

I have never tried this particular craft but my garden is full of pebbles of all sorts and sizes. If you dig dowdn a spade's depth then you hit a hard compacted pebble bed. They are always rising to the surface and I tried clearing them and now have areas where I have built up layers of large pebbles on the surface. I also have lots of acrylic paints which I do not often use. perfect! no excuse for not trying this out. Thanks

SteveKaye on December 28, 2012:

You're really talented to make these beautiful painted rocks. And then selling them on ebay is a great idea.

darciefrench lm on December 22, 2012:

When I am ready to do some rock painting I will return here for these great tips :)

kabbalah lm on December 16, 2012:

Sound like a fun activity that I should try

DecoratingMom411 on December 13, 2012:

Rock painting brings a lot of fun especially to kids and art lovers! This is such an interesting lens. Thanks for sharing!

Jen withFlash on November 02, 2012:

That looks like fun!! Very cute!!

Peggy Hazelwood (author) from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on October 04, 2012:

@kathryn-gillespie: Hey, Kay, that sounds very cool! Give it to your nephew!

kathryn-gillespie on October 04, 2012:

Fun lens! I bought a rock on eBay that has 3 creative drawings on it done with a fine tipped black permanent marker. One side is a fish. One side is an old car. And one side is a moccasin. It is adorable! Was going to give it to my nephew. Perhaps I should send it to you instead!

goldenrulecomics from New Jersey on September 21, 2012:

No, I've never painted rocks. Wish I had thought of this when the kids were young enough to be into crafts!

mumsgather on September 19, 2012:

What lovely creations and such fun. The ladybug ones would look lovely in a garden.

anonymous on September 06, 2012:

It looks like fun! I like your cat - and all the other rocks.

AlleyCatLane on September 05, 2012:

Looks like a lot of fun.

traveller27 on September 05, 2012:

Very creative! Nice work.

Lori Green from Las Vegas on August 24, 2012:

I love this. I use Mexican River Rock and put them in my yard. They are so cute. I love the ladybug. I have made whole families of them.

WriterJanis2 on August 22, 2012:

I have, but not for awhile. It's such a fun craft.

anonymous on August 19, 2012:

I'd forgotten to come check on the completion of your second project and beyond. I'd say you should be very pleased with your cat. You seem to have a folk art style that is quite delightful and sweet...and if something works for you, it doesn't matter if its kosher! One you've painted a rock, it seems you see so much more in them than ever before, it's a little addictive.

games_rush on August 13, 2012:

I haven't tried one, but sure I will, thanks for the great idea..

olmpal on August 13, 2012:

These are so sweet and cute! I love your Paisley Lady Bug! When we had our daughter's wedding I chose to paint simple flowers on small rocks and gave them out as small keepsake gifts along with the favors. I used permanent markers and sprayed them with varnish.

alternative-help on August 11, 2012:

Yes! When my son was little, we painted rocks and put them in a rocky area next to our patio. We called it our rock garden! I think I had more fun doing it than he did.....

Doc_Holliday on August 01, 2012:

What a novel idea.

pawpaw911 on July 17, 2012:

Very cool creations.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 13, 2012:

I haven't but this looks like fun.

Close2Art LM on July 13, 2012:

I love your artsy pages, this is another great one, Blessed

antoniow on June 30, 2012:

Nice article, great job!

Ruthi on June 12, 2012:

I have yet to paint rocks but it sure sounds like a fun way to create cute little figurines for the home.

aksem on June 12, 2012:

Wonderful idea. Thank you. Now I know how to engage my grandchildren on vacations.

betty-tailor on May 03, 2012:

Very cool! :) I like how you can transform something so easily.

Peggy Hazelwood (author) from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on March 07, 2012:

@WaynesWorld LM: Thanks for sharing your rock painting tales. I love to see how good other people's rock painting is. Mine is crude and simple but I have fun. Maybe you could write your own lens on rock painting!

WaynesWorld LM on March 07, 2012:

I saw a painted rock at a gravel pit's scalehouse, it was of a bunch of flowers. The scale lady said she had painted it. A few weeks later I was at Michael's (the craft store) with my wife, she was looking for some bead stuff. I saw a book on painting rocks and it reminded me I wanted to try it. So I bought some paint and cheap brushes.


I have hauled gravel off and on my whole adult life so I have always had a love for rocks; picking up petrified wood at a gravel pit on the Colorado/Nebraska border, fossils in the grayish-white limestone at Coralville, Iowa and great looking rocks at gravel and limestone quarries near and far.


I remembered the book at Michael's had mentioned if your rocks were too rough you could put a layer of Bondo(auto body putty) and smooth it up with sanding paper. The rocks I found were smooth enough though. On all of them I painted flowers, I had done a red tulip on a black background on a weird elongated rock about 10 inches long and 4 inches wide by 1 1/2 inches thick. On a round rock I did half a dozen yellow daisys on a brown with green background. I did some others but one of my artsy sisters asked to borrow them when she saw them when we moved, I can't recall what they were. I do know that it is fun, fun, fun and if you screw up paint over your rock's surface and start over.


Great lens.

hntrssthmpsn on March 03, 2012:

Our front yard is landscaped with river rocks, which is low maintenance, but a little on the humdrum side. We have painted a handful of rocks and scattered them amongst the others. It always makes me smile when I notice a cheerfully painted rock peeking out from our staid and mature rock garden.

marsha32 on February 18, 2012:

It's fun to paint rocks. My teen helped out downtown for smaller kids to paint rocks this past year. I love the kitty in the first picture--looks just like my Exodus.

curious0927 on January 09, 2012:

Years ago, I painted rocks with my kids. Yours are much better and make me want to find that old rock collection we had! Very Inspiring!

hysongdesigns on December 27, 2011:

I think your rocks are turning out great! Anything is kosher when it comes to rock painting. Hey that other one looks like a shoe to me!

gottaloveit2 on December 20, 2011:

You're blessed! I've loved this lens since the day you made it. It's so personal and your rocks are da bomb.

Wendy Henderson from PA on December 09, 2011:

I've never tried it. It sure looks like fun.

Showpup LM on December 08, 2011:

I did this when I was young. I'd love to try my hand at it as an adult.

Peggy Hazelwood (author) from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on December 08, 2011:

@gottaloveit2: You liar!

gottaloveit2 on December 08, 2011:

I'm so sorry I didn't beat Jebozid to the "Rock On" comment...shoot.

gottaloveit2 on December 08, 2011:

Your rock painting skills might just get you into the Smithsonian one day - I mean, really, I don't know a better rock painter...ever! You're da bomb. Love these!

traveller27 on December 08, 2011:

These are great!

poutine on December 08, 2011:

cute painting.

poutine on December 08, 2011:

cute painting.

Delia on November 25, 2011:

I think you did a great job on rock painting, Thanks for visiting mine...

jebozid on October 15, 2011:

Rock on!

shiwangipeshwani on October 09, 2011:

Very interesting.. never seen such innovative idea to paint the useless rocks...thnx for sharing wonderful concept. I would like to see more designs

Peggy Hazelwood (author) from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on September 25, 2011:

@anonymous: So cool! I'd love to see it when you paint it.

anonymous on September 25, 2011:

I want to try this! Yours are really cute. It would be a fun activity to do with grandkids. I have a rock that I've saved for more than a year, because I've always wanted to paint it. It looks like the guy in that famous painting "The Scream". Hope I can do it justice!

hysongdesigns on September 07, 2011:

Nice to find another rock painter around here! It's spreading ;-) Great job; your second rock looks like a shoe to me

anonymous on August 17, 2011:

I'd say you are a quick study by the results of your first project and now am wondering what that special rock turned out to be in your second project, rock painting can get a little addictive!

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on July 26, 2011:

No. not yet. but i am going to try this art. well presented lens. ~blessed~

Char Milbrett from Minnesota on July 25, 2011:

yes my mother and i painted on round rocks from Lake Superior. It was 1969. She painted them with turtle colors and glued felt feet on them and a felt head and tail.

gottaloveit2 on July 21, 2011:

This is just the cutest lens I've ever seen! I love the conversational tone to it and hope it does well. I think the ladybug would be very cut as a decoration in a potted plant. Nicely done.

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