Rock and a Hard Place

Creative rock painting inspiration, found on Pinterest.

Pinterest started it all by showing me the pretty pictures of gorgeous painted stones. It seemed so easy: take a little craft paint, a brush, and a rock and voilá, you have a masterpiece. But it’s a challenge in a couple of different ways.

I begged for rocks from my now-fiance for Valentine’s. He indulged me, to my humor and delight. I found the essential beginners’ guide to painting stone, The Art of Stone Painting by F. Sehnaz Bac on Zulily. I knew I wasn’t capable of such intricate designs. My drawing skills are terrible, and my hands aren’t steady. I felt defeated before I even tried, and the stones sat in my craft room, untouched for months.

Envy inducing perfect circles. By lienzodepiedra on Instagram

I kept pinning beauties on my inspiration board. I was jealous of the effortless, perfect dots and brilliant designs. I felt I never would be able to imitate that.

One day, I was chatting with my bestie while pinning away. The inspiration, coupled with ambition, took hold and stuck with me. I was too busy to try rock painting that day, but I was going to throw perfectionism to the wind the next and attempt it. I knew my first efforts wouldn’t be awe-inspiring, but by gum, I was going to practice!

Getting started

I got started with pulling out the basics I would need: acrylic craft paint, decent craft brushes, a jar full of water, my gift rocks, some paper on which to paint, and a palette.

It just so happened that day was a stressful one for my best friend. I invited her to come over and offered her some rocks to paint with me. She had to bring her girls along, so I put out some paint supplies and rocks for them, too.

It was a hit with everyone! The girls were entertained by something other than a electronic gadget and still had fun. The most amazing thing was to see my very stressed friend who doubts her creative skills get Zen and happier because of the activity. We only stopped due to nightfall.

My stones weren’t painted quite as I envisioned them, but I felt satisfied by my progress.  I had enjoyed the process, too, which is different from how I often feel with some other crafts. I tend to focus on the outcome and am left feeling disappointed almost every time. But because I’m not the Renoir of rocks and yet don’t feel defeated, I am inspired to keep trying.

I plan to attempt more thoroughly planned designs than the ones pictured above. For that, I anticipate I will need the following:

  • Detail brushes, like the kind used for painting miniatures. I have Lor-Dac brushes from Amazon.
  • More, higher quality craft paint, such as Folk Art brand or Ceramcoat. I picked up some from my local art supply shop, Shelf Life. They’re awesome because they buy and sell lightly used art supplies.
  • Decocolor paint markers in various hues and widths of tip. I found a selection at Shelf Life, but you can also purchase them from dickblick.com.
  • Fineliners in white and black.
  • 2H lead pencil, for drawing patterns on light colored stones. Mine are from Hobby Lobby.
  • White pencil, colored or artist’s, for drawing on dark rock. I recommend Prismacolor colored pencils for smoother, shinier, less porous rocks, and an oil-based one such as Faber-Castell Polychromos for porous surfaces. You can generally buy a single white pencil from any art shop.
  • A kneaded eraser, for those mistakes drawing! Available at any arts and crafts store, or through online shops such as dickblick.com.

In all, I recommend rock painting for anyone who doubts their creative prowess. It’s easy-ish, a low investment for beginners, and full of mindfulness fun.

Additional Reading & Resources

Written by Denise Scicluna, Rock Art! demonstrates more readily achievable projects than The Art of Stone Painting.

A very detailed online tutorial on rock painting from Thought Co.

I’ve found rocks in a number of places, such as the floral crafts section at Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, and Amazon. I recommend these 2-3 inch white rocks from Amazon for more serious fans of the hobby. Twenty pounds sounds like a lot, but it’s not as much as you might think.

Another great online art supply shop is Cheap Joe’s. It’s somewhat local to me, so it has super fast shipping if I don’t want to make the trip to their shop.