Japanese Artist Transforms Ordinary Rocks Into Highly Realistic Animals

Rock Art by Stone Artist Akie

Japanese artist Akie Nakata, who simply goes by Akie, has a unique way of looking at the world. While many would simply pass over a rock or a stone, Akie is able to see their potential. For the past nine years, she's taken ordinary stones and transformed them into something magical using paint. Under her watchful eye, these rocks become highly realistic animals that fit into the palm of your hand.

Using only acrylic gouache—no pen—and working with tiny brushes, Akie carefully brings each animal to life. In reality, the creative process begins from the moment she spots a rock. Its natural shape helps inspire what animal it will become. “Stones have their own intentions, and I consider my encounters with them as cues to go ahead and paint what I see on them,” she shared with My Modern Met.

From cuddly dogs and curious cats to various frogs, birds, and mice, there is no animal that Akie can't make magically appear before our eyes. Her talent has garnered her a huge following on Instagram and Facebook, where the stones she makes available for purchase are usually snapped up quickly.

Occasionally, Akie will also post before and after photographs of her rock art. When viewed side by side, Akie's work is even more impressive. Natural markings might become eyes and a pointed edge may transform into a nose—with Akie, anything is possible. For the artist, it's all about bringing the animal to life and hoping that its future owner will enjoy it as much as she does.

Japanese artist Akie is known for her incredible rock animals, which she creates using acrylic gouache.

Beagle Rock Animal

Bird Painted Rock Animal

Stone Painted Porcupine

Akie Stone Artist Rock Painting

Animal Rock Art

Stone Painted to Look Like a Seal

Rock Painted to Look Like a Cat

Stone Painted to Look Like a Dog

Stone Painted Like a Mouse

These before and after photos of the stones show just how impressive the transformations really are.

Rock Painted Before and Art

Stone Artist Akie

Rock Art by Stone Artist Akie

Rock Art by Stone Artist Akie

Akie Stone Artist Work in Progress

Akie Stone Artist Work in Progress

“To me, completing a piece of work is not about how much detail I draw, but whether I feel the life in the stone.”

Racoon Painted on a Rock

Akie Stone Artist Rock Painting

Akie Stone Artist Rock Painting

Akie Stone Artist

Akie Stone Artist Painted Rock Art

Stone Artist Akie

Painted Rock Animal

Stone Painted to Look Like a Frog

Akie: Facebook | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Akie Nakata.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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