Artist Transforms Ordinary Rocks Into Lifelike Animals You Can Hold in Your Hand

Animal Stone Painting by Akie Nakata

You may have heard of the Pet Rock, but the novelty gift from the 1970s has nothing on these hand-painted stones. Japanese artist Akie Nakata transforms found rocks into handheld animal sculptures that look as though they could come to life at any second.

Collecting rocks was a favorite childhood pastime for Akie, but it wasn’t until 2011 that she started painting on them. Back then, she came across a stone that she thought looked just like a rabbit and was inspired to make her vision come to life. “Stones have their own intentions,” the artist told My Modern Met, “and I consider my encounters with them as cues to go ahead and paint what I see on them.”

Today, Akie has created an entire zoo of stone animals, and she continues to create new ones every day. From domestic animals like cats and dogs to wildlife like cheetahs and gorillas, each animal is painted to suit the contours of the rock. Before she brings out her paints and brushes, Akie asks herself, “Am I positioning the backbone in the right place? Does it feel right? Am I forcing something that disagrees with the natural shape of the stone?”

Once she’s decided on which animal the rock will become, Akie uses acrylic paint to make her idea a reality. Lifelike eyes, fur, feathers, little noses, whiskers, and more are meticulously rendered one paint stroke at a time. Akie knows she’s finished when she can see the character staring back at her. “To me, completing a piece of work is not about how much detail I draw, but whether I feel the life in the stone.”

The resulting works look just like real animals, and Akie even finds “furever homes” for her pebble pets through exhibitions and online sales. Check out Akie’s animal-inspired stone paintings below and follow her on Instagram for updates on her next sale.

Japanese artist Akie Nakata turns found stones into lifelike animal sculptures.

Animal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie Nakata

These are no ordinary rock paintings. They look like real (miniature) animals.

Animal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie Nakata

Each creature is painted to suit the natural shape of the rock.

Animal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie Nakata

They are the ideal pet rock.

Animal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAnimal Stone Painting by Akie NakataAkie Nakata: Facebook | Instagram

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

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Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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