25+ Rock Painting Ideas to Transform Ordinary Stones Into Dazzling Art

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There’s more to painting than simply applying a brush to canvas. Painting is chock-full of endless creative possibilities, and many of them challenge you to think beyond a square or rectangular frame. Rock painting is a great example of this. Using acrylic paint, artists are getting inspired by the organic shape of stones and are transforming them tiny sculptures that fit in the palm of your hand.

Artists like Akie Nakata and Elspeth McLean represent two different, but equally as dazzling, approaches to painting on stone. Nakta prefers to keep her work grounded in realism and transforms smooth rocks into tiny lifelike creatures like owls, cats, and even an alligator. Working with the natural contours of each rock she studies its details first and then decides on the animal she'll imitate.

McLean takes an abstract approach to rock art. Using a colorful palette, she dabs dots of paint in mandala-like formations onto the surface of circular stones. They vary in the size and patterning, but the overall effect is visually soothing and mesmerizing.

It’s easier than you think to get started rock painting. All you need is your favorite set of paint brushes, acrylic paint, and stones. The unconventional canvas is available by foraging, but if that's not your style, they are for purchase as well. Amazon sells small to large-sized stones that have a smooth surface ready for you to paint.

Once you’ve got your supplies ready, get inspired by some of our rock painting ideas below.


Animal Rock Painting Ideas

Many artists opt to make the entire stone the animal's body. But, it's not required; Natasha Newton's pebble paintings use only the top of the rocks for her creature portraits.

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Next up: Abstract Art and Nature Lovers & Plant Parents Stone Painting Inspiration

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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