Japanese artist Akie Nakata (known simply as Akie) turns found stones and rocks into adorable animal paintings you can hold in the palm of your hand. Inspired by the natural shapes of each stone she comes across, Akie chooses the ones she believes already have their own destined characters. Ever since she was a child, the self-taught artist has loved collecting stones. She began her stone paintings in 2011 when, while taking a walk along a river bank, she encountered a particular pebble that looked like a rabbit. The artist tells My Modern Met in an email, “Stones have their own intentions, and I consider my encounters with them as cues […] to go ahead and paint what I see on them.”
After sourcing the animal-shaped stones, Akie considers each character carefully. She 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?” She then carefully paints the stone’s surfaces with acrylic paint. From cats and dogs to owls, mice, and even an entire opossum family, each of Akie’s stone animals look remarkably lifelike. Painting the eyes last, Akie considers her work complete when she sees “the eyes are now alive and looking back [at her.]” She tells us, “To me, completing a piece of work is not about how much detail I draw, but whether I feel the life in the stone.”
While some might contest that a stone is not a living organism, when Akie holds one in her hand, she feels everything it has “silently witnessed over the millennia.” Believing each rock has a story to tell, the artist decides to breathe life into each one with her paintings. She reveals, “Sometimes I paint while I talk to the stone as I hold it in my hand.” Akie hopes that her stone animals will be treasured by those who hold them, as they treasure their own lives “because we all stand on the same earth, and we come from the same earth.”
Japanese artist Akie Nakata turns found stones and rocks into adorable animal paintings you can hold in the palm of your hand.
Inspired by the natural shapes of each stone, Akie uses acrylic paint to bring their creature characters to life.
Each stone animal looks remarkably lifelike.