Painted Rocks – Art Therapy

Do you like collecting rocks as much as I do? I especially love the smooth, round ones that fit in the palm of my hand. It goes without saying that my box of stones is filled to the brim regularly. If that happens, it’s time for a rocky project!
Steine Bemalen

Painting rocks is like art therapy for me. I randomly grab some rocks from my box and start painting them, without giving a thougt how I’d like them to turn out. The patterns just start to form on it’s own. Sometimes I like the result, sometimes I don’t. But I’m okay with that. The only thing that matters is the act of painting itself.

The great thing about painting rocks ist, that the material doesn’t cost a thing. You paint on what you find. If a rock doesn’t turn out well, you just grab the next one. You don’t pressure yourself into creating something “beautiful or perfect”, and because of that, most of the results are pretty great.

The next perk is, that even simple doodling locks great on rocks. A stone is pretty decorative in itself. Sometimes you get inspired by a certain shape or texture, and patterns emerge you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Preparation and Colors:

Even if your stones look clean, you should scrub them with a little soapy water and a brush before you paint on them. There is always a little residue of dust and dirt on them. This would result in smudges or paint that chips off once it dries.

I like to paint my rocks with acrylic paint (available here*), or permanent markers (available here*) if I want monochrome patterns. If you use markers, be sure to use ones that are waterproof! Otherwise it will just smear or come off. I like to use high quality paint brushes with pointed bristles. Your results will be so much better if you have nice brushes!

Finish it off with a layer of clear acrylic spray paint (available here*). The natural colors of the rocks will show off nicely and your design will be water- and wheaterproof. You can also use clear nail polish for that.

Artsy Tip:

Rocks decorated with monochrome patterns in black or white will almost always look great. Don’t try to think. Just paint. Sometimes the stone has an interesting texture to it, and you can just follow the lines. Or you start by drawing random lines and color the areas later on.


Look for rocks on a rainy day, when all the stones are wet. The different colors will show off better, and you can imagine how your rocks will look once you apply a clear coating. I like to collect rocks on a gravel bar or the shallow part of a river.

My painted rocks are scattered all over my house. I like to place them in flowerpots, on windowsills, in little bowls or just outside in the garden. 🙂


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10 Replies to “Painted Rocks – Art Therapy

  1. I’m just getting into rock painting and I have a few questions… do you prime rocks with anything before you paint or does clear coating take care of the paint staying adhered properly. I want to paint words on rocks but still maintain the original rock color and texture so I don’t want to cover it all with a primer. Also, if I want to seal it but don’t want an obvious (shiny or other texture) unnatural sheen to the rock, what would I use? Any info would help. Thanks.
    You’re rock paintings are beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much for your nice comment! 🙂 I usually don’t prime my rocks before I paint them. I just make sure that they are clean and free of dust.
      If you don’t want to seal your painted rock with a glossy sheen, use transparent spray paint with a matte finish. It enhances the natural colors of the rock but doesn’t look overly shiny. You could also use it as a primer if your rock absorbs too much paint.

  2. Desearia mucho recibir consejos sobre su arte. serìa para mi de gran ayuda en mi etapa de recuperaciòn motriz en la que me encuentro luego de un accidente cerebrovascular, Atte W.T.

  3. I’m giving rock painting a try for the first time. My first effort was not bad but I realize that I did not graduate the colors dramatically enough. Any suggestions as to the ratio of white to color for a more dramatic/vibrant look?

    1. I find that adding some drops of white can give to colors a bit more vibrancy. It can also help to paint some swatches first, as a lot of the colors will look differently when they are dry.

    1. I usually paint all of the dots of a project with the same small brush. (Smallest size I can find. – 0 or 1) But that is just a personal preference. I often have to go back to some dots and readjust the size, so that they are all the same. 🙂

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