How to Paint Rocks [Beginner’s Guide]

In this Part 1 of How to Paint Rocks Beginner’s Guide, you’ll discover the joys of rock painting and gain confidence in your artistic ability.

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Here’s what’s inside!

  • What exactly is rock painting?
  • How the Kindness Rocks Project came to be
  • How to paint rocks step-by-step
  • Fun rock painting ideas to try

In the following guides, I’m going to breakdown rock painting into its most basic parts and walk you through acrylics, best art supplies, painting techniques, and understanding color theory.

What is Rock Painting?

Let’s first talk about What Rock Painting is and how it came to be. Rock art is the earliest form of human-kind creativity. In archaeology, the term, rock art is considered human-made markings placed on natural stone. Rock Art can be found in many regions all over the world.

This rock art depicts myths, legends, rituals, religion, and types of area maps such as mountains, rivers, and lakes. These works of art show a living landscape of life back then. A pictograph is the first form of painted rock art which dates back to the Upper Paleolithic period.

Pictographs paints were made with natural minerals combined with a liquid such as water, blood, urine, or egg yolk. These early artists would use their fingers, handmade brush or stamps.

how to paint rocks

Today, rock painting is a way of being creative by expressing yourself with art. The simple act of applying paint to rock to create art is something as old as time. Painting on canvas can be a little imitating and overwhelming when painting art on large areas.

However, this is not the case with rock painting. The best part of rock painting, is that it gives the artist a smaller safe space to create without feeling lost in such a large space.

painting stones

Learning how to paint rocks is simple and everyone can do it. Another bonus is that you don’t need a lot of materials to get started. On the upside, rocks can be free, just look in your own backyard, but if you live in an area that rocks are not in abundance, no fear you can buy some from rock yards or local improvement stores.

What is the kindness rocks project?

Kindness Rocks Project motto is “One Message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life”.  That is such a powerful statement and everyone has that chance to change someone’s life that may really need that message at the moment in time.

Megan Murphy, the founder of the Kindness Rocks Project began leaving messages and inspirational words on rocks and leaving on the beaches of Cape Cod for people to find and to make a difference in their life. The Kindness Rocks Project has grown to many cities across the US and abroad to other countries as well.

kindness rocks project
Image Attribution: KindnessRocksProject

If your community has a Kindness Rocks Project, join the movement by painting rocks and leaving them for others to find. To find out if your community is a part of this project, search Facebook for rock groups in your area, then join and be a part of this inspirational movement.

Please be aware that there are areas that are illegal to remove rocks from such as, National and State Parks, waterways, and railway tracks. Leaving painted rocks and removing rocks for painting from National and State Parks is prohibited. Consider finding on public beaches and even buying stones from local garden centers or rock yards.

If you participate in the Facebook rock group, check with the group administrators about guidelines on where hiding rocks are allowed. Hiding painted rocks in hospitals and businesses are typically not allowed unless given permission to do so. 

where to find rocks

Is Rock Painting For Everyone?

The answer to that question is of course, yes! You don’t have to be a talented artist to paint, you just need the desire to pick up a brush and just start. Learning the fundamentals of painting techniques will take practice and over time you will develop your own style.

Children’s art is art in its purest form. Without guidance, kids can just have fun with painting without judgment.  Starting a new hobby, like how to paint rocks isn’t impossible but practice is key to improving your skills. As I said, rock painting is for everyone, art doesn’t discriminate.

How to Paint Rocks

Rock painting is easy and doesn’t require a lot of materials to get started. Below, you will see how easy it really is to paint rocks.

Places to Find Rocks

Rocks are free if you know where to look. Part of the fun of rock painting is using the hunt and gather method to find rocks to create beautiful rock art.  The ideal rock for painting is smooth flat rocks.

On the other hand, choosing rocks that have irregular shapes can spark inspiration for beautiful art. Consider looking for rock on the public beaches and even buying stones from local garden centers or rock yard.

beach stones

Prep Stage

Once you gather enough rocks, you will have to wash with soapy water to remove any dirt and/or debris remaining and let the rocks dry in the sun before painting.

Base coating your rocks is optional but, it’s recommended that you include this in your prep time. While you’re waiting for “paint to dry”, it’s the perfect time to plan your design and gather your supplies.

base coat

Painting in Progress

Now comes the fun part, painting your rocks with your creative ideas that you planned in the prep stage. Whether it’s a free-hand design or a traced image, it’s your rock and you decide how to design it…even the experienced artist use tracing methods.

Be creative and think outside the box! There are many options available to choose from to create your rock art by using acrylic paints, marker pens, alcohol inks, dotting tools, and so much more!

paint supplies

Final Step

Protecting your rock is a step that shouldn’t be forgotten.  After your painted rocks are dry, use an aerosol spray sealer. Seal your painted rocks outside, even in a well-ventilated area, the smell can be overwhelming for many.

Sealing the painted rocks will provide a moisture barrier to protect your painted rocks from being faded or damaged over time.

how to paint rocks

Ways to use Painted Rocks

fun painted rock ideas
  1. Beautiful handmade paperweights
  2. The kindness rocks trend, I think is here to stay! Write inspirational messages on your painted rocks. Photo by: Plaid
  3. Display your rock art and turn them into magnets for others to admire.
  4. Be creative with learning time. Use painted rocks to make learning fun for preschoolers.
  5. Mandala Art Inspired Stones
  6. Decorate and use your painted rocks as markers in your flower pots and vegetable garden. Photo by: Crafts by Amanda
  7. Decorate your home with holiday-themed painted rocks.
  8. Raise awareness for a cause in your community with painted rocks. Photo by Plaid
  9. Alcohol Inks on Rocks
  10. Meditation Stones
  11. Make awesome photo holders!
  12. Acrylic Paint Pouring

Download a free pdf of this guide in our free resource library.

In the Next Guide…

You’ll find out everything you need to about using acrylic paint, sealers, the right tools, and how to use them.

Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this guide and is excited to start your rock painting journey!

Part 2 – Rock Painting Supplies | What you need to know

Part 3 – Easy Rock Painting Techniques

Part 4 – How to Mix Colors with Confidence

6 thoughts on “How to Paint Rocks [Beginner’s Guide]”

  1. So enjoyed reading the information. I had a question regarding sealing my painted rocks. Can I use spar urethane, it is oil based ( crystal clear satin) or should I use the mod poge spray? I am new to this but already love it/.

    • Thank you so much, an oil-based varnish has an amber tone and will yellow the painted rocks over time. I would choose a sealer for acrylic and water-based paint. I like Krylon clear sealer spray and Minwax clear sealer. I hope this helps.

  2. Creativity shouldn’t be limited to paper. Rock painting is a great way to improve your creativity and memory skills.

    Nice blog. It will surely help beginners update their knowledge.


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