Rock Painting by Annie Swarm Guldberg

Rock Out with Rock Painting

I recently tried rock painting with one of my older art students, followed by trying it with my 2 younger sons. Take it from me, if you haven’t tried rock painting yet, be prepared to become addicted! It is so fun for all ages, and once you sit down and start painting, more and more ideas will flood your brain!

Rock painting is a very approachable, easy and fun art activity for all ages and abilities. Great for kids, parties, family gatherings, school groups, artist groups and more– I could go on forever! Below are my tips to help you along.

Painted Rocks
Rocks by my 13yr old art student.

Tips and Tricks for Rock Painting

  1. Find several rocks of different sizes and shapes and wash them all up at once. Smooth, flat and round rocks provide a “blank canvas” to add your ideas, and rocks with more personality/cracks/chips/holes etc. allow you to create a unique design according to the features of the particular rock. WARNING: You’re fooling yourself if you think you “only want to paint one rock”, because once you start, you’re going to want to do more! My 7 year old didn’t want to paint any, but ended up doing about 8! Washing any dirt and loose parts off with water is enough- let them dry completely on a towel or out in the sun– even better!
  2. Paint large fields with acrylic paints, and apply 2-3 coats to make the colors very bright. This will also help them last longer. You’ll find that some rocks really soak the paint in as it dries. There are a few ways around this if it bugs you: you can coat you rocks in Gesso paint first (if you plan on painting the whole rock) or you can paint your shape with a coat of white paint or Gesso first, then once that dries paint your chosen color.
    1. If you are impatient like me, or just have a time constraint, have a blow dryer on hand to help dry paint between layers!
  3. Use Sharpie Oil Based Paint pens for small shapes and details. These are one of my favorite products! I use them in my work, and my students of all ages love them too. They are very easy to control, and the quality of color is great. If you want to do any lettering, fine details, dots– or just plain don’t have a small brush on hand, these are a great tool. These are easy to find online or at your local craft store.
  4. Finally- once everything is thoroughly dried, coat your rocks in a Spar Urethene Outdoor Varnish Spray. This will make them safe for outside or just help protect them from scratches and chipping if you decide to keep them inside. Stop by your local hardware store and ask for an outdoor spray varnish!
Rocks by my 5 and 7 year olds. They loved using the paint markers to draw faces. I laid the rocks on cardboard to spray them with a few coats of Spar Urethene Varnish Spray.

More Ideas and Community Connections

I’ve taught classes on creating “Rock Monsters”, make whole words- one letter per rock, pick a theme like flowers, birds, super heros, pac-man ghosts, or just dots and stripes!

Make sure to search on Facebook for a rock painting group in your community if you really want to get involved. There are groups that paint rocks and hide them- posting pictures for people to find. What a great way to get artistically involved in your local community! Try searching for “Kindness Rocks” or look by your county or city name. Here is the group in my community.

Pinterest is full of about a billion ideas— get inspired and have fun!

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