Painted rocks are the perfect kid-friendly activity. It’s cheap, fun, and can brighten someone’s day. Of course, it’s also a great way to keep the kids entertained in a safe way while we indulge in adult activities.
This article will introduce you to the world of rock painting, teach you how to paint rocks, and inspire your own creativity with a huge list of rock painting pictures.
How the Painted Rocks Movement Started
The painted rocks movement started with Megan Murphy who lost both her parents in her early 20s.
One day, as she took her daily walk on the beach, she decided to write messages on five rocks with a sharpie. She dropped them while walking in hopes that someone would find them and it would brighten their day. And she was right! On that same, a friend of hers texted her a picture of a rock with a sharpie-written message on it and exclaimed how she had found it and it was exactly what she needed to hear.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Megan knew that was a special moment and had to do something to spread the message of hope and kindness. She started the Kindness Rocks Project and it blossomed from there.
The “rules” of the movement are that if you find a rock, you’re supposed to either keep it and make another to leave somewhere OR drop the rock that you found somewhere else. Of course, you can also just paint as many rocks as you want and drop them off everywhere. The goal is to spread the joy!
To learn more about the movement, check out the Kindness Rocks Project Facebook page.
How to Paint Rocks (Beginner Friendly)
All you really need to get started spreading the joy is a rock and a sharpie. But, if you want to do something colorful and fancy that can also weather rain and snow, you’ll have to be a little more sophisticated. There is a three-step process to painting rocks: first, you must prep the stone, then paint the rock, and finally put a coat of sealant on the rock to protect it.
Before going over the process in more detail, let’s gather all the supplies you’ll need to paint your rocks.
Supplies You’ll Need
Here’s what you need to start painting rocks:
- Smooth Rocks. You can use any stone or rock you find outside. Just remember that in some places, like National Parks, removing rocks can result in large fines. If you can’t find any rocks outside, you can buy landscaping rocks at your local garden center or home improvement store. At my Home Depot, I can buy a 30lb bag of smooth rocks for around $10. You can also buy rocks to paint on Amazon. Don’t worry if you can’t find any smooth rocks, I’ll go over how to make them as smooth as possible later.
- Acrylic Paint. Next, you’ll need acrylic paint in the colors you want to use. The paints the link go to are perfect for outdoor painting. Remember to get white or black paint for the base layer.
- Various Paint Brushes. Having multiple types of paint brush sizes will help you create beautiful rock painting patterns.
- POSCA Paint Markers. If you want to write text on your rock, it’s much easier to do with markers than a paintbrush. The POSCA markers are the ones that worked best for me, though any type of acrylic paint marker should work OKAY.
- 150 Grit Sandpaper. This is only necessary if you found your rocks outside in nature rather than buying them in a store.
- A Sealant. Once you’re done painstakingly painting your rock, you’ll want to protect it from the outdoor elements. This sealant is the one I would recommend. Remember, the sealant can come in three different finishes: gloss, satin, and flat. Those are listed from most shiny to least shiny. So get the sealant finish that you want.
Depending on the design you’re trying to paint, you won’t need all the supplies listed above. The bare minimum is to have a rock, some paint, a paint brush, and a sealant if you want your paint to last.
Once you’ve gathered your supplies it’s time for the fun to start!
The 3-Step Rock Painting Process
1. Prepare Your Rocks
If you bought your rocks in a home improvement store or on Amazon, then you can skip this step.
For the paint to stick, the rock has to be clean and smooth. First, clean the rock with warm water and soap. Use a toothbrush to really dig in and get all the dirt off. Next, if the rock isn’t smooth, use the 150 grit sandpaper to sand away the rough bits. Depending on what type of rock it is, sanding may or may not be effective. Either way, try to get the rock as smooth as possible. Once that’s done, rinse it under water to remove the grit and let the rocks dry.
2. Paint Your Rocks
Depending on the design you plan on painting your rock, you may need to paint a base layer. Basically, if you plan on coloring the entire stone and not using the raw stone color as part of the design, you’re best off painting a base layer. This base layer can be white or black, but I would recommend white if you want your colors to really POP.
Continue reading for some great rock painting ideas.
Remember to every layer of paint fully dry before painting the next layer. You don’t want to smudge your paint. If you want to speed up the process of paint driving, use a hair dryer to gently blow warm air onto the rock.
3. Seal Your Rocks
The final step is to seal your rocks.
Your rocks should be completely dry before you begin the sealing process. To seal your rocks, take them outside to a well-ventilated area. A garage with the doors open would be perfect. You don’t want to do this inside! The fumes can be dangerous.
Set your rocks on some old paper or inside a cardboard box. Spray one side with the sealant, making sure to follow the instructions on the back of the bottle. Let it dry. Flip the rocks and spray the other side. Let that side dry and you’re done!
Time to hide those rocks!
If you’re really into rock painting and want to take your game to the next level, I can’t recommend these books enough:
- The Art of Stone Painting: 30 Designs to Spark Your Creativity
- Rock Art Handbook: Techniques and Projects for Painting, Coloring, and Transforming Stones
Rock Painting Ideas, Inspiration, & Pictures
Not sure what you want your painted rocks to look like?
Don’t worry, this is the largest list of rock painting ideas and rock painting pictures on the internet. You’ll be sure to find something that inspires you.
Easy Rock Painting Ideas
The following rock painting pictures should be easy to recreate. Nothing fancy here. Sometimes the simplest designs are the best.
Holiday-themed Rock Painting Ideas
Halloween? Christmas? It’s always a good time of the year to paint some rocks. Use the following pictures for some holiday inspiration:
Cool Rock Designs
Check it out. Some rock painting patterns and designs can be cool too (not just cute).
Quote & Word Painted Rocks
Nothing brings more joy than a perfectly timed quote.
Ladybug Painted Rocks
These cute little ladybugs deserve their own list. Nothing says springs like dozens of these cute bugs.
Rock Painting Patterns
Not a great artist? Don’t worry, turn to the rock painting patterns for an easy-on-the-eyes design that aren’t hard to replicate.
Cute Animal Painted Rocks
Cute animals are probably my favorite things to find on painted rocks.
If you want more rock painting ideas, just search for the #paintedrocks hashtag on Instagram.