Tips for painting rocks with acrylic paints

Written by c. e. mcmahon | 13/05/2017
Tips for painting rocks with acrylic paints
Rock painting has been popular since ancient times. (Ancient rock carvings image by Inger Anne Hulbækdal from

People have been painting on rock for centuries. Recently, this art activity has seen a resurgence in popularity. Rock is an art base that is easily accessible to most people and is affordable when on a budget--free, in most cases. Artfully transform rock using a number of mediums; acrylic paint is among the most popular.


Tips for painting rocks with acrylic paints
Smoothed rocks make the best art base. (rocks image by timur1970 from

Rocks are like fingerprints--no two are exactly alike--which makes them a great art base. Patty Donathan, a prolific rock painter, claims the most ideal rocks have been weathered well and tumbled and rounded by a water source like a river, creek, lake or ocean. Look for rocks on beaches, dry lake or river beds. However, always be aware of your surroundings. Taking rocks and stones from state and national parks is forbidden. Don't let this be a deterrent to rock painting as a whole. Rocks are everywhere, and looking for them is half the fun. If the rocks are dirty, clean them with warm soapy water. Scrub them lightly with an old toothbrush, rinse them in cool water and pat them dry with an old towel.


Tips for painting rocks with acrylic paints
Inexpensive, wood-handled brushes work well for painting rocks. (artist"s brushes image by MAXFX from

Paint with inexpensive brushes. Depending upon the hardness or softness of the rock, the surface will wear down a brush quickly, making expensive brushes a waste. Look for brushes that are durable and have long bristles that hold a lot of paint. Consider buying a stiff brush with a wood handle. They are generally inexpensive and work well when painting on rock.

Selecting paint

Tips for painting rocks with acrylic paints
Acrylic paints come in a variety of colours. (row of paints image by Gleb Semenjuk from

Acrylic paints have improved through the years, and finding quality paint is not as difficult as it was in years past. According to Lin Wellford, a professional rock painter, if the plan is to showcase your art outdoors, use an acrylic patio paint. Patio paints are formulated specifically to weather well in the elements and are designed for porous surfaces like rock, clay pots and stepping stones. If you plan to display your art inside, any acrylic paint will work. The consistency of the paint should be neither too thick nor too thin. Add small amounts of water to thick paint until it reaches a good painting consistency. Practice painting thin lines on scrap paper or newspaper to check your paint's texture and thickness.


There are a multitude of sealers to choose from. Choosing the most effective acrylic sealer will ensure the art piece lasts a lifetime. The use of an acrylic spray gloss enriches colours and provides satisfactory protection if kept indoors. Choose a spar urethane sealer if the finished rock painting will be displayed outdoors. Although spar urethane is used primarily for wood, it also works well as an outdoor paint protector for rock paintings. Spar resists cracking, peeling and yellowing and protects against water, sun damage and salt air.

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