Creating garden art painted rocks has never been easier now that top quality outdoor craft paints are available. Using step-by-step instructions, you can create wonderful animals, insects, houses, and more like the ones you see here.
I’ll show you everything you need to get started plus a gallery of ideas including cats, owls, frogs, racoon, deer, and ladybugs.
To paint smaller stones, see The Art of Stone Painting.
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Painted Rock Ideas
Last summer I was on a local garden tour (what’s new?) and met the wonderful artist who painted the rocks you see here and she kindly gave permission to photograph her work. While talent always helps, the good news is, there are a number of rock painting tutorial books available that will walk you through every step of the process and there’s a number of projects that a complete beginner can do (and like).
If you think about it, the biggest challenge is probably to find rocks in the right shapes. It’s probably much easier to get the rocks first and decide what you’re painting on them based on their shapes.
Garden Art Rock Painting Supplies
I’ll show you the products on Amazon via my affiliate account but you should be able to get the supplies locally and find the books at your public library.
Rocks and Stones
Any size will do but (of course), the larger the rock, the more paint you’ll need. Fine details tend to be easier to master on larger surfaces as well.
Look for fairly smooth surfaces, but not polished stones—you need some roughness for the paints to adhere.
I am a huge fan of these paints. Make sure you get patio paints specifically made for outdoor projects. I use outdoor craft paints by DecoArt and Martha Stewart.
You might want to hold off choosing colours until you have some rocks and know what projects you want to do.
Or get dozens of colours so you’re all set. I use these paints for all of my craft projects (indoor or outdoor) because the colours are lovely, the paints go on very smoothly, and the coverage is very good.
You will also need paint brushes in various sizes, and the usual protective and cleanup supplies including an apron, soap and water for cleanup, pencil, and Sharpies (for outlining details).
An undercoat of outdoor primer (I use primer for wall painting) will make it easier to see pencil lines, plus, the patio paints may appear brighter with this white base coat. It’s up to you, the artist. You may like how the paints look when applied directly to the rock surface and not need a lot of pencil guidelines.
Also, you may want to apply a few protective coats of outdoor polyurethane when your project is painted and fully dry.
Some of these books were published before patio paints were available, but the actually painting instructions are still very good. Garden art painting books by Lin Wellford are quite popular so you may have luck finding them at your local library.
The basic steps are: clean the rock, rough up the surface with sandpaper if needed, apply primer (optional), draw design with pencil, and apply patio paints. Allow to dry between adjacent colours. Use Sharpies to add outlines and details. Add several coats of protective outdoor polyurethane when completely dry.
Easy Beginner Project
These ladybugs are super simple to paint and one of the most popular of all of the painted rocks you see here.
If you use fairly small stones, you can use magnets to hang the ladybugs up.
Gallery of Ideas
Paint what you love! Some people like to follow instructions precisely, step by step, others get an idea and run with it. Just have fun with it and follow your muse.
This cat is a great choice for this shape of rock:
This pot of daisies is one of my personal favourites:
Another perfect choice for the shape of rock—a doe curled up, ready to snooze.
This frog is quite charming and comes with a matching lily pad (fun idea):
Related: DIY Thrift Shop Bug House
Here’s a sleepy owl and a butterfly:
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Snowy owl! I would love to have this one displayed on a fence post, the same way we see them in this area in the winter months.
Related: 12 Owl Art & Craft Projects
Paint a lighthouse!
Another great project ideais to paint the rocks to look like houses in a village.
Love birds? See this tutorial: The Art of Stone Painting Birds.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
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