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
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.
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 colors 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.