Do you need rock painting ideas for spreading rock art around your neighborhood or for the Kindness Rocks Project? Here’s some easy stone painting inspiration and tips!
PS – scroll down to the bottom of the post to get a video with my top rock painting tips! You’ll also get over 50 ideas for inspiration.
Skills Required: None. Painting rocks is easy, even if you’ve never crafted before. Get ready to have a great time.
Rock painting is big these days – and I totally get it. You’ve got one of nature’s smallest canvases upon which to decorate, and endless combinations of paint, markers, and embellishments. If you paint a rock you don’t like, you can easily move onto the next.
Not only that, but rocks are great fun for adults AND make great kids crafts. Rock crafts are easy, and there are endless ways to decorate your stone surface. Plus if you’ve seen the various designs, they’re such cute things to paint. For all these reasons, I love them!
Then we haven’t even gotten to the part where you can distribute painted rock art around your neighborhood and put a big smile on someone’s face (have you heard of the Kindness Rocks Project?)
If you haven’t heard of them, kindness rocks are a viral trend! Maybe you’ve seen painted rock art laying around in a random public location – that’s quite possibly a kindness rock.
It started with the Kindness Rocks Project and their mission of “one message at just the right moment can change someone’s entire day, outlook, life.” I happen to completely get behind this mission.
The Kindness Rock Project is the thing that got me started painting rocks in the first place – and now I’m hooked. I’ve painted so many rocks that I have a lot of ideas (and tips!) for you.
Simple Rock Painting
Before we dive into the rock painting, let me answer a few commonly asked questions for you. These are important to know before you start, and will give you a general idea of what to expect.
How do you prepare rocks for painting?
All you need is a mild soap, water, and a colander (and really the colander is even optional but just makes it easier). Place the rocks in the colander, turn the water on and rinse.
Rub each rock with a bit of mild soap to remove dirt, then rinse again. You can leave in the colander to let dry or place them out on a towel on your counter. If you’re really desperate to get started, you can even use a hair dryer.
Will acrylic paint work on rocks?
Absolutely! Acrylic paint is going to be your best friend for rock painting. You’ll want to use something that is rated for the outdoors or multi-surface.
What is the best paint to use on rocks?
Funny you should ask! My favorite paint to use for rocks is FolkArt Multisurface. Plaid also carries a FolkArt Outdoor paint and an Apple Barrel Multisurface paint that I love.
I find that the FolkArt Multisurface has my favorite colors, but all three lines are perfect. The Apple Barrel is great for kids’ rocks because it’s inexpensive yet durable.
How do you seal painted rocks?
I love this question – with Mod Podge, of course! Outdoor Mod Podge is my favorite for this purpose, and then a spray sealer. I find that extra durability of using both together makes the rocks extra tough – and the colors last a lot longer.
How to Paint Rocks
Let’s get to the instructions! First you’re going to need rock painting supplies, and I’ve listed those for you below.
Gather These Supplies
- Rocks – the more flat and smooth, the better
- Mod Podge Outdoor
- FolkArt Multi-Surface Paint
- Markers to embellish the surface of your rocks – I recommend Pebeo Vitrea markers or oil based Sharpies (you can use acrylic paint too)
- Paintbrushes (and a detail brush for writing)
- Brush-on or spray clear sealer
Step One: Wash all dirt off of your rocks if you found them outside. Michaels sells flat river rocks which makes it easy since flat rocks can be REALLY hard to find!
Step Two: Decide whether you are going to paint the rocks or write directly on them. If you are painting, move to step three. If you are writing directly on the rocks, prep the rocks with the brush-on or spray clear sealer.
You won’t want to use the Mod Podge Outdoor to prep because it doesn’t take markers very well. Your oil based Sharpies especially can get their tips ruined very easily without this prep step!
Step Three: Place your paint in a palette and get painting on your rocks! I found that most rocks only needed a few coats of the paint.
Paint one side, let dry, then flip over and paint the other side. Once you are done painting, let everything dry.
Step Four: If you didn’t do the sealing from Step Two before since you were painting, now’s time. Trust me.
Step Five. Embellish your rocks with sayings, designs, or whatever you like. I made those aqua dots with the end of a paintbrush!
Step Six: Once your rocks are dry, coat them with Outdoor Mod Podge! Give several coats and let dry.
I had a great time decorating my rocks – it’s hard to pick my favorite.
I hope these rock painting ideas will inspire you.
Remember to be considerate when leaving your rocks places. Don’t leave them at private residences or businesses without asking, and National Parks/National Forests are off-limits due to their “Leave no Trace” policies. There are plenty of other places to leave your fabulous rocks to be found!
If you’re ready for some great ideas, I’d love for you to check these stone painting projects out. There are 50 here, and I’d love to know which is your favorite in the comments.
Rock Painting Ideas
Get a ton of inspiration for painting rocks! There are a variety of projects here you'll love, great for kids to adults.
Floral Painted with Dots
Can you make dots? Then you can make flowers on rocks! Easy to make with a stylus (you'll need different sizes) or the ends of paintbrushes.
Turn a simple collection of stones into a charming turtle friend using fun shades of green! I love that this idea comes with a clay pot terrarium.
DIY Taco Painted Rocks
Everyone loves tacos! Celebrate your love of them with these darling little rocks. You can paint a burrito or a gyro too.
I love owls during fall! They also represent Halloween to me, to a certain extent. I love a dark night where owls are flying about and hooting. These Halloween rocks aren’t flying about, but you can almost hear a hoot if you listen closely . . .
Black, White, and Bright
These rocks were turned into magnets! Use bold and bright colors along with black and white to make your stones stand out.
Inspiring Word Rocks
I love the metallic colors of these rocks! Pick your word of the year or a short phrase you like and get creative with your stones.
Tic-Tac-Toe Rock Bugs
Enjoy summer fun with this hand-painted ladybug and bumblebee tic-tac-toe board made with rocks. Kids love this cute game!
Moon Landing Quote Painted on a Galaxy Rock
A moon landing rock is a great chance to use some sparkle! And I will take any opportunity to do that. Paint a stunning galaxy on a smooth round stone, then add a quote and some other space-y details.
How to Decorate Rocks with Temporary Tattoos
Decorate rocks with temporary tattoos! Paint them and then put the tattoos over the top. These are SO easy and turned out so cute.
Create bright works of art with cool quotes using this inspiration. Great for summer, Pride, or anytime you want a little bit of color in your life.
Everyone loves a sweet treat! I love these delicious dessert rock painting ideas, including a cookie, cupcake, and donuts. You can add sparkles too!
Back to School Rocks
These cute rocks are a perfect craft idea for back to school or to give to teachers on the first day of class!
I couldn't get past how cute these stone homes on a cliff are! They're so easy to paint, and you can add them to a canvas. Don't forget the rock sailboats.
How to Paint Muppet Rocks
"It's time to play the music It's time to light the lights!" if you watched The Muppet Show, these rocks will hold a special place in your heart.
DIY Alphabet Stones
Make some gorgeous alphabet pebbles for literacy play games for both preschoolers and older school aged kids! Plus they're just darn cute.
Magical Landscape Painted Rocks
Decorate rocks with elegant landscape silhouettes drawn over the starry twilight sky, using a simple rock painting technique that even kids can master.
Gnome Painted Garden Rocks
Make these gnome painted rocks in minutes with the easy to follow instructions. It's a quick way to add flair to your garden, flowers, or plants!
Tropical Ferns Paradise Rocks
Natalie decided to paint some rocks that help remind her of summer sun, tropical vibes and a sweet beachy theme. These are perfect for summer or placing in your garden.
Kandinsky Inspired Rock Art
This rock art is a fun twist on Kandinsky's famous work! Create a fabulous color mixing art project for kids with these stones.
Watermelon Painted Rocks for Kids to Make
Get an idea for adorable watermelon painted rocks for kids to make. It's an easy and fun summer craft, and kids can spread their treasures around the neighborhood.
Painted Mandala Rocks
You might think these mandala rocks are difficult given the detailed design – but I promise you, they aren’t! You can use toothpicks or a stylus to achieve the dots. You’ll need patience and a lot of paint colors, but anyone can do it.
Star Wars Rock Photo Holders
If you're a nerd like I am (we love Star Wars around here!) You're going to love these rocks. Which Heather turned into the cutest rock holders!
Binder Paper Painted Rocks
Graduation is a big deal! These stones are a perfect reminder gift for you to give to your recent graduate. I love the notebook paper and heart!
Mini Car Rocks
I have a very small car and these cute rocks remind me of it! Kids will love tooting around with these little guys.
Ice Cream Cone Rocks
These ice cream painted rocks make a super fun and easy art activity for kids! Kids will have fun painting and creating their adorable characters.
M&M Painted Rocks Art
If you're looking for a fun rock painting idea or need to use up some chipped stones, these M&M rocks are a perfect way to do that! I love the cute faces.
Painted Minion Rocks
These painted rocks or stones make a super cute and simple craft for all Minion fans out there: kids and parents. Just paint and play!
Camping Themed Stones
These camping rocks are the perfect blend of nature, learning ,and crafty playtime. This set of stones provides a great opportunity to explore both the amazing world of rocks and get some much needed time painting!
I'm a mushroom lover - who doesn't love them for fall? This rock is so cute. I love the colors and all of the natural elements that were added.
Cute Rock Fish Craft
This cute rock fish craft is a fun summer art project for kids. Kids will love painting rocks and turning them into fish shapes!
Food Label Rock Painting
I thought these food labels were genius. Just open your cabinet and get inspired by what you see! What brands will you put on the front of a rock?
Penguin Painted Rocks
These penguin painted rocks are super cute and easy to make! It's a simple winter craft for kids or for rock hunting.
What a fun idea! Commemorate your whole family with rocks and some paint colors. Don't forget the pets!
How to Paint Unicorn Rocks Four Different Ways
Learn how to paint unicorn rocks with four different methods including paint, watercolors, and paint markers. These unicorns are easy to make and fun.
Pet Cactus Rocks
Learn how to make these easy cactus rocks. This is a simple tutorial and a fun craft for kids! Make a whole cactus rock family too.
Stamped Word Stones
Craft a set of DIY word stones in under 15 minutes with this easy step by step tutorial. It's an easy and inexpensive decor idea for your farmhouse collection.
DIY Ladybug Rock Art For Kids
Create this easy ladybug rock art at home with your kids this summer! They're a great art activity for kids that will get their creativity flowing.
How To Paint a Dandelion Wish Rock
Did you ever make a wish and blow a dandelion when you were a kid? I did it all the time! This reminds me of my childhood, and I love the colors.
Sheep Painted Rocks
With just a handful of supplies you'll be on your way to making adorable sheep painted stones. A fun and easy craft for Easter or spring!
Painted Rock Strawberry Craft
This cute rock strawberry craft is perfect for big and little kids alike! You can make these easy strawberries in minutes.
Sugar Skull Rocks
Skulls are always in season around here (have you seen our Dia de Los Muertos crafts?). Let these sugar skulls inspired you to make your own version.
Painting Cute Rock Strawberries
I showed you some other rock strawberries in this post, but I also love this darling, happy little version! This one is easy for the kids to make.
Little Pebble Monsters
Sometimes rock monsters are surprised - sometimes they're scared - the choice is up to you! Get ideas for faces in this post.
Camper Painted Rock
Make this camper painted rocks craft in minutes for your garden! Painting rocks is a quick and easy way to add color to any outdoor space.
Easy Painted Rocks
In under 15 minutes, you can create these colorful rocks with the adorable black and white border. Such a quick way to brighten a garden.
Patterned Rocks Snake Craft
This snake is so cool! Make various patterns on rocks, then string them all together to turn them into a serpent.
Patriotic Minnie Mouse Stones
This patriotic Minnie Mouse rock painting idea comes from Sarah's kiddos! You can use this same method to make the other Disney characters.
Painted Santa Stones
Transform smooth stones into a adorable Santa stones with acrylic paint! You can also glue a pom pom on the top of Santa's hat if you're feeling it.
How to Paint Rocks with a Marbleized Finish
This is a great DIY painting technique for making marbled stones or kindness rocks - no more messy nail polish marbling required!
Hedgehog Painted Rocks
If you love rock painting and are looking for more, check out our easy painted rocks! You’re going to love these ideas!
Ready to get my top tips for painting rocks? Check out the video in this post. Then let me know what you think in the comments.
Saturday 24th of September 2022
I'm a professional rock artist and admin of kindness rock groups mod podge is not a sealer it will melt off the rocks. Spray seal.
Sunday 2nd of October 2022
Hi Susan! I've used the outdoor on many rocks and never had it melt off!
Friday 29th of July 2022
I just started rock painting. After reading several Pinterest articles & looking at you tube views I decided to use Uni Posca paint pen to write my signature on the back of my rock. I had Modge Podge dishwasher safe gloss on hand and thought it would be a good sealer, but the black ink ran immediately. Thank goodness it was easily repaired. I am glad I didn't try sealing my artwork with it. I will try the spray sealer next time. Thank you for your easy rock painting ideas!
Wednesday 31st of August 2022
Hi Ginga! That is odd. Did you use it right away or did you let the Posca paint pen dry first?
Tuesday 29th of June 2021
I would caution on using Modge Podge Outdoor. It is not waterproof! I tried this and when it rained my rocks were a mess. I just use a spray sealer.
Wednesday 2nd of June 2021
Hello, before I was aware of your blog I tried rock painting. I used mod podge outdoors. Even though it has been 2 years since I painted my rock it is still sticky. I dont like this because over time it will lift the paint off my shelf. I did not use the spray- on sealer after the Mod Podge. Any ideas why the Mod Podge came out sticky?
Wednesday 2nd of June 2021
Hi Carla! Sometimes Mod Podge Outdoor stays tacky depending on the environment. In those cases just use that spray on sealer. I had a difficult time getting Mod Podge Outdoor not to be sticky in Atlanta so I always used the spray.
Sunday 4th of April 2021
Hi! A friend of mine, is going to be hosting a rock painting event, to support our local food pantry. I was wondering if we could have your permission, to use one of your photos here, to promote the event. We would, of course, give you the credit for the photo
Her name is Denise Healy-Mason, and her business is Balance Massage and Healing Arts, and is located in Delmar, NY
Monday 5th of April 2021
Sure! Go for it :) Thank you for asking!