31 Rocks – Rock Painting Challenge

I have been enjoying doing some rock painting lately and thought it would be fun to have a challenge to do a little rock painting on a regular basis for a month.  I thought for October it would be fun to paint 31 rocks in 31 days.  If you want to participate in the challenge or finish the challenge, post your rocks any time!  You can either post using the hashtag, or post your rock in the comments for that day’s rock on the #31Rocks Facebook page. To see each day’s rock click on the photos tab.31Rocks Rock Painting Challenge Paint a Rock a Day in October

Here are the rules for the 31 Rocks Challenge:

-Paint a rock
-Share it online with the hashtag #31rocks
-Repeat every day in October (if it works better with your schedule,  you can post your rocks every other day or even once a week, just figure out which span works better for you, stick to it, and share away!)

That’s all there is to it!  I don’t have prompts or themes because I want everyone to participate as they are able and to paint or draw whatever they want on their rocks.  If you don’t feel like doing something specific that day, paint a rock anyway.   I have listed a few ideas for people who don’t want to draw or want to do simple abstract work at the end of this post.  There are more on the 31rocks Facebook page and I will be adding a couple pages with ideas too, so check back.

Are you new to rock painting?  Here are some beginner tips

If you’re new to this rock painting thing, here are some tips I’ve picked up since I started, and some ideas for supplies if you are looking to get started.

Where to find rocks:

If there isn’t a ready source of rocks near you like a beach, river, or even your own yard, you can buy rocks inexpensively at your local craft store, dollar store, or home improvement store.  I buy bags of large landscape rocks from the garden section of my local home improvement store.  Do not take rocks from businesses, nature preserves, or your neighbor’s yard – don’t be that person!

How to prepare rocks for painting:

Wash your rocks.  If they are particularly grimy give them a soak in water.  Then brush them while wet with a brush and soap if you’d like.  Rinse and let dry completely either in the sun or a dry spot.  Some people like to seal their rocks with gesso and add a layer of solid color or white acrylic before getting started.  Some like to paint on the rock as it is.

Paint, Markers, other supplies:

I used a variety of things to paint rocks, many were supplies I already had around the house!  Here are some of the supplies I use.  This is by no means mandatory or an exhaustive list, but just a starting point if you don’t know where to start.  I added links to make them easy to find and save you time.

Sharpie Twin Tip Permanent Marker Fine/Ultra FineWorks great for outlining and for writing on back of rocks if you will be signing or leaving them for someone to find.Sharpie Twin Tip

Acrylic Paint – the best value here would be a set of paints for crafts.  I went to my local craft store and picked up a few colors I liked but then I needed to get more – so you might consider just going ahead and getting a whole set, it’ll cost less in the long run.  Craft Paints

Palette – I use a simple plastic palette to hold my paints, but don’t have to buy something if you don’t have it already, you could also use a ceramic plate.

Paintbrushes – I use a set of these inexpensive brushes pictured below.  If you want to get something with more variety of tools, you could get one of these sets  another idea for brushes and tools is further below.  If you are willing to invest a little more on a good set of brushes, these are good for detailCrayola Paintbrushes

Sharpie Metallic Permanent Markers – These work great on dark and gray rocks.  When I use them on white rocks I outline with black.Sharpie Metallic Markers

Bic Mark-Its Permanent Markers – I use these on smooth white rocks.   You could use Sharpies as well – these make for some quick rocks.  The colors are not as vibrant as acrylic paints, but they do show.  They do wear off easily if not sealed.  The little cactus rock near the top of this page is done with Bic Mark-Its on a smooth white rock.Bic Mark Its

If you will be doing detailed drawings, Faber-Castell Pitt pens might be better than the sharpie.  They are permanent ink and come in a variety of widths and nibs, including brush nibs.  They are also available in color for more fun designs.  Faber Castell Pitt Pens

I also have used a white paint marker in my experiments with it seems to work best directly on rocks.  When I used it on top of acrylic paint to add details, I had mixed results.

Gold or silver paint adds a very nice touch to your rocks, they look particularly nice added to the mix in poured paint rocks.

I have also tried dotting with glitter glue, which gives rocks a bejeweled look.  This one is not for perfectionists as it is very hard to get glue dots to make perfect circles.  But if you’re OK with less than perfect dots, it’s fun to try.  This glue is not waterproof, so the rock will definitely need to be sealed.

Once you are finished painting your rocks, it’s time to protect your work.  A coat or two of varnish are good.  You can brush on or spray varnish, I use matte, brush-on varnish,  but you can use glossy varnish if you want your finished rocks to be shiny.  These brush on varnishes work best on acrylic paint.  If you are using markers, chalk markers,  gel pens, or pens, spray varnish is your best bet to avoid smearing your designs.  Please be safe and use it outdoors only.   Several thin layers work best.  Some folks recommend a thin layer of Mod Podge first then add sealant after the Mod Podge dries to keep the pens from running, but some people report smearing with that as well.  Some people seal their rocks with Mod Podge – but that seems to work best for indoor only rocks.   I tried several ways, and the glossy varnish above seemed to work best.

I have a copy of the book Art on the Rocks.  I like it because it has instruction from three different artists, so there’s a variety of methods and styles.

The supplies below are on my wish list, but I have not tried them yet.

Uni Posca Paint Marker Pens – These look great because they are paint pens so it’s like having nice opaque acrylic paint with the convenience of a pen.Posca Paint Pens for Rock Painting

If you are looking for a higher quality set of acrylic paints, this set has a nice range of colors.

I have seen some rocks decorated with chalk markers.  They turn out bright!  But remember to seal them with spray sealant so they don’t run when they get wet.

My children love color shift paint.  They call it bug paint after the shiny color shifting beetles they’ve seen.  It would make for some neat rocks!

Some people use nail art tools to do detail work on their rocks or to make those cool dotted designs. Alternate Rock Painting Tools

Some people have reported using gel pens on their rocks.  Also these white gel pens for white only designs or to add details.  I have not tried yet but when I do I’ll update here.  I’ve also heard of people using acrylic ink and dip pens, the type used for calligraphy.

On a Budget?  Don’t want to draw things?  Some ideas:

Are you on a budget?  The supplies I posted at the beginning of this article were the lowest budget ones I could find but you don’t have to buy supplies.  You can use masking tape and old nail polish on your rocks to make some bold modern colorblock rocks.  Also, you don’t need all the supplies above.  Until recently all I used to decorate rocks was my set of Bic Mark-Its!  You could do paint or marker or metallic sharpies rather than all of them.  I do recommend at least one black pen, though, it does make outlining much easier.

You can also try the colorblock with regular paint instead of nail polish.  Or marble two or more colors of either paint or nail polish together using a toothpick.  Just bear in mind that this technique could get a little messy.  Protect your work surfaces accordingly.  Another way to do colorblock rocks is to partially dip them in paint or acrylic ink and let them dry, then dip again at a different angle or leave as is.  You can add decorations or writing with a Sharpie or a metallic Sharpie after they dry.  My children have even added glitter glue to their stones – that’s where I got the idea to try it!  They are not afraid to experiment with media.  Check the challenge Facebook Page for other ideas both for media and for abstract no-drawing-required rocks.

A final word about the challenge and where to post:

The biggest takeaway here is that this is supposed to be a fun challenge!  Rock painting is great for a challenge because there isn’t any need to be artsy or perfect.  And rocks are small so they don’t take too much time to finish.  Enjoy the challenge! As for what to do with your rocks – they make perfect RAOKs (Random Acts of Kindness) – check the 31 Rocks Facebook page throughout the challenge for ideas!

There is a Facebook page set up for the event, and we’ll be also be posting with the #31Rocks hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest!  I can’t wait to see your rocks this October!31 Rpcks Challege