Monday, October 24, 2016

The Perfect Paint Pen for Rocks

I finally found a pen to use on rocks that doesn't blur with sealer!

For awhile I've been searching for the perfect paint pen (marker) to use on rocks. The problem has been the ink smears and blurs when a sealer is applied and the nib has been too thick for a nice, thin line.

It's been suggested I try a Posca pen so I purchased a brown Uni Posca Extra Fine Marker. I was looking specifically for a pen which could make a thin line in a brown color. (Most Posca pens I've seen come in sets of various colors and I didn't want to spend money on an entire set until I knew how they would perform on rocks and stones.)

I watched this helpful YouTube video to learn about my Posca pen before using it - "Getting Started with Posca Pens - Part 1":

This is what the tip of my Posca extra fine marker looks like:

To test the pen, I painted a small, slightly pitted stone with acrylic paint. I then used the brown Posca marker to draw some simple facial features on the rock.

So far so good. I was happy with the light brown color and the thin lines the marker created.

Next, I brushed on Mod Podge as a first coat of sealer and the Posca marker lines held up beautifully on the rock - no blurring/smearing.

(Note: I prefer to use Mod Podge as a first coat sealer because there seems to be less of a reaction with paints. The Mod Podge is then followed up with Americana DuraClear Satin Varnish. Click here to learn more about how I seal my painted rocks.)

I then experimented by using the pen to add lettering to a rock. Because I'm a left-handed writer, I push the pen rather than pull it across the rock. The result was little dots of ink where the nib "dragged" against the rock. However, I was able to paint over the ink dots and sealed the stone with no adverse effects.

Another experiment involved using the Posca pen on a polished stone. Usually paint and pens will not adhere to polished stones, however, the Posca marker performed beautifully and did not smear with the application of Americana DuraClear Satin Varnish.


I'm hoping the Posca marker is the answer to my search for the perfect paint pen (marker) for rocks. However, using the Posca pen on three stones is not enough to declare it a success. I question how long the pen will last, will it leak, will the texture of rocks and stones affect the nib.

As I continue to use the Posca pen, I will update this post with any additional positive or negative aspects about the marker.

Please leave a comment with any tips, praises or problems you've had with Posca pens. I'd love to hear what you think about this product.

Helpful Links:
Posca Instructions for Use
Brown Extra Fine Point Posca Pen
Individual Posca Pens for Sale in Various Colors
Set of 12 Extra Fine Point Posca Pens in Various Colors
Use Paint Pens Instead of a Brush for Detailing

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Before & After Painted Rocks: Suns

In the 1970's, I made this sun wall hanging using yarn and burlap. After I left home, my sister saved Mr. Sun from the trash and now proudly displays him in her home and collects sun art. To thank her for reuniting me with a blast from the past, I offered to paint a sun rock for her collection.

Reunited with my wall hanging after 40 years

I used 4 different stones so I could paint 4 different sun designs.

I started with the smallest stone and simplest design first - a stylized sun on one side and moon on the other.

Stylized sun and moon painted rock

Both my sister and I live in the Southwest so hot chili peppers were the inspiration for this sun's design.

Red Hot Mama Painted Sun Rock

A Talvera Mexican ceramic tile was the inspiration for this painted rock sun.

Talavera Inspired Painted Sun Rock

Rocks don't have to be round for a sun & moon design. My sister liked this one the best and it's now a part of her collection.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How I Fixed Two Stones Ruined by a Spray-On Sealer

Supplies I Used to Repair These Two Ruined Stones

When art pens or Sharpies are used on a rock, care must be taken when applying a sealer because the pens tend to blur or fade.

Applying thin coats of a spray sealer is usually effective in protecting the painted rock unless your spray sealer happens to drip as you're spraying. (This is the first time it has happened to me and may have occurred because I did not clean the nozzle after prior use.)

Here's what happened and how I fixed the stones.

I created these stones using acrylic paint for the colorful background and Pro Art pens for the mandala design.

I was sealing the stones using my preferred method and sealer, and the can's nozzle dripped while I was spraying thin coats onto the rocks. (The green stone survived but the design on the orange and blue stones blurred.)

Two of Three Stones Blurred by a Spray-On Sealer

Close-Up of a Design Blurred by Spray-On Sealer

My first thought was "Oh, no. I have to repaint the entire stone." But after mulling it over for a few days, I decided to "mend" the error and try another sealer recently suggested to me.

The first step was to paint over the blurred portions of the stones using my tiny nail art brush.

After the blurry, colored portion of the stone was repainted and dry, I re-drew the ruined mandala section with the Pro Art pen.

I didn't want to chance using the same spray sealer. Instead, I grabbed some clear nail top coat and brushed it over the stone. And the clear nail top coat didn't smear the design!

The Blue & Orange Stones Repaired and Sealed with Clear Top Coat for Nails
In the photo above, the green stone has the matte spray sealer and the blue and orange were sealed with the clear nail top coat. 

What I learned from this experience.
  • Clear top coat for nails is a suitable sealer for smaller rocks where a pen has been used.
  • Clean the nozzle on the spray sealer (per the can's instructions) otherwise it may drip and ruin the art.

Useful Links

Spray-On Sealer Tips
Brush-On Sealer Tips
Nail Art Brushes
Pro Art Pens

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

How To Paint Dotted Mandalas on Rocks

Mandala painted on stones using a dotting technique 

Beautiful, dotted mandalas are all over the Internet. 

I wanted to paint some for myself but could not figure out how the simple, yet intricate design was accomplished. 

Then, I came across a fantastic dotted mandala tutorial and look what I painted!

Here are my tips and thoughts about painting these beautiful stones.


I used both acrylic and acrylic craft paints. Acrylic paints will need to be thinned with water more so than the craft paints. Consistency of the paint is very important in order to obtain a nice effect.


I love color and these stones can be painted with any combination. For inspiration, I have a Pinterest board devoted just to color palettes:


The tutorial recommended a certain type and size of brush for painting dotted mandalas. I had 4 suitable brushes on hand. I found the small brushes from a recently purchased nail art set worked best for me. (The nail art brushes are the 2 with white handles in the picture below.)

Dotted Mandala Stones Brush Types


I used 3 types of stones for my dotted mandalas because I wanted to see how the painting technique would work on each one:
  • Round and pitted (bottom left)
  • Flat, smooth and an irregular shape (right)
  • Round and smooth (top left)
Stones for Dotted Mandala Painting

The Tutorial

I recommend reading the detailed steps from the tutorial a few times before starting.


I practiced the brush dotting technique on paper first to get the hang of it before painting my first stone.

Practicing Dotted Mandala Painting on Paper

Painting the Stones

Stone 1 - Round and pitted

You can paint a dotted mandala on a pitted stone. I think my first attempt is OK but the dots appear to be flat.

Cindy Thomas Painted Rock Mandala 1

One stone "dot" painted and two more to go.

Stone 2 - Flat, smooth and an irregular shape

It was definitely easier to paint on the flat, smooth rock and my dots have a little more dimension this time.

Cindy Thomas Mandala Painted Stone 2

Stones 1 and 2 side by side

CindyThomas Stone Mandalas

Stone 3 - Round and smooth

My third stone is nice but I definitely need more practice.

Cindy Thomas Painted Mandala Stone

What I Learned
  • It's not as easy as it looks.
  • Go slowly and don't rush.
  • Practice and practice and practice.

Helpful Links

Thursday, October 29, 2015

5 Rock Painting Ideas for Halloween

Black Cat - What could be easier than painting a cat using a few black lines on an orange, painted stone?

Simple Cat Line Art on a Rock

Ghost Cats - A simple, repetitive design is painted on an orange and black stone.

Repetitive Design on a Stone

Ghost Owl - A stylized owl design using Autumn hues is painted on a white stone.

Stylized Owl Design on a White Rock

Pumpkins & Candy - Round stones make cute, little pumpkins and a triangular shape is perfect for "rock" candy corn.

Pumpkins and Candy Painted Rocks

Ghosts - Triangular rocks which stand upright are transformed into ghostly figures.

Ghostly Painted Stones

Be safe and have fun!