Monday, April 28, 2014

How to Paint Zentangle Patterns on Rocks and Stones

  • Smooth stones
  • Acrylic paints
  • Artist's pens (I used this set of pens which I like because it contains different pen tips and 3 colors of ink - black, brown and gray.) (Note: since the date of this post, I now prefer Pigma Micron pens for use on rocks.)
Pro Art Artists Pens - Set of 8

  • Zentangle patterns (If you're new to the Zentangle method, "Joy of Zentangle" has simple explanations and step-by-step patterns.)
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How I Tangled the Stones

First, I primed the rocks with white, acrylic paint.

Stones primed with white, acrylic paint

Next, I thinned my turquoise blue paint with a little water and tinted the primed stone.

Based on the shape of this stone, I chose the Ammon Zentangle pattern from the "Joy of Zentangle" book and drew it with the black artist pen. I chose a darker blue acrylic to paint the shapes within the sections of the tangle.

To add a little dimension, I used the gray pen from the Artist Pens 8-piece set and outlined the black swirl.

I painted three more stones but this time I did not thin the acrylic paint with water.

I combined all four Zentangle patterns on one stone and used the black and gray artist pens on a white background.

I enjoy painting tangles on stones after I've painted a detailed rock. It's a relaxing way to prepare for my next rock painting project and allows me to be creative in a simple way.

  • Smooth stones are best
  • Micron pens are normally used when creating tangles on paper. I find the fine, metal tips of these pens can scratch the acrylic paint from the rock and the pen's tip can be damaged by the rock
  • Use a pattern which works well with the shape of your stone
  • Don't worry about being perfect. Incorporate any mistakes into the design
  • Do not seal your rocks with brush-on sealers when using artists pens or Sharpies. Most times the ink will bleed and your beautiful creation will be ruined. Learn about my spray-on sealer preference

Useful Links
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© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks


  1. I love these. Combines my favorite things painting rocks and tangling . When we moved to Florida last year from upstate NY, I stopped painting rocks, Idont have a steam in my backyard and no rocks readily available. Sadly most of my painted rocks were in my garden covered in snow when we moved. I may just be inspired to find a supply here. Thank you.

    1. I just discovered tangling, MaryBeth and I really enjoy using rocks instead of paper. Here's a suggestion for acquiring rocks. Try Home Depot, Lowe's and Walmart. The colored tangles in this blog were Mexican Beach Pebbles which I purchased by the bag in my local Walmart's garden center.

  2. in boise, Idaho- river rocks are free and all over the town was build on river rocks.

    1. You're so fortunate to have free river rocks all over town in Boise. Have you tried painting on them?