Saturday, August 19, 2017

Is Gesso a Good Primer for Painted Rocks?

Yes, in my opinion gesso is an excellent primer for painted rocks.

Gesso (pronounced jes-oh) is used to prepare a canvas for painting. (If you would like to know more about gesso, this article "What is Gesso and How is it Used in Painting?" is very informative.) 

I've been hearing about gesso used to prime rocks (my canvas) and thought I'd give it a try instead of the usual white, acrylic paint.

For my experiment, I purchased two types of gesso from the website...
  • Regular - Folk Art brand
  • Super Heavy - Liquitex brand

...and selected a smooth stone for the regular gesso and a pitted stone for the super heavy gesso.

My process:
  • Brush one coat of each type of gesso on a stone (regular gesso on the smooth stone, super heavy gesso on the pitted rock)
  • Paint the same design on each stone using one coat of various brands of acrylic or acrylic craft paint
  • Use an art pen for thin details
  • Seal the stones

Gesso features and performance:
  • Folk Art - regular gesso
    • Consistency of toothpaste
    • Applied with a brush easily and smoothly
    • A little went a long way
    • Covers well
    • Can be mixed with acrylic paint for a colored base coat
    • Soap and water clean up
    • Quick drying
Regular gesso applied to a smooth stone

  • Liquitex Super Heavy gesso
    • Consistency of cake icing or spackling compound
    • Somewhat messy
    • Applied with a brush and required smoothing in different directions
    • Can be tinted with acrylic paint
    • Soap and water clean up
    • 24 hours to dry
    • Brighter white than the regular gesso
Super heavy gesso applied to a pitted rock

Paint colors and brands used:
  • Craft Acrylic (craft acrylic is a thinner consistency than regular acrylic paint)
    • Anita's Orange
    • Anita's Christmas Green
    • DecoArt Cherry Blossom Pink
  • Acrylic
    • Americana Snow (Titanium) White
    • Apple Barrel Bimini Blue (turquoise)
    • Apple Barrel Red
    • Apple Barrel Lime Tree
    • Apple Barrel Black
    • Folk Art Sky Mist (light blue)
The acrylic and acrylic craft paint colors adhered very well with both types of gesso. The brush moved smoothly across each rock's surface.

Results of one coat of paint applied over each type of gesso

There were no problems using the art pen on the gessoed and painted stones. In fact, the pen drew especially well on the pitted stone primed with super heavy gesso.

Results of art pen used on gessoed and painted stones (Sehnaz Bac design with permission)

My final photo clearly illustrates the benefits of using white acrylic paint or gesso as a primer for a stone. The paint colors on all three primed stones are brighter than the unprimed stone. The difference is most apparent when you compare the orange hue on each painted rock.

Results of no primer vs. acrylic paint and gesso primers (Sehnaz Bac design with permission)

Monday, June 26, 2017

Painting a Basket of Pansies on a Rock

Painted rock of a basket of pansies by Cindy Thomas

YOU can paint a pretty basket of pansies similar to this with the guidance of Ernestina Gallina's free tutorial.

This is my interpretation of Ernestina's tutorial and the steps are explained below.

Steps for a painted rock basket of pansies by Cindy Thomas

Step 1: Choose your rock.

A good shape for this project is round or oval. The rock I chose is oval and measures 3 inches x 5 inches.

Step 2: Paint the lower half of the rock with dark brown.

I chose a hue called "burnt umber" for the lower half of my stone. (I used both crafter's acrylic and acrylic paint for this project.)

Step 3: Paint evenly-spaced horizontal strips in a lighter brown.

I used a hue called "burnt sienna." Tip: Before I painted the strips, I sketched them with a white pencil so I'd have guidelines to follow.

Step 4: Paint evenly-spaced vertical strips in the light brown hue.

After sketching the vertical lines with my white pencil, I used the same "burnt sienna" hue to paint evenly-spaced, vertical strips. Tip: My vertical strips should have been painted closer together.

Step 5: Highlight A

I suggest you study Ernestina's tutorial before starting this step because it's a little tricky. I used a "terra cotta" hue and carefully placed alternating swatches of this color where my horizontal and vertical lines met. Tip: I practiced on paper before attempting to paint my rock.

Step 6: Highlight B

I used a "yellow ochre" hue and highlighted the horizontal and vertical terra cotta portions painted in Step 5.

Step 7: Highlight C

I mixed the yellow ochre hue with a little white acrylic paint and highlighted once again, trying to achieve an interlaced basket effect.

Step 8: Sketch the pansies.

I used my white pencil to sketch pansies on the upper portion of my rock. I placed them at different angles, made them different sizes, and placed some overlapping the basket.

Step 9: Paint pansy petals with white base coat.

When I base coated the pansies with white acrylic paint, I left the edges unpainted to set off the petals.

Step 10: Paint the empty space.

I first used a "leaf green" hue to paint my empty space but had to go back and repaint it later with "hunter green" which was a darker shade. Tip: Use a dark green hue for this step.

Step 11: Paint the flowers.

Instead of painting the pansies yellow as Ernestina explained in her tutorial, I referred to a photo with a different color combo. In general, pansies are painted lighter at the edges and darker in the center. Tip: I suggest you study Ernestina's tutorial to help you understand how to properly shade the pansy petals.

Step 12: Paint the leaves.

I used a "leaf green" hue to paint the leaves and mixed a little white with the green to outline and add veins to each leaf. (Note: I chose to omit the basket's handle on my basket of pansies.)

Painted Rock of Pansies in a Basket by Cindy Thomas

Pansies in a basket painted on a stone by Cindy Thomas

Step 13: Seal the stone with your preferred clear coat protection.

To seal my pansies in a basket painted rock, I brushed on a coat of Mod Podge, followed by a coat of Americana DuraClear Satin Varnish.

Helpful Links

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

4 Rock Painting Projects - No Drawing Skill Required

You don't have to be an artist to create colorful rocks.

Easy Painted Rock Projects

No drawing or painting skills are needed for these 4 techniques:
  • Mod Podge a design
  • Fingerprint stones
  • Graphic stones
  • Pattern tracing 

How to Mod Podge a Design onto Rocks

For this technique, all you'll need is a smooth rock, your design (I used a napkin) and some Mod Podge.

Click here for my tips on how to Mod Podge a design onto a rock.

How to Paint Fingerprint Stones

For this technique, you'll need some stones, acrylic paint, a marker and your finger (or thumb). The idea is to use your fingerprint to create a body and then add simple features with a marker.

Click here for my instructions and tips to create fingerprint stones.

How To Paint Graphic Stones

The secret to this "no drawing skill" painted stone is to portion off parts of the rock with masking tape. The only supplies needed are stones, paint, a brush and masking tape.

Click here for step-by-step instructions for easy, graphic stones.

How To Trace a Pattern onto a Stone

Graphite transfer paper is the special item you'll need for this technique. Although drawing skills aren't required, this technique is more involved than the other three mentioned in this post.

Click here for step-by-step instructions for transferring a pattern onto a rock.

No drawing skills? No problem! You can create colorful rock and stone art using these 4 techniques.

4 Easy Painted Rock Projects by Cindy Thomas

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Before & After Painted Rocks: Rabbits

You can paint rabbits on rocks or transform a rock into a rabbit.

I used the shape of this smooth, flat stone to paint a rabbit holding a heart on one side and a large, plaid heart on the reverse side.

Rabbit with heart painted on a rock by Cindy Thomas

The shape, dimension and size of this rock was ideal for a painted flop-eared bunny rabbit. 

Rabbit with Floppy Ears hand painted on a stone by Cindy Thomas

Monday, January 16, 2017

How Waverly Semi-Gloss Paints Performed on a Rock

I learned about Waverly paints from a fellow rock painter and thought I'd give them a try. They're available exclusively at Walmart in 2 oz. plastic bottles for less than $1.50 per bottle.

Plaid (the manufacturer) describes the paint as:
  • Semi-gloss
  • Highly pigmented
  • High-performance
  • Durable
  • Fade-resistant
  • Ideal for indoor and outdoor DIY craft projects
  • Works on decorative glass, wood, paper mache, terra cotta, concrete, and plastic

The hues I purchased were: Plaster (off white), Agave (blue), Rhubarb (coral), and Ink (black). (I was tempted to purchase more because all the colors were so pretty.)

For my test, I applied the plaster (off white) to one side of my stone as a base coat. I then painted small squares using the other 3 colors on both sides of the stone.

The results:
  • The coverage was good on both sides of the stone (although it took 2 applications of paint)
  • The paints had an ammonia odor which I did not like
  • The size of the bottle's opening made it messy to pour onto a palette
  • The paint is thick and would need to be thinned for detail painting
  • This paint formula would have worked well for my bird bath project

Here are the Waverly Inspirations Super Premium Semi-Gloss Acrylic Paint hues, however, some shades may not be available at your local Walmart.

Waverly Inspirations Super Premium Semi-Gloss Acrylic Paint Hues

Have you used these paints? Let me know what you think of them or how you've used them on rocks. 

Helpful Link: Waverly Inspirations Super Premium Semi-Gloss Acrylic Paints web page

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Rock Painter's Brain - Updated for 2017

I originally blogged about A Rock Painter's Brain - The Creative Process in January 2015 and realized it was time for a 2017 update.

Painted Brain Rock by Cindy Thomas

I did not apply a sealer to the brain in 2015 so I could repaint sections where my goals were met and add new items for the upcoming year.

The sections of the brain still include:
  • Inspiration
  • Creative Soul Food
  • Rocks To Finish
  • I Want
  • To Do
  • Rocks I Want To Paint

Inspiration - After 2 years, I still get my inspiration from Pinterest, Nature, and two Facebook groups - Rock Painting and Rock Painters Extension Group.

Creative Soul Food - Nothing has changed here. I still enjoy chocolate, coffee, pistachios and wine.

Rocks To Finish - This section is for my priority projects. In 2015, Noah's Ark was completed and gifted to a friend and elephants now replace that section of the brain. I need to start and complete a 6-sided rock. Nativities are always a priority in preparation for the upcoming Christmas season.

I Want - I like to buy rock painting supplies and acquired most of my wants in 2015 and 2016 - display easels, gift bags, a fine point pen, and nail art brushes. In 2017, my new wants are Posca fine point pens, white gel pen, white beach pebbles, and small pliers.

To Do - In 2015, I received a new camera and learned how to use it to photograph my painted rocks. A project I now want to accomplish is a pebble art wall hanging for my entryway porch.

Rocks I Want to Paint - Many of these (and more) were painted on rocks between 2015 and now - matryoshkas, mandalas, owls, cactus, dogs, hearts, slimy critters. I kept most of them on the brain because they were so enjoyable to paint. Maybe I should rename this section "Favorite Rocks to Paint."

This is the mind map concept taken to the next level!

Cindy Thomas with a Brain Painted on a Rock
Happy New Year, everyone.
May all your rock painting dreams come true.