Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Free Rock Painting Projects - Love Bugs, Cactus, Stone Tablet, Pansies

This week's free rock painting lessons and tutorials are brought to you courtesy of  the Creativity Portal together with Ernestina Gallina.

The Creativity Portal is a great website for inspiring creativity. All types of arts and crafts are featured on the site including rock painting ideas and inspiration.

Ernestina Gallina (featured on my blog in an earlier post) has shared these additional lessons on the Creativity Portal website.

These free, how-to rock painting guides include:
  • Supplies you'll need
  • Illustrated step-by-step instructions for creating your very own painted rocks

Valentine Love Bugs

painted rocks, love bugs, Valentine's, rock painting, gift, idea
Valentine Love Bugs I painted on rocks using a free how-to lesson

These little, painted Love Bug stones make really cute Valentine's Day gifts. I took the idea a little further by arranging the painted Love Bug rocks in a Valentine basket and also found a valentine handkerchief to use as padding. Of course, Love Bug rocks aren't just for holidays. You can also show that special someone how much you love them by hand painting a Love Bug for them.

Stone Cactus Project

painted rocks, cactus, stone, pot, pebbles
A stone cactus I made using this free, how-to lesson

My friend said my cactus looked like a pickle. Her daughter loved it and wanted it for her own. I definitely need more practice painting rock cacti but that's the beauty of trying out rock painting using free tutorials.

I modified Ernestina's project with my own ideas. I did not feel comfortable using moulding powder (plaster of Paris) due to the safety precaution warnings. Instead I made my own version using flour and water. It was very messy and next time I will just anchor the painted rock in a pot with pea gravel or small pebbles instead of permanently anchoring it.

As a finishing touch, I glued pea gravel to the top of the pot instead of colored sand as suggested in the project.

Written in Stone

painted rock, stone, rock painting
My painted rock using the Written in Stone tutorial

This project was a little more challenging and I have only painted one rock using this free how-to guide. I chose one of my favorite scripture verses: "A happy heart makes the face cheerful" from Proverbs 15:13. It's a clever idea for painting all those favorite quotes, sayings, and personalized messages on rocks for those special people in your life.

Painting a Basket of Pansies

Pansies in a basket hand painted on a stone by Cindy Thomas
My pansies in a basket from this free tutorial

Of these four, free, how-to lessons, I think this pansy tutorial is the most challenging. However, the end product is just beautiful and once you have the pattern, you can vary the colors of the pansies. (This project was on my rock painting "to do" list and I finally painted it in June 2017.)

Thank you Creativity Portal and Ernestina Gallina for giving us more rock painting inspiration and nudging our creativity.

The free projects mentioned in this post along with their links were viewable on the date of this post. I cannot guarantee how long the projects will remain free and available online.

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to Paint Flying Bugs, Pigs, and Fish on Rocks Using Free Tutorials

Today's FREE lessons are provided by Ernestina Gallina.

I would categorize Ernestina's how-to guides as intermediate skill level. My feeling is "practice makes perfect" and even if you're a beginner rock painter, you can improve your skills by trying these free, rock painting projects.

These free tutorials (in PDF format) include:
  • A list of the materials you'll need
  • Guidance on the type of rocks suitable for the project
  • Detailed step-by-step instructions and illustrations for painting cute flying bug rocks, baby pig rocks, and little Nemo rocks

Flying Bugs

bugs, flying, painted rocks, rock painting
Here's my first attempt at using the flying bug rocks tutorial

Once you learn a technique for painting rocks, you can change up the colors and add your own special touch and creative ideas to differentiate your painted rocks from those of other artists.

I altered this project by using metallic acrylic paint for the flying bugs in the photo below.

painted rocks, bugs, flying, metallic, rock painting
Metallic flying bugs painted rocks

Baby Pig

pigs, pink, painted rocks, critters
Two pigs I painted using the free Baby Pig tutorial

I learned the importance of choosing smooth rocks when I painted these two baby pigs. Smooth rocks allow paint to be applied and lines to be drawn easily. Pitted rocks are definitely more challenging to paint. Doesn't my little piggy look like he's been in a barnyard fight or just escaped the meat grinder? 

Little Nemo

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Little Nemo I painted using this free tutorial

I had the perfect rock for painting a Little Nemo. By varying the acrylic paint colors, it's possible to create an aquarium full of unique, painted fish rocks. One of Ernestina's clever ideas for this project was to add gold glitter paint to "simulate sparkling scales on the body."

Thank you, Ernestina Gallina, for generously sharing your creative, rock painting how-to-guides.

The free projects mentioned in this post along with their links were viewable on the date of this post. I cannot guarantee how long the projects will remain free and available online. 

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Rock Painting Ideas from the Pantry

Over the summer, my niece is caring for a hedgehog named Basil.

Basil the Hedgehog

I never thought much about hedgehogs but when I saw Basil's picture, I just had to paint her on a rock because she was such a cute, little critter.

However, the idea of painting all those quills seemed too time consuming. So, into the pantry I went where I found a package of wild rice that was the perfect substitute for a hedgehog's quills.

I implemented my idea by first painting Basil's face on the rock and applying brown paint to the rest of her body. I then liberally applied Mod Podge where I wanted the quills to be attached and submerged the rock into a bowl of raw, wild rice.

critters, painted rocks, hedgehog, rock painting, wild rice
Basil, the Painted Rock Hedgehog

It was necessary to revise my project idea slightly because I learned that Mod Podge is not the best glue for this project. (I had to go back and reattach some of the wild rice with Elmer's Glue.) Therefore, regular glue works best to attach the rice and Mod Podge is best used as a final sealer to further keep the "quills" in place.

My sister has since suggested using pine needles for the quills so they'll stick up more. Hmm... and I thought painting the quills was time consuming? I'll be experimenting with that idea.

All in all, I think Basil, the Painted Rock Hedgehog, is almost as cute a critter as the real thing.

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

3 Free Rock Painting Lessons - Bees, Ladybugs, and Frogs

Today's 3 FREE lessons are courtesy of Patty Donathan.

All of Patty's free PDF rock painting tutorials include:
  • A list of the supplies you'll need
  • How to select the rocks
  • Detailed illustrations and instructions for painting both simple and detailed bee, ladybug, and frog rocks

How to Paint a Bee

rock painting, bee, painted rocks
I painted this rock bee using Patty Donathan's free how-to guide

Every artist has their own style and you'll see a slight difference between my painted rock and those in Patty's lesson. I also added something extra to my painted rock bee - a toothpick painted gold became the bee's stinger.

How to Paint a Ladybug

This simple, ladybug how-to guide is perfect for those round rocks in your yard and easy enough for children to do. At the time I painted the ladybug, I did not think to take a photograph of my finished product.

How to Paint a Tic Tac Toe Frog & Koi Pond Game

This tic tac toe painted rock project is more involved, however, it's a very clever idea. Instead of playing tic tac toe with X’s and O’s on paper, two sets of frogs are painted on rocks - one set of frogs with orange spots and the other set with yellow spots. Patty also includes instructions for painting the pond tic tac toe board. One day I hope to complete this tutorial for myself. 

Thank you, Patty Donathan for generously sharing your free rock painting instructions and giving us rock painting ideas and inspiration.

The free projects mentioned in this post along with their links were viewable on the date of this post. I cannot guarantee how long the projects will remain free and available online. 

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks

Monday, July 16, 2012

Learn to Paint Rocks with Free Guides, Lessons & Tutorials

If you'd like to try your hand at rock painting, there are several FREE, step-by-step tutorials I'd recommend.

These illustrated, instructional, lesson guides will show you:
  • How to choose your rock(s) 
  • The supplies needed
  • How to create your own, one-of-a-kind painted rocks.

Today's Free Lesson is Courtesy of Lin Wellford

How to Paint a Wild Rabbit and Baby Bluebird on a Rock

critters, bird, rabbit, painted rocks, rock painting
I painted this rabbit & bird using Lin Wellford's free online tutorial

The rabbit was one of my earlier attempts at painted rocks and the bird was done much later. For a beginner, I recommend you try painting the baby bluebird rock first. Painting the rabbit's fur can be a little tricky and I don't want you to get discouraged.

Click here to see how I added my own personal touch to the painted baby bird rock.

If you've never painted rocks before, a free how-to guide will help you get started and for little or no cost you'll discover if it's the craft/hobby for you.

The free projects mentioned in this post along with their links were viewable on the date of this post. I cannot guarantee how long the projects will remain free and available online.

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Do You Need Rock Painting Ideas?

Look what's possible with ordinary rocks and acrylic paint.

painted rocks, critters, food, nativity sets, garden, Cindy Thomas, rock painting
Sample of Painted Rocks by Cindy Thomas

Is your garden looking a little dreary because all the flowers have bloomed and gone to seed? A painted rock gnome home would add some color to your garden nestled among the greenery.

Do you need a gift for a friend in the hospital? A basket of hungry baby bird painted rocks are sure to lift their spirits?

Do you want something different to display at the holidays? There are painted rocks for all holiday occasions - Christmas Santas & nativity sets, Halloween ghosts & pumpkins, Valentine's love bugs, and Easter chicks.

Do you want to play a joke on unsuspecting friends? Painting rocks to resemble food will certainly catch them off guard. Please note that small painted rocks may look so yummy that young children will actually try to eat them. PLEASE USE CAUTION with this idea.

Do you need a gift for an animal lover? Rocks can be painted as cats, dogs and other pets as well as wild animals, farm animals, and more.

Once you start painting rocks and stones, you'll discover all sorts of ideas. The only problem will be finding enough time to create all of your masterpieces!

To see more ideas for painted rocks, please visit (and like) my Facebook Fan Page.

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How to Seal and Protect Painted Rocks

Painted rocks beg to be picked up and admired and by applying a sealant, the colors remain true and the life of the painted rock is extended.

A question I'm often asked is: "how do you seal your painted rocks." The quick answer: I use classic matte or gloss Mod Podge for sealing and protecting my painted rocks. (See my August 26, 2012 update below for a 2nd product applied over the Mod Podge to prevent "tackiness" in humidity.)

My much-used jar of Mod Podge

What is Mod Podge

Mod Podge is a non-toxic, nonflammable, water based:
  • Sealer that protects acrylic paint, decoupage, fabric, stain, etc. 
  • Glue that adheres, paper, fabric and other porous materials to almost any surface
  • Finish that's smooth, durable and fast drying

Why I Prefer Using Mod Podge on Painted Rocks

The Mod Podge formula is non-toxic, non-flammable, water based, and cleans up easily with just soap & water which makes it a great product for doing rock painting crafts with children. As an added benefit, I can also use the Mod Podge product if I wish to glue some type of porous embellishment onto the painted rock.

On the other hand, the clear, acrylic, protective finish available in a spray can (such as the Krylon brand) is toxic and care must be taken to keep the can away from heat and fire, don't puncture the can, ensure proper ventilation and avoid contact with eyes and skin.

While a sealer in a spray can might be easier to apply (especially to large painted rocks), I definitely want to use the safest product possible -- Mod Podge -- when doing my rock painting craft.

Update 5/22/2014: Learn about a low odor spray-on sealer for painted rocks.

How I use Mod Podge for Sealing Painted Rocks

I apply Mod Podge to all of my painted rocks (even the large outdoor garden decor and pavestone nativity sets) using a medium-to-large paint brush. Yes, it is a little more time consuming, but I love the feel of a brush in my hand and unlike the toxic alternative in a spray can, I don't have to ventilate my small painting studio.

I've used classic Mod Podge in both the matte and gloss formulas. The gloss formula is especially nice when a shiny effect is desired, such as when painting fish rocks.

Don't be alarmed when you open a jar of Mod Podge. It is white and looks like glue, however, it dries clear.

Other Mod Podge Formulas

I learned about other Mod Podge formulas in the recently published book, "Mod Podge Rocks" by Amy Anderson. If you'd like to try crafting with Mod Podge, Amy's book contains 40+ projects using the various Mod Podge formulas. Note: while none of the projects are related to rock painting, there are some clever ideas for using Mod Podge.

I plan to experiment on my painted rocks with these Mod Podge formulas in the future:
  • Satin - Between matte & gloss with a lustrous, soft finish
  • Hard Coat - Extra protection for projects handled frequently
  • Outdoor - Extra protection from moisture and elements
  • Sparkle - Has a hologram glitter for a rainbow effect. Makes projects glitter
  • Dimensional Magic - Thicker than other formulas, it adds extra dimension

Learn More About Mod Podge

Where to Find Mod Podge

I purchase classic matte and gloss Mod Podge at my local craft store, Hobby Lobby. It is also available in some Walmart and Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts stores.

Store locator from the Mod Podge manufacturer's website.

Mod Podge definitely rocks for 
sealing and protecting painted rocks.

   * * * Update August 26, 2012 * * *

A fellow rock painter recently faced a dilemma (or more accurately, a disaster) when she used Mod Podge on her painted rocks and stored them in a covered, plastic bin under the bed. When she opened the lid, many of her rocks were now stuck together and ruined.

It is believed that moisture and humidity do not like Mod Podge. The jar states "To eliminate tackiness apply Clear Acrylic Sealer over dried Mod Podge." Since I live in a very dry climate, I have not experienced this problem. However, I wanted to learn more about acrylic and polyurethane sealers.

Thank you, Lisa Carter, (another rock painting peer) who explained the difference between acrylic and polyurethane sealers.

"Acrylic sealer/finishes/coatings are considered single-component polymers...most are water based and provide waterproof protection on various surfaces ..they mainly enhance the color of painted surfaces and provide some durability. For the price..these work well for our painted stones ..especially those that are placed inside and will need protection as they are periodically dusted with damp cloths.

Polyurethane polymers are formed by combining two bi- or higher functional monomers. These are basically stronger and provide a more durable coating but are slightly more expensive."

Ceramcoat Satin Exterior/Interior Varnish

I purchased Ceramcoat Satin Exterior/Interior Varnish (the polyurethane product) and applied it over a few of my Mod Podged rocks. This is what I discovered:
  • This particular Ceramcoat product was twice the price of Mod Podge
  • The Ceramcoat varnish did have a slight ammonia-like odor
  • The product was a thinner consistency than Mod Podge so, even though more expensive, it should last just as long if not longer than Mod Podge
  • The rocks were now thinly coated with a sealer that was in between matte and gloss (which I liked)
  • The product is non-toxic, water based, and cleans up with soap and water.
I was pleased to further discover from Ceramcoat's Material Safety Data Sheet that:
  • Ceramcoat varnish can be used with general ventilation (no need to go outside or into the garage)
  • No known hazards from inhalation, skin contact, or ingestion. However, eye contact may cause reddening and tearing. 

* * * Update May 27, 2015 * * *

I have been extremely disappointed with the Delta Ceramcoat lately. It appears the company has changed hands and the sealer's formula has been altered. I now find the Delta Ceramcoat to be too thick and it has a strong odor.

My preference for a top coat sealer over the Mod Podge is Americana DuraClear Varnish. 

It comes in matte, gloss and satin, has a thin consistency and low odor.

I will be adding a final coat of polyurethane to my painted rocks on top of the Mod Podge as an extra layer of protection and to avoid stickiness.

Learn about a low odor spray-on sealer I'm using for doodle, tangle, and mandala rocks designed with artists pens.

Learn how to prevent Sharpie permanent marker pens from blurring when sealed.

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks