Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How to Paint Designs on Rocks and Stones

Have you heard of tangle art, also known as Zen doodling? I first discovered it on Pinterest and it appeared very complicated.

Here's how I painted these simple, Zen doodle designs on rocks using three different techniques.

I used the book - "Zentangle® untangled" - to learn the process.

The book illustrated step by step how to draw repetitive patterns to create designs "that anyone can achieve regardless of age or artistic ability."

After practicing on paper, it was time to try it on smooth, flat stones.

My practice Zen doodles on paper

Zen doodle technique 1: I used a black Sharpie fine-tip, oil-based paint pen to draw the design directly on the stone.

I then used various hues of blue acrylic to paint the design carefully within the lines.

Zen doodle technique 2: I painted the stone turquoise blue first.

I drew my pattern onto the stone using a pencil, then outlined the design with a black Sharpie fine-tip, oil-based paint pen, and filled in the design with various shades of blue acrylic paint.

Zen doodle technique 3: I drew my design on an unpainted stone with pencil, then filled in the design with red and pink acrylic paint and added white dots. (I did not use the oil-based paint pen on this tangle art stone.)


  • Use smooth, flat stones
  • For small stones, an extra-fine point Sharpie oil-based paint pen would probably be easier to use than a fine-point
  • Some people use Micron pens to draw on stones. I tried the 02 size which did not work for me; the nib was too fine
  • Don't worry about being perfect with your doodles
  • Don't rush; a certain level of concentration is required  


  • Experiment with color palettes using tangle art. As an added benefit you'll have a pretty, painted stone
  • After painting a detailed rock, take a break and relax by painting some tangle art stones

Useful Links:

If you like to doodle and paint rocks, you'll love tangle art.

© Cindy Thomas Painted Rocks

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