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Painting a River Rock

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An enjoyable way to preserve a rock you brought home from your favorite trip is to paint it. It is also a fantastic hobby. It has become extremely popular. There is no need to take any lessons or be a professional artist to enjoy painting rocks and the only thing you have to do to start is to find rocks, of all shapes and sizes. Just make sure that they are shaped well enough to be decorated.

Things You’ll Need

  • Smooth, clean rock
  • Acrylic paint, or outdoor craft paint
  • Brushes
  • Palette
  • Clear finishing spray varnish

Steps To Painting Rocks

  • Clean your river rocks. An old toothbrush is a very useful cleaning tool. You may use a piece of sandpaper for tough spots. Wash it with water and let it dry completely. After it is completely dry, lightly sketch the design you plan to paint on the surface. Preferably use a light pencil as the heavier one may show through under lighter paint.

Clean Rock

  • Assemble your paints. Use acrylic paint from a tube, such as Liquites, or paint made for outdoor use.

Assemble Acrylic Paint

  • Use a palette to mix paint on. If you don’t have the palette, you may use an old plate, wax paper, or foil folded around a piece of cardboard.

Use Palette

  • Use acrylic paint brushes. Make sure you have several sizes to use for larger areas, and then details can be painted with a smaller brush. You may prefer to use a flat brushe to paint bigger areas, switching to a pointed brush for finishing touches.

Acrylic Paint Brushes

  • Start by painting large areas Remember, big to little. When large areas are finished, let them dry before you try to paint next to or on top of them.

Large Areas to Paint

  • Now you may start painting small areas, and add finishing touches Add some texture or layer colors. You can add details with a Sharpie as well as other permanent markers. When your painted rock has had at least a day to dry, you may spray it with a clear urethane finish or varnish. Make sure you do this outdoors or in a well-ventilated area so you do not breathe the vapors. This should be preferably done by an adult or an older child under adult’s supervision.

Finishing Touches


  • River rocks have many different shapes. They make nice and beautiful gifts.
  • Brushes need to be washed well with soap and water when you are finished. While painting do not keep a brush in the water, as it will damage the tip. Rinse and lay it on top of a sponge or small towel.
  • Do not allow brush to dry with paint on it.
  • Use a palette knife or craft stick to mix paint.


  • Acrylic paint does not wash out of clothing well. Wear a smock, an old shirt, an apron, or old clothing you don’t care about.
  • Always look to see if there is a health label on the tube of paint.
  • Use tempera paint if you plan to do this project with very young children and spray varnish yourself.
Category: DIY Outdoor Projects

One comment

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