How To Turn Rocks into Art

And Maybe Even Make Money Doing It

Painting on unusual surfaces is great fun; once you've completed this project, if you would like to learn how to take your new hobby to another level, you can enroll in an online arts program.  Many online schools offer classes ranging from the basic to the graduate level.

Rock painting can open up a world of creativity for anyone.  Unlike flat surfaces like paper or canvas, rocks have shape and dimension. If you find a flat rock that has something of a heart shape to it, use your imagination to see how that shape could easily be a butterfly. With a little paint and a little practice, easier projects will give way to more challenging ones until you find that just as you turned rocks into art, you were turning yourself into an artist!  

To begin, find a heart-shaped rock and then follow these tips for painting a rock butterfly: 

  1. Draw on a simple design for your butterfly. Start with a long, narrow oval body shape down the center of your heart-shaped rock. Add a small circle at the top for the head. Extend a set of upper wings that fill the top half of each side all the way to the edge of the rock. Add a set of smaller wings below the upper wings, filling in the remaining portion of the rock surface. Wash off the outlines and redraw if you are not satisfied with your first attempt.
  2. Choose a color to surround your butterfly and use a small flat brush to fill in with this color. You might pick sky blue, for instance, or a medium shade of green. Darker colors like navy blue or deep purple are best if you plan to paint the butterfly lighter colors or pastels. If you plan on having deeper tones for your wings, a lighter color around the edges will make for good contrast. Let the paint dry.
  3. Fill in the wing colors.  An easy design is to fill in the upper wings with one color, and the lower wings with another. For example, if you have painted a dark color for the background around it, give your butterfly bright pink, pale lavender or soft yellow wings. Rocks that are naturally dark may need a light undercoat such as white or yellow first to help these colors stand out better. If you've painted your wing color and you notice that it looks murky or streaky, use a paper towel to lift the wet paint and paint a layer of white or yellow first. When dry, subsequent colors will be brighter and more vibrant.
  4. Paint the body and head. Use a small brush and choose a color that complements your wing colors. Lime green or a soft orange might look nice. Make the head a different color--pastel purple, light blue or turquoise are some choices.
  5. Add details to the wing designs. Photos of real butterflies can be an inspiration or you can just make up your own pattern of spots, scalloped trim or other elements. One nice touch is to use a deeper or lighter version of the wing color to add narrow lines that curve up and out across the wings like tiny veins in a leaf. On the bottom wings, these lines tend to curve out and down. Another easy decoration to do is to use the tip of your brush handle to apply bright lines of small dots along the edges of the wings.
  6. Detail the body and head. Use a lighter version of the body color to give the center of the body a soft, highlighted look. Do this by picking up the paint with your brush, then wiping most of the color off so that what is left has to be scrubbed on. This will give it a subtle, almost air-brushed look. Use the end of your brush to add two eyes to the head shape in a color that stands out. You may also paint or dot on little antennae.
  7. Fixing mistakes is easy. If you don't like the way something looks, either pat it up with a paper towel while it is wet or let it dry and paint over it. There is nothing you can't change or fix, so don't be afraid to experiment. You will discover many neat surprises this way!
  8. Seal your rock art. Once you are finished, you can add shine by brushing on clear floor wax or by spraying or brushing on acrylic sealer. You can also add some dazzle by using shiny, iridescent or glittery nail polish or glitter paint on various areas of your butterfly. If you have lots of details, add the glitter around the details, leaving them uncovered.

Painted rock butterflies make wonderful gifts, desk art or decorations.  Glue butterfly rocks to metal BBQ skewers with Liquid Nails brand adhesive (the original formula works best) and you can add them to a potted plant or bouquet. Turning rocks into art is easy, fun and exciting. It just may turn you into an artist! Because there is so little money invested in materials, painted rocks are perfect for craft show booths and farmer's markets. It's a fun way to earn extra money and who knows, it might just turn into a career--it did for me!

Taking an artistic hobby to a professional career is just one of many things you'll learn in an online arts degree program. If this article's grabbed your attention, check out some online art schools to see what they have to offer.


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