I got some more requests for painted rocks, so I’m beginning the process of rock painting: searching for the right rocks. I posted about this a few months ago, but I have a few things I can add today, including some better photos and a peek at my base rock stash.
I visited my family for the weekend, and while I was there, I visited my primary rock stash to look for possible giraffe and wolf rocks. The rock pile was moved across the yard last summer to make way for something else, which transformed it from a loosely organized mess into a piled mountain of absolute chaos. And spiders. Lots and lots of spiders. And maybe snakes. But oddly, spiders bother me more than snakes, which is somewhat counter-intuitive. But it was rather difficult to find particular rocks amidst all that, so as I set out to search for rocks for my next projects, I realized I needed to do something about that.
With some garden gloves and a hand rake, I began to pick through the pile. I quickly realized that not all of these rocks were ideal for painting–in fact, some were quite unusable. I set the good rocks on my right, and piled the bad rocks on my left. Spiders were driven ahead of me into the shrinking rock pile. (And thankfully, no snakes.) I got a few more photos that show some rock surfaces that don’t work well for painting.
There was lots of granite–that white and black-speckled type rock–which is too bumpy to paint well. Some granites are better than others, and I have painted small roundish ones to look like mystery hatchlings. And while I can sometimes get away with painting subjects on them that have less detail, generally, the details get broken and lost in the rock’s rough texture.
Rocks full of holes are out of the question. I was surprised how many I had, but this is a collection that has been growing since 2005, before I really learned what was good and what wasn’t, back when I was collecting for shape and not texture. There is also the possibility that my rock collection got mixed with some other random rocks found around the yard when cleaning up. But either way, they had to go. Holes don’t fill well with paint, make details impossible, and just don’t look very nice. Unless I want to paint cheese, holey rocks just aren’t going to work out.
Other rocks might not be obviously holey or granite, but they are still too rough to paint well. These rocks haven’t been smoothed out by a river or sand or whatnot, and in order to tell whether they’re good or not you just have to run your fingers over them. Sometimes I also use the shadow test (see photo below). If the shadow along the side of the rock is really bumpy and not smooth, then I know it’s not a great rock.
I ended up tossing over half of the rock pile to the fate of general landscaping. The pile you see on the right in the photo is what I kept.
I picked out a few rocks to take inside with me, including two rocks that would work for giraffes, another for a wolf, and another random one with an interesting shape. I washed the grit off them and let them dry. You can also kind of tell in the photos how much smoother these rocks are than the rocks above. Next step: sealing.
My other projects are still in the making. I dabble here and there, returning to them while starting others while their paint dries. I’m currently working on a snow leopard rock, some smaller rocks for Etsy, and my larger canvas painting. Now that the weather is getting warmer, I also hope to resume a DIY terrarium set-up which needs to be done outside…