How to Paint Garden Rocks

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Dressing up your garden year-round is simple to achieve with painted rocks. It's a fun, inexpensive family activity that's not very time-consuming. Use stones from your yard, garden, or even from places you visit, to create cheerful rock borders, whimsical creatures, or any imaginative forms that strike your fancy. Let the shapes and sizes of the rocks guide your efforts, and paint them with bright acrylic colors that will last many years. This activity does not require much preparation, but it does require adult supervision.

Things You'll Need

  • Liquid soap
  • Water
  • Two small buckets
  • Scrubbing brush or sponge
  • Hair dryer
  • Newspaper
  • Chalk stick
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Damp cloth or paper towel
  • Face mask and eye protectors
  • Clear acrylic finisher spray
  • Make a mild soap solution using 1 teaspoon of soap for every 3 cups of water in one bucket. Fill the second bucket with an equal amount of plain water. The size, number and starting condition of the rocks will determine how much soap solution and water you need. Brush off any accumulated dirt or moss from the rocks and wash them in the soap solution with a scrubbing brush or sponge until they are free from debris. Rinse the rocks well with the water.

  • Allow the rocks to dry completely. This usually takes anywhere from a few minutes to several hours, depending on the sizes of the rocks and drying method you use. Leave them in a sunny spot to dry, or use a hair dryer to accelerate the drying process.

  • Spread newspaper over the area where you will be working. This will prevent paint spills and spots on other surfaces.

  • Use the chalk to sketch out the outlines for your rock paintings. Experiment with different shapes and sizes until you create something you like. It is not necessary to paint a base coat on the rocks. Follow the chalk outlines as you paint the rocks with your paintbrushes, but don't worry if you make mistakes. The painting does not have to be perfect to be pleasing. After your paint dries completely, wipe away any remaining chalk outlines with a damp cloth or paper towel.

  • Put on your eye protectors and face mask, and evenly coat the rocks with the acrylic finisher (matte or high-gloss exterior Varathane or Krylon). Spray one side of the rock, let the finisher dry, then turn the rock over and spray the other side. The acrylic finisher will prevent moisture and harsh weather from damaging the painted surfaces (peeling, cracking, fading), so it is necessary to coat the entire rock surface before installing it in your garden.

  • Clean up your work area. Store leftover paint and acrylic finisher in a safe, dry place, and clean your paint brushes as directed by the paint manufacturer. Throw the used newspaper away, and dispose of the used soap solution and rinse water.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ask your friends to sign the rocks they paint. In time, you'll have a colorful "friendship" rock garden.
  • To increase the color vibrancy, use more than one coat of paint. This will deepen and enrich the color when you apply the acrylic finisher.
  • Never spray the painted rocks in an indoor area or allow children to handle the spray can.
  • Varathane and Krylon contain toxic chemicals. Seek immediate medical attention if you accidentally spray Varathane or Krylon in your eyes or inhale it.

References

  • "Rock Painting Fun for Everyone;" Lin Wellford; 2006
  • "Painting on Rocks for Kids (Creative Kids);" Lin Wellford; 2002
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