Painting Rocks (and other nature treasures!)

If you’re anything like I am when I’m out in nature, you probably have a pile of nature treasures somewhere that you have collected and brought home. Maybe it’s a pile full of shells and bones…maybe you’re a driftwood collector…or maybe you just really love rocks. Painting your rocks or other treasures is a great way to give them new life and purpose, and they make fantastic gifts!


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Rocks, driftwood, or other paintable treasures
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • A paint palette (sometimes I use an upside-down plate, or a piece of cardboard
  • A cup of water
  • Old newspaper to protect your table from paint
  • (Optional) Pencils



I like using rocks and driftwood that are as smooth as possible. The bumpier your treasure is, the harder it will be to cover it completely with paint. There are some surfaces that paint does not stick to as well as others–you’ll have to experiment to find out what you like painting on best!



Once you have all your materials laid out, you’re ready to paint! If you’d like some ideas and tips, keep reading!


Flow Painting

Maybe you have young kids, maybe you’re not sure what you want to paint, or maybe you just really love colors! 

  • Squeeze out the colors that you want on your paint palette
  • Experiment with mixing together parts of those colors to make new ones
  • Before you start painting your treasure, mix in a little bit of water with each color. This helps to conserve paint–you get more color for the same amount of paint!
  • Let the brushes take the paint wherever it feels like they want to go


Simple Subjects

There’s nothing wrong with simplicity! Maybe you have younger kids, maybe you’re not looking for anything too complicated. 

For this example, I chose to paint some ladybugs on a rock. Needing to do some experimenting myself, I chose to have two of them have a white base coat, and two of them have a red one:


After the white base coats had dried, I gave them a red coat:



I discovered that the red color came out brighter on the ones with the white base coat!


After the red coats had dried, I painted the black details, and let them dry. Ladybugs on a rock, hooray!


After I discovered that using a white base coat was a good idea, I gave all my other treasures a white base coat before continuing:



Kind Words

Maybe the thought of painting a subject sounds hard, or maybe you want to share some kind words with your neighborhood.

  • If you’d like, you can paint your words directly on your treasure. 
  • You can also paint a simple background onto your rock
  • If you want to create a nice blended effect like mine, make sure to experiment with how wet your paint and brushes are to find the right blending ratio!
  • Let your background dry completely
  • Use a fine brush to write your words on your treasure


Mini Landscape

Maybe you have some experience with painting, or maybe you want a challenge!

  • Imagine a scene that you want to paint
  • Think about all the different pieces that you want to include in the scene
  • If you want to, you can use a pencil to draw the scene on your treasure before you start painting
  • I like using different brushes for different colors 
  • Remember to let colors dry completely before putting more colors on top of them, unless you want to blend your colors


Creature Rocks

Maybe a piece of driftwood you found looks JUST LIKE a giraffe, or a turtle, or a baby dragon, like the one I found did!

  • After my initial white base coat, I gave it a colored base coat. 
  • If you want to, use a pencil to mark where the different parts of your creature will be painted
  • I liked using black paint lines to outline the different body parts



What should I do with my painted treasures?

There are lots of things you can do with your painted treasures! Here’s a short list of ideas:

  • Place them in your garden or your room
  • Give them as gifts to family, friends, neighbors, or friendly strangers!
  • Hide them in (safe) sneaky places for your family to find by surprise
  • Find a good street corner, park, public planter box, or other spot in your neighborhood to leave them so everyone can see them

I placed my baby dragon in my garden amongst the flowers.



I placed my kind words on a street corner where lots of people would see it. Maybe someone who needs it will even take it home with them!




  • Where did you find the treasures that you painted?
  • What kind of treasures did you like painting on best?
  • How smooth or rough were your treasures?
  • Did you learn anything about painting? 
  • What are you going to do differently next time?
  • Did you place any of your treasures out in public places where people could see them?
  • How do you think people will feel when they see your painted treasures?

Did you create something you’re really proud of that you want to share? Need some more painting tips? I’m happy to share in your joy and curiosity and frustration! Send me an email at to connect with me!

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