artsy fartsy

Painted Rocks!

painted rocks

This was originally written for Alpha+Mom but since there are some issues with children using oil-based paints they can’t post it. So I’m posting it here instead! If you are worried about possible toxic fumes hurting small metabolisms please craft responsibly and use oil-based pens outside in a well ventilated area! :)

Kids love to bring home souvenirs from a summer camping trip. Rocks, shells, sticks…you name it. But what do you do with all those treasures once you’re home? Do you secretly throw them away in the week’s garbage or do you lovingly create a special place for them in your home? I usually fall into the latter category but sometimes a mother has to do what a mother has to do and sometimes all that collected stuff is just TOO MUCH STUFF!

I recently stumbled upon the art of rock painting and I can’t share it enough. It’s so much fun and so easy!

All you need are some smooth rocks and some oil-based (but, non-toxic) paint pens.

paint pens

I’ve tried all the brands sold at local craft stores and they all seem to work pretty much the same. I will say that buying a variety of tip widths is crucial. I loved using the broad tip for big fat stripes and the thin narrow tip for detail. My favorite colors were white and gold with a little turquoise and red thrown in for contrast. But really, all the colors are fun. Since paint pens are opaque it’s really fun to experiment with light colors on dark rocks.

priming the pen

The only real instructions I have for this craft is that you need to prime your pens by pushing them up and down on a piece of paper towel before you get started. It will take a minute for the paint to flow but once it does, you are good to go. You’ll also want to be careful with the pens because the paint is oil-based and does not come out of clothing easily. That also applies to your skin. Don’t be like me and attempt to have a conversation while waving a pen around in your hand. You will end up with paint on your face and it doesn’t come off easily.

(Also, we did this crafting project outdoors, but it’s always good practice to craft in a  well-ventilated area and obviously use your common sense.)

painting rocks

But other than that it’s pretty intuitive and user friendly. Even a six year old could do it!

drawing a tree

Just paint whatever you fancy. You can paint designs, a scene, maybe even just the date of your vacation so you’ll always remember it.


fun for all ages

I guarantee you hours and hours of crafty fun.

passel of painted rocks

And when you are done you can affix magnets to the back or just use them as ground cover in your potted plants.

ground cover

Rock on!


  • Kuky

    Hey, just today I took out my rocks and used one of Kimberly’s pens to draw on them. Isabelle was super into it. So into it that she started to cry when I told her I only had one rock left for her to draw on. So, I guess we’ll have to go rock hunting and probably get some real paint pens.

  • Stephanie

    Question for you – does the paint stick really well once dry? I’m wondering about making prayer rocks or conversation starters for ministry and I want to make sure the design wouldn’t rub off. Should I cover them with a sealant of some kind?

  • bethany actually

    Annalie saw my painted rocks in the photos and was all, “Oooh, can I do that!?” so we went to Michaels and bought river rocks (which were surprisingly cheap!) and paint markers (which were on sale, woohoo!) and she went to town.

    Do you still have all the rocks from the party? Because I really wanted to make magnets out of a few of them.

  • BeachMama

    I love it! My Grandmother used to collect a rock whenever she traveled and wrote the place and date on it in black marker. It is lovely to see those rocks and know that she found the perfect one in Kennebunkport or in Scotland. Little memories to hold of her so long after she is gone.