Artist transforms rocks into highly realistic animals

Japanese artist Akie Nakata has an unusual way of viewing the world. Where many people would simply see a rock or a stone, Akie is able to see their potential. According to the artist, when she finds a rock on a riverbank, looking like an animal, she feels that stone has found her too. And for the past nine years, she’s taken those ordinary stones and transformed them into something magical using paint.

Painted rocks by Akie Nakata

The creative process begins from the moment she spots a rock. Its natural shape helps inspire what animal it will become. Under Akie’s watchful eye, these rocks are transformed into highly realistic animals that fit into the palm of your hand. Using only acrylic gouache — no pen — and working with tiny brushes, the artist carefully brings each animal to life.

“Stones have their own intentions, and I consider my encounters with them as cues to go ahead and paint what I see on them.”

Highly realistic animals painted on rocks

From a curled up fox and curious cats to various frogs, birds, and mice, there’s no animal that Akie can’t make magically appear on stones. Natural markings might become eyes and a pointed edge may transform into a nose. However, she paints the eyes of these animals at the very end.

“I consider my work completed only when I see that the eyes are now alive and looking back straight at me. To me, completing a piece of work is not about how much detail I draw, but whether I feel the life in the stone.”

Painted pigeon
Realistic animals painted on rocks

For Akie, it’s all about bringing the animal to life and hoping that its future owner will enjoy it as much as she does. In fact, her talent has garnered her quite a following on Instagram and Facebook, where the stones she paints are made available for purchase — and usually snapped up quickly. Occasionally, she will also post before and after photographs of her realistic animal rocks. And when viewed side by side, it’s even more impressive.

Before and after of a peacock painting
Frog painted on a rock


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