Painting stones is simpler and more complex than coloring a typical canvas. For starters, the surface area of the image is usually smaller than most framed art, so there’s only so much painting that can be done. However, a stone painter must also consider and utilize the shape and texture of the rock to optimize the image’s impact.
F. Sehnaz Bac has over half a million followers on Facebook, making her one of the best-known contemporary stone painters, at least online. The customers for her pieces come from around the world, including the United States, Europe, Middle East and South America. Her imagery ranges from aww-inducing cats to hypnotizing mandalas.
In the book, “The Art of Stone Painting” (Dover Publications), she teaches how beginner and experienced painters can learn the tricks of turning a stone into a canvas.
Bac developed her ability for drawing detailed images by working for over 22 years as a draftsperson on archeological digs in Turkey, her home country. She made technical drawings of small finds while working on digs in Sardis, Ephesus, Magnesia, ancient Smyrna, Philadelphia and Metropolis.
In particular, she recalls being part of an excavation where they found a stone throne for dignitaries in the ancient theater of Metropolis. “I remember when we saw first the throne’s back while digging in the soil,” she recalls. “After hours of delicate cleaning work, we saw a marvelous throne with Gryphon heads on its arms, lion paws on its feet and detailed wings on the back.”
But those experiences are just part of what makes her a great stone painter. Here, she shares tips on how to get started. Further down, we also offer a chance to win Bac’s book “The Art of Stone Painting.”
A smooth surface makes painting on stone a lot easier. Look for oval and heart-shaped pieces in riverbeds and seashores, where the running water evens out the surface over years. If necessary, you can also smooth the surface with fine sandpaper.
Appreciate the differences between stones and canvases.
A stone’s surface isn’t as flat as a canvas or paper. Adaptation to this difference may take some time, notes Bac. If the stone is not smooth enough, it can create some difficulties, especially when you working with pens on it.
Getting used to painting on stone can take some time, explains Bac. It takes time to know the material, surface and mixing techniques.
Practice a lot.
Bac's advice to anyone who’s interested stone painting, is to give themselves time, drawing and painting sketches almost everyday to help to improve their skills.