We encounter thousands of stones—big or small—throughout our lives, but I bet only a few of us think of using them for art.
That’s exactly what this Japanese artist named Akie Nakata has been doing for the last decade. She turns the tiny stones and rocks she finds into cute animals you can hold in the palm of your hand.
“Among all those numerous stones on a riverbank, one stone, looking like an animal, catches my eye. When I find a stone, I feel that stone has found me too. Stones have their own intentions, and I consider my encounters with them as cues they give me it’s OK to go ahead and paint what I see on them,” Nakata said.
This self-taught artist has loved collecting stones ever since she was a child. Her unique art began in 2011 when, while strolling along a riverbank, she chanced upon a pebble that resembled a rabbit’s form.
After collecting the stones, she analyzes each piece and contemplates the best way to paint them.
“Am I positioning the backbone in the right place? Does it feel right? Am I forcing something that disagrees with the natural shape of the stone?” she asks herself.
She then intricately paints the stones’ surface with acrylic paint to create tiny dogs, cats, mice, owls, and even an entire opossum family. What’s even more amazing is how much each of her creations mimics these animals’ real-life appearance!
Nakata respects each stone she gathers, so she makes it a point to never process them. She doesn’t cut off their edges to alter their shape.
“Stones may fall outside our usual definition of living organisms, but when I think of the long time it takes for a stone to change from a huge boulder in the mountains to the size and shape it has, as rests in my palm, I feel the history of the earth that the stone has silently witnessed over the millennia, and I feel the story inside it. I feel the breath of a life inside each stone, so sometimes I paint while I talk to the stone as I hold it in my hand,” she described her creative process.
Nakata considers her work complete once she’s done with the eyes, which she paints last.
“To me, completing a piece of work is not about how much detail I draw, but whether I feel the life in the stone,” she said.
It’s remarkable how Nakata is able to bring every stone to life with each masterful stroke of the brush. The gleam in their eyes makes them look all the more realistic. This artist’s technique is truly one-of-a-kind!
What was once a humble river stone is transformed into an extraordinary piece of art that is sure to impress everyone who sees it.
Check out some of Akie Nakata’s amazing stone art in the gallery below.