They say you should make beautiful things out of rocks thrown at you, and Japanese artist Akie Nakata shows us just how to do it. Indeed, she takes ugly looking rocks, and masterfully paints them, making them look like tiny animals that fit in the palm of a hand.
According to Akie Nakata, each stone has a story. Akie is a self-taught artist who has been collecting stones since she was a child, and started to create stone paintings in 2011. She recalled taking a walk along a riverbank and seeing a pebble that looked like a rabbit. That was the spark that started her art.
She began her stone paintings in 2011 when she encountered a particular pebble that looked like a rabbit. And from then on, she created numerous amazing stone animals. Scroll on to see some of our favorite ones in the list below and enjoy peeps!
Meet Japanese artist Akie Nakata, here portrayed with one of her stones transformed into a mini Himalayan Cat. See more of her artwork below!
From cats and dogs to owls, mice, and even an entire opossum family, each of Akie’s stone animals look remarkably lifelike. Painting the eyes last, Akie considers her work complete when she sees “the eyes are now alive and looking back [at her.]” She tells us, “To me, completing a piece of work is not about how much detail I draw, but whether I feel the life in the stone.”
When asked where she gets the inspiration to paint a specific animal to a specific stone, she says that she paints what she sees. That each stone is shaped according to its own destined character, “To me, completing a piece of work is not about how much detail I draw, but whether I feel the life in the stone” Akie said in an interview with My Modern Met.
Akie’s works are extremely lifelike. The details painted to each stone are incredibly intricate. One look and you know how much effort was exerted for each masterpiece. Among her works are paintings of dogs, crocodiles, cats , lions, bears, raccoons, mom and baby elephants, polar bears, a family of possums, and owls, only to name a few.
Akie paints the body of the animal first, and the eyes are the very last part of her work. When the eyes have been painted, it is when Akie knows that her work is done.
While some might contest that a stone is not a living organism, when Akie holds one in her hand, she feels everything it has “silently witnessed over the millennia.” Believing each rock has a story to tell, the artist decides to breathe life into each one with her paintings.
“To me, stones are not simple materials or canvases for painting pictures on. Among all those numerous stones on a river bank, 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.” – she wrote on Bored Panda.
She reveals, “Sometimes I paint while I talk to the stone as I hold it in my hand.” Akie hopes that her stone animals will be treasured by those who hold them, as they treasure their own lives “because we all stand on the same earth, and we come from the same earth.”
“So the stones I decide to paint on are not arbitrary, but my significant opposites with whom I have established a connection, which inspires me to work with them. In my encounters with the stones and in my art, I respect my opposites in toto, so I never process stones, and would never cut off an edge to alter the 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.”
“In order to bring out the living being that I feel in the stone to its surface, I proceed very carefully. I consider step by step, for example, whether I am positioning the backbone in the right place. Does it feel right? Am I forcing something that disagrees with the natural shape of the stone? I tread carefully. I put my paintbrush to the stone when I truly feel that it is the right brushstroke. In this sense, my painting is a dialogue with the stone. It is the stone that determines what I paint on it, not me. The art I want to create is a life newly born in my hands through my dialogue with the stone. I want to paint the life, the living spirit of the being I feel inside the stone.”
“I paint the eyes at the very end, and 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.”
“The stones and I are parts of the same earth. My stone art is collaborative work between two pieces of one sphere. I hope that each of my works will pass into the hands of someone who values being a companion in the stone’s journey as much as I enjoy painting the life in the stone. Because we all stand on the same earth, and we come from the same earth.”
“How my stone art started:
“It started when I was taking a walk on a riverbank, and encountered a stone that by its looks was a rabbit and nothing else. Since I was small, I’ve always liked collecting stones (natural rocks, not jewels or gemstones) and drawing animals, and I felt that those interests converged in the stone in my palm. It is since around 2010 that I began working as a stone artist.”
“As to techniques, I value leaving the original shape of the stone untouched, so I neither grind the stone nor apply smoothing agents. I mainly use acrylic paint, and adjust the viscosity of the paint for each stone. My drawing skills are self-taught.”