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Stone Painting for Relaxation and Centering

by Lauren Fallat, LPC LPAT ATR-BC

When we encounter an art activity that combines repetitive action with symmetrical pattern making and mindfulness, we are provided with a new way of centering our mind, body and spirit in a creative process. There is something so therapeutic and relaxing about painting and adding painted designs to stones. Maybe it is the simple repetitive nature of applying the dots of paint to the stone, or the way that the dots can create such beautiful and unique designs. Consider the dot painting technique on stones as a way to de-stress and increase feelings of calm and relaxation.

The basic premise of this art therapeutic activity is to paint dots on stones using acrylic craft paint in order to create a pattern or design. Creating the pattern with the dot painting technique is a way to ground yourself by intentionally focusing in on the marks that are being made on the stone. Many of the dots are being created using a fine point or ball at the end of a stylus and these marks take time and patience as they build up one dot at a time. Careful attention is placed on how much paint is added to the stylus, how much pressure is used to add the dot to the stone and the distances between each of the dots.

You may choose to freehand this design in any way that you choose or decide that there is a particular pattern or structured way in which you would like to create the design on your stone. If you decide to freehand your design, you can use a variety of tools to experiment with and create different shapes and motifs of different sized dots. You may add more structure to your art process by selecting a certain number of colors to work with, such as 2 warm colors and 1 cool color, creating an ombre effect, creating a symmetrical pattern that is even on all sides or by creating your own repeated pattern.

This technique also can be helpful for those who struggle with hand-eye coordination or are working on improving their fine motor skills. The repetitive nature of dipping the stylus in the paint and adding the dot to the stone can serve as a meditative practice. This process allows us to focus attention away from our thoughts and onto the goal in front of us, which is to add dots to our stone to create an intricate and centering pattern.

In order to get started, you must first choose a stone that is fairly flat and smooth. If your intention is to create a symmetrical, mandala-like pattern, you may want to find a stone that is fairly circular in shape. Once you have found your stone, you can decide if you would like to paint it a solid color, such as white or black as a base coat before adding the designs. If you choose to paint your stone, then allow for drying time before starting the dotting process. Once your stone is ready, you can place it on a covered surface or on a spinning turntable (such as one used in cake decorating). The turntable will allow you to move your stone in a circular motion as you apply your dots, which is convenient but not necessary.

When applying the painted dots to the surface of your stone, you can use a variety of materials that you may have at home or choose to purchase. See optional materials below. Materials you may have at home, such as a pencil with an eraser or q-tips may be all that you need. If you are interested in experimenting with a variety of ball-tipped styluses, then there are different options available to you for purchase online.

You can choose to start at the center of your stone for a more symmetrical design, adding a dot as your center point. A simple pattern for creating might include adding dots of varying sizes or similar sizes around the central dot in bands. It might be helpful to start by adding dots at the coordinates of north, south, west and east or at 12:00, 6:00, 3:00 and 9:00 times of a clock. Once you have made your initial placements, feel free to add dots in between and outside of these as you expand outwards from the central point. Play with adding different colors or limiting yourself to just a few!

Optional Materials:

  • Cake decorating turntable (or any other surface that spins)

  • Ball Styluses (used for dotting paint, clay modeling tools and nail manicures) in various sizes

  • Q-tips

  • Pencils (use both the tip and the eraser end)

  • Paint tray

  • Acrylic craft paints

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