Japanese Artist Paints Simple Stones as Charming Figurines

Akie Nakata describes herself as a “stone artist”, but there is more to her craft than simply painting river stones into familiar animal shapes. Every one of her pieces goes through a complex process that begins with choosing the right stone and continues with bringing out the life in it.

The Japanese artist, who goes by Akie on social media, has a very special way of looking at looking at stones. While most of us choose to ignore them, she considers them similar to living organisms, in that there is a rich history behind them and they all have a story to tell. She is just someone enabling that story to come out with her paintbrush. She believes that every stone she chooses in turn chooses her, giving her the ok to paint what she sees on it. Akie feels that her art is a collaborative effort of hers and the stones’, and she always shows her respect by never altering or processing a stone to better suit her design.

Photo: Akie Nakata/Facebook

“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 it 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,” Akie Nakata told Bored Panda.


The self-taught artist began painting stones in 2010. She had been collecting stones and drawing animals since she was a child, but it was only when she spotted “a stone that by its looks was a rabbit and nothing else” while walking on a river bank, that she decided to combine her two hobbies.


Much of the artistic process involves Akie considering exactly what and how she wants to paint. She only put brush to the stone after careful consideration of every element she wants to incorporate, and always saves the eyes for last. She is only content when the eyes of her creations are “alive and looking straight at 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,” the talented artist says. “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 Nakata putse her painted stones “up for adoption” via her Facebook page, but you have to be really fast and really lucky to get your hands on one. That’s because she only starts work on a piece when she finds the right stone, and her tens of thousands of fans are always on the lookout for available works.


“Many pieces get adopted quickly, as soon as a few minutes after posting,” Akie writes. “Also I do not take any custom orders or take advance reservations for any work in progress or future work. This is because my work can only start when I encounter the right stone.”



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