Artist Turns Small Stones Into Detailed Animal Paintings

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Her canvas is an object many of us step over and ignore every day, but Akie Nakata turns ordinary rocks into something people around the world clamor to give her money for.

Nakata is based in Japan and has earned a legion of fans in the past few years — as well as a solid living — by creating detailed paintings of animals on stones that can fit in your palm. In her time making these unique works of art, Nakata has rendered everything from dogs and cats to pigs, sheep and more exotic creatures, all in gorgeous clarity on simple stones.

Check out this Facebook photo of an owl she made in December, which sold in literal seconds after she posted it.

In the caption that accompanied that photo, Nakata — who goes by the name Stone Artist Akie online, where she has more than 89,000 followers on Facebook alone — wrote that the owl was sold at 10:01 a.m. after being posted at 10 a.m.

That’s pretty standard for Nakata, who revealed she’s self-taught in a 2021 profile published by Forbes, as a quick look over her Facebook page will show that virtually all of the pieces she posts for sale there sell within a minute. She doesn’t list the sale prices in her posts, but Forbes reported that she’s made anywhere from $300 to $1,500 on various works.

Nakata recently posted that she’s looking to keep up a steady output in 2022, aiming to produce six to eight pieces per month for her rabid followers to bid on in the coming year. The post included a collage featuring some of her pieces.

Nakata’s process is as fascinating as the pieces she creates. She told Forbes she collects the stones she uses along riverbanks in Saitama, which is about 20 miles northwest of Tokyo. She said she never alters the shape or surface of the rocks and lets the rock itself tell her which animal it wishes to display.

“I paint the animal that I feel is inside the stone, following the backbone and body structure that is visible on the stone,” Nakata told Forbes.