In a world of angst-driven, politically-minded art, stone artist Akie Nakata is giving us some artwork we’d just love to cuddle. The Japanese artist paints cutesy animals onto smooth rocks, creating images so realistic it’s hard to fight the urge to reach out and pet them.

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Nakata starts her artistic process by collecting stones of all shapes and sizes. Once she finds inspiration in its shape, she begins the process of painstakingly creating the palm-sized creatures. She spends an astonishing amount of time on each project, perfecting each brush stroke so the finished product has a realistic appearance.

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She explains that her methodical process is inspired by her spiritual respect for nature and is what keeps her enjoying the work, “What I paint on stone is inspired by the stone itself,” she explains. “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?”

You can find the artist’s work on  Instagram, Facebook, and her website.

+ Akie Nakata

Via Laughing Squid

All images via Akie Nakata