Art Workshop : Watercolor Gift Tags

 

For the Holiday Season, I wanted to give something fun and festive (and useful! ) to the community with a free demonstration on how to make watercolor gift tags.

Here was how I set up the space at University Bookstore:

 

 

As you can see, I also organized a Gift Wrapping class ( which someone else taught) that was held right after mine!

My class went really well and we had such a fun time make lots of tags to take home and use for all of our gift giving this season!

I taught them how to do three different styles of tags:

1. Messy Abstract

2. Repeating Pattern

3. Dip dye

 

TOOLS:

1. Watercolor paper. I used Fluid 140lb cotton cold press. It was the perfect weight to hold our wet techniques but not too thick that the tag press wouldn’t punch through.

2. An assortment of watercolors in whatever colors you want. I picked turquoise, mauve, sap green, vermillion, gold, and a palette of glittery kids paints.

3. Watercolor brushes. A good selection would include a large mop or sumi-e brush as well as a smaller round brush.

4. Lots of water and paper towels. Perhaps a sheet or kraft paper to work on top of.

5. Glitter. I used an ultra fine gold

6. Mod podge and small foam brush

7. Tag Punch

8. Twine

9. Scissors

10. water jars or cups

11. One hole punch that will allow the twine to pass through

 

TECHNIQUES:

1. Messy Abstract

This is kind of the anything goes (including the kitchen sink) technique! I told my students not to fear messing up, because you CAN’T mess up here! The beauty of punching out small swatches of paint and pattern here is that it’s very forgiving- as long as you don’t overdo it, you’ll end up with some lovely swirls of color!

We used several techniques to achieve our sheet of abstract paper: wet-in-wet, splatter, drip, and salting.

GRACE’S TIP #1 : tape your paper down!!! Or at least the corners – this gets wet really quickly and the page tends to buckle!

Instructions:

1. Wet the paper with clean water using the large brush. Make sure the paper is glistening but there are no huge puddles of water.

2. Load the same brush with pigment and lay down that color on the paper. Notice how the color swirls when it touches the wet page.

3. Wash out the brush with clean water in your jar and use it to pick up another color. Lay this color down on the paper as well. The two colors will mix in beautiful ways. Make sure to leave white space on the page as well for textural interest.

4. Splatter and/or drip paint onto the paper as well. Basically, get paint on paper however you feel inspired.

5. Finally, when you are satisfied with the color patterns, and while the paper is still moist, sprinkle some large-grained salt on the page and set the whole thing aside to dry.

 

2. REPEATING PATTERN

This is another simple and loose technique, where you make repeating motifs all over the page. I chose bright green leaves and stems with little red berry dots – in keeping with the Holiday theme.

Grace’s Tip #2 : To add brightness and overall visual interest in your final tags, make sure you leave a lot of white spaces in your pattern.ย 

Set aside to dry.

 

3. DIP DYE

For this technique, you need to punch out some tags first.

1 Fill a shallow bowl or cup with a thin paint mixture (pain diluted with water to a saturation that pleases you)

2. Dunk the tag into the paint to a height of about 1/2 to 3/4 way up. Do this quickly.

3. Set aside to dry

Grace’s Tip #3: If you can rig up a little “clothesline”, you can clip the tags onto the string to dry, since both sides have paint on them.

 

Punch out the pages you left to dry in techniques 1 and 2 and voila! Gift tags for all your presents this year!

 

Optional embellishments:

Glitter : Add a strip of Mod Podge to the bottom of the tags and sprinkle with glitter.

Paint Pens: use white gel or paint pens to put tiny dots on the tags to simulate snow

 

After the class, I sent home the students with little kraft sleeves full of their creations, along with some bakers twine:

Here are some of the beautiful tags that the workshop participants made. If you make some tags of your own, I’d love to see your work – share them on Instagram with the hashtag #gracerajendranworkshops :

 

 

Pretty Things Holiday Edition: University Bookstore

I just adore Christmas – to me, it truly IS The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year! All of the beautiful colors, the glitter, the inherent joy in every little object. That’s why I’m doing a weekly Holiday Round-Up of Pretty Things I see at the various stores I frequent.

Here at University Bookstore, the theme seems to be whimsical, glittery pastels! Which is pretty much my theme for the entire year anyway so I’m blissfully taken by all of it!

Here are my the top four things on my wishlist:

1. SPARKLY, GLITTER STOCKING!!!! Ummm, where have you been all my life?!

2. WHIMSICAL ANIMAL ORNAMENT

I got a similar one a couple of years ago that featured a glittery pink Eiffel Tower and I absolutely treasure it! I like Christmas stuff that I can use all year round and that ornament has a permanent place on my bookshelf. These two little guys are going to join it!! Firstly, I can’t resist foxes and much less, a fox with a golden tail, and secondly – how sweet is this little alpaca! And check out the festive tassels!!

3. CHAMPAGNE FIR TREE

I love the color (a soft champagne gold) and the subtle sparkle (of course I do!!) of this very lovely little tree. And probably one of the best shapes for a Christmas tree I’ve seen around – that wide base adds a lot of dimensional charm.

4. PRECIOUS LITTLE PASTEL VILLAGES

These folksy little houses are sweet and lovely and just oh so Christmas-y. I swear I hear carols every time I look at them! And that delicate shade of rosy pink!!

 

DIY Fiesta Nails

This nail design is as simple as it is fun!! The perfect antidote to gloomy, grey weather since it evokes the bright colors and energy of a tropical party and the beautiful confetti that sparkles and sprinkles out of piรฑatas.

Even more importantly, it is very easy to recreate by yourself- without anyone helping you paint the nails on your dominant hand- and all you need are two colors and, of course, a topcoat.

For your base color, pick a vibrant, fun, bright – I chose a hot pink from Republic Nail’s Frida Kahlo collection. For your accent color, any confetti-style polish in a clear foundation will be perfect. I wanted a multi-color, metallic confetti in Latin-inspired jewel tones so I picked Craze by LA Colors.

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Lay down two coats of your first, base color. Let dry between coats.

2. Once this is dry, add the confetti polish to the tips of your nails. If you’re having difficulty getting enough of the confetti on, pour the polish into a shallow, disposable dish and use a toothpick to grab and apply the little dots.

3. Let dry and then add a coat or two of Top Coat

Enjoy your fun and happy new nails!!

 

 

3 Step Leopard Nails

I’ve been growing my nails out for the past couple of months and have been having a lot of fun playing with nail art. Since I have to paint both hands myself, I need to keep the designs simple so here’s my latest – one of my favorite patterns of all time – leopard!!

There are only 3 steps and you only need 3 nail polish colors.

TOOLS AND SUPPLIES:

1. A light colored base coat – I used Wisp, by Sinful Colors

2. A darker color for the inside of the spots – I used Tan Lines, again from Sinful Colors

3. A clear topcoat

4. A black, round tip nail art pen.

5. A wooden toothpick

 

STEPS:

1. Lay down your base color. Let fully dry.

2. Using the toothpick to pick up little dabs of the second color, make little flat circles on your base color . Let these dry fully as well.

3. Make the characteristic black border around the spots with your black paint pen. Once this is dry, seal with the clear topcoat.

Oh wait! There IS one more step: impress everyone with your gorgeous manicure!! ๐Ÿ˜„

I hope you try it for yourself! If you do, share your pics with me on Instagram using the hashtag, #gracerajendranworkshops

Remember, most of all, to have fun!

 

Little Things Got You Down? : Or The Power Of Perspective

My morning started off in a rather – no, VERY – irritating fashion. Not feeling well, I wanted to stay in bed until the last possible moment. My cat wanted to create a ruckus until I got up to play. She won – as my apartment walls are thin and I didn’t want to punish my neighbors as well.

This, I could have dealt with. My bathroom overflowing in a horrible manner and forming one of the Great Lakes – I just could NOT deal with. This badly-behaving bathroom only tends to do this when I’m on my way to work too! Many, many towels and a few choice words later, while I was in the middle of a WHY ME???? tirade, I stopped to reflect.

What am I gaining from this foul temper? The answer – just a bad mood all day – wasn’t pleasing or acceptable to me. It wasn’t helping now and it certainly won’t help later because I’ve set myself up with the mindset that every little thing today will just bother me more and more. ย That’s the way irritating Little Things are. I read once that tiny constant annoyances are worse for our stress levels than dealing with one big thing. Maybe because the tension from those small things keeps building up since we think they’re actually too silly to deal with properly.

Back to this morning. It’s been a very busy, harried few months, both at work and at home, so I know that I’m more irritable now than I normally would be. Rushing around tends to do that to people. So, my mood was understandable but it still wasn’t doing me any good.

While I was squeezing the water out of the fourth towel, I thought back to a conversation I had last night about the horrible and heartbreaking homelessness ย problem in this city. That jolted me into perspective really quickly.

And I repeat – this advice is for all the little things that bug you in your day, not for major illness or loss. For those, a grieving process is necessary and essential. In my minor case, I just STOPPED that flow of negative thinking, took a breath, and reversed that negative trajectory I was on.

Instead of listing all of the bad things, I thought about all of the things I was grateful for. A simple switch of words.

Horrible plumbing? Well at least I HAVE a bathroom.

Can’t sleep in? At least I HAVE a cat that can’t get enough of me.

Stressing over missing my bus to work? Well, at least I HAVE a job.

Sounds too easy – and somewhat too much of a cliche – to work. But you know what, it really did! And my dark mood lifted, I feel more optimistic about the day, and here I am, writing this post!

With the Holidays upon us, we are all going to start feeling extremely frazzled and rushed. Our fuses, quite naturally, are going to be short. When you start feeling like things are rapidly ย going downhill:

1. Pause

2. Breathe

3. Reverse

Watercolor Leaves Workshop

, ,

I taught my second watercolor workshop last Saturday and, since this is the season of fiery autumn leaves, that was the subject that I chose!

If you checked out my last post, EVERY LEAF A FLOWER, you would have seen the hyper-realistic leaves that I’ve been painting lately. Well, since I’m teaching children in the first session and predominantly art novices in the second, I thought it might be a little overwhelming if I presented those pieces for the class project!

So, I came up with a simpler example (the painting above) and put together a lesson plan and materials. As always, I gave the students a brief overview of watercolors, went over fundamental techniques, and guided them every step of the way. I was actually amazed at how well they did! Here are some photos of the set up, as well as their phenomenal work!