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. 

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 :

 

 

Watercolor Leaves Workshop

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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!