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four square painted canvases on a white shelf on a turquoise wall that read Love, You Got This, Ur So Awesome Girl!, Just Be You.

Words of Inspiration for Graduates!

By Brenda Ponnay

What do you give someone who is about to graduate high school or college and start the next chapter of their life? It can be so hard to give a gift that really shows how much you love them and how proud you are. How do you do that?

Square Canvas with drippy paint in pastel color over the letters UR SO AWESOME GIRL!

You can’t. But you can try. I discovered this gift idea a while back when I was broke and desperate for a gift for someone I really cared about. I wanted to gift this graduate something from the heart but I didn’t have the funds to buy them what they really needed. I realized that all I could really give them were my time and my words. So I broke out my supplies and painted my words.

I started with some silly inspirational quotes and then added in some of my own words to personalize it. I can’t share those paintings here because the paintings were a little too personal but I thought I’d share some more these that my daughter and I are gifting some teenagers in my life who are just about to graduate.

We like this craft because it’s not too complicated or intimidating; we think all parents and children can tackle it together.

Six Inspirational Paintings on square canvases with stickers on them with the phrases: Just Be You, Love, UR So Awesome Girl!, Check Yourself Before you Wreck Yourself, You Got This, Oh The Places, and two sheets of stickers with yellow letters and numbers

Painting letters neatly in a small space can be really difficult so we decided to speed things up with some foam letter stickers I found at my local craft store. Originally we had planned to remove the foam letters to reveal a really cool negative space in neon pink or gold but the foam letters didn’t end up masking very well so we left them stuck on the paintings and called it mixed-media.

Supplies to make Words of Inspiration Wall Art:

  • a gallery-sided canvas (so you don’t have to frame it). Ours are 3×3 and 6×6, but any size will do.
  • foam sticker letters (Buy at least 2 sets because there are never enough of the letter E).
  • acrylic paint in your favorite colors and a contrasting color for the letters (we used gold).

How  to make Words of Inspiration Wall Art:

First we positioned all the letters how we liked them, making sure they were centered and there was equidistant space on all sides.

photo of square painted canvas in orange and pink striped with yellow stickers with the words Check Yourself Before you Wreck Yourself and and different color paints on paper plate with paint brush; three sheets of stickers in background

Next we mixed up a palette of all our favorite colors and painted big sloppy stripes over top the letters. How you paint the color on is not really important. You can go crazy with big loud splotches or keep it minimal with tight controlled stripes. Personally, I’ve made it my mission in life to let go when I’m painting and just let imperfection be a rule. It’s way less stressful and I think letting go of rules allows us to paint more from the heart and less from the mind. But that’s just my thing.

two side-by-side photos with paper plates with paints below and  of painted square canvases  with words in stickers that read Ur So Awesome Girl! and You Got This

After the paint dried we came back and painted gold on the letters to make them show up more against the background.

The paintings are a little (or maybe a lot) messy but I think wrapped up in tissue paper and stuck in a gift bag will make them just right for the people we made them for.  Especially because their message is from the heart. And it won’t hurt that we always tell people that it won’t hurt our feelings if they hang it in a private space like the closet or behind the door in the bathroom because after all, that might be where these paintings mean the most anyway.

Close-up of square painted canvas with sticker words reading Ur So Awesome Girl!


About the Author

Brenda Ponnay

Brenda Ponnay is an author and illustrator who loves to craft and make big messes when she’s not working on her books. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of card...

Brenda Ponnay is an author and illustrator who loves to craft and make big messes when she’s not working on her books. Whether it’s painting, baking, drawing, making castles out of cardboard boxes or just doing the laundry with flair, Brenda Ponnay has learned that what really makes her happy is being creative every single day.

You can read about all her crazy adventures on her personal blog: Secret Agent Josephine.

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