Woodgrain Nail Art: A Manicure For Ron Swanson Fans

I find wood grain so soothing that I often draw vast hardwood floors just so I can create that organic, yet linear, pattern.
Publish date:
March 11, 2014
manicures, nail art, How-To, nail polishes, covergirl, Sally Hansen, top coats, matte nails, Sharpies, wood

My experience with nail art is extremely limited. I just
grew my nails long for
the first time this past year, and I was forced to learn how to paint them when
I discovered that long, bare nails can look a bit wonky. I seriously felt
obscene when people could see my free edges.

Though I have taken chances with fun colors and even a
glitter topcoat (which is usually like my kryptonite), I find that my style is
more of a nice, understated, pretty neutral. Luckily for me, nude nails are
back on the “in” list, or maybe they never fell off it in the first place--I
can’t keep up with all the lists. I do know that Alexander Wang sent models
down the runway looking modern and utilitarian with
nude, matte nails that were described as looking like “cement.”

I’ve been playing with that cement look for a few weeks now, but I’ve decided to mix it up a bit with a nod to my favorite building
material: wood.

I like wood. (Insert Beavis and Butt-Head laugh here.) I
would gladly purchase a perfume that smells of wood smoke or sawdust. I would all-caps GLADLY nuzzle up to a man who smells of sawdust, actually. (My husband, who I
often jokingly compare to Ron Swanson, makes things out of wood, so that’s
another luckily-for-me thing.)

I find wood grain so soothing, in fact, that I
often draw vast hardwood floors just so I can create that organic, yet linear,

For this manicure, you will need:

· A base coat of your choice. I used Sally Hansen
Double Duty Strengthening Base and Top Coat.

· A nude polish of your choice. I used CoverGirl
Outlast Stay Brilliant Nail Gloss in Forever Fawn.

· A top coat of your choice. I used Sally Hansen

· A waterproof marker or Sharpie.

· A matte top coat. I used Sally Hansen Big Matte
Top Coat.

You make them as distinctive as you’d like. I chose to
use a shade that closely matches the tone of my skin, but a contrasting “wood”
would look super as well. While I was testing this look, I tried black Sharpie
on a base of NYC In a New York Color Minute Quick Dry Nail Polish in
Brownstone. Try gold Sharpie on brown, or a mustard yellow on white, or even
turquoise on light pink if that’s something that moves you.

Begin by painting your nails with your chosen base color.
Forever Fawn is as lovely a color as its name suggests, but I found that I had
to apply three coats in order to achieve full opacity.

Even though we will be
using a matte top coat later, I finished the base with a coat of InstaDri in
order to speed the setting of the enamel and to provide a slick surface for the
Sharpie drawing. Let this dry for at
least a half hour or until it is fully hardened. If not, your Sharpie will drag
into the polish, and that just doesn’t look cute.

Then, take your Sharpie and begin to apply your “grain.” I
find that most wood grain is a combination of whorls or knots separated by a
vertical, linear pattern.

The thing that
makes this look great for beginners is that a shaky, imperfect line actually
looks more realistic than something perfect. Mistakes practically blend in with
the grain.

A quick drawing lesson!

1. Begin by dividing you nail with two to three vertical

2. Randomly draw small diamonds or circles that will act as
the center of your whorls.

3. Draw concentric shapes around your centers.

4. Fill in the rest of your nail with vertical lines.

Remember that you can vary the placements of your whorls and
vertical lines.

I discovered that Sharpie will wash off of your nails if it
is not covered with a topcoat, so mistakes can be erased, so to speak. However,
I like the random patterns that evolved from the imperfection. My right hand
definitely has a slightly different look than my left, but it still works.

Finish with a matte top coat to emphasize that wooden look. Matte
topcoat that accidentally gets on your cuticles just looks like dry skin, so
do your best to neaten the edges with a cotton swab or neaten-er of your

This isn’t a
look that will instantly get attention, but I received quite a few compliments on my nails. From a distance, it's pretty quiet,
but the details can start a conversation. One friend said that she was reminded
of wood grain, yes, but also an Art Nouveau sort of pattern. A male friend
claimed that it looked like a circuit board, which I’m also into.

This is like the anti-glitter manicure--perhaps something
for my fellow minimalists? It’s definitely a nice place to start if you don’t have
much experience drawing with your non-dominant hand.

Wood. Would you? How much wood? Do you have a favorite wood?