Thursday, February 28, 2013

Monoprint using Ivy Stencil Now Available at

In an earlier post I gave a list of web addresses that give beautiful demos on using a Gelli Plate for making monoprints.  Those other artists do a better job of explaining the process than I could, so I love that they are sharing their know-how online.  Above is a monoprint I made today, using a stencil that has just been released at -- a 9"X12" ivy stencil, which has a just-released "sister" stencil of the same size:  an ivy frame.  These two 9"X12" stencils have "little sisters" in the 6"X6" size.  Although I used the 6"X6" ivy and the 6"X6" ivy frame stencils in making monoprints today, I like the larger version better for this particular technique.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

3 More Close-Ups Showing Overlapping Layers in the Same Revamped Abstract Painting

The above close-up results were created with stencils I've designed for -- my 6"X6 stencils Seaweed, Marbles and Swatton Grid. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Flowers V 1" comes to Center Stage

So far, I've used three techniques with my Flowers V 1 stencil, available under "New Stencils" at   
1.  Stencil & Stain technique: 

For your substrate, choose a smooth, nonabsorbent surface such as sturdy and glossy cardstock, Crescent illustration board, Fredrix watercolor-canvas or hot-press Arches 140-lb. watercolor paper; or any heavier watercolor paper, as long as it's hot-press -- cold-press surfaces are not smooth enough for this technique.  Likewise, if your cardstock is not of the sturdy quality (similar to thin cardboard) it will not work well with this technique.
Pour a small amount of Liquitex or other brand acrylic ink across the substrate.

Spray with a water mister to spread the color.  Use as many colors as desired but avoid creating a wide, thick puddle -- that would needlessly prolong drying time, besides wasting ink.
Place the stencil into the color puddle.  Atop the stencil, place a sheet of Plexiglas or glass; atop that, a paperweight. 

Allow several hours' dry-time -- but don't wait until the ink is completely dry; this may adhere the stencil to the substrate.  (Ouch!) 

Be prepared for a stencil that may remain permanently stained -- but still useable. 

Also:  Experiment with other media:  watercolor; acrylic paint; tea; walnut ink, etc. 

And finally:  If you can bear to, cut up your stencils and place unmatched stencil-pieces next to each other before pouring the color.
Below are two shots of a background created using this technique.  The completed image remains subtle (almost fossil-like) when this technique is used.

Below, I've used this background with pressed flowers ... it will be a greeting card cover or journal cover.
2. Stippling Technique:
This method for using a stencil is the original approach already very familiar to many; start by masking-taping the stencil to the substrate.  Then use a sponge-type stipple brush to apply acrylic paint through the stencil.  I thickened my paint with matte gel medium but heavy-body (high-viscosity) acrylic paint would have worked just as well...
3.   Modeling Paste & Ranger Industries' Distress Ink:
This technique has beautiful results on a semi-finished collage, on the cover of a greeting card or on the cover of an illustrated journal.  Be aware that dried modeling paste remains slightly fragile, forever, if it's been applied in a thick layer -- the way I like to do it!
Masking-tape a stencil to a substrate and spread a layer of white modeling paste across the stencil. 
Immediately place the used stencil in a basin of water.  Modeling paste will wash off easily.
After the modeling paste dries, apply Ranger Distress Inks -- or experiment with blending chalks, watercolor, dry-brush acrylic paints, etc.  
Also experiment with adding acrylic paint to the modeling paste before applying it through the stencil. 
And finally, try experimenting with other products similar to modeling paste.
Below is a greeting card cover made with my StencilGirlProducts stencil Flowers V 1 using the technique just described:

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Distress Inks applied directly thru my StencilGirlProducts stencil "Kaleid"

My stencil Kaleid -- newly available at -- was used here with Ranger Industries' Distress Inks, applied through the stencil with an applicator that resembles that old-time shaving brush seen in Westerns.  (These applicators are called "Color Dusters" at 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Just Posted at -- my Stencil "Kaleid"

I'm dying to finish my first attempt at one of the techniques for stencil-use presented at Cindy Powell's blog --

-- but while my bottom coat of paint dries, I'll post two techniques for using Kaleid, the latest of my stencil designs (listed under "New Stencils") posted at --

Below is a "ghost print" (the second print) I created using Kaleid and a Gelli Printing Plate.
There is a lot of online instruction on this type of monoprinting...

Using stencils is one way in which to use a Gelli Printing Plate or a homemade gelatin printing plate.   

Videos and other tutorial information can be found at these web addresses: 

Homemade Gelatin Printing Plates:  (Note:  This video uses a variation of the technique I use.  The video mistakenly uses the word "stencil" -- and means to use the word "mask."   However, this technique-variation is worth a try -- using an actual stencil.)

(Note:  Lots of helpful info is on the above web page, if you are using a homemade gelatin printing plate.)

(Note:  The above web address explains using stencils and gelatin printing plates with fabric.)

(Note:  In the above demo, the artist uses slow-drying acrylic extender mixed with her acrylic paints.  This is a common practice among printmakers.  Other options include "open acrylics" and printmaking inks; the latter come in oil-based versions and water-based versions.) 

Gelli Gel Printing Plates (which is what I used in creating the above example): 

Another image I'm posting today is a greeting card cover:
The Shadow Knows!  To create an image like this, you will need a strong flow of light through a window, or use another source.  Find a way to secure a stencil in a position that results in its shadow being cast.  The shadow can be cast across a flat surface as shown above -- or across someone's face, if you want to create an unusual photo portrait!
After taking a photo of the Kaleid stencil's cast shadow, I printed it, cut it out with fancy-cut scissors and glued it to a greeting card cover.  On the lower right (difficult to see, here) I added a simple swirl of glitter glue.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Another way to use a StencilGirl Products Stencil...

StencilGirl Products' stencils are easy to clean, even after using them with acrylic paints (if they are placed right after use into a soak basin of water) -- but since I was blessed to be accepted as one of the designers at StencilGirl Products, I receive not only each stencil itself for my own use, but also what called a proof -- a prototype, laser-cut from the same pattern I designed, using a lighter-weight and thinner sheet of acetate.  A proof can be used as a stencil -- but, being different in character from the finished product that is sent to a customer at StencilGirl Products, it will more readily retain a coating of acrylic paints, once it's been used with them.  The above proof was used in seveal applications and the proof itself has become so pretty that I've scanned it and will use the print-outs on greeting card covers.  The above image is darker and dimmer than the proof itself but serves well enough to show what I mean.
The latest stencil of mine to be posted at,   this design is titled Kaleid (listed on the SCP website under "New Stencils.")  The original design appears below:
How did I arrive at this design?  My friend Mary Ann had the idea for us to create collography printing plates, so together we trooped down to Collingswood Flea Market to buy thin sheets of black foam, waste scraps from unknown industrial uses.  We cut up the foam into random shapes and (with heavy matte gel medium) adhered them to sturdy illustration board.  We used the same gel to coat the foam shapes and their backboard (on both sides) so as to make them waterproof and washable.  After they were dried, we used them to make prints; one of my prints was done in black and white, which I scanned.  I then used a program called Kaleidoscope Kreater to alter the original image.  My last step (in Photoshop) was the stencil-making process:  Removing stray pixels, creating stencil bridges, and cleaning up edges of lines.
Was it worth all that work?  Yes!  This has become my favorite stencil.  One of the abstract artworks that I've just finished made heavy use of this stencil and I like the results so much that this piece will be included among my 10 "portfolio pieces" to be placed in the mid-April Monmouth Festival of the Arts ...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stencil Mania has been spawned by StencilGirlProducts!

My friend Cindy has done some beautifully creative artwork using stencils, including stencils I've designed that are now available at  Please visit Cindy's blog --

--to check out her techniques!  I'm in the process of doing just that, myself.  Hope mine will turn out as nicely as hers did!

Today another stencil of my design -- Swatton Grid Stencil-- has gone live at --
I created this design by first visiting a children's playground -- camera in hand -- and crawling under the platform near the slide.  From a squatting position -- ouch! -- I took photos from beneath the mesh-like platform, pointing upward toward the sun.  Later, in Photoshop, I transformed one of these photos into a silhouette; I collaged together sections of the silhouette; and finally I did the pixel clean-up and the bridge-building to create a stencil. 

Since I love to create non-representational abstract mixed media art on canvas, this one is among my special favorites.  It's available here:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Announcement -- I'm Designing for

The stencil that I used to make this greeting card cover is one of a brand-new collection of stencils that I have designed for StencilGirl --
-- and although only two of my stencils are currently on display at the StencilGirl website, more will be appearing soon.

To make this greeting card cover, I used masking tape to secure the stencil to the card; then, with a plastic knife, I spread an even layer of super-heavy white gesso across the stencil.  I removed the stencil (and immediately placed it in a basin of water to keep the gesso from hardening on the stencil.  Be nice to your stencils, and they will be nice to you!)  After the gesso hardened, I went over it with several successive layers of acrylic paint, rubbing off some of each color as I went.  I brushed white liquid gesso around the edges after all the paint had dried.  I then painted the gingko leaves with gold metallic paint.  After cleaning the stencil with a soft old toothbrush and patting it dry between paper towels, I placed it over a piece of foreign newsprint which had previously been painted green.  I traced the left side of the largest gingko leaf, then cut it out and collaged it onto the leftmost leaf.

This will be one of the techniques I will be demonstrating at my demo at the Monmouth Festival of the Arts, April 15.  I'm so thankful to my friend Mary Ann, who has generously offered to help give the demo.

For more techniques using stencils, come September, check for the new book by Mary Beth Shaw.  Its working title is StencilGirl but should this change, search Amazon using her name.

Saturday, February 9, 2013 -- Home of My New Stencils and Much More!

Gingko is the name of the above stencil, available at 
Marbles is the title of the above stencil, available at
Links is the title of the above stencil, available at
Flowers V 1 is the title of the above stencil, available at -- Home of My New Stencils and Much More!

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Technique using my KALEID Stencil available at

Stencil, Gel & Chalk:
Secure the stencil to the substrate of choice, using masking tape.  (I recommend Frog Tape -- sold at Lowe's,, etc.) With a palette knife or old credit card, spread heavy matte gel through a stencil.  
Allow the gel to dry completely (several hours, give or take, depending on thickness of gel that was applied.)   

Rub blending chalk (not sidewalk chalk -- that's too hard) across the ridges of the dried gel. 

If desired, spray with a fixative like Krylon.  Or use dollar store hairspray.
The stencil used to create this artwork is available at ...
to reach my StencilGirl web-page --

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Turning One of my Favorite Designs into a Stencil -- Then Using It

I love the shape of gingko leaves so much that my husband bought a gingko to plant in our back yard.  Ever since, I've used its pressed golden leaves in collages, greeting cards, altered arts and lots more.  Back when I was designing art rubber stamps, I may even have used gingko leaves in designing one of those.  As soon as I decided to try out for a position with StencilGirl as one of their stencil designers, I chose ginkgo as one of my earliest patterns.

I scanned some of my favorite pressed, dried gingko leaves at 300 dpi and used Photoshop to reduce them to silhouettes.  Then began the cosmetic work -- a few years ago, when she introduced me to the designing of digital clipart, good friend Cindy Powell taught me that it's necessary to greatly magnify every image to rid it of all "stray pixels" and less-than-perfect edges. 

After cosmetics, the next step was to teach myself how to design stencils.  In no way was I good at it right off the bat, but I began to "think stencil" and in so doing, added "bridges" throughout every area of the newly created pattern.

The irony of what I was doing was with me every moment.  I, a stencil designer?  Why, I had seldom wanted to use stencils!   I associated them with the generation of women who happily created borders of flowers or kittens or the like, along the tops of their walls and the edges of their furniture.  The few times I had actually forced myself to approach stencil-use, I had frustrating results -- the paint wanted to leak every which way, making a mess.  And finally, as my interest in fine arts deepened, I asked,  "Why would I want to use a commercially available stencil?  I would only end up with art that was not entirely my own original work.  Besides, what's the point of just repeating what a thousand other people are doing, since everyone can get the same stencil?"

Well -- as has happened often before -- a day came when I had to eat my words.  I experimented to learn the right kind of paints and other media to use with stencils, for starters; but much more satisfying than that, I taught myself ways to use them that were original and unique to me.

Then came the moment when I asked,  "Since I love creating non-representational abstract artwork, where can I get stencils that will lend themselves to use in this direction?"  Not at my local A C Moore or Michaels, that was sadly for sure.  Thus was born the idea to start designing my own ...

While designing a collection of abstract patterns, I started to wonder whether any stencil-making company would like them.  Alongside that idea came the thought that I should create a portfolio that included not only the way-out-there abstracts, but also a collection of traditional stencil images --  so out trotted my gingko, ivy and a number of my other pressed and dried once-green treasures.

I hadn't really expected to use the gingko stencil much, myself.

Wrong, again!

Delighted to be included among the StencilGirl designers, and to receive my first batches of stencils made from my own designs, I had to play with everything!  Starting with gingko ...

...and one of my earliest experiments was to spread gloss gel medium through the stencil; then, while the gel was still wet, I sprinkled it with colored sand.  I chose to sprinkle a heavy layer of sand onto part of the pattern and a lighter amount on another part.

I was careful to immediately immerse my stencil into a basin of water until I could give it a gentle cleansing -- telling myself,  "Be nice to your stencils, and they will be nice to you!"
is where you can find this stencil and lots more! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How many ways are there to use a stencil?

Using my StencilGirlProducts Gingko Stencil ...
Here is another greeting card cover made with the ginkgo stencil that I designed for StencilGirl -- and this one was put together in way less time.  I masking-taped the stencil to my work surface, then placed foreign newsprint over the stencil.  Next, I peeled the paper wrapper off an oil pastel crayon.  Holding the newsprint in place with one hand, I used the oil pastel -- on its side -- to make a rubbing of part of the gingko pattern.  I then cut it out and glued it to a background paper which had been created long ago as a "paint catch-all" paper during one of my painting sessions.  Quick and fun!
How many ways are there to use a stencil?  Find out in September when Mary Beth Shaw (the StencilGirl herself) will show up once again at, this time with a brand-new book that explores lots of answers to this question!  The book's working title is StencilGirl ... but if that should happen to change, you can still locate her new book, come September, by doing a book search at using Mary Beth Shaw's name.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stencil Storage

There are a number of expensive cabinets and the like for storing stencils -- but one look around my studio/office reminds me that adding one more piece of furniture would require either hanging it from the ceiling, blowing out one of the walls, or ... need I go on?  But I do have built-in book shelves (that and the lighting are the reasons I love this room, which started life as the master bedroom.)  For me, then, the answer is 3-ring looseleaf binders filled with clear page protectors.  A recent Internet search showed me that others have adopted the same idea. 

Since and other makers of artists' stencils provide a range of choices as to stencil size, from small to large, I've decided to use the 12" X 12" binder-style "scrapbooks" available at places like (brick-and-mortar) Tuesday Morning and (online) Staples.  At the Staples website, I had to do some serious hunting, but finally found a reasonably priced product.  I don't need a binder with metal tips nailed to the corners -- yes, a true scrapbook is meant to last for generations; but immortal stencils ...?  By the time I'm gone, my beloved stencils will probably be so well-used that they may as well be placed alongside my body in the box.