Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Finished Canvas


Above: The finished canvas that was shown in part in an earlier post, wherein I detailed the techniques behind its creation. (The final product as pictued above has had one element -- the handwriting -- digitally added.) All stencils used in creating this canvas are available at  

Black Lava and Modeling Paste with Stencils

How I started one of my mixed-media pieces on stretched gallery-wrap (wraparound) canvas:

Above:  A close-up of my first step in starting a new canvas.  Using my Kaleid stencil, I scraped two types of gel media onto the canvas:  light modeling paste and black lava.

Above:  A view of the entire canvas just after Step One; clicking on the image will enlarge it and better show details.

Once the gel dried, the canvas was ready for me to add color.

All stencils used are available at  

Close-Ups of Stencil Work

Above:  On canvas, I used purple acrylic thru a stencil, then over-stamped the dried acrylic with matte gel; after that dried, I added highlights with a Conte crayon.

Below:  After using a stencil with green acrylic in another area on this canvas, I flipped the still-wet stencil over and used it as a stamp, leaving the ghost print on the lower part of this close-up.

Above:  I used green acrylic thru a stencil to make the first impression on this canvas; after that dried, I used an old credit card to scrape over layers of other paints, especially Zinc White, which is translucent.

All stencils used in this post are available here -- -- and most are designed by Mary Beth Shaw.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stencil-Lift Technique with Wet Media

Above are two examples of using a stencil in the subtractive technique.  In both, I used wed media.  Watercolor would have worked but I happened to use acrylics.  It's easy to do:  Lay down a coat of wet paint; press on a stencil; use a soft cloth or paper towel to rub away the areas that show thru the openings of the stencil.  Lift the stencil.  Done!

I've discovered a similar technique, using dry media; it's a form of scratch-art ...

The stencil I used in creating my two above examples is one of my favorites -- Feathers and Lattice by Daniella Woolf --

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stencil, Scrape & Stamp

Above is the start of a new painting, created with 4 stencils from -- two stencils designed by Mary Beth Shaw and two that I designed.  I used high-viscosity (heavy-body) gold metallic paint thru the stencils as the first step.  I gave these imprints dimension by being generous with the amount of paint.  The red shape came next, followed by another application of gold.

In adding that red "backbone" for the composition, I used a flat paintbrush in some areas but for the most part, I applied the red paint with a scrape-tool -- an old credit card.  Below is a close-up showing the white of the original canvas, and the stenciled-on gold pattern, showing thru the red paint.  This layered look is easily accomplished with the scraping method.

Below is the painting at a later stage; I've been repeating the same process of adding paint with a scraper.

Here are two later-still-stage close-ups showing more scrape effects:
Altho not shown here, something more that I often do is to use a stencil as a "stamp," immediately after it has been used with heavy-body paint.  I lift the stencil off the substrate, turn it over, and press the still-moist paint into the substrate, usually in an area far removed from the area of original use.  I like to work toward unity in an artwork by repeating some elements across the substrate, and this method of twice using a stencil, before placing it into a soak-basin, provides a quick and easy way to work in that direction.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stencils + Paper Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer = Embossed "Paper"

This is an old technique that I've dusted off.  Some time back, I had heard that Paper Solvy was no longer being sold, but I just found it easily at and a number of other places; vendors of fabric arts supplies offer it, since it's made to be used in that arena of art-making.

Note:  It's important to look for Paper Solvy -- in a package of 12 8.5"X11" sheets -- not the Solvy Stabilizer Roll, which is a plastic-like material.  I have never tried this embossing technique with the latter; my hunch is that it would not work.

There are lots of ways to vary this technique: 

Before embossing the Paper Solvy, you can try printing a Photoshop drawing/design/pattern on it. I've been leery of running it thru either of my own printers, but the manufacturer assures us that this can be done.  My personal recommendation would be to use a printer with dye-based inks -- not an inkjet printer.  Inkjet-printed colors will bleed when exposed to wet media.  However, if you like the bleeding look, go for it! 

Another option is to use the Paper Solvy in its original white form; after the embossing, the Solvy will eventually dry.  At that point, color can be added with blending chalks, pastels, dry-brush paints, Distress Inks, etc. 

For the most dramatic embossing effect, choose a stencil that has large openings.  Any size stencil will work, but I prefer the 9"X12" size.  In the following photos, I've used one of the beautiful stencils from 


Cover the work surface with a thick layer of newspaper.  Place a stencil atop the papers.  Place a sheet of Paper Solvy over the stencil. 

Use a mister to spray the Solvy with water.  Soak each area until you see it begin to dissolve and take on the shapes of the stencil openings.  Do not over-soak -- that will make the Solvy dissolve (which it's actually designed to do, when used for its original purpose in fabric arts.) 

That's all there is to it, unless you follow my lead -- as in the above photos -- using liquid watercolors in misters, spraying them onto the Solvy before spraying with water.
Dry-time depends on humidity level.  Be prepared for a long wait.   

These finished "papers" are beautiful in collages and on greeting cards.  To avoid re-wetting this fragile material, I use extra-heavy gel medium for adhering these embossed "papers" to collages.  When I add them to greeting card covers, I use a dry adhesive; my favorite is Tombow Mono Glue Sticks. 

It can also be noted that if you have on hand old sheets of handmade paper, it can be embossed on a stencil in the same way as Paper Solvy -- as long as it's not an ultra-thick homemade paper.  

Another material that works with stencils to create an embossed result is:  Toilet tissue!  Use double-ply, and  lay down two layers, one atop the other, before spraying with water.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Happy Surprise

In an earlier post ("Flowers V 1" comes to Center Stage) I described what I call the stencil-and-stain technique. 

At the end of that post, I also detailed the old-hat technique of taping a stencil to a substrate, then applying modeling paste thru the stencil (like applying frosting to a cake), and lifting off the stencil as the last step.

Today I started a new canvas -- one of my favorite things to do -- using three StencilGirlProducts stencils:  After securing them with masking tape, I used an artist's spatula to spread modeling paste thru the stencil openings, then lifted the stencils.  The two 9"X12" ones, I placed immediately into the water soaking basin.   But the 6"X6" stencil had so much leftover modeling paste on it that I decided to place it upside down next to the area where the stencil had just been used.  I pressed this loaded stencil to the canvas, using it like a rubber stamp.  It left a faint imprint.  You won't be able to see the stamped-on 6"X6" imprint in this photo but you can possibly make out the 9"X12" raised areas of modeling paste, especially if you click on the image below to enlarge it.  
My next step was to wash the stencils and pat them dry, giving the modeling paste dry-time of its own.

Once everything had dried, I used the same stencils in a stencil-and-stain treatment.  I placed the stencils down first, before adding liquid watercolor and watered-down acrylic paints.  There was no need to tape down the stencils for this step.

Above, you can see part of the canvas and two of the three stencils.  These two beautiful stencils were created by Mary Beth Shaw, author of a book on mixed media and a soon-to-be-released book -- titled StencilGirl -- on using stencils in a wide range of creative ways.  In the above shot, the stencils are at the upper left and the lower right.  The other shapes (upper right and lower left) are the areas where I pushed modeling paste thru the stencils, earlier.  You can see how the wet paint has spread randomly under the stencils and across the raised areas of dried modeling paste.

Below is another photo taken at this stage of the work, showing all three stencils:

As I waited for the paints to dry, I noticed a wonderful surprise.  The area that had been "stamped" with leftover molding paste was soaking up some of the color and creating fantastic linework, much of which was under the third stencil, a 6"X6" of my design titled Kaleid.

Can you see the layered effect that has resulted?  It may help if I re-post a JPG of the stencil Kaleid, which I used both for the "stamping" first-step  and the second-step of staining:

(This is a stencil that I never bothered to clean after multiple uses with acrylic paints.  Do as I say, not as I do!)  I hope seeing the above shape will give a better idea as to what I meant when I said that I got the pleasant surprise of a double image on today's canvas.  On my canvas, the "stamped" area now shows thru the stained area.  This is one of the reasons I usually use translucent paints. 
All three of these stencils are available at 

Friday, March 1, 2013

More New Releases at

In the mood for botanicals?  Now available at are three more stencils I've designed --

Ivy 6 and Ivy Frame 6 ...

... and Ferns 6 ...

Below is a greeting card cover I made with the Ferns 6 stencil in a technique described in an earlier post (using modeling paste, Distress Inks and rubbing chalk.)  I have used the same technique on a large botanical-themed collage, on gallery-wrap canvas, which I will be taking to my April 15 demo at Monmouth Festival of the Arts ...