Monday, April 22, 2013

Stencil Updates from Here and There

Last week's stencil demo at the Monmouth Festival of the Arts went very well.  My friend Mary Ann co-demonstrated with me, and I was especially delighted with her idea of making a rubber stamp-style printing plate, using the 9"X12" Jugs stencil that I designed for  I will be posting photos when they are available.  (Mary Ann had to go straight from our demo to preparing for the Allaire Flea Market, held yesterday.)

Already available for pre-order at, Mary Beth Shaw's   book StencilGirl is stuffed with even more ideas.  I've placed my pre-order and look forward to receiving it this fall.

I just ran across a delightful blog --
-- abrim with even more stencil-using ideas; its author is a fellow designer for StencilGirlProducts.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  The author's name is Jessica Sporn.  Please don't get the idea that her blog title refers to anything other than her name!!!  (Blush.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Repeating Designs in Abstract Fine Art thru Stencil Use

Above is a close-up of a mixed-media collage I will be bringing to my April 15 demo at Monmouth Festival of the Arts ...

... wherein I will show a number of fine-art applications using stencils from

Like many of the techniques I use, this one that I call "stencil-and-scrape" is not entirely original.  I did discover it by way of happy accident -- but shortly afterward, I saw that someone else had made the same discovery and posted it on the Internet.

After using masking tape to secure a stencil to my substrate, I use more tape to add a sheet of translucent paper over the stencil.  I use deli wrap paper, but tracing paper or many other substitutes will work as well.  With a credit card or an artist's spatula, I then scrape acrylic paint over the paper atop the stencil.  This is simply a "wet" version of making a rubbing, an old technique that I described in a much earlier post.  It is much faster and easier than the traditional dry rubbing method.  When I do it, I'm careful to stroke the loaded scraper in one direction only.  I use several strokes, moving from left to right across the paper atop the stencil.

I remove the translucent paper and set it aside to dry.  After dry-time, I cut it into desired shapes and add it to my mixed-media collages, as shown above:  The far left shows a paper that was scraped over my Kaleid stencil, using a combination of gold and white acrylic paints.

The pink middle section was created with one of my other favorite stencils from, using the tried-and-true method of simply sponging on paint thru the stencil's openings.

The aqua right side was created with the addition of a second dried piece of "stencil-and-scrape" paper, this one having been scraped with aqua acrylic paint.

The over-stamp of gold paint on the right side of the photo was a "ghost print" --  elsewhere on the same artwork, I had just used a stencil in the traditional way of applying (gold) paint thru a stencil with a sponge-topped stipple brush.  While the leftover gold paint on the stencil was still moist, I pulled the stencil off the substrate, flipped it over and pressed it to this area, over the aqua collage paper.

This ghost print method is a form of monoprinting, stamping and transfering; I've seen all three labels applied to it.  It keeps paint-waste to a minimum and it serves the purpose of helping create unity in the artwork by repeating a pattern ... doing so without using the exact same image, which could become boring to the viewer's eye.  The flipping over reverses the original image; the fact that the paint is just leftovers creates the "ghost" effect, which further changes the design in a way that is likewise subtle.  I like to make my artwork interesting in every part of the surface -- not equally interesting; I almost always want the focal point to stand out -- but I do want to "entertain the eye everywhere," to borrow a wonderful phrase from some other artist whose name I wish I could remember!

Altho it may not be immediately apparent, the gold ghost print was created using the same stencil (my Kaleid stencil, available at as what had been used earlier in creating the "stencil-and-scrape" collage paper on the far left.  The viewer's eye may not immediately grasp this similarity, but the vaguely similar pattern will give the viewer a sense of satisfaction.  The goal of unity in an artwork is, I think, to achieve this satisfaction.

Stencil-Use in Mixed-Media Collage

Above is a close-up of one of the mixed-media collages I will be bringing to show at my April 15 demo at Monmouth Festival of the Arts...

... and it shows two uses for art stencils that I will be covering in my demo:   The left side of the photo, as well as the white-and-blue over-print on the right side of the photo, are examples of simply spreading a thick medium thru a stencil that's been secured to the substrate with masking tape.  The medium I chose for this piece was molding paste/modeling paste (one manufacturer uses one name and another uses the other; yet another company calls it "artist's cement.")
The upper right area of this photo shows embossed "paper" that I made using one of my favorite stencils from  Please scroll down to my March 6 post to read the technique used to create this embossed "paper." 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Stencils are Fun!

One of my favorite fellow designers at, Daniella Woolf, has created a 9"X12" stencil entitled Calligraphy -- which I have used many times.

Because I've been too lazy to follow my own advice for cleaning stencils after use with acrylic paints and other acrylic media, I've created a mixed-media patina on the original stencil ... and I like it so much, I've scanned it.  I plan to use it as an overlay or a background in future digital artwork.
And, you know, I'm tempted to cut up this particular stencil -- after ordering a replacement! -- and use it as part of a collage. 

Stencil News

Available now for pre-order at Amazon --

While waiting to receive that all-stencil book by Mary Beth Shaw -- well worth the wait; to my knowledge, there is no other book out there focusing exclusively on the variety of ways to use stencils -- you may want to check out page 133 in another book, Mixed Media Revolution, by Darlene Olivia McElroy and Sandra Duran Wilson:  Here, in the write-up Embrace Me, find a technique for stenciling a flexible substrate which then can be shaped to fit a vase or any similar 3D object.  In other projects shown in this book, the authors have explored using crackle medium with stencils ... including a brilliant idea for scanning the dried, paint-stained crackle designs, and printing them out for use as collage pieces.