Monday, September 30, 2013

History Repeats Itself...

It happened again ... I used Mary Beth Shaw's 9"x12"Rafters stencil --

-- and the stencil itself came out so beautifully stained that I can't bear to wash it to ready it for another use as a stencil.  Instead, as I've done before, I will order a new stencil of the same design -- and cut this one up to embellish a collage.  Here is the part that would fit on my scanner; click on it to better see the details:

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ode to StencilGirl

Presenting my abstract artwork Ode to StencilGirl, which was created on Yupo using Mary Beth Shaw's Web Stencil ...
... among others.
I started with the stencil-and-stain technique detailed elsewhere on this blog ...
... and finished with overlays of acrylic paint, applying it with brushes, rubber stamps, spray, and the kind of paint transfer called a monoprint.
Ode to StencilGirl copyright 2013 Cecilia Swatton with all rights reserved

Sunday, September 22, 2013


This is a close-up detail; click on image to enlarge it.

To create my mixed-media collage Maelstrom, I needed two stencils: is where I bought the 9"X12" stencil Eddy Rose, created by Mary Beth Shaw of -- and, at the same website, I bought Circle Play, a 6"X6" stencil created by Margaret Applin ...

In my thick base coat of black acrylic paint, I made impressions with the same stencils named above.  That part of this mixed-media collage is not shown here because, despite repeated tries, I couldn't take a photo of the whole piece due to its stubborn refusal to give up areas of reflected light!  I had to content myself with the close-up detail shown above.

After the black base coat, I added layer after layer of stenciled-in patterns in yellow, orange and red acrylic paint.  Between these layers I added strips of paper that I had previously painted in matching colors.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Steampunk and Other New Stencils -- Available Now!

I've designed three more stencils now available under "New Stencils" at ... and below I'm showing stencil-and-stain prints on Yupo that I made, using spray watercolors with these stencils:

My stencil "Trivet 9X12" was used for the above print; click on the image to enlarge it.
"Trivet B", a 6"X6" stencil, was used for the above print; click on the image to enlarge it.
The stencil "Trivet A 6X6" was used in the above image, side-by-side with the stencil "Trivet C" (which also measures 6"X6".)

Above, the stencil "Steampunk 9"X12" was used in making this print.
Trivet A and Trivet B (both measuring 6"X6") are found here -- on the first page of "New Stencils"--

Trivet C (6"X6") and the 9"X12" trivet stencil are coming soon to, under "New Stencils."

The stencil-and-stain technique is wonderfully easy.  It can be used on a number of substrates -- Yupo, as I've done here; it can also be used on pre-stretched canvas, as I showed in an earlier post (under "Older Posts" below); and it can be done on hot-press watercolor paper (which has a surface smooth to the touch); and finally, it can be done on glossy cardstock.  

The substrate of choice is placed on a flat surface with a protective layer of newspapers underneath.  If the substrate is a flimsy material, like cardstock or lightweight watercolor paper, it should be fastened down, along the edges, with masking tape.

The stencil is placed on top, flat against the substrate.  Over the stencil, spray liquid watercolors.  I've used full-strength watercolors as well as watercolors diluted with water.  I've also used spray acrylics which I have first diluted with water.

The color will seep under the stencil; you can encourage additional spreading of color by spraying with water in a mister. 

Leave the stencil on overnight.  Check the next day by lifting one corner.  If the paint has dried, lift the stencil all the way off.  If the paint is still damp, replace the corner of the stencil and wait longer.

Paper and canvas will dry fairly fast, depending on local humidity level.  Glossy cardstock may take a little longer.  Yupo will take the longest.

After removing your stencil, you can use it to make a "ghost print" with the leftover paint that is still clinging to the stencil's plastic surface.  Just place the stencil on a new substrate and mist it with water.  Repeat the waiting time.  This second print is called "ghost" because it comes out lighter.


Monday, September 2, 2013

New Stencils Coming up for Release at ...

... include Borders 1, Borders 2, Borders 3, Wrought Iron Gate, Heron and Osprey Wings

The two bird silhouettes are 6"X6" and have been featured in artwork in earlier posts, below this post.

The others are 9"X12" and one of them, Borders 1, was featured in artwork in an earlier post, also below.

Now to show Borders 2 and 3 in action:

Since each of the Borders series of stencils contains three borders per stencil, it's easy to overlay one border design with another.  I've done just that in the two examples above -- detail-shots of an abstract artwork in progress, on canvas.   Here, I have used a sponge-top pounce-type applicator with acrylic paints.

I used the same approach to add this overlay pattern in this detail-shot of another work-in-progress; here, I was working with the Borders 3 stencil:
 Borders 2 stencil (soon to be released):
 Borders 3 stencil (soon to be released):

And finally, below is shown a subtle, translucent white (Zinc White) overlay that I created with the same type of stencil brush and acrylic paint, using my soon-to-be-released stencil Wrought Iron Gate:

9"X12" soon-to-be-released stencil Wrought Iron Gate


The Birds are Coming!

Coming soon at are two bird-themed 6"X6" stencils that I've designed.  The osprey stencil is the focus of an earlier post, below.  This post focuses on the stencil Heron.
In earlier posts, I described creating monoprint-backgrounds, followed by placing the bird stencil atop multi-hued paper (orange to purple, in this case), tracing the outline of the image, cutting out this silhouette (with cuticle scissors or other small scissors to catch all the fine details) and, as a final step, adding the heron shape to the background with matte medium or a good-quality gluestick.
The above background looks pretty much like a monoprint ... and in a way, it actually is a monoprint ... but the technique I used was not the same as what I've described in earlier posts below.
Citrasolv was used to make this particular background; here is a helpful video:
Be aware that Citrasolv fumes are strong and for this reason it's my advice to do this technique outdoors.  I also advise wearing heavy-duty plastic gloves (not disposable plastic gloves.) Cheap Joe's Art Supplies sells Citrasolv via their online store; it can also be found on the housecleaning shelf at Whole Foods.
The Heron stencil, soon to be released at

An Art Journal Page Designed with Part of One Border on the 3-Part "Borders 1" stencil, Soon to be Released

In this facsimile of an art journal page, the background paper was created by monoprinting, as detailed in the post below this post.

After this background paint has dried, the next step is to place over it one of the three borders in my soon-to-be-released 9"X12" stencil Borders 1 (  In this particular example, I took the option of using only part of the border -- this border-design includes decorative bars; these decorative bars can either be included -- or, as shown here, the bars can be masked off (on the stencil itself, using masking tape.)  This is just one example of the creative freedom that's part of the fun of art-making with stencils.

The Borders 1 stencil:

To watch a video of monoprinting using a sheet of glass or Plexiglas, go to:

Note that the speaker on this video says you have the option of using "open acrylic" paints to prolong the printing time and to facilitate easier lifting of the finished monoprint.  I agree this is a good idea for beginners.  These samples of mine, however, were created with normal acrylic paints.  I started using open acrylics when I bought my Gelli Plate.

Osprey Wings

Coming to  One of my newly designed stencils, measuring 6"X6", features a pair of soaring osprey (fish hawks) and goes by the title of Osprey Wings.

This particular design happens to be one I developed a long time ago, after taking photos at Sandy Hook National Park, NJ, a long peninsula jutting up between a wide double-bay and the Atlantic, with the NYC skyline as background.

The above image, which features one of the two osprey silhouettes on this new 6"6" stencil, was created long ago in Photoshop.  But I could have created the exact same results using this new stencil -- I simply would have placed the Osprey Wings stencil atop yellow-to-purple paper, traced the outline, cut out the silhouette, and adhered it to a piece of background paper. 

This particular background paper started life as a sheet of black glossy cardstock.  I then pressed it, glossy black side down, to a sheet of Plexiglas randomly spread with aqua and blue acrylic paints.  I twisted the sheet of cardstock a few times before lifting it off the Plexiglas and setting it aside to dry.  This method of monoprinting often yields results that remind me of seawater.  This particular piece of paper made me think of soaring over ocean waves, looking down ... so it was natural to add the osprey gliding along below the artist's hypothetical viewpoint, watching for a fish.

Below --


-- is another image created the same way:  The background is a monoprint.  After the monoprint paint has dried, the next step is to place the 6"X6" soon-to-be-released stencil Osprey Wings atop the background, and use a dark contrasting color (via spray paint or paint dauber) to add the osprey.  In the above example, the stencil would be used twice, in two chosen locations, to space the pair of birds farther apart than they appear on the stencil itself.

The 6"X6" stencil Osprey Wings:

To watch a video of monoprinting using a sheet of glass or Plexiglas, go to:

Note that the speaker on this video says you have the option of using "open acrylic" paints to prolong the printing time and to facilitate easier lifting of the finished monoprint.  I agree this is a good idea for beginners.  My samples shown here, however, were created with normal acrylic paints.  After these projects were completed, I bought a Gelli Plate and began using it for my monoprints; this technique is shown in action by Mary Beth Shaw in one of her two new DVDs:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Border Stencils are Coming!

More new stencils that I've designed will be coming available at; below, I've used one of them, Borders 1, to add design elements to this abstract-on-canvas work-in-progress ...

Borders 1 is a 9"X12" stencil made up of three separate borders; each border is 11 1/4" long and 2" wide.  Art journaling and the book arts had been on my mind when I had designed my border series (alongside the Borders 1 stencil is a Borders 2 as well as well as a Borders 3, all with the same 3-border-per-stencil format.) 
But when -- to my delight -- my stencil-prototypes arrived yesterday, I decided to apply them to some of my works-in-progress:  abstracts on canvas that I am readying for a local solo art show that will last thruout October.
In the unfinished piece above, one of the stencil-created borders was used to make the orange vertical pattern in the upper right.  Another border, from the same stencil, was used in creating the dark orange pattern that runs horizontally inward from the far left, less than halfway down the left side.
I chose those two patterns because, to my eye, they play nicely with the patterns established earlier, when I used a rubber stamp.  (If you see this post, Mary Ann, you will recognize the stamp!  Marge, I'm sending a bouquet of thank-you's up to you!)
The Borders #1 Stencil: