Saturday, May 31, 2014

They Wuz Framed!

Kids on summer vacation will want something to do on rainy days ... and alternatives to electronic games exist.

Papercraft picture frames, available online from retail outlets like Oriental Trading -- -- come ready to be decorated.  The type I have on hand is an older style than what is pictured at the above link, with a sturdy cardboard back and a "puffy paper" front, and a built-in easel-prop in the back.  But the process of transformation is the same.

My first step, shown above,  was to stuff a folded sheet of deli wrap into the frame to protect the inner area while paint is being applied.

Above:  I've used a 1-inch sponge brayer to apply a base boat of acrylic paint.
Looking for a stencil that would yield small areas of color, I auditioned two of my 6"X6" stencils, Marbles 6 (shown on the left, below) and Seaweed 6 (shown on the right, below.)

After choosing Marbles 6 (above left), I got out a color dauber as well as a selection of metallic acrylic paints.

Above:  I've started to apply metallic paint thru the stencil.

Above:  the frame after the first application of metallic acrylic paint.
Above:  A close-up shot during early stages in multiple applications of metallic paint.

Above:  This shot was taken later, as I continued applying paints.

Above:  The final product, after I subdued the metallic paints with another layer of the same acrylic paint used for the base color.  I've added decorative metallic self-adhesive strips and a handmade heart.  This was a birthday gift for a family friend who's an honorary aunt to my grandchildren.  Altho I'm an adult  -- at least in theory! -- this project could easily have been done by children.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Texture Prints with Stencils -- the Tool Makes Art and Becomes Art

Joan Bess is the person I thank for launching in my head a new-to-me technique.  I loved the concept she introduced so much that I decided to take it one step farther.  Her recent post -- at -- demonstrates creating a textured paper to use both as a tool and as a final artwork, with the Gelli Plate.  Using a squeeze bottle of textured paint and a sheet of paper, Joan opted for a freehand-drawn approach to making this tool.  I decided to add another step, at the very start:

First, I used masking tape to secure my 9"X12" stencil Mimosa to a sheet of previously painted newsprint. Then I began to outline the design with a watercolor pencil --

Above shows the stencil in full.
The above close-up shows the blue outlines as they are being drawn around each part of the design, by tracing the open edges of the stencil.

Above: The stencil has been removed; the watercolor pencil lines remain.
Above:  The outlining with textured paint has begun.  It's just a matter of following the lines drawn with watercolor pencil.  I felt no need to be exactly faithful to each of those original lines.
Above:  The textured outlines have been completed; now comes an important step --
Waiting for that textured paint to fully dry.  Don't start printing with your Gelli Plate till you can raise your right hand and affirm on a Bible that the texture paint is DRY. 

Once I started printing with my Gelli Plate -- I used the 12" X 14" plate since my large Mimosa stencil measures 9"X12" -- the process was quick and easy.  With a brayer, I spread open acrylic paint over the plate, then pressed the textured paper face-down onto the wet paint.  When I pulled the paper up, it had collected some of the paint, and it had left an imprint.

I repeated this process several times with new layers of paint, continuing until I had pulled a number of prints. 

Having previously used the Gelli Plate with the Mimosa stencil itself -- not an outlined version created from the stencil -- I could immediately see the difference between the two in terms of results.  I'm pleased with the results I've achieved both the original way -- using the stencil itself -- and this new way.

Some of the "new-way" prints are shown below.

Above is one of the original new-way prints.
Above:  This version was made from the original green print, which I scanned into Photoshop and color-altered -- now, it will be printed out for use in an art journal alongside the original green print.

Likewise, the above pail blue print is the original pull.

And likewise, the purple version below was color-altered in Photoshop from a scan of the original pale blue print.

To show a comparison with the "old-way" Gelli Plate prints, created by using the stencil itself instead of a texture-outlined version, I'll include the images below --

For anyone puzzled by my term "the old way," I'm talking about brayering the Gelli Plate print with open acrylic, then placing an original stencil onto the plate.  The stencil is then lifted, leaving its imprint on the plate.  Next, a sheet of paper is pressed onto the plate, and pulled.  The above two images were achieved this way.  Variety is the spice of life!

Last but not least, here is the paper I had treated with texture paint.  This is how it appears now that it has been used multiple times with the Gelli Plate.  It was a tool, but now it's artwork :

My 9"X12" stencil Mimosa is available at
So is my 6"X6" Mimosa, which fits either of the two smaller Gelli Plates.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Happy Birthday

To make the above greeting card, I used a Sofft Sponge to press paint thru my 6"X6" Bamboo Wall.  (The orange letters were stick-ons, added later.)  I used a substrate of white cardstock and a variety of green-family acrylic paints.  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Blue Goes Green

My May 8 post included a write-up on sun-prints.  One of those prints was created using my 9"X12" Mimosa stencil --

I liked it as it was, but I scanned it into my PC; then, with the magic of Photoshop, I altered its color --

I will print out the green version and use it in a collage, along with its original blue brother.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stencils Plus Compressed Sponges Equals Silhouette Rubber Stamps

Around now, moms of young ones are looking for summer fun projects to give youngsters.  Some moms see electronic games as brain-pickling and want to offer hands-on, creative alternatives.
To Google "compressed sponges" is to elicit a wide variety of buying options.  Here is just one that will spring up at your fingertips:
Compressed sponges come in a range of colors; the ones I'm using here are white and pale yellow.  Their original width (while still compressed) is about 1/8 inch.  The ones I have measure roughly 3"X4" but they come in a variety of sizes.
Above:  A stack of compressed sponges is on the lower right.  Other compressed sponges are spread across the work surface, where I'm auditioning some of my 6"X6" stencils -- Feathers, Cats, Heron and Osprey Wings.

Above:  Now I'm auditioning selected areas of my 9"X12" stencils Facets, Vases, Ivy and Feathers.

Above:  Having chosen Cats, I placed the stencil over the compressed sponge and traced the outline with a dark Sharpie marker. 

Above:  The tracing after the stencil has been lifted off.

Above:  The cat silhouette has been cut out with Joyce Chen scissors (altho other scissors would have worked.)  Note the leftover abstract shapes.  They will be saved for a future project.

Above:  I placed the cat silhouette into water, where it immediately swelled from 1/8-inch width to 1/2" width.  This is the part that really young kids love to watch.

Above:  Here is the cat-shaped sponge "stamp," pictured at an angle that shows its new depth.

Above:  The sponge stamp has been inked with a red, heavy-body acrylic paint, then used to stamp this image onto background paper (created with green acrylic paint and my 9"X12" stencil Twinship.)


Friday, May 9, 2014

Subtractive Technique with my Just-Released 9"X12" Stencil "Facets"

Subtractive technique, which I first learned from my friend Cindy Powell, works very well with Facets because of its wide openings.

To create this piece, I started with a substrate that is a favorite of many artists, including Mary C. Nasser -- an old map.

Above:  an old nautical map with an early coat of diluted orange acrylic paint.

Above:  the same map after a coat of diluted white gesso has been added. 
Not shown:  After the altered-map substrate had dried, I added a coat of magenta Dr. Ph. Martin's Bombay India Ink.  (This ink comes in a variety of colors.)

Next, Facets was secured to the altered map with masking tape.  Altho many techniques allow you to skip the taping step, the subtractive technique will work best if you take the time to include this step.

After the stencil was secured, I used a water-spritzed terrycloth rag to rub away the magenta ink that showed thru the openings of the stencil.  Then I lifted off the stencil.  Below is the result:

And the final product is shown in the top photo in this post.
After creating that image in the top photo, I scanned it into my PC and altered its color in Photoshop:
 Facets is now available at  

3 New Stencils Released!

Twinship, Facets and Vintage Script are my 9"X12" stencils just now released at

Artwork created with Facets -- 

Above:  I will soon be posting a step-by-step description of the creation of this artwork using the subtractive technique.
Artwork created with Twinship --

Above:  This collage was created with a background Gelli Plate print of my new 9"X12" stencil Twinship, available at  The foreground is a print-out derived from my photo of a peacock.

Above:  a Gelli Plate print.

Above:  a Gelli Plate print.
Above:  a Gelli Plate print.

Above:  a sun-print.
Artwork created with Vintage Script, now available at
Above:  the foreground was created with acrylic paint on a cosmetic sponge, applied thru my new stencil Vintage Script.
This is the cover of a greeting card to send at Christmas; I used the same method as described above.

Above:  this was created with a mix of acrylic paint and modeling paste, applied thru my stencil Vintage Script.

Above:  a close-up of a collage showing the right lower corner where the stencil Vintage Script was used.  Like the image before this, it was created with a mix of molding paste and acrylic paint.

Above:  This shot shows the entire collage with the stenciled area in the lower right quadrant.
My thanks to Mary Ann Russo for the two vintage photos of a cute little girl, serving as backgrounds for two of the Vintage Script applications.