Posted on

Stencils for Fast and Easy Effects – Video Demonstration

It’s no secret that I love and use stencils in my mixed media paintings. While many are my own custom designs, I also studio trial stencils from the shop to make sure they’re going to make your art more beautiful too.

These tag shaped stencils are a lovely discovery. Because they’re graphic and distinctive, they really add a nice sharpness and clarity to a project. I sometimes find my mixed media projects going a little fuzzy and a dose of graphic contrast is a great fix for that.

Here’s a quick demonstration of the Dress Form Tag Shaped stencil from the shop. The stencil design is 6 inches long  by 3.25 inches wide – a good size for smaller projects. They also work well either as a standalone design or as a supporting component where you use only parts of the stencil elements.

There are three designs in this series and they all play well together!

 

Posted on

Easy Stencil Solutions to Boring Art

How do you feel about stencils? Personally, I’m a fan!

Artful Stencils

Stencils add amazing complexity and patterns to your work without hours of numbing effort. By choosing your stencils carefully, you lay the foundation of a coherent and beautiful finished work. Patterns and textures work together to allow you to build on your own personal imagery and express your distinct style.

So, how do you combine different stencils so they work together instead of being a hot mess?

Choosing

I limit myself to three stencils and usually only one or two. Too many patterns – especially if they’re distinctive – starts to look mechanical instead of artful. Sometimes one really nice pattern is all you need. I like this brocade pattern and use it frequently.

When combining stencils, look for contrast in the sizes of the elements and the quality of the patterns and textures: linear vs organic, regular vs random, etc.

 

Placing

I like to use only parts of the stencil pattern on the paper. I’ll usually choose a portion of the pattern and place it carefully. Then, shift the stencil and use another part somewhere else on the paper. I seldom stencil the entire surface with any one pattern because it’s more interesting and visually appealing to have the patterns appear and disappear.

As you place your stencils, look for chances to highlight the focal point of your work and parts of the stencils your eye is drawn to. If you’re layering contrasting stencils, test the layered effect before you commit to your work because it doesn’t always look like you expect!

 

Painting

My experience is a lighter hand applying paint is best for several reasons. One is that it helps keep the stencil edges crisp. More than that, I like to keep my stenciling subtle, both in color and depth of paint. The muted low-key background effect adds a lot of interest without standing out. My favorite tool for paint application is the humble cosmetic sponge.

As you apply your paint, try for a sheer application so that the background is barely covered. Choose colors that are similar to the background or a little lighter or darker to help sink the stenciling into it. As you stencil, you can even wipe away part of it while it’s still damp to help blend it even more.

 

Stencils: Your Secret Tool Kit

I use stencils extensively in my mixed media work. And, I’m currently experimenting with ways to incorporate them into watercolor artwork and even three dimensional works like art dolls. They really are a secret treasure to solve boring art!

Here are some of my favorite stencils from the shop. All of these are sturdy, reusable Mylar, made in the US and in the studio, ready to ship.

 

Posted on

Fast Tips for Crisp Stencil Edges

I just got a great question via email and having sent the answer off, thought you might like to hear it too.
 
The question was about how to get crisp edges when using stencils and did I have any tips?
 
My Answer:
I’ll make an assumption that you’re having a problem with the edges when you use paint with a stencil – that’s the most common medium that causes problems. My experience has been there are two things that may be at fault: the application tool being too wet and the stencil moving around.
 
First, the application tool. Paint is inherently wet and stenciling is an inherently dry art form – thus the smudgy edges. I’ve found that using a sponge applicator (either a cosmetic wedge or special purpose sponge brush) is a better way to apply paint. Brushes are difficult to get dry enough and often “push” the paint under the stencil edges.
The trick with using a sponge is to dip it into the paint and then dab most of it right back off until the sponge is barely damp with paint. Then gently tap it onto the area straight up and down. Of course, it may take more than one coat to get the color build-up you want, but the edges will be crisp and, personally, I like the look of the differences in coverage – it gives the work a more lively quality.
 
Second, the stencil itself. If the stencil moves while you’re painting, the edges will smear. If you’re working on a project that allows, go ahead and tape the edges of the stencil down with low-tack blue tape. That will keep everything in place for the duration of the project.
But, if you’re like me and move that stencil around to get different angles, that won’t work. In that case, I hold the working area down firmly with one hand (up close to where I’m working) and apply paint with the other. One other tip with this is to gently twist your wrist as you lift the sponge so it doesn’t pull the stencil up with it. It takes a few times of practicing but it really does keep that stencil down so the edges stay secure. Finally, be sure to wait long enough before picking the stencil back up – it shouldn’t be long at all if the application was dry enough.
Now, this is just my experience and your results may vary – do you have something that’s worked for you?

Try out your stencil technique with these sturdy, US made stencils – in the shop and ready to ship!

Posted on

On My Worktable: Artist Hand Painted Textures – For Creating Art Journals and Digital Scrapbooking

I’ve been experimenting with hand painted textures lately and have something fresh off my painting table for you.

Hand Painted Neutral Textures 6 Sheets

I love working with color in it’s pure form and seeing the lovely mixtures it makes. These neutral texture paintings are the first in this new series and I learned from them. They’re great as a backdrop for something graphic like typography.

 

Rosy Hues EMU3

The next trial was inspired by the multitude of pinks in the plain old-fashioned roses in my garden. These rosy hues are softer and the texture is less pronounced. They look fabulous behind this vintage floral illustration and would also make floral photography just pop!

 

 

 

Rosy Hues Sample EMU

Any of these would also make a great “paper” for a digital scrapbook layout or an art journal page. You can find both of them in the DigitalPapercrafting shop on Etsy.

What have you been working on! Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted on

Watercolor Tomato and How Cropping Can Do Wonderous Things

Tomato 5 x 7 Crop
Tomato 5 x 7 Crop

This 5 x 7 watercolor is a prime example of what judicious cropping can do to salvage a less than successful painting.

As Painted

Here’s the painting as planned and painted at 8 x 10.

Tomato Watercolor 8 x 10
Tomato Watercolor 8 x 10

It’s overworked in several places and the lines got away from me during the painting stage. Some of that could be corrected by a little colored pencil work, but overworked watercolor is, well, overworked.

As I was getting ready to pitch it in the drawer, I noticed that one section looked pretty good. So, I pulled out my 5 x 7 mat ( I like to use standard sizes whenever I can) and framed that bit.

Wow! What a difference! There’s still a bit of muddiness on the edge, but that version shows that luscious tomato off perfectly. It also makes the picture about the fruit itself and not so much about the plant. Overall, I like it much better in the smaller format.

As usual, I kept my color palette simple and used Winsor and Newton watercolors in Quinacridone Red, Quinacridone Gold, and Indigo on a Canson Montval block I’ve had kicking around forever.

New Digital  Art Work

In other art stuff I’m working on, I’ve started a new Etsy shop. It’s all digital: downloadable and printable for making your own tags, journals, and scrapbooking. If that sounds like fun, have a look:

 More Watercolors on the Way

If digital isn’t  your cup of tea, never fear, there’s always some paint meeting paper around here. I’ve got another painting almost finished and took process photos to show how it looks midway. Stay tuned for more on splashing paint around!

As always, I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts, comments and experiences. Just drop me a note!