Stencil art? Aren't stencils those uncreative things that allows you to make the same image over and over again by painting or coloring through them? Yup! That's what stencils are and for a very long time I could not imagine that you could really use stencils for art. As a matter of fact you couldn't pay me to use them (ok maybe just a little )It wasn't until I got into mixed media art and I saw what you can do with stencils that that I got hooked.
The main benefit as I see it in using stencils for your art is that you don't have to "draw". That scary word for so many. It allows you to use something (a stencil) that will give you a very good image of a real item be it shape, person or anything else you end up using. It's a great start for all of you who think they can't draw a straight line.
Many seem to call both masks and stencils, stencil. However, the mask is what is cut out of the stencil material. In the image below the plastics with the openings in them are the stencils and the arrow and stars are the masks. To use the stencil you need to paint, spray or color inside the openings. For the masks you need to spray, paint or color over it and them and then remove to see the space it has left.
Below are 2 pictures of some of the most common stencils you will see. The purple ones have a grouping of a few items on each page while the blue ones have various shapes and designs on each individual, small cardboard piece. As of now I have not yet found a creative use for the purple ones but, they are common so I wanted to show them to you.
There are other types of stencils as well. There are....
There are a number of ways to get the color you need onto your journal page or artwork through your stencil or over your mask. It will all depend on what material you are working on and the result you are looking for. You can use............
You can use any number of applicators to get the mediums onto the stencils like...........
The trick when applying the medium is less is better. If you load paint or anything else onto your applicator you may get a very messy result. For example: If you are using a cosmetic sponge to paint with then, dab onto a scrap paper first and then onto your artwork.
Ok! So what happens is that you get into using all the different stencils that you come across and that you see other artists recommending and you realize you don't want to take out a mortgage on your home to support your habit. At that point it's time to make your own stencils.
As I see it, there are 2 ways to do so. The first is with material you buy from Amazon or Pj Stencils and the second is with very simple matierlas that you probably have at home.
What happened was that I wasn't so successful with the stencil cutting machine as the plastic was beading up as I was using it. I therefore switched to using a very good sharp scissors that allowed me to stick the point into the material and then cut out the pattern I had drawn.
Recently when reading through the book stencil girl again I noticed that she recommends buying stencil material from the company pjstencils.com as she said it doesnt bead up when you use the hot machine.
I just got my order for it and have not tried it yet so hopefully I'll update this post when I do.
The second way to make stencils is with packing tape , a very good sharp- scissors (as I said I use the cutter bee scissors as it has a very pointy tip and is excellent for this) and magazines or computer printouts.
You begin by covering over both sides of the image with packing tape. It can overlap but, just make sure the cover it all. If you are making a stencil then you need to cut out the inside of the shape...for a mask you will need to cut around the image. Then just stick your sharp scissors in and start cutting. Below are masks on the left and stencils on the right (the flower one is not of the packing tape type)These are waterproof resistant though not as waterproof as the mylar.
The place to get stencils from is magazines, pictures from the internet and your own photographs.
Now that you've got your stencils its time to start making art with them.
Here are just some ways I have found to use stencils:
These images are of some of these ways that I've used
You can use stencils to create large shape areas that you can doodle in with many types of markers
Use them to decorate any number of household objects like I did with this old white vase I had lying around
Take your masks and spray or paint over them. Then add to individual pieces. There is a fuller explanation about this piece over here
Create a background using a few layers of stencils. A larger, lighter one for the background and smaller, darker ones for second and even third layers
Use one stencil only to add to a already painted background to tie into a specific motif
Create a story with stencils. Use the homemade ones to make a silhouette sunset scene with black paint over the orange and yellow sky
Below are 2 pieces made with stencils. (The top one is not finished yet but, I wanted to show you what I did with it) With the first one I just took a number of household objects, lay them on my journal spread, sprayed through them and embellished the spread. I used black post it notes that I cut to fit the squares and doodled on them with metallic pens. I also did some written journaling on top...still in the middle of working on it.
This one is more of a scene but, I had no idea of how it was going to turn out when I started. I found this background I had once made by covering the background with newspaper and painting a sky and grass on it. After I added the stenciled pieces and then added black lines to them I felt it looked a bit empty so I decided to add a quote.
So now that you're stencils are full of gunk the question is....
To clean or not to clean that is the question!
This may sound weird but, many artists actually don't bother cleaning their stencils. They feel that the paints dry quickly and the dried paint doesn't interfere with future stenciling.
Others would never continue without throwing them into a basin of water to get at least part of the gunk off. Remember though that only the real plastic ones can go directly into a tub of water, the tape and paper ones may get water seeping under.
So its really a personal thing but, I just didn't want you to think that you must clean your stencils as it may prevent you from moving forward with your artmaking if it becomes a pain.
So that's it...a beginning primer on stencil art in mixed media.
As you get further into it you will see there are so many more ways you can use your stencils to create art. Many artists use their stencils for gelli printing and other gorgeous art making techniques that we will explore in other posts.
In the meantime get your materials together and start experimenting with your own stencil making and art.
Any questions please ask below...and I'd love it if you shared it too 🙂