Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday Theme: Stencil Madness!

So, since this is my blog and I make the rules, I feel compelled to say that sometimes, Thursday's Theme will be quite general, which means that some themes may repeat over time.  It's always worth revisiting themes from time to time anyway, because at different times you might see the same thing differently and do something different with it.  As an example, I've recently been playing with stencils (and masks) more because I've been getting more of Michelle Ward's fabulous stencils.  But the way I use them has been evolving a little bit, and I'm starting to play with new ideas.  So here's a brief tour of some of the things you can do with stencils, starting with some older work.

Way back, I started with one of Michelle's Street Team Crusades, where she encouraged us to cut our own stencils and masks.  Not one to ever start with something easy, I did this:

It's a lion mask within a lion stencil within a shield mask.

I used it in the traditional way, pouncing paint through it and around it, which was cool but very static.  And then I didn't do much with stencils for a long while.  I occasionally used masks with my inks and sprays, but not a whole lot.  I did a couple of things with paint, trying to use Michelle's drybrushing techniques and usually ending up with too much paint, like this:
Last Summer I got to take two fabulous classes with Michelle.  And we did a lot with her new stencils, and we cut our own.  And I was hooked.  The techniques I had tried to learn from her blog finally clicked. 

 And once I came home, I decided to experiment a little more with layering and monoprinting with the painty side of the stencil, and that's how I did this:
The coolest part of this was painting a gray background and laying a stencil over it, then wiping through the stencil with a damp paper towel.  That's how I got the lightest crosses.  It's actually the blank canvas showing through.
I've gotten more adventurous with my experiments, hence the messy mushroom canvas and the Halloween tags:
Big mushroom masks cut from manila folders, layered with Michelle's quatrefoil stencil for spots.

Laid down a background, embossed through the stencil with clear embossing powder, and then darkened the tag, which the embossing resisted.

And Christmas was a great opportunity to use portions of stencils, and layer inks and sprays through them:

But all this time, I've been forgetting something that Michelle taught us in the classes.  You can still draw through stencils.  Remember when you were a kid, and you learned how to use stencils, and you traced the shapes through them?  Or was that just me?  Anyway, that's still a perfectly good way to use a stencil.  So in the previous post you saw Mom's gift tag, where I started to remember that.  This week, I spent some time with some stencils, a pencil, a Micron pen, and two Sharpies.  Here are my experiments.  I like the third one best.
What's cool is, it was a really simple way to test some layering ideas, and now I have some patterns that I can translate into ink or paint and still retain as much or as little of the pencil/pen/marker features as I want.  The hash mark fill-in from the first one of these was kind of fun, and I can see where that might be useful in some compositions.  But I loved mixing some filled in spaces with some outlined spaces like in the second and third photos.  There's lots to play with here, and I have the feeling that the more I play, the more I'll discover.
When's the last time you played with stencils?  Do you have some particular favorites?  Do  you make your own, or purchase them, or both?


Maryanne said...

I love all your stencil work. And, I really like using a stencil to trace a design. Your last example is really fantastic!

Diana Taylor said...

I love using stencils - they are fun aren't they. I love the work you've done with them, especially the grey background and using a wet paper towel - that's a great effect you achieved. I also really like the way you used stencils on your Christmas wrapping paper - I love the faded edges - it looks quite difficult, did you use an aerosol spray?
I must admit you have certainly given me the urge to get my stencil stuff out and have a play - I don't know if I can face doing that yet as my studio is a tip and would require a huge amount of clearing away first! But I will soon!