Hi, I’m Barbara Kemp Cowlin! And I’m happy to be here to show you a great way to use stencils on Dura-Lar clear film. Layering and working on both the front and back sides gives lots of opportunity for creative and spontaneous fun. While the collage/painting can be planned out, I like to wing it. Every time you flip to the opposite side and do some work, it changes the way the front side looks, too. I love the element of chance and the challenge it presents.
Stencil Girl Stencils Used:
Mediums (I use Golden):
• Soft Gel Gloss—for gluing
• Heavy Gel Gloss—for stenciling and painting directly on the film
• Light Molding Paste—for stenciling
Paints (Golden is my choice)
High Flow: Titanium White, Teal, Quinacridone Magenta, Phthalo Blue (green shade), Hansa Yellow Medium (but any paints & colors you have on hand will work)
Dura-Lar (can be purchased in pads of varying sizes, single sheets and in rolls)
• Clear (as a base on which to glue collage pieces)
• Wet media—for stenciling and painting (gets cut apart and glued down on the Clear film)
• Brayer (small is fine, 1 1/2-2”)
• Various brushes
• Palette knives
• Fine Line Applicators (fill with High Flow paints and use to make lines)
• Freezer paper
• Squeegees or credit cards or scraps of cardboard
Step 1: Prepare paint and medium mixtures
Prepare by mixing High Flow acrylics into Light Molding Paste and into Heavy Gel Gloss. I use 2 oz containers with lids from restaurant supply stores for mixing a variety of colors into the Paste and into the Heavy Gel Gloss.
Step 2: Create a “library” of the following for use in your project. Keep scraps, they’re great to incorporate into collages.
A. Stencils: Cover sheets of Wet Media Dura-Lar with various combinations of stencils and with colors mixed with either the paste or HB gloss. I use a palette knife to scrape the medium over the stencil. Because it’s a thick mixture there isn’t a problem with leaking under the stencil.
B. Transparent sheets:
Dribble High Flow paint across a sheet of Wet Media Dura-Lar. Use the brayer to spread across the sheet. I don’t worry about getting the paint perfectly smooth, in fact I like the irregularities. Create sheets of each color. You can also make sheets with multiple colors on the single sheet.
Use a Fine Line Applicator filled with High Flow paint to make sheets of lines. They could be scribbles, words, or series of shapes (sheets of lines of circles, squares etc.) Or use a brush and the High Flow paints to make various lines and strokes on the Dura-Lar.
Let the sheets dry overnight.
Step 3: Cutting
Cut sheets apart. Could be in particular shapes, long strips, or completely random. I like to start with a half dozen or so pieces to start with and just move them around on the Dura-Lar until they make a pleasing design. If you don’t like what you did you can always shove these pieces aside, cut some more and try again. Remember to keep the scraps—they’ll come in handy at some point.
Step 4: Gluing the first shapes down
Take the pieces you’ve placed on the Clear Dura-Lar off. One of my ingenious students suggested taking an iPhone photo before removing the pieces to refer to when gluing. A great idea!
Tear off a sheet of freezer paper. Lay your piece of cut Dura-Lar face down on the freezer paper. Using a palette knife spread a thin layer (about the thickness of a dime) of Soft Gel Gloss over the piece. Be sure to go over the edges.
Lay glue side down on your Clear Dura-Lar sheet in predetermined place. Put a piece of freezer or wax paper on top (to protect painting underneath and help squeeze glide) and use squeegee or credit card to squeeze the excess medium out. Remove freezer paper and discard (or wipe off, let dry and reuse). Wipe excess off edges around the glued down piece. Continue until you have all cut pieces glued down.
Step 5: Flip project over
Now you’re ready to add some additional pieces to the reverse side. Feel free to flip back and forth—what you add on the back will effect what the front looks like.
Once you’ve worked back and forth from front to back you might consider doing some painting & stenciling directly onto the collage/painting to add finishing touches.
*** Please note: The Soft Gel Gloss starts out milky. It will dry transparent. When you flip your work over, if you see globs of the soft gel gloss under glued down pieces, you’ll want to squeegee more out. It make take a few days or up to a week for it to completely dry.
Step 6: The finished painting
If you love both sides of the painting you can free float it from clear fishing line, apply to a window or use your imagination for clever ways to display both sides of the artwork (what about a shoji screen?). The sky’s the limit.
If you think one side looks a lot better than the other, you can glue it down to a panel with your favorite side up and frame it. Be sure to use a good quality panel (heavy cardboard panels will warp). I like using Ampersand panels.
I hope you’ll find combining stencils with Dura-Lar as fun and exciting as I do. When I’m stuck on a painting I like to take a break and make some Dura-Lar pieces to get my creativity going!
Visit my website and blog at www.barbarakempcowlin.com!