Thursday, September 16, 2021

StencilGirl® Guest Designer: Michelle Vandyk

I’m honoured to be a StencilGirl® Guest Designer! I LOVE their stencils and use them often in my personal work and in my new art therapy practice.

As we enter Fall, for some of us it is also a new season in life. I’m reflecting on this personally in my Healing Journal as I journey through diverging careers in my 50’s. It’s a time of hope and excitement, yet daunting as well.

I’m particularly drawn to the windows, doorways, ladders, fences, bridges, and vessels that are rife with meaning, symbolism and metaphor. Stencils allow me and my clients to use symbols and metaphors that resonate with us consistently - yet they are flexible, and can be used in a myriad of ways as a form of self-expression and relaying our stories from the inside out.

Stencils used in this project:
Arched Aqueduct Stencil
Ladders Stencil
Door to Heart 9 Stencil
Door To Heart 6 Stencil
Botanical Wildflowers
Herbs Stencil
Window Ledger 9 Stencil
Ginger Jar
Play Everyday Swing


  • 2- 8”x8” x1.5”canvases (or journal)
  • Makeup sponges
  • Gloss Super Heavy Gel acrylic medium (Liquitex)
  • White archival glue
  • Acrylic paints-(I used Golden) Phthalo Turquoise, Zinc White, Naphthol Red, Cadmium Yellow, Green Gold, Micaceous Iron Oxide, Payne’s Grey, Iridescent Gold Fine
  • Ranger Distress Oxide and Distress Sprays- Speckled Egg, Evergreen Bough, Rusty Hinge, Fossilized Amber, Salvaged Patina, Blue Ribbon, Rustic Wilderness, Vintage Photo and Dylusions White Linen Ink Spray
  • Posca acrylic paint pens- Navy Blue and Red
  • Uniball pens- white and gold
  • Van Gogh calendar pieces
  • Vintage ephemera (& sticker, maps, sunflower wrapping paper, hand stamped organza...
  • Cyanotype print on vintage book paper using Play Everyday Swing Stencil
  • Ric rac- green

I begin my backgrounds often with spray inks such as Ranger Distress inks and Oxide inks. It’s a great feeling to get past the blank white page/canvas!

Next I begin choosing collage bits and stencils that speak to me- not overthinking, just grabbing intuitively. I began gluing (archival white glue and Liquitex Heavy Gel Medium) some collage elements such as the cyanotype on vintage paper using the Play Everyday Swing stencil (more on that in a future post), as well as some pieces of an old calendar (thanks Van Gogh!) and an old map scrap. I love to keep my scraps- you never know when they might be a perfect addition. The act of tearing is a great stress reliever too!

Adding Zinc White allows for a veil of white to soften the light coming through the arched ‘windows’ made with the Arched Aqueduct stencil by Caroline Dube. You can achieve a similar effect by adding water or acrylic matte or gloss medium to Titanium white.

I like repeating shapes to achieve a coherent composition, so this ‘doorway of opportunity’ using the stencil by Pam Carriker is great as it comes in 3 sizes (I have them all!) The micaceous iron oxide paint by Golden has a gritty, stony look and feel with a hint of glitter- perfect to imitate a solid ancient stone doorway.

I can’t resist using my favourite colour, Phthalo Turquoise, so here it goes for the smaller doorway...using the smaller version of the ‘Door to Heart stencil. I carry the colour around the parameter of the painting to give it an enclosed feeling and create a glaze of colour to give a unified feeling to the work.

This beautiful green spoke ‘growth’ to me and thought it paired well with the ladder- or is it a fence, a bridge, or a railroad? There are so many possibilities with this stencil! It’s one of my favourites, Carolyn Dube! It leads the eye up to the cyanotype of the girl on the swing = peace, joy. (Play Everyday Swing stencil by Cat Kerr)

I keep adding bits of mixed-media that catch my eye and enhance the images with Posca acrylic paint markers in navy blue and red. I love that they work so well over washi tape and plastic too! The green ric rac (a blast from the past), becomes another path to the destination.

Who can say it better than Robert Frost? “The Road Not Taken” is a poem that feels like it was written for this season in life.  I jot down a few excerpts, using my favourite gold pen as a nod to the sunflower (=hope) and light coming through the windows and doorways.

I love the versatility of StencilGirl stencils! Here I use part of my favourite vessel stencil (Ginger Jar by Jill McDowell) to create a focal point. It feels like a seal or a chop in Naphthol Red - a way to add excitement and tension to the predominantly green landscape.

I added a few more botanical stencils- why not!? There are so many to choose from! I like to outline them with markers and pens. I love the Botanical Wildflowers stencil by Rae Missigman and the Herbs stencil by Jessica Sporn especially.

Do you have a ‘road not taken’ in your life? What would it look like? 

I like to modify the stencils a bit to suit the way I work. I keep and use all of the bits I cut out as well.

Have a peek at another page in my Healing Journal where I use the Ginger Jar (Jill McDowell) and the Play Everyday Swing (Cat Kerr) in different ways. 


Michelle Vandyk has been passionate about light, shadows, colours, and the relationships between living and man-made elements for as long as she can remember.  Her mixed-media art reflects her belief that life is layered, textured, relational and meaningful.

Many years ago Michelle received her BFA in studio arts. After 16 years of teaching Middle and High School Art, she is adding a new dimension to her art practice by studying Art Therapy. Blessed to share her passion for many forms of visual art, Michelle teaches adult/teen workshops, women’s retreats, volunteers, and facilitates visual expression and healing through her new business, Abide Art & Therapy. 

Currently Michelle resides with her family and her grand-dog, Piper in Chilliwack, BC, Canada

Social Media:
IG- @michelle_vandyk
FB- Michelle Vandyk
Etsy- MichelleVandykArt

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Art Journaling with StencilGirl® Face Stencils

Hi everyone,

I am so excited to be here on the StencilGirl® blog again today as a guest designer. My name is Niamh Baly and I am a Primary (elementary) school teacher from Tasmania, Australia, a content creator and mum to two gorgeous girls. I am also stencil addict! Stencils are such an amazing tool to help produce fabulous artwork and are so simple to use. They are one of the most important tools that I use in my art journal pages, and nearly every page I create has a stencilled image or texture on it. In this project we will be using stencils to create a layered background and adding a face stencil as a focal point. I find face stencils like this help me create moody pages which can capture how I am feeling at the time. As I am not great at drawing, I love that a stencil can capture a hand drawn effect.  Below you will find a full process video as well if you want to see this page from start to finish.

To begin, gesso your journal page then apply some colour in the background. Dry the paint then apply a contrasting colour over the top and place a stencil over the top and wipe away the excess paint.  Repeat this until you are happy with the effect.

Using a small 6 x 6 gel plate and a script stencil, print the stencil into your journal by pressing your page directly onto the plate. You can roll the excess paint off your brayer onto your page to add a grungy effect as well. Then I have added the face image using Paynes grey as a focal point to my page. To create a figure I use another script 6 x 6 stencil to extend the body, then add the whites of the eyes and some linework with a white pen. I then used a stabillo all pencil to create a shadow around the figure and push it out from the background. I also added some colour pencils to the figure to add more interest.

Finally, I wanted to add some extra marks and layers to my page using metallic paints to catch the light. I then added some stencilled words to my page to capture my thoughts when I was creating this page. I find when I am creating art journal pages like this, my mind wanders and I think of things that have been bothering me. Usually by the time I am finished a page I have some clarity about why I created it. With this page, I was reflecting on some health issues I’d had during the year – hence the ‘you are tough’.

Here is a video of the full process creating this page:

Here is a close up of the details in this page.

Here is a list of the StencilGirl® stencils I have used in this project to create the unfinished art journal page:  

Here are two BONUS videos using StencilGirl® Face stencils in some different ways to get you inspired as well:

Thank you so much for stopping by the blog. I hope that these videos have inspired you to get into your journals and create something beautiful using the fabulous face stencils. 

Happy Creating,
Instagram: @niamhbaly

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Anouk (Creanouk): Trust the Process

Hello you beautiful artists,

Art journal spreads goes through many stages. There's the stage in the beginning when the blank page stares at you and screams to be filled with layers of your favorite mediums. Then there's the stage in between when everything is still possible but you have already made your mark. The stage when you sometimes don't know if your previous actions were that good. From there you end up in the stage of fixing your mistakes. Or, if everything went to your liking, the stage where you complement the things you have done just to give your page a little extra. And then of course you come into a stage of finishing where you write or glue down a quote and add some other finishing touches like ink splatters or marks.

Sounds familiar? Or is it only me who unconsciously works in these stages?

The page that I made and filmed for you today definitely went through all these stages. Halfway through I wasn't so sure if I was liking the things that I've done. The colors, which I normally love so much, felt a little too much. The composition is boring. I wasn't so sure what I could do to make it feel right again. But I kept going. And layer for layer the page started to grow back on me. I was reminded to always trust the process of my art and to never give up. Because in the end, I really love how the page turned out.

I used Wildflower Bouquet by Wendy Brightbill in the background as one of the first layers to create some depth in the white open space.

On top of the background, I used Bouquet Greenery also by Wendy Brightbill, to soften up the parts of the background that felt too much. I used white so that everything blended very nicely together. Using the Bouquet Greenery again, with the same Prussian blue that I used in the background but now mixed with my modeling paste, on top of the white print created a very interesting layered focal point.

In my video, you can see every step that I took to create this spread. I've tried to explain the steps that I took in a voice-over, but I would like to warn you that I would rather write in English than speak. Nevertheless, I hope you enjoy this video, and that you'll trust the process when you are about to give up on the page.

The stencils that I used for this project are:

Dylusions squared journal
Modeling Paste Matt
Vintage Music and Book Paper
Napkins from Sostrene Grene
Mod Podge Matt
Amsterdam White Gesso
Amsterdam Modeling Paste
Amsterdam Titan Buff Deep Acrylic
Amsterdam Prussian Blue Acrylic
Amsterdam Gold Acyrlic Ink

Thank you so much for reading my blog post. I hope that I have inspired you to create today! My name is Anouk or Creanouk on social media, and I'm an all-round creative from the Netherlands. I love art journaling because I can put my heart and soul into it. You can find my work on Instagram and Youtube.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Halloween Card Making Magic with StencilGirl® Stencils

Hi friends!  It's hard to believe that fall is almost here and honestly, I couldn't be more excited. It is my favorite time of the year. I love all the changes that occur and I LOVE decorating for the seasons.  When I thought about what I could share with you all today, I thought about creating some fun fall and Halloween cards with stencils.  Plenty of time to make them if you start now. Although StencilGirl® has some great autumn designs, I waited to the last minute to decide what I wanted to do of course, so I had to reach into my own stash rather than ordering.  But you know what I discovered?  With a little bit of imagination and the right colors, you could make it happen.  I took some unique stencils and made them into other items. I am certain you all could come up with a whole lot more than I did.  It took me a little while to get warmed up (not uncommon) but once I got going, I couldn't stop. Creating a ton of gel prints with my selected colors was a game changer for me.  I used only a few stencils and several colors of paints. (The list is at the bottom).  It didn't take long to get a nice stack going. 

By far the biggest challenge was deciding which pieces to cut up.  Some were so cool I just couldn't do it.  I managed to find several that I figured I could sort of recreate if I had to.  Negotiated with myself. Lol.  I then began the collage-making. All my cards are A-2 size, 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" and fit easily into an envelope.  

Ok, how lucky was I that I already had that Spider Web stencil by June Pfaff Daley?  It gave me the inspiration I need to dive on in.  I learned a long time ago that the best way for me to get going is to choose a color palette and then the designs.  I am usually able to begin creating after that.  What about you? What motivates you and gets your creative juices flowing? 

So here was my first card. Oh my, that Jack 'O Lantern, I am in love.  Did you guess the stencil used?  The entire print is actually on the same sheet of painted paper if you look closely.  It's not even a pumpkin but it sure made a cute one!  And that Repetition stencil, I never leave home without it. 

Ok, so I had to make two pumpkins and if I wasn't on a deadline with so many projects, I probably could have made an entire pumpkin patch from Jennifer Evans ATC Mixup stencil.  

Ah, but more cards were calling. I added the other pumpkin to this card.  

Not everyone is a fan of Halloween so I wanted to make sure that some fall was thrown in there. This flower was also on Jennifer's stencil and I couldn't resist using it.  Just by adding some fall colors (I used markers), I made it look like a sunflower of sorts.  

Next I created this super simple card.  This spider web was done on the gel plate. Want to know how I got those crazy looking bubbles?  Kind of embarrassing BUT I ended up loving the look.  I forgot to shake the bottle of paint well and I got the syrupy filler in there along with the pigment. Yeaaa, a good kind of lazy mistake. Lol.  I splattered some paint to add color to the background and attached a few pieces of collage pieces under Tim Holtz' Halloween Tape.  Easy peasy card.  

Onto more of the stenciled web, this card has some Hero Arts Reactive inks,  a Star stencil and Circle dots.  "Boo" was created from an Vintage Typewriter stencil and a piece of Mary Beth Shaw and Seth Apter's collaborative stencil for a special event a few years back but again, think of different ways to use some of your stencils or take the "o" off the alphabet stencil and use that.  

Of course, no Halloween or fall is complete without candy corn, at least not for me!  Can you guess the stencil used for this?  Another quick and easy card.  If you can't figure out the stencil, go to the end of this post.  :) 

 Last card is kind of an envelope modge podge of leftovers but there are definitely possibilities inside. That cool bat is one of Tim Holtz's embellishments and though I love it there, I could see this card working with just the scraps of paper, no bat.  Colors can tell a story too.  

So there you have it.  Seven fun cards, some layered, some quick and easy and some you can create from leftovers you have lying around.  Did you have a favorite?  Bet you all could totally make some fabulous fall cards!  (If you are new to card making or think this might be your niche, you might want to check out my class "The Art of Cardmaking" from the StencilGirl Studio courses found here.) Well, I'm heading back to my creative playground.  I have a lot more paper to use. Can't imagine letting any of it go to waste.  Would love to see and hear what you are up to. 


Stencils Used:

Other Products:

Gelli Plate
Tim Holtz Idea-ology (Tape, Beware-ephemera card)
Creamsicle, Licorice and Sea Salt Reactive Inks, Hero Arts
Halloween Sentiment Stamps-Hero Arts
PaperArtsy Paints
Delta Paints
White Uni-ball Pen
Copic Markers
Sewing Machine/Thread

My info:

Instagram: debi_adams
Facebook: Debi Adams 
            &: DebiAdams04

Friday, September 10, 2021

Frieda Oxenham: Art Journaling with StencilGirl® Stencils

I started this month’s project with 6 A4 (or American letter size if you prefer) paper, a selection of colours of acrylic paints that I really did not like, together with black and white paint, and 4 stencils that I had not used much (judging by the lack of paint on them). The stencils were: the large stencil from the October 2020 StencilClub stencil set, Forest Floor, the large stencil from the June 2018 StencilClub and the large stencil from the March 2021 Club set. And I also used a gelli plate, sized 8 x 10”. All this just to wake up to what I am. Because that is the next line in Ben Okri’s poem that I continue to illustrate: “Wake up to what you are”. For me adding an image of Frida Kahlo to the mix suited the words considering my own name. Frida used to spell her name with the additional e too but dropped it during the First World War

Here is the tutorial:

1.      Add a variety of paint colours to your plate using a brayer and take prints on your 6 pages. Add more paint when needed.

2.      When the pages are dry, again brayer on paint and then put one of the stencils mentioned above on the gelli plate and take whole or partial prints. Just keep adding the layers on those 6 sheets.

3.      Repeat step 2 but this time only using white paint on your plate.

4.      Repeat step 2 but using black paint and Mixed Media Mail stencil.

5.      Use the large stencil from the November 2020 StencilGirl® Club to spray some vintage book pages with a selection of Lindy’s Starburst Sprays or any other sparkly spray paint of your choice. 

6.      Collect all the materials made in the previous steps and collage two facing 8 x 11.5” pages by tearing the collage materials with a ruler (I used the Tim Holtz’s one) and adhering them with a glue stick.

7.      Using some of the paint colours from step 1, lightly add paint to the edges of the papers. I used a baby wipe and a small brush as well as my fingers.

8.      Spray with some of the sprays from step 5.

9.      When dry, rub watered down white gesso over both pages with a sponge

10.  Drip down fluid pink acrylic paint randomly.

11.  Using the medium stencil from the August 2018 StencilGirl® Club, mark out the pieces onto the back of wallpaper samples (mine came from the Designers Guild Coromandel range). Cut them out and arrange them on the pages as shown. Glue on.

12.  Using dark blue paint and the large stencil from the September 2013 StencilGirl® Club, add the Frida Kahlo head as shown.

13.  Glue on the postage stamp (from Mexico) and the cut from magazines words of the Ben Okri quotation. Outline as desired. I used permanent white markers and Stabilo Woody.

14.  Spray on some sparkly spray paint (I used Perfect Pearls Mist Forever Blue) through the small stencil from the January 2020 StencilGirl® Club.

15.  Edge the pages with a permanent inkpad.

© Frieda Oxenham 2021. To see more of Frieda's work, please visit her BLOG.