Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Mary Beth Shaw's VLOG: June 2022

Get your copy of Art Supplies here

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Mary Beth's VLOG!

Stay tuned!
Mary Beth Shaw will be back again next month with another new VLOG post!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Art Journaling: Layering Three Stencils

Do you ever get the chills when you create something magical? Sometimes it’s not even what you create in the end, but it’s the process or the emotions and feelings that needed to come to the surface for you to explore them through paint, or in my case stencils.


Let me back up a tiny bit. 

Several months ago, StencilGirl® asked me if I’d be interested in posting on this blog as a Guest Designer. I of course said yes! I spent hours mulling over the website searching for the perfect stencils to create with. 

When I found them, they sparked an idea that felt so personal and yet so me. These stencils sat on my desk for a bit, almost causing me to feel paralyzed at the idea of creating with them, just hoping this vision I had would come to life.


However, as nervous as I felt, I grabbed my Dina Wakley Media journal, gessoed a page (and a bit of the canvas page next to it) to start creating. I began this journey with some of my favorite ephemera: small, old ledger pages that are penciled on and some old dictionary pages. I love the scratchy pencil marks that are not perfect and the story they tell. I added bits of the ephemera to the geoosed page and a few to the canvas page as well using matte medium.


Once that ephemera layer was dry, I added some gesso and scribbled a Lyra graphite stick all over eventually activating with a bit of water. 

Afterwards, I began to add some color: cobalt teal, turquoise, and mars yellow deep. I used a bit of water to create a “watercolor” look with the acrylic paint, allowing some white space and also some of it to find its way to the canvas page.


Next, I grabbed the stencils, placed them on my pages to visualize where I wanted to them go. As you can see below, I had a few options I was considering!



Then, I stopped, left my studio, and took a break.


The next day, I cleared my head to get to work. It was time to bring this lady’s story, my story, to life. First, I added some number stickers around the pages, picking spots where they wouldn’t interfere with the silhouette stencil. I used my focal point stencil as a guide.


Unsure of how to accomplish my vision, I decided that stenciling the laugh face stencil would be where to start. I used Payne’s Gray with a sponge applicator to add the lady to my pages. Since I wanted the empty space of the stencil to be inside, I flipped the stencil over and stenciled every part but the “3” because I didn’t want it backwards. Later I added the 3, and also another wing with the stencil flipped over to the right side.

I used some watered-down Payne’s Gray to feather the paint out and add sort of a cloud around her. Then, I added the birds from the flock stencil using the same process so they would look as though they were flying free from her head. 

Using a gel plate and brayer, I added the flower mask stencil to the bottom of the page. This was a bit of a messy process as I used a brayer over the mask and papers to push it down on the pages. The mess was worth it though, as I love the result of using the stencil mask as a stamp!

Both of these images are so symbolic to me, representing growth and flight And, that’s where I got those chills. Those three stencils came together to tell a story.

A few other touches included: adding mars yellow to the wings and some more above where the birds were taking flight, spatters of teals and more layers of color, “grunging up” the pages with some more Payne’s Gray (especially the canvas side), lightening up the face a bit with some gesso, and re-stenciling the wings. 

As my head was flooded with words and meaning to this page, I didn’t feel I could write about it. So, I looked through the Dina Wakley typed ledger sheets for a quote that might stand out and found it:


Art is you being free from all the world’s heaviness.


(Insert more chills.)




You can watch the entire process come together in the video below.



I hope this has inspired you to create in your art journal today! If it does, give me a shout on Instagram so I can see your magic.



Find me on Instagram @nicolewatsonart

Over at YouTube

And, my website





Other Supplies:

  • Golden So Flat (Payne’s gray, mars yellow deep, cobalt teal, turquoise)
  • Dina Wakley Media Journal
  • Sponge Applicator
  • Dina Wakley Media Ledger Sheets
  • Number Stickers
  • Gesso
  • Matte Medium
  • Ephemera (dictionary pages, ledger pages)
  • Small Gel Plate
  • Brayer
  • Lyra Graphite Stick (2B)

Monday, June 27, 2022

White Numbers - White Letters

I'm starting a new theme for my quarterly column: Master Pieces.  The idea behind this is not to claim I am making masterpieces - far from it - but to use master works as inspiration or a way to examine something about art making.  The inspiration may be subject, composition, technique, mood, color palette - who knows?  But I do know I have never left a museum without being inspired.  

         This spring I was visiting my daughter in New York City, and we decided to spend our Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art.  I will confess, I'm not a huge fan of modern art, but it's always a thrill to visit some of the greats in person every few years - Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, by Picasso, The Starry Night, by Van Gogh - and so many others.  One of the joys of looking at masterworks up close is the chance to glean some insights into subtleties - a passage of brushwork, a bit of dog hair caught in the paint - that rarely come through in art book color plates but that deepen our admiration of the artist's hand.  We strolled the galleries, and I kept an eye out for a painting that could become the masterpiece of my first column in this series, always mindful that the work that I created from this inspiration would have to feature stencils.  And there it was - the perfect master piece:

    This painting is White Numbers, by Jasper Johns, painted in 1957.   As you can see, the canvas is entirely filled with stenciled numbers!  How great is that!  The painting is quite large, and painted in white and off-white tones.  The surface is heavily textured, painted in encaustic (hot wax).  The brushwork is thick and aggressive.  This may be due to the nature of the encaustic which he would have had to apply quickly, before it cooled and solidified.  The stencils were most likely the paper or cardboard kind you could pick up at the hardware store to stencil a phone number on a "For Rent" sign.  They are completely mundane, humdrum, mechanical, unartistic.  The numbers are not in order.  There is a formal grid to the layout but there is no pattern or information in the sequence of numbers. Try as you will, you will search in vain to discern meaning.
       Johns was said to be focused on the process of painting at this point in his career, and deliberately sought materials that did not come from the art world - such as hardware store stencils.  Although many painters in the 1950s were working abstractly, this is not abstract.  The numbers are clearly numbers, clearly themselves.  And yet they have no meaning.  It's not a painting about numbers.  The painting just means itself.  We are thus invited to contemplate the surface, the subtle shift of white to gray to beige, the curves, the shapes, the parallel scratches of bristles through cooling wax, while the numbers resist telling us anything. There is no code, no secret math.  They are just white numbers shaped in wax.

       So my challenge was to make something inspired by this work.  I love working with wax - or I should say, I love encaustic paintings.  The wax itself somewhat fills me with dread; so much is unpredictable about working with hot wax.  But one thing that I know for sure is that you can't put wax over acrylic paint; it will just peel off eventually.  So right from the start, I was forced to think about surface and process.  If I wanted the top layer of my painting to be wax, what would the bottom layers be?  How would I achieve that thickness, that coarseness that is so dominant in the Jasper Johns work?  I used a 9x12 canvas-over-board panel, for rigidity, and prepped it with white gesso - adding hints of charcoal and pale gray pastel chalks, some light ochre chalk, some graphite - any dry and gritty/dusty medium I had on hand.  This would give the wax a toothy surface to grip, as well as giving the overall work some color and tonal variation within the pale gray-white-beige range. 

Flourish Alphabet Uppercase by Ann Butler L644

    I decided to use the Flourish Alphabet Uppercase, by Ann Butler, to make my version on the Johns painting.   It's not at all humdrum or mundane (look at those pretty squiggles!) but it is closest to the hardware store numbers in the regularity of the letters (in other words, they don't have a hand-drawn appearance).   I used a thick and uneven application of light modeling paste through this stencil onto my board, and deciding that because the squiggles didn't exactly match the aesthetic of the White Numbers, I smudged and obscured them.  I used old brushes with stiff bristles to rough up the texture, and added more modeling paste in between the letters.  I had to be sure not to accidentally put the letters in their proper alphabetic order, or spell simple words.  I was focused on the texture, the thickness of the modeling paste, the balance of tone, thinking ahead to how I would apply the wax.  I was in the process, and deliberately avoiding meaning or even attachment to the end result.  I sanded it in some places and added more dry medium - chalk, charcoal, graphite.

 "White Letters" before wax was applied

     The nature of some of the materials I used was very challenging - applying the modeling paste through three or four letters and then moving the stencil and applying more, trying to maintain the regular grid structure - while not smearing the first application of wet modeling paste was, again, something that kept me focused on the process rather than on questions like,  Is this nice?  Do I like this?  How will this look on Instagram?  Is this good? Will people think this is weird? Should I try to remove that dog hair?  It was the same when it came time to apply the wax.  I used a combination of plain encaustic medium and some white encaustic, and I tried to achieve a textured surface but wax is the devil!  Too much heat gun and you lose the texture, too much wax and you hide the letters underneath - it was like doing one of those blacksmith puzzles with the twisted bits of iron - just when you think you've got it, you don't.
White Letters with encaustic wax

       Ultimately, I think I like my "master piece," although I doubt any visitor to my house will give it much scrutiny.  I hope they do, though.   In any one bit of the surface there is complexity that invites attention.  Yet below the surface, a series of recognizable symbols from everyday life, as if glimpsed through the fog, is simultaneously familiar -  and inscrutable.  Ideally, great art presents us with familiar things in an unfamiliar way.  We thought we knew what we are looking at, but we come away with questions that lure us back to look again.  This is the gift of studying a master.


Friday, June 24, 2022

Guest Designer: Diane Adams

Hi! It's Diane Adams from @twospotteddogs! I was so excited when I was asked if I would be interested in doing a guest blog post on StencilGirl®Talk. I knew immediately that I wanted to use some of Rae Missigman’s amazing color swatch stencils!

I have always loved color swatches, although I have never created my own since I don’t do a lot of painting. There is something so appealing about the grids and geometric shapes! I have been using landscape images in my artwork since I was in art school many years ago. My first thought was that it would be fun to paint a landscape image over the grid. I also love the variety of bird and butterfly stencils offered by StencilGirl®. My original project plan included creating a stenciled bird to add over the landscape. I also wanted to try to come up with a unique way to use the stencils. I really enjoy trying to find new ways to use products or materials. Like many of my favorite projects, this one went in a different direction from my original plan, and I ended up using the stencil in an unexpected way. I decided to use the 6 x6 stencil on a 6 x 6 square of patterned cardstock. I love using papers that look like vintage ephemera, especially old ledger paper. I thought that the cardstock would also work well with the acrylic paint I wanted to use with my stencil. My favorite tool to use when applying paint to a stencil is a foam cosmetic wedge. For this project, I used inexpensive jars of acrylic paint. I used a variety of blues and greens to create an abstract landscape using the 20 Color Swatch Grid Stencil.

When I removed the stencil, I made the best discovery! I loved how the grid landscape looked, but I also really loved how the landscape image looked on the stencil itself.

I tried laying the stencil on another square of patterned paper and I knew I wanted to create another piece using the actual painted stencil. I glued the stencil to my paper using a glue stick.

I love using antique landscape postcards in my art. The abstract landscape grids reminded me of the postcard landscapes, and I decided to layer the vintage postcards over the grids.

I used foam tape to attach the postcards to add dimension to the finished pieces. I also outlined the grid squares and postcards with pencil. I was so excited with how this project turned out that I decided to try it with the Color Gradient Swatch Wheel stencil and see if I could use the same concept, but in a circle format. I followed the same process and once again, I loved both the stenciled landscape and the painted stencil.

I cut antique postcards into a circle, and I was really happy with the way they worked with the stenciled image and the painted stencil.

When I started this project, I didn’t really plan on finishing the pieces, but I was so happy with how they turned out that I decided to mount them to gesso boards. I glued scraps of the patterned paper to the edges of the gesso board.

Now that I have completed this project, I will definitely be ordering more of the color swatch stencils and plan to include more of the actual painted stencils in my work. I hope you enjoyed this project and I hope it will encourage you to think outside the box and look for new ways to use your stencils.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

New Designs from Cynthia Silveri Available Now!

Cynthia has always loved poppies with their cheery red color. She is equally enamored by their seed heads after they flower—their interesting structure and shape are the inspiration for the Poppy Seed Heads and Poppy Seed Stems stencils. 


The Twisted Forest stencil was a mash-up idea, combining Cynthia's Birch Forest stencil (L640) with her Fragmented Lines Columns stencil (S679) to create a play between organic lines of the tree branches with architectural formality creating dynamic movement in their juxtaposition.

Available today from

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

StencilGirl® Guest Designer: Kate Word

Hi everyone! I’m Kate Word, and I’m thrilled to be asked to be a guest designer for StencilGirl® Products today. I use StencilGirl® stencils exclusively and have been a club member for about a year. 


I used many StencilGirl® stencils in my artwork for my solo show in January 2022. The exhibition was part of my Best of Show Membership Award at my local art center in 2021.  

I am an abstract, non-objective painter, and I also create a lot of mixed media collage using my own hand painted/printed papers with my gel plate and stencils, of course. I paint mostly geometric shapes, their intersections, grids, lots of rich surface texture, and pattern. I love circles and have a new fondness for triangles! I describe myself as a woman of contrasts, a country girl living in the city, a mountain lover living by the coast. I find inspiration for balancing contrasts in modern architecture, nature, and textiles, and I intentionally juxtapose organic shapes with geometric lines and grids. Though some methods are calculated, I welcome intuition, spontaneity, and many accidental discoveries along the way. 

I had a year to produce this body of work for my exhibition. As I created these 54 pieces, my theme was “Portals, Exploring Circles,” and it was easy to incorporate my love of circles, emphasizing them with pattern or my favorite calligraphy stencils: StencilClub May 2019, Script Collection by Cecilia Swatton, Abstract Calligraphic Alphabet. Most of my artworks were 12”x 12” flat panels and framed with floater frames, but some were 8”x 8”, 20”x 20” and 24”x 24”. The largest gallery wrapped canvas was 48”x 60”. 

I never considered myself an abstract landscape painter, but inspiration for 12 paintings came from watching the Netflix series, “Moving Art” by Louie Schwartzberg, a world-renowned cinematographer. Three seasons feature episodes with mountains, waterfalls, crevices, plateaus, desert, and patterns in nature. One night while watching, I used a sketchbook to draw my impressions in very graphic ways.  

These images below show favorites from three series, “Summit I-VI“Brink I-III,” and “Fathom I-III.”  

For continuity, I used the same two stencils in all 12 landscape pieces, contrasting Cecilia’s script stencil with a simple grid stencil, Mary Beth’s Grid set 9. Here’s a YouTube video about my show if you’d like to see.

So, how was it to produce an exhibition, to work on a theme for a full year? It was a learning experience. It took discipline, consistency in my daily studio practice, activating my imagination to see my exhibit finished, a continuity with my color palette, and foremost, having fun with my process. With that fun, came boldness in my decisions, and then, of course, a confidence as I completed each painting and delivered my paintings on January 2 

A favorite mantra, “Less is more” was important after seeing a previous show in the same gallery that seemed heavy and overwhelming. I couldn’t get out of the gallery fast enough, and I certainly didn’t want my viewers and collectors to feel the same overwhelm! This show after all, was new work for me and I did want my former collectors to love my new direction as much as I do. And they did, 13 RED DOTS! 

What am I working on now after completing the show in January? Of course, I still use StencilGirl® products. I have a passion for layers in my work, paint, collage, stencils, paint, collage, stencils, repeat. Since I have a penchant for circles and triangles, I look for those shapes and patterns in combination with striations and now, botanical elements. Here are larger mixed media paintings I’ve just completed using Longwood Floral Stencil by Cecilia Swatton, Rock Wall by Mary Beth Shaw, Tire Tracks by Terri Stegmiller, Half Ring Squared Small by Andrew Borloz and Circular Patterns for Play by Carolyn Dube:

As you can see, I am still exploring circles and triangles, especially their geometric intersections, but in new and different ways. I think that’s the beauty of stencils. Soooo many possibilities and so little time to explore!  Happy painting! 


About Kate Word:  

Since childhood, Kate Word found art to be a great friend. A native Texan and a product of the 60’s, Kate grew up on a family cotton farm and was influenced by Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and the Psychedelic Movement. This “flower child” loved color and ALL things beautiful. Grit and faith melded the family history with her future making Kate a woman of many contrasts. 

Kate studied fine arts at Texas Woman’s University, and a backpacking trip to Europe in the 90’s with an art history professor fueled interests in cathedrals, cobblestone patterns, wrought iron gates, and botanical gardens, grand or small. Raising two children, living briefly in North Dakota, painting murals in CA, and operating a weaving studio in Taos, NM have all contributed to her artistic expressions. Kate traveled widely and explored the mountains and high deserts of New Mexico every year until she returned to Texas with her husband, William, who is sight impaired. She intentionally creates large paintings with bold and saturated colors so that he can enjoy her artwork.