Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Beach Party Bonanza!

It’s already June, can you believe it? Summer will be here this week and I am so ready for it. To get the celebration going, I’ve created a little beach party bonanza that will have you enjoying fresh flowers, twinkling lights, and a little bit of sand and surf romance. And the best part of it is that I was finally able to use Mary Nasser's fabulous line of stencils. 

Here's the stencil lineup:

And the other materials you will need:

Small tin watering cans
Small tin buckets (I call these candle cups for this project)
Four-top tin caddy with handles
Silk sari ribbon
Sharpies in teal and blue
Shell and Starfish bead elements
Aleene’s Fast Tacky Glue
Strong glue like Clear Gorilla Glue
Clear octagonal beads with a prism-like quality
1/2 inch round magnets
White or Color battery-operated tea lights
Your choice of flowers and foliage (but the Peonies are gorgeous!)
Banner flags
Old maps
Dirty Sand Embossing Powder by Seth Apter
Embossing Stamp Pad
Blue and teal yarn (or other hanging material)
Sandwich bags
Color box Cat’s Eye ink pad in dark brown
Hole punch
Xacto Knife or tiny scissors
Table runner
Sand in white and blue
Optional: Shells

For the banner, cut the map into the same shape as your banner flag using one of the banner flags as your guide. Glue the cut map portion on top of the banner flag. Re-punch the holes. Edge the banner flags with the dark brown ink pad. Stencil each flag with a different Nasser stencil. Use the embossing ink just at the bottom making a slight wavy pattern to mimic waves. Emboss with the Dirty Sand embossing powder. Weave the yarn through each of the holes using a slip knot to hold the flag tight. Leave about three inches between each flag. Leave about a two-foot length of yarn at each end.

The little candle cups are easy to make! You will need one more than the number of banner flags you have. For example, I have eighteen banner flags so I used nineteen candle cups. First, take Mary Nasser's Navigate  stencil and shrink it down to about one-inch by copying the stencil on your copy machine. Cut out the stencil and intended open portions that should be cut out using the Xacto knife or the tiny scissors. Hold the stencil onto one side of the cup. Color about one half of the stencil with the dark blue Sharpie and the rest with the teal Sharpie. Be consistent in your coloring pattern. Be careful not to get too much ink on the tin or it could run below the copied stencil. Allow to dry completely. Attach a prism bead to the handle. Glue a magnet to the back side of each of the tea lights. 

Cut multiple eight-inch strips of sari silk ribbon so that you have enough for all of the tins. Gather three silk strips and tie a knot at the middle. Cut each end up halfway so that each silk strip has three sections. Rip the silk strips the rest of the way. Glue a magnet to the knot. Use pressure on them to ensure that the magnets are adhered completely. When they are dry, take two of the strips and use them to tie the ribbon and magnet setup in between each banner flag and at each end of the series of flags.

To make the utensil caddy, first stencil one side of each tin with the shrunk-down version of the Navigate stencil using either the blue or teal Sharpies or both Sharpies creating an ombré effect. Tie the silk sari ribbon around each tin so that you have two to three layers of ribbon and just enough to tie a knot and leave about three inches left. Cut the remaining ribbon into three strips and rip it the rest of the way. Using the strong glue, place a large bead of glue just under the knot, and nestle the shell and starfish bead on top. Rest the tin shell side up and allow to dry overnight. Take care when placing the tins back into the caddy so that you don’t catch and break the shell beads. Create the watering cans by using the teal Sharpie to stencil in the Mini Waves stencil on both sides.

To decorate for your beach party, add knives, spoons, forks, and napkins to the cubby. String the banner flags up and tie them securely and in a straight line. Turn on all of your tea lights and place them in the inside of the candle cups. Attach each candle cup to one ribbon and magnet setup. The banner flag setup will slightly bow from the weight. Place a sandwich bag into the each of the watering cans because the cans are not waterproof and will leak if you don’t. Fill with water and cut any excess bag material so that it doesn’t show. Place the peonies (or your choice of flower) into the can. On your table, place a runner of your choice then sprinkle layers of sand . I started with white then added blue. Use your fingers to shuffle the colors so that they look more seamless. 

Now that you have the secret the a stellar beach party, create your own and be sure to share it with StencilGirl and me!
Anne Marie 


Mystic Spring Studios 
MSS Blog 
or email me at

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Layers of the Mind - an Abstract Canvas by Claudia Neubacher

Hi, servus and thank you so much for stopping by!

Today's project is - as vibrant, funky and street art style fun it may look - based on a rather earnest theme - my Hashimoto illness and the rough times it is giving me at the moment. I usually do not make a fuss about it and try to keep stuff like this away from design team work and blog readers and I am not going to burden you with many details about my struggles here, but this project just took on a life on its own during the creative process and turned out in a way that I feel I need to explain...and I cannot do that without mentioning my actual health issues. 

But let me show you the finished canvas first. Or let's say the finished finished it took on a life on its own after I thought I had almost finished it. ;)

So this is my abstract piece of art, done with loads of StencilGirl® stencils at its "second finished state" (which is the state I like much better because I think is the much more authentic one and the result I can identify with). 

And this is how the canvas looked when I thought I was almost done and only needed to add some details here and there and bring in some more stencils from my StencilGirl® stencils stash...

A nice, little piece of abstract art, right? And what a difference!!!!

I could have called the canvas done at that point, but something inside me didn't like it at all. Not because of the colors that I had picked, not because of the composition (I honestly liked that!)...I just couldn't relate at all to what I had created. 
Oh, well...I could have said to myself "job done" and just look at the canvas as another piece of design team work to tick off my list and just add a bit of texture here and there for more interest...some splatters....or a quote...but obviously my mind does not work that way (and my subconscious did not allow me to deal with it that way either). 

If I cannot relate to what I create, I cannot share it with an audience. For me - what makes a piece of art, art, is the fact that the artist has shared a piece of her or his soul in it and allows the audience to catch a glimpse of what goes on in her or his mind by looking at the artwork. And this canvas was just not personal at all. It was as if my hands had created something my soul could not relate to. And therefore I could not add any "finishing touches" - I just had no idea on how to finish this off, because what I saw in this canvas was so not me and so "not true". 

I felt I was holding the wolf by the health issues have been giving me such a hard time at the moment that "gorgeous", "jolly" and "bright" are obviously not doable for me - simply because I do not feel jolly or bright. I think I was trying to pretend (mainly to myself) that everything was fine by creating a bright piece of art. I guess I hoped that would make me feel bright too....which it didn't. On the contrary - I was frustrated by the outcome, angry and desperate. 

And then I realized that that was exactly what I was missing in my project - a sign of all the anxiety, struggle, angriness and despair I have been going through these weeks. At that moment I decided to let my feelings take the lead. If I messed up...well...then this canvas would go into the bin. So what!

What happened from that moment on was a complete copy of my actual state: I struggled! 
I struggled with pastes or paints not working properly when I applied these through the stencils, I struggled with effects that didn't turn out as planned, I struggled with organizing my work desk, I struggled with techniques I usually do with ease...and it was as if it was meant to be that way. 
At some point I kind of "gave up" and accepted failure - and from there suddenly everything I did and added and tried just felt right - and worked (I guess because I had stopped fighting and started feeling). 

I got lost in a process of adding layers on top of other layers, redoing areas I didn't like, toning down, adding highlights, doodling and painting over, adding scribbled text (written with my non-dominant hand), filling in shapes, drawing outlines...and I found myself in the process as well as in the result. The painting is a sign of a struggle - and that is what I wanted it to be. (and it is also a sign of my love for street art and especially the art of Jean Michel Basquiat I found ;)  

StencilGirl® Stencils used: 

- Map Stencil by Mary C. Nasser
- Mash Up! - January 2019 Stencil Club Kit - by Mary Beth Shaw and Seth Apter
- Playtime - August 2018 Stencil Club Kit - by Carolyn Dube
- Wolf - by Roxanne Coble
- Rabid Bunny - by Roxanne Coble
- Past Present Future - by Seth Apter
- Picket Fences - by Daniella Woolf

I have taken steps images though ('cos I almost always do), so I can take you through the layers step by step. 

I started with scraping some Warm Grey DecoArt premium acrylic paint onto a canvas using a plastic card. 

Next, I applied some white DecoArt media Modelling Paste through the beautiful "Maps" stencil from Mary C. Nasser. I made sure I did not move the stencil but used only some areas on it to apply the modeling paste through.

Once that had dried I sprayed on some yellow acrylic spray paint that I had mixed myself from DecoArt Cadmium Yellow Hue premium paint and water.

I also scraped on some Dioxazine Purple here and there using a palette knife.
After that had dried I put the Maps stencil back in the same position I had used it the first time.

Using a cosmetic sponge and Cobalt Teal Hue premium acrylic paint, I only added paint to some of the raised modeling paste areas (but not all of them).

That was followed by adding diluted Quinacridone Gold Hue premium paint through the largest stencil of the Stencil Club "Mash Up" set by Mary Beth Shaw and Seth Apter.

The medium sized stencil from that set was used too and I also added DecoArt Americana Lamp Black through the cool "Picket Fences" stencil by Daniella Woolf.

Once again the "finished canvas" at its first stage...

I decided to use the Maps stencil from Mary again - this time with DecoArt premium Titanium White acrylic paint. (I didn't really like the result ;)

Then I went for additional patterns and marks using Lamp Black Americana paint and the large stencil from the "Play" Stencil Club set by Carolyn Dube. As the paint was a bit too liquid I didn't get crisp shapes. Hmmmm....

After that I heat dried the canvas and then painted all over it with diluted Lamp Black acrylic paint to tone everything down - which means I wiped back the still wet paint with a baby wipe to only get a light grey background. The previously applied acrylic paints worked as a resist - so these areas stayed bright.

That was followed by more mark making....this time with the smallest stencil from the "Mash Up" Stencil Club set. I had already used it before with the Lamp Black and didn't like the outcome, so I went over the same spot with the same stencil using DecoArt media white Gesso this time. The "outlined" effect looked really cool. Yay! I added more words and patterns in white Gesso here and there and also redid the larger black marks I had done earlier.

At that point, I decided I needed a focal element that would look a bit like graffiti on a wall with loads of graffiti layers underneath. I needed that element to be a really bright color so I first did a layer with DecoArt media white Gesso and a cosmetic sponge. I used Seth Apters "Past Present Future" stencil (one of my favs).

Once the white Gesso had dried, I went over the same area with DecoArt media "Pyrole Orange" fluid acrylic.

The Pyrole Orange leftovers on the palette were diluted and sprinkled onto the canvas using a brush and tapping it gently.

I did the same with the leftovers of Lamp Black on my palette, but this time covered up the focal element with a torn to size paper scrap. I also used the Lamp Black and my fingertip to add a black border around the canvas edge.

At that stage, my "graffiti" started to feel "right" for me. But it still lacked some interest and "struggle".

Using a white gel pen and a black permanent PITT artist pen I outlined the focal quote.

To repeat the color of my focal element I scraped on more Pyrole Orange with a palette knife.

Then I added more spritzes of my self made yellow acrylic paint spray and let it create some drip lines.

Using the black brush tip PITT marker and my non-dominant hand I added some scribbling here and there. (That was the moment I realized what my canvas was all about).

On top of that layer, I added some white doodling using my white gel pen and the "Rabid" and "Wolf" stencils by Roxanne Coble. I added the raindrops (or tears? or drops of blood?), some of her cool cut off hands, teeth, and bottles by tracing the shapes through the stencil.

I especially loved the large cut off hand so I placed it close to the center as my second focal element.

Almost there! 

I also felt I still needed to fill every space on the canvas with some white or black doodling or scribbling, so I went in with Seth Apter's and Mary Beth Shaw's medium size stencil from their Mash-Up set again and added some screw heads.

Using the black brush tip PITT marker again, I filled in some of the shapes I had drawn with the white gel pen. Earlier on I had also shaded some of the words I had written in black with the white gel pen. I found that made a huge difference...

So here it is - my personal "struggle" piece of art. 

Letting go felt right. Showing my fear and anger and letting these become part of my artwork felt right. I love the energy that evolved from the process of struggling, letting go and diving into my own feelings. I love that this energy also has become visible on my canvas. Energy is good - because it is the opposite of giving up. 

I hope you can feel some of this energy in my painting, too. 
May you never loose yours! 
Take care!


Monday, June 17, 2019

A Few Minutes with Mary Beth

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Just a few minutes with Mary Beth!

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

Art Journal Spread with StencilGirl® Stencils by Frieda Oxenham

The best time of the year, at least as far as I am concerned, is here and I was inspired by the words of Frank Lloyd Wright to make this spread.  He said: “There is nothing higher, that I can see, than the deep and full understanding and appreciation of the beauty around you”.   Of course it also helps having such a lovely selection of stencils that capture such beauty so well! This is how this spread came together: 
  1. Gesso the pages of your art journal. I’m working in the 9 x 9” Bee Paper Company Mixed Media one. 
  1. Using permanent spray paints and the large stencil from the March 2019 StencilClub stencils, spray through the stencil unto the pages using all the patterns on this stencil.

  1. Add gold gesso in some areas using a brush or your fingers. 
  1. Repeat step 2.

  1. Stencil through Hamilton with Titanium White paint and a cosmetic sponge.

  1. Spray with red through the daisy pattern of  the March 2019 StencilClub large stencil 
  1. Continue stenciling through the same stencil as in step 6, using all the patterns on it, with both paints and spray paints (I added one with gold mica) till you’re happy with the results, keeping in mind this will be your background.

  1. Stencil on flower shapes using stencil Wildflowers and Grasses , using dark green acrylic paint and a cosmetic wedge.

  1. Using 2 different sized punches (mine are by Woodware Craft Collection) and some left over gelli prints from previous projects, punch out little flower shapes and glue them onto the bottom of the spread.

  1. Drip High Flow pink acrylic paint on the pages and spray with water to make it drip. 
  1. Glue on text as shown and outline with black Stabilo All pencil.  
  1. Outline the stenciled shapes with a variety of permanent black and white markers. Do the same to the punched flower shapes. 
  1. Outline the pages with a dark green ink pad.  

© Frieda Oxenham 2019. To see more of Frieda's work, please visit her BLOG.