Tuesday, January 18, 2022

My Word of the Year with Stenciled Ephemera

Happy New Year, StencilGirl® fans!  It's Sarah Gardner with my first StencilTalk post of 2022!

Have you picked a Word for the Year?  Are you trying to pick one? I've talked to several friends, who are still deciding on theirs. And hey, it's still early, you have time!

I've been intentional about choosing, and trying to live by, a Word of the Year for the past several years.  I haven't been doing this to jump in on the trend and post something on Instagram, though.  This is a very meaningful self-development exercise for me.  

I am a life-long learner. So, it makes sense that I would use my Word of the Year as a foundation for learning throughout the coming year.  For me, learning means being open. It means exploring and questioning.  It means not just accepting the status quo or the way things "have always been." It means having the humility to realize I don't know everything and can always improve.

My art/creative practice is part of this.  My art journal has always been a place where I give myself permission to "not know," to play around, and to learn.  My creative practice gives me the experience of being intentional in the way I am learning, and this translates to how I "practice" life and learn about myself beyond my art journal.

My word of the year for 2019 was "Gratefulness" because I had finally fully recovered from my tongue cancer surgery (in 2018). I had had so many wonderful care-providers and positive outcomes that I was, quite simply, full of gratitude.  I wanted to keep that feeling going into the coming year...and beyond. 

In 2020 it was "Grace," because that feeling of gratitude needed a little propping up as ordinary life, COVID, and some emotional and personal challenges presented themselves.  For me, "grace" is handling anything that comes your way with loving kindness (for oneself and others), courage, respectfulness, and gratitude. 

For 2021, it was "Intention."  I had just read Dr. Shauna Shapiro's book "Good Morning, I Love You," and her approach to mindfulness really resonated with me.  I'm such a perfectionist...(well, now I can say I'm a "recovering" perfectionist)...that it just felt right to me when I read: "Perfection isn't possible, but progress is." I think "intention" means that I am not just on autopilot for anything in my life.  I am paying attention, present in the moment, I am actively creating my life, and I am being kind to myself.  

And so, without further ado, I reveal my 2022 Word of the Year: Discernment. (Discernment does have a religious aspect to it, but that is not the meaning I am focusing on.)  For me, choosing "discernment" is a continuation of what has come before. It's about taking "Gratefulness," "Grace" and "Intention" into the future with me as I make a new effort to go beyond the mere perception of things and make nuanced judgments about their properties or qualities. "Discernment," for me is about making sure my perceptions are not overly influenced by assumptions and pre-conceived ideas. And it is using values like humility, generosity, and truth, as well as my awareness and intuition, to assist in making rational observations.  It's about linking the head, the heart, and the spirit in a wholistic way to make decisions and take actions.  Our life is all about the choices we make, and I am asking "Discernment" to inform mine.

As a reminder, I've created this little "book" out of up-cycled clothing tags to assist me this year. I've included words (there are many more, but I selected several that are important) that define what "Discernment" means to me. This was such a fun project, and I felt really grounded in my decision to choose this word. 

In order to add the "words" to my tags, I needed the right size for the tag, so I created the words with a stencil, stenciling each letter. Then I scanned the words to my computer, adjusted the size of the jpeg, and then printed them out.  I fussy cut the words and collaged them into my arty "pages." 

I have created other ephemera using black paint and stencils and then scanning to get smaller versions to use in my art journal.  It is another step, and takes some fiddling on the computer to get the images to the size you want, but I think the pay-off is wonderful, and it's another way that stencils can be so versatile!

Here are the StencilGirl® stencils I used (and/or who made an appearance:) for this project:

Botanical Stem by Rae Missigman
Early Art 2 by June Pfaff Daley (June 2021 StencilClub offering)*

*If you join StencilClub, you can access any of the prior months' sets!

Here's a video showing you, step by step how I made my up-cycled tag book:

Thank you so much for reading and watching! XO Sarah

Hi I'm Sarah and Juicy*S is my DJ name. I'm not a DJ. I would love to be a DJ. It's one of my fantasy dream jobs, really. I got this name when my sister, my friend, and I were slinging paint and working in our art journals, drinking wine, and keeping track of the funny things we were saying on a "sign-in" sheet...just craziness. We all ended up with a DJ name that day. I started my first art blog with this name, and I've had it ever since.

I have found that being creative, that making stuff, is a very fulfilling and beneficial activity for me. Creative play, and art journaling in particular, has become my self-care practice. It's so exciting for me to share what I'm excited about, and helping others find their own creative practice is one of my goals in life!

You can find me on Instagram @juicy.s.art and my website is: Juicy*S Art
I also have a YouTube Channel and an Etsy Shop.

Monday, January 17, 2022

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Style!

Hi all, it's Gwen here, starting off this new year with a new tutorial blending a few different types of paints as well as a fun texture technique.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Artwork by Gwen Lafleur

As usual, I took photos along the way so that I could share my process with you.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 1 - Gwen Lafleur

I started by stenciling images from my Boho Fish stencil onto a piece of 140lb watercolor paper using black Archival Ink and a blender brush. This doesn't have to be perfect - I used this layer as a guide for painting in the next parts of the process.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 2 - Gwen Lafleur

While I love my acrylic paints, I'm also a big fan of poster paint - they're a bright and opaque paint that's very often used by illustrators. Since I was thinking of going in a more illustrative direction with this piece, I thought it would be a fun and a propos choice. (You can also use acrylics, markers, colored pencils... whatever you prefer as a medium for this type of work.)

I used my paintbrushes to block in color in the different areas designated by the stencil, but you can also take the opportunity to change up the design by painting over lines.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 3 - Gwen Lafleur

This third step is optional, but while I like the plain, bold color, I generally like it even more with some shading on top. Posca paint pens are a great shortcut for that... I frequently use them to blend on top of my dried acrylics and poster paints. (Fun art term: blending on top of dried paint is called "scumbling.")

Basically, once the base layers were dry, I just used the pens to add a darker version of the same color on top and smudged it out with my finger. Then I used a baby wipe to blend away any hard lines and make sure the color faded out nicely.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 4 - Gwen Lafleur

Once again this is an optional step as it's definitely personal preference, but since I wanted that illustrative style here, I used my black Posca pen to go back over the stencil lines and add a strong outline (you can also put the stencil back down and trace or use a brush to re-stencil.) I like how clean it makes it and how much the black brightens the colors and it also covers up the bridges and helps it look hand-drawn vs. stenciled. 

Then I took a few other pens in white, brown, and dark green to add some dots and small details.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 5 - Gwen Lafleur

Here's where we get to have fun playing with supplies and creating a subtle texture. I used this technique to give the sense of fish scales, but you can use a different shape to get different effects with the same tools.

Basically, I made my own pearlescent glitter gel. To do that, just put a dollop of gel medium onto your palette (I used a heavy gloss medium because I wanted the shine and I also wanted it thick enough to create texture.) Then I added about 3 drops of Interference Blue Green paint, 1 drop of Teal, then mixed. Without going any further, you've created your own pearlescent paint (you can also use an iridescent medium instead of an interference paint for a similar effect.) Then to make a glitter gel, I scooped in some teal eco-friendly glitter and mixed and added and mixed some more until I had the consistency I wanted.

Once the glitter gel was ready, I used a tube to stamp glittery circles (or to be precise, I angled it to stamp rough half circles.) For my tube, I used the inside of a roll of doggie doodie bags (I have a fabulous little rescue dog named Jake.) I keep those chipboard tubes - they're great for all kinds of things and they make fab stamps! 

Here's a closeup of how it looked - just a suggestion of scales.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 5a - Gwen Lafleur

I made enough of my glitter gel that I could also use it to add some texture to the background, so I used a palette knife to spread it through my Collage Textures and Patterns - Medieval Cyrillic stencil in a few random spots. (Make sure to clean your stencil afterwards... the glitter can gunk up the openings and it will NOT come off after it's dry.)

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 6 - Gwen Lafleur

One of my favorite things about "mixed media" is that technically, it just means that you mix multiple media together! While that often gets interpreted as paint plus collage or other paper supplies (and collage is definitely a favorite medium of mine,) you can create mixed media artwork by simply mixing different wet media like I've done here... ink, poster paint, and now... watercolor.

I grabbed a few pans of iridescent watercolor in shades of blue and then used them to paint the background. (Fun tip - the dried acrylic glitter gel will act as a resist for your watercolor.) I used darker colors around the edges to create some natural framing and a suggestion of deeper water and then lighter around the fish to allow them to better stand out.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 7 - Gwen Lafleur

From here on out, each step could really be your final piece. The last step with just the watercolor background could be finished. Of course, more is more, so I went in with the 4x4 stencil from my February 2021 Feathered Tribe StencilClub set along with some of the patterns from my EGL15 stamp set from PaperArtsy to put more pattern into the background.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 8 - Gwen Lafleur

Again, this could be complete at this point. And although I had my final concept in mind when I started, I seriously considered stopping here because I love how it turned out. But I didn't. lol.

To take it one step further, I took a page from an antique photo album and adhered my painting on the back, positioning it so that I liked how the images showed through the frames. (You can also adhere with temporary adhesive in case you want to remove your painting later.) I love the contrast between the bright fish and the signs of age on the frame. You could also use a photo mat or a diecut frame... whatever you have that works for your style and subject.

Although I liked it plain, ultimately I couldn't stand leaving it without adding some more layers. I pulled out a few postage stamp stickers and some washi tape and then used my Art Deco Borders and Suzani Circle Flowers stencils to add more pattern and also arranged the images in a way that would draw the viewer's eye into the center. I also used a gold pen to do some outlining that would tie to the gold accents on the original frame. 

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Tutorial Step 9 - Gwen Lafleur

This is a great opportunity to just add whatever you like to your piece - words, collage, more painting... whatever floats your boat :) 

I finished it off with a few more marks with my paint pens and then I adhered some decorative metal corners as the final touch. And there you go! 

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Artwork - Gwen Lafleur

Here are a few closeups so that you can see some of the details as well as the dimension from the frame, which adds its own fun texture to the piece.

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Artwork Closeup 1 - Gwen Lafleur

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Artwork Closeup 2 - Gwen Lafleur

A Peek into the Deep - Mixed Media Artwork Closeup 3 - Gwen Lafleur

That's it for today's project... I hope you enjoyed it and that it brought a bit of brightness to your January day (it's been snowing where I am!) Have fun playing... especially making your own pearlescent and glitter gels, and Happy New Year to all!

Happy Stenciling!
Gwen Lafleur Headshot

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Groovy new designs from Lizzie Mayne!

Lizzie has 5 new stencil designs releasing today at stencilgirlproducts.com.  There are 3 new "Mid-century Madness" designs and "Crazy Dazey", each in large 9x12 stencils, as well as one 6x6 design, "Orbitz".  

 This collection was inspired by her childhood in the 60’s & 70’s where she was surrounded by the combination of abstract and floral patterns.

 This era saw patterns galore. "They were on the wallpapers that adorned the walls, the clothes that I wore, the furniture I sat on, to the plates I ate from. It was an assault of the senses with a mixture of colours, shapes and botanicals that encompasses the force of modernism. Crazy Dazey is a mélange of all of those childhood memories," says Lizzie. 

Lizzie designed Orbitz to tribute some of her favorite space themed shows of that era. 

In these 3 mid-century modern designs, Lizzie captures not only the patterns of her youth, but the interlocking shapes is representative of the close family bond encouraged by her parents and still felt among Lizzie and her siblings to this day. 


Monday, January 10, 2022

Helen Shafer Garcia's StencilGirl® Products

Hi, everyone! Helen Shafer Garcia here! The word Nourishment plays a big role in my designs based on growing things and gardening. I gently coax my plants to grow and thrive. Likewise, these StencilGirl stencils will give you the power to “grow”  plant shapes with ease.  My 3 stencil designs give you so many possibilities for succulent shape images that can be repeated and arranged in beautiful ways.

Here’s a great way to create papers and cloth designs for book structures, collage, and stitch substrates.

1. Start out by stenciling with acrylics on different surfaces. I found the linen set of cocktail napkins at an antique store.

The paper I used is called Masa paper. It’s a rice paper which can be painted on. Stencil on the fuzzy side of the paper.

This side of the paper has “tooth” for the paint to grab onto.

 I also used some text papers from a 1950’s Westinghouse TV manual with bold illustrations.

      Stencil layers of acrylics on some of the papers, using different colors from a limited palette

     (I used Cadmium Orange, Ultramarine Blue, Black and Titanium White.) This is an opposite

      color combo which gives you some beautiful grays. 

2.  Masa paper

Take the Masa paper and crumble up into a ball. Soak in cool water for about a minute.

Take the Masa paper out of the water and carefully unwrap.

Use an up and down motion to lay the paper flat on the table. I like multiple wrinkles in my works. Don’t be tempted to spread and press the paper sideways with your hands. You’ll damage the fibers of the paper.

There are endless ways to add color to this paper. For this approach I used India ink, Seth Apter’s Izink dye ink sprays, and watercolors to achieve this antiqued look.

Hint: Rather than paint strokes with your paintbrush, drop the paint using lots of water to the surface. If you brush too much on the wet paper it will fall apart. Just touch the surface with your brush.

3. Linen and print paper

After stenciling the designs, add watercolors and color pencils to embellish! Here are a couple of different techniques to try.

 While stenciling, I added a bit of water to my stencil brush and let the acrylic paint flow through onto the surface. It created softer edges. Then I flipped the stencil to create a monotype. This makes a perfect start for color pencils.

I was surprised at how nicely the unwashed linen accepted watercolors and dyes.  I used a bright turquoise dye spray on the linen napkin, let it dry, and then painted with watercolors. The dye ink bled beautifully with the watercolors, creating soft edges.

4. These designs just beg for more embellishment after stenciling. I could spend hours playing with colors and textures. I also love Book Arts and decided to tear each design page to smaller pieces to create a book structure.

 I have a story behind the name of this project and will continue the book making process and story on my own blog. Take a look.

Cheers and Happy New Year!
Helen Shafer Garcia


Helen Shafer Garcia stencil designs - Echeverias, Echeveria Ballet, and Filigree Sprigs
Professional grade watercolors
Acrylic tube colors- Cadmium Orange, Ultramarine Blue, Black, Titanium White
India ink
Seth Apter’s Izink dye ink sprays- Turquoise, Tea
Premier Prismacolor Pencils
Masa paper
Linen napkins
Ephemera papers

Friday, January 7, 2022

Frieda Oxenham: Art Journaling with StencilGirl® Stencils

Another year has passed and a new one looms. We are now getting used to the uncertainty all around us concerning many different issues and as we have little control about any of them perhaps the only thing we can do is hope for the best and carry on doing what makes us happy! So I want to wish you a very creative 2022! I’m very happy to be invited back here by StencilGirl® Products to share what I do with their wonderful stencils.

Here is the tutorial for this month’s spread:

1.     Gesso 2 pages in an art journal, adding Lindy’s Flat Magical powder to the white gesso. I used the colour Tangerine

2.     While the gesso is still wet, press the large stencil from the June 2021 StencilClub into it to make an impression.

3.     Scrape on paints of your choice randomly over the pages using a palette knife or key card and with the same stencil as in step 2 remove the paints with a baby wipe.

4.     Repeat step 3 with a different paint colour (yellow in my case). 

5.     Colour areas of the pages with Distress Crayons (I used Salty Ocean and Cracked Pistachio) and remove the colour through the same stencil as in step 2 using a baby wipe. 

6.     Stencil on text randomly with black acrylic paint using stencil S827 Vintage Ledger Scripts Small.

7.     Stencil on small flowers with red and orange acrylic paint using stencil S890 Phlox Mask.

8.     Using soft gel medium glue down the collaged images (in my case a portrait of Frida Kahlo and the poppies

9.     Using a mixture of dark green and black acrylic paint stencil on the tree image (spire) from stencil L867 Spire and Flowers  to the left hand page using a cosmetic wedge

10.  Stencil on little flowers using a variety of colours using the same stencil as in step 9 as well as the stencil from step 7.

11.  Using the leaf mask/stencil from stencil L867 Spire and Flowers, add leaves to the pages as shown using dark green paint and then put the vein part of the leaf on top and add gold embossing paste with a palette knife.

12.  Spray gold mica spray paint through the stencil L867 onto the tree shape and add some to the dress too.

13.  Glue on quotation as shown. As far as I can discover it is anonymous but let me know if you know better

14.  Using black and white permanent markers as well as a black Stabilo All pencil outline images and text as desired. Add flowers to Frida’s dress

15.  Glue on  flower postage stamps as shown

16.  Edge the pages with a blue stamp pad.

© Frieda Oxenham 2022. To see more of Frieda's work, please visit her BLOG.