Friday, May 18, 2018

Wendy Ward: Once Upon a Stencil…

My name is Wendy Ward and I have been playing in this wonderful creative world for many years. I am known for thinking outside the box, the package and the product.
I rarely follow the rules and often make them up as I go.
As you venture through today's post, I hope you will find inspiration and the desire to try something different!

As artists (or as I call myself, an artsy person) many times we are trying to challenge ourselves
in one way or another.
I do this on a regular basis – whether it be limited supplies (my favorite), limited inspiration (turn off the computer), a photo, an artist, a word…the list goes on!

Today I decided to limit my stencils…YIKES! I chose one stencil…yes, ONE stencil!
For those that have followed along my creative journey know that one (stencil) is not something I do, ever!
So today was the day!
I began by using my go to stencil now for a few months – Traci Bautista’s Soulful Scribbles.
I knew I could just use one stencil as I had so many ideas on how I could actually use it!
I started by scanning the stencil, edited the color to black & white in my photo program and intensified the brightness and darkness as needed for the shape to show up the best.
I printed it off on my printer. 

On a technical note, I only have an inkjet printer, this does not offer a permanent ink, so when water based acrylics are introduced to it, there will be bleeding. I am usually okay with this as I normally end up covering up the brunt of it anyway.  It is simply the base and texture (physical & visual) from it I am looking for.
I tore up the printed image randomly, and applied it to an 11" x 14” sheet of Yupo paper. Using Golden Soft Gel and a very wet brush, I started laying down pieces onto a gel covered area. While I did get some bleeding due to the water, I simply used a Ranger Squeegee Tool to wipe away the excess.

 I then applied a light coat of Liquitex White Gesso using a Catalyst Wedge (no, I didn’t wait for anything to dry fully, just kept going). Next I dropped a few drops of Golden Fluid Acrylics Paynes Gray and again spread it with the Catalyst Wedge, really pushing it into the edges of the paper below. Since the papers were still a tad damp, this made the edges pliable and able to be bunched up (which I rather liked)!

Looking at the piece, I felt that the under paper needed to be visible now, so I took a baby wipe and pulled back some of the gesso I had applied earlier. While doing this, I thought why just rub off when I could rub off through the stencil?! So down it went and I cleared up a few areas.

Now of course it was too bare of color, so time to add more paint – this time, DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics Carbon Black. I repeated the same process as prior, wet and dried areas, really working it in. I started adding more colors, DecoArt Media Fluid Acrylics – Titan Buff and Raw Umber, along with Golden Fluid Acrylics Titanium White and more Paynes Gray.

I immediately pulled out the stencil and again started pulling off paint using a baby wipe. When I do this process (or use a stencil at any time for that matter), I will continually flip, turn, flop, pick and choose areas of a stencil as I never actually want the total original image of the stencil on my piece. Once I have pulled away what I think is a good amount, I apply a light coat of DecoArt Media Translucent White with my brayer. This allows me to apply the lightest coat possible and tone down the colors that may be too dark. Then again, using the stencil and a baby wipe, pull off where you do need the color(s) to pop. This is where you continue to create visual texture, simply by creating layers of shape and colors.

  Now it is time to darken things up! Using Carbon Black and a Sofft sponge, randomly pick areas of the stencil and start making marks! Continue to use the same color palette, using paints full strength and mixing with each other along the way. Just keep turning, moving, and flipping your one stencil around the piece.

A good tip when doing this is when you put down the stencil in an area, look for white spots and add color there. Always take into account the shape you are adding – it may be too much. You will get better the more you play! Once you are happy with how your piece looks, allow to fully dry.

When it is dry, you can take it to your printer/scanner and start taking scans of it.
As my scanner only scans up to 8.5" x14" (defaulted to 8.5" x 11"), I lay it on the scanner and start by simply using the printers settings and start making color then black & white copies. I move the print around the scanner bed so I get different images along the way. I can increase the print size (zoom) and or color intensity as I move the sheet. Once I have printed a few, I then do the same but this time scanning it into my computer so I can manipulate the images later on my photo program for future use.
Techie note…this can also be done on your phone/camera and edited on your device or once you download to your computer.

Now let’s go even further, pull out some Craft foam sheets! Yup, we are going to trace some areas onto the foam and create a few stamps!! Now I know you could just use your brayer or brush and paint a few areas of your stencil and stamp it directly onto the page, but let’s face it…this is way more fun!

I picked out a few of my favorite areas and traced them onto a large sheet of sticky backed foam. 
I simply used a fine point sharpie to trace and then cut out –
took a whole 30 minutes to trace, cut and paste five stamps!

 Using the reverse side of the Yupo paper, I pulled out one of the sheets I just copied to use as an image transfer. I tore it up, similar to the first step at the beginning of this post. Using Golden’s Regular Gel Medium, I just applied some gel medium to the Yupo with my palette knife and laid the torn sheets face down. I burnished with my fingers and palette knife. I allowed it to set for about 2-3 minutes.

Then I just grabbed an edge and started peeling back.
Now I will say, Yupo is probably not the best choice for this method, but I made it work.
It came off the Yupo in areas that I did not have the best coverage of the Matte Medium.

On areas that look cloudy, all you need to do is spritz more water over top and lightly start rubbing it off. This is a just a layer of the paper that did not come off on the initial peel. You do need to be cautious not to rub too hard as you will rub off the entire image off (which you can see I did)!

Once it was done, I added some white gesso around the images so I would be able to have some tooth for my next layers.

Once they were somewhat dry, I started stamping using my newly created stamps. I applied the paints using a foam brush. I usually go with light to dark for my color application. I often get side tracked with the need to have balance in the piece, so end up just going with my gut, applying colors and layering of the stamped images. 

  When it gets away from me, I just add gesso! In this case because it was so dark, I used Liquitex Super Heavy Gesso through the stencil.

Not liking the coverage, I decided to use my palette knife and get total coverage. I again just picked areas that I thought would provide the best coverage (white) to push and pull the colors.

Now of course I figured it was too white, so used the black, paynes gray and titan buff mixed in different strengths and combinations to fill in the rest of the piece using bits and pieces of the stamp.

Once it was totally dried, I once again scanned and copied several areas following the same format as previously.

So what to do with all this stuff now?

Well, you can make it into a journal, put some of the sheets in our collage bin for future use, use a few of the sheets when creating a junk journal, or why not share them! If you have scanned them as jpegs, you can open with in your photo editing program and create even more! Create layers, brushes, edit colors, crop, experiment…just try!

For me, stencils are all about layering. Layering shapes, images, colors and ideas.
Open your mind to your own creativity….you’ll be surprised what pops out!
Would love to see you over in my little part of the web –
you can find me on Instagram, Facebook and on my blog Shiny Objects!


  1. This is fabulous! Love your ideas. And that is another favorite stencil. Thank ypu

  2. This is really thinking outside the box, great inspiration!

  3. Amazing what you can acheive with one stencil and a limited color palette. What a great post! Thank you.


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