Cathy Ward here from Montreal, Quebec!
I am very excited to share the process I used to create this very personal piece. I will walk you through how I made the textures and layers using paint, StencilGirl® stencils, and a Gelli® printing plate.
My supply list:
8" x 10" Gelli® Printing Plate, Paint (acrylic - various shades of blue, white, and gold), 8" x 10" white watercolor paper as it can take lots of layers, Finnabair’s Art Basics Mixed Media Silicone 2 “Brush or a brayer, Stampendous Flower Stamp (Fresh Bloom), Ranger white embossing powder, embossing gun, Hand-dyed vintage fabric scraps, Joss paper (or gold leafing), Self-stick rhinestones, Scissors, Sewing Machine.
I enjoy building layers directly on the Gelli® plate vs. pulling a single print on paper, drying it, then pulling another print on top of that image.
I start by covering the Gelli® plate with a solid layer of paint. Yes, my Gelli® plate is dirty to start off! I never clean it unless I use heavy paste or glitter paint. I love when you have several layers of dried paint that eventually pulls off in a print. It is like magic!
I usually mix two or three colors directly on the Gelli® plate. My favorite way to apply paint is using Finnabair’s Art Basics Mixed Media Silicone 2-inch brush. I first learned of this technique from Mary Beth. If you do not have one you can use a brayer.
Your final color tends to be richer when you mix a few colors together. I used blue and gold paint for my first layer. As you can see in the final piece above, very little of the gold actually shows, but it still adds depth.
Once you have your base color down and it is dry, start adding layers using different stencils. You do not have to worry about working fast, before the paint dries, because you let the paint dry between each layer. There is no magic number to how many layers you add. I usually put three to four.
Remember, you do not have to use the entire stencil – you can use bits and pieces from it.
I love elephants, and adore my StencilGirl® Elephant Parade Stencil, designed by Nathalie Kalbach, but you can only use a full elephant so many times. However, I like the pattern on the elephant’s body and I use it all the time. It really is one of my go-to patterns.
When you are happy with your layers (remember we will be adding more later directly to your art so it does not need to feel completely finished),
When it is completely dry, take white paint (you can use any color, I just like white) and cover your entire Gelli® plate. Don't be afraid! It will not mess up any of your image as long as it is completely dry.
Let the white paint layer sit for a minute to soften your layers then lay your piece of paper down. Rub it really good with a credit card, a speedball roller or your hand. If you pick up the corner and the image is not coming up, rub it a little more. OOPS! I forgot to take a photo of my first pull – SORRY! The photo below basically lets you see what it looked like. However, it does include the next two steps.
The face barely showed up on the print and I wanted that to be the focal point so I stencil on top of it with direct application of acrylic paint.
I added more texture by using a makeup sponge to apply white embossing ink directly on the stencil, lifted up the stencil, sprinkled on embossing powder, and then embossed the image using a heat gun.
I also stamped and embossed one flower directly on the piece. All other flowers were cut out and glued on.
Note: I keep a piece of scrap paper on the side to wipe off any extra paint, or to clean a stencil. I like to use an old dictionary page as it adds text and interest.
Often times I will use this scrap paper in my final piece. It is nice to have because when you are mixing colors it is hard to recreate the exact color. This way you have paper to make additional elements that will match your colors. I made the flowers with my scrap paper. I added a few collage elements, used the flower stamp, embossed it, and then cut out the flowers.
I chose to cover the eyes because the day I was working on this piece, my mother, who suffers from Advanced Alzheimer’s, looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Where is my daughter?” I am her only daughter and this is the first time she did not “see” me. It was very emotional and heartbreaking.
You can see from the above photo that the piece is still rough and flat. I was ready to trim it and add the final touches. I love to sew on paper so I finished it by running a zigzag stitch around the edges.
And added some hand-dyed vintage ribbons. I sewed on the ribbons, but if you don’t have a sewing machine you can use clear glue to apply the ribbons instead.
It is hard to see in the photograph but I added rhinestones on some of the flower stamens. It gives the final piece a little bling and more texture.
The fun part of a collage is that you can move things around until you are happy with the composition. I find that if you take a photo before gluing your final design, it gives you a different perspective than looking at the piece in person. Many times I see a change I want to make that for some reason I could not see when I was looking at the real piece.
Here are two other versions – with slight variances. One has a white wallpaper background instead of the dark blue, and one has a flower in the lower right. I felt the flower made the piece feel a little too cluttered and competed with the impact of the covered eyes. But I did not see this until I looked at the photo. And I preferred the dark border to the light given the feeling behind the eyes being covered. Which do you like?