Monday, October 21, 2019

Art Journaling with Stencils and Posca Paint Pens

Hi all, it's Gwen back with today's column featuring paint (pens) and stencils.

A few months ago I posted several pieces on Facebook that used poster paints and Posca paint pens along with some of my stencil designs. I had several comments both on my post and in person from people who didn't like or were having trouble using their Posca markers, so I thought I'd share a short tutorial showing my favorite way to use them.

Posca paint pens are some of my favorites of the different paint markers out there. I've tried just about every kind I can get my hands on and I use several brands since many of them use different kinds of paint and work best for a variety of applications. Poscas are a water-based paint, very similar to a poster paint but with a thinner consistency. This makes them very opaque, but also easily blendable. I like to use them to create gradient effects that go from opaque to translucent and to layer and blend colors and shades.

To show how I like to use these pens, I put together a short tutorial for a layered art journal spread with bright stenciled and "painted" focal images.

To start, I opened one of my art journals to a spread with nothing but paint that I'd cleaned off of my brushes onto the pages. Lately I'm really enjoying working in mini journals, so this is a handmade 3" x 3" art journal. I added strips from several different rolls of washi tape onto different parts of the background to start building up layers.

Next, I added some stamping in the background using images from my brand new line of rubber stamps with PaperArtsy and VersaFine Clair pigment ink from Tsukineko / Imagine Crafts.

Once I was happy with all of the pattern in the background, I stenciled the focal image onto the background using more pigment ink and a brush applicator. For this spread I used my Chinese Garden - Koi stencil.

This is where the Poscas come in... for this technique, I pick out a few shades in the same color family and then start with the lightest color. I don't color the entire area, rather I just scribble a bit so I can blend it out. Sometimes I do one color at a time, but as you see below, sometimes I also layer several colors at once, coloring wet into wet with the pens.

Once I have the color down, I use my finger to blend it out. (You could also use a sponge or brush if you prefer, but I find that my fingers are my best tools in this case.)

I continue to add and blend out the color, frequently going back over with darker colors in smaller areas to create a sort of ombre, blended effect.

When I've added all the color to the stenciled areas, I'll frequently add shadowing outside of the image with my gray Posca marker, then I'll either replace the stencil and re-stencil the lines or just trace over them with my black Posca pen. Then I use a pen to add marks and journaling and on these spreads I added some dots with my Posca pens. If you like, you can stamp a focal word or title like I've done here:

Here you can see the finished spread with the koi stencil - I love how you can make the color translucent enough that it's still obviously there, but you can also see bits of the background pattern peeking through.

I repeated this technique on a few other spreads in my mini journal so that you can see how the same technique works with different stencils and color palettes. In this instance it was a great way to cover up and push back a background that had gotten way too dark and busy. For this one I used my Chinese Garden - Lotus stencil:

For the next... the one I showed above where I was stamping the words, I used my Collage Textures and Patterns - Leaves stencil.

For this spread, I used my Chinese Garden - Plum Blossoms stencil.

Finally, I did the first page in my mini journal using my Boho Birds stencil.

So there you go... one of my favorite techniques for using Posca paint pens. You can use the same method for stenciling cards, scrapbook layouts, or other mixed media artwork. It also works for more geometric or abstract shapes if you want to do something a little less representational.

That's it for today - I hope you enjoyed today's tutorial and either discovered a new must-have set of paint pens for your studio or found a new way to use Posca pens if you already have some. And if you try this at home, make sure to link me up so I can see what you make.

Until next time, happy stenciling!


  1. I never thought to blend the Poscas! I usually just write or make’ve given me lots of inspiration and the pages look fantastic!

    1. Thanks Linda! And yes... they're so cool when they're blended. I love them for making dots, but you can do a lot more with them!

  2. Great technique and column Gwen. Love the art work and am going to use my posca pens this way.

    1. Thank you Cathy! Can't wait to see how it works for you :)

  3. Love these pages Gwen!!! What do you use for the bold black lines? Do you trace the inside of the stencil?

    1. Thank you so much! On these pages I just traced over my stenciled lines with a black Posca after I finished adding all the other color. You could also just replace the stencil and redo the lines with ink or paint... whatever is easiest for you.

  4. Great technique. I never thought of it with Posca pens. I have don a little with Pitt pens. Now I have to add this to my bag of tricks. I love your stencils and style.

    1. Thank you Dee! I can't even remember when or why I started doing it, but it's fun. It will be a little different from the Pitt pens since Poscas have a water-based paint rather than India ink. But that just gives you more looks to choose from :)

  5. Love this tutorial, Gwen! I hadn't thought to blend them either.

    1. Thank you Jan! Yeah, I don't remember when I first started doing this, but once I realized you could blend with these, there was no going back :D


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