Friday, October 25, 2019

Special Effects in Stenciling

Hi, everyone! Cecilia Swatton here! I opened my eyes one morning asking myself, “What could happen if I pair special-effect-squiggle tools with stencils?”
(Part of that is fabrication of course, but seriously, I do dream about stencils!)
Dream images drifted with me into my workroom that day, tickling my brain with a goal of exploring one basic idea … a pregnant idea, ready to birth at least one variation.  (A dream-buzzed brain likes to mix metaphors!)

Supplies I always have on hand:
Disposable foam plates
Heavy-body acrylic paints
Sponge brayers
Masking tape
Oil pastel crayon
A basin of water for immediately dunking stencils or masks that I’ve used with 3-dimensional media, like this project’s heavy-body acrylic paint; soaking in water keeps 3D media from hardening on stencils, so they can be easily cleaned later; otherwise, dried 3D media may clog stencil openings.

Knowing this project would call for stencils or masks with wide openings, I auditioned …

Stencils and Masks …

S547 Hot Air Balloons set
S395 Pair o’ Parrots
L450 Fantasia
S394 Dance of the Courting Cranes …

… and I auditioned background papers pre-printed with …

L 433 Clustered Leaves
S178 Feathers 6
S167 Trivet B
L449 Blooming Where Planted

Next, I auditioned squiggle-making tools,new ready-made ones, as well as old credit cards I’d customized with scissors.

Of course it was the new ready-made set that made the cut, because new toys demand immediate use!

My favorite way to apply paint through stencils and masks is to use a sponge brayer loaded with heavy-body acrylic paint. For me, the sponge brayer is not only faster than the traditional pouncing method, but also, easier on arthritic hands and wrists!

After spreading a paint layer over Fantasia, I lifted the stencil to see …

Once that paint-layer had dried, I brought the stencil back and placed it “off-register” on the same background paper.

Securing the stencil with blue masking tape, I loaded another sponge brayer with a contrasting color of heavy-body acrylic paint.  While this top layer of paint was still wet, I wiggled a texture tool through the stencil openings to make squiggle marks.  Keeping the stencil in place while I made those marks enabled me to keep the squiggles inside the stencil’s shapes.

That first experience surprised me with how easy it’d been for me, a first-time user, to create squiggles with these ready-made tools.  They had fit beautifully into the stencil openings.  My old homemade tools wouldn’t have worked as well.

Thus encouraged, I wanted to do the same again – with a different stencil and a different special-effects tool.
First, I secured my S547 Hot Air Balloons set to a background paper with masking tape.  Second, I masked off the half of the stencil that I wouldn’t be using, this time around.

My third step was to again load a sponge brayer with heavy-body acrylic paint of a contrasting color, then used a special effects tool to create squiggles inside the cut-out shape of the stencil.

Below, three photos show what I got when I lifted the stencil – a full-sized shot, a close-up and a shot of the gift bag that I decorated with the final print.

To try a variation of the main idea, I taped my Heron stencil to a different pre-printed background paper.  Next I pressed a special-effects tool into a fresh blob of heavy-body acrylic paint.

I applied paint with a pouncing motion of this tool, re-loading the tool several times to cover all the openings in the stencil.

After lifting the stencil and letting the paint dry, I scraped an oil pastel crayon over the richly textured surface created with the special-effects tool.

Personally, I like the squiggle results more than the pouncing results, but, for me, the final product isn’t what it’s all about.  At least 90 per cent of my pleasure comes from exploring with paints and special tools.  If I’ve had fun while caught up in the art-making process, I consider it success.  I hope you do too!


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