Thursday, December 31, 2020

StencilGirl® Products Best Nine 2020

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Here's a look at our Top 9 Instagram posts in 2020:
Many thanks to everyone who's connected with us and inspired us on Instagram in 2020!
Looking forward to an inspiration filled 2021, too!

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Pretty/Tough Mask by Linda Edkins Wyatt

Hi! Linda Edkins Wyatt here, with my interpretation of StencilGirl's mask theme. I thought long and hard about what kind of mask to make: a Halloween or Mardi Gras festive mask, a Tragedy & Comedy mask, or maybe a medical mask, since I spent the last 10 months wearing a medical mask daily for my job in a New York City public hospital.
But, as I was paying the cashier at my local drugstore, I saw a poster of an eye makeup ad that was really bold and unconventional. It got me thinking about how we use makeup, hairdos, tattoos, clothing, and jewelry as part of the mask, we put on daily to present ourselves to the world. Some people go with a natural look, using makeup to enhance their good features and minimize the imperfections. Others take things a few steps further, with extreme eye makeup, striking tattoos, and elaborate hairstyles.
An an oil self-portrait from around 2005 was the basis for the mask

I thought back to an oil self-portrait that I had painted years ago, around 2005, when I was having some serious health issues. I looked sullen and unhappy and painted myself exactly the way I felt. I had been taking a medication that had the side-effect of being unable to sleep without a sleep-inducing medications. I was frustrated and bone-weary. It was a vicious cycle of exhaustion and anxiety. Fortunately, I had photographed the painting, so for this project, I printed two copies of the painting from my inkjet printer, using one for the canvas and saving one for the mask.

A printout of the 2005 portrait was trimmed and glued to an unfinished 12" x 12" canvas

I took an unfinished 12"x12" canvas that hadn't turned out the way I envisioned, and glued one portrait on top using matte medium. I added recycled, empty teabags to join the printout to the canvas, then stenciled until it merged  and I could no longer tell where the printout ended and the canvas began.

Recycled, empty teabags were glued to the canvas, uniting the background and the printout

The printout on the canvas with all teabags added

My Spiral from the Lemurian Garden collection was added with Speckled Egg ink to soften the darkness of the teabags

To further lighten the teabags and unite the elements,
the Tapestry stencil was added using Spun Sugar ink

Once the background was complete, I cut out the face from the second printout

My idea was to create a removable mask for the portrait: a tough but pretty mask. So, with the second self-portrait printout, I again used matte medium, but this time adhered it to a piece of rusted fabric. I used flesh-toned paint the way you would use a makeup base, and pinks (the way you would use blush and lipstick). The eye makeup was inspired by one of the makeup ads I saw in the drugstore.

Rusted cotton was the background for the removable mask.

The eyes were enhanced using Posca Pens

Paint and Posca Pens simulated foundation, blush, lipstick, and eye makeup

A comparison of the finished background with the unfinished mask

I gessoed over the glasses perched atop my head in the original painting,
then added wild blue hair. After trying several stencils for a neck tattoo,
I settled on part of a Sacred Heart by Laurie Milka

 Once I had the face and hair painted, I used a plate to draw a circular shape and added extensions at the side to attach the mask to the canvas.

I pinned the painted rusty fabric, along with some felt padding and a purple batik backing, and cut the circle, leaving strips at the sides to attach the mask to the canvas.

Here you can see the "quilt sandwich" layers in the mask

I lightly quilted the mask and stitched the edges closed, adding pink chalk lines and pink stitching radiating out from the face.

The pink chalk lines were intended to be guidelines for the quilting, but I decided to leave the pink chalk, and also use pink for the thread to contrast with the blue hair.

A few spots of Velcro on the side of the canvas and on the mask tabs made it easy to remove and attach.

Velcro tabs were the perfect solution so that the mask would be easily removable.

It was pretty bizarre to try outlandish makeup, hairdos, jewelry, and tattoos on myself! I tried various crown ideas, a few different stencils to suggest a neck tattoo, and gave my mask-self wild blue hair. You can see in the photo below that the features on the mask and the canvas under-painting match exactly.

On the right, the painted canvas, with an understated version of me. On the left, the mask shows what I might look like if I let loose and embraced bold makeup and hair. You can see that the two versions match perfectly since they were based on the same self-portrait painting.

 The final touches were adding a crown, made from Gwen Lafluer's Art Deco Borders stencil done with embossing powder on rusted fabric, fake blue and green gems around the edges of the mask circle, earrings of Turkmen Jewelry Parts from Gwen Lafluer's website, a few strips of turquoise washi tape, and a cross atop the crown, formed from a section of Laurie Milka's Pilgrimage to the Renaissance.

Here's a video (with music) on the whole process, start to finish. Enjoy!

Stencils used:

Linda Edkins Wyatt, Lemurian Spiral

Kristie Taylor, Tapestry

Gwen Lafluer, Art Deco Borders

Laurie Milka, Four Sacred Hearts

Laurie Milka, Pilgrimage to the Renaissance

Additional resource:
For the jewelry, I incorporated bits of Turkmen Jewelry Parts from Gwen Lafluer's website
Inks, paints and Posca Pens from The Ink Pad NYC


Monday, December 28, 2020

The Year of the Mask

It hardly needs to be said that 2020 has been a challenging year.  I, for one, will not be sorry to see it end this week.  There were many disappointments for me - including two canceled trips to Europe.  I had hoped to visit Amsterdam in March to see the great Dutch master paintings in the Rijksmuseum with my daughter.  March? Not so much.  Then in September, I was supposed to have gone with MaryBeth Shaw on a stencil-icious art retreat in the Italian lake district.  Obviously, that didn't happen either.  (Next year, right, MaryBeth?)  Of course those disappointments are nothing compared with the terrible losses so many others suffered - in their health and their financial stability, and the loss of loved ones.  

     And of course, in my state (New York) we have been required to wear masks everywhere in public since spring to control the spread of infection.   My daughter complained her mask was causing breakouts.  For the first couple of months I had to turn around countless times and go home while setting out on errands because I had forgotten to take a mask with me.  I had to order contact lenses so I can take walks in cold weather without the mask fogging up my glasses.   Masks.  Ugh.

    But in the art studio, a mask can be a fascinating tool to experiment with.  With a mask/stencil set, you can play with the positive/negative versions of the same image.  With my daily walks in the state park and state tree nursery as my inspiration, I decided to have some fun with masks for a change.  Like many people, I have found great solace in nature this year.  So with a sobering and contemplative mix of grief and hope in my heart I began working with some images in my head, starting with some photos I took on my favorite walk in the tree nursery. 


Now, who doesn't have an old canvas board lying around the studio?  Clearly this 11x14 was a failure that I had gessoed over, and then used while painting some other, smaller substrates.  I grabbed some colored gessoes and a botanical stencil by Rae Missigman and made this ground more interesting to work with.  What I had in mind required me to build up a lot of dark values at a horizon line, using Prussian Blue mixed with Burnt Umber to make a good not-quite-black tone, as well a variations of the blue and brown, and a bunch of random scribbles with pencil.  The result was much more promising.  This stencil also come with masks, but here I was only using the stencil part. What I wanted was a layer of organic texture, which these delicate leafy stencils provided.

adding botanical texture

collaging the images 
I then needed to lay out my images.  In honor of the dizziness of this year, I decided to warp the horizon, and I tore and frayed the edges of my pictures so they would be easier to blend into the background.  I also tore the middle image in half to make more room for my featured image - a vintage girl who, of course, represents me.  I am very drawn to the solidity and forthrightness of her pose.  I placed her eyes on the horizon line, a trick I've picked up from figure drawing classes, which has the effect of making her the same height as the viewer.  I printed these images on my favorite paper for this use - "thin white paper" - which I get from a photo supplies dealer online, and which is heavier than tissue but still pretty thin.  It travels successfully (most of the time) through my laser printer but is easy to collage down using soft matte gel and even remains slightly see-through.  Once these were dry, the next step was to merge the images into each other and into the background, which I did with more of the same stencils and colors, as well as Stabilo All Pencil, titan buff heavy body acrylic, some acrylic marker - basically anything that would allow me to blend these forms into the background and into each other. Because the paper is very thin it is fairly easy to disguise the edges by building up many layers of texture.  The key to incorporating collaged images seamlessly like this is blending blending blending!     

collaged images blended together
Now it was time to use the masks I had chosen.  The critical image I had in mind uses the stag head by Judy Pfaff Daley.  This was what I needed the space for above the focal point - I wanted to give this girl (me) antlers.  It is a somewhat pagan conceit - a humble nod toward ancient cave paintings that show human/animal hybrids, and to the Cernunnos figure of Celtic mythology.  Maybe I just want to have a crown of antlers to feel more powerful and well-defended in these uncertain days.  I created all that dark leafiness in the upper center of the composition for this job.  I also wanted to add two additional antlered figures using a stencil/mask set by Valerie Sjodin.  I sponged titanium white over the antlers of the mask for the girl.  Then for the figure at either side, I first used the stencils with titanium white and titan buff to add the bodies, stenciling again with the Rae Missignman leafy forms.  Then I covered the figures with their masks and darkened around them with a thin glaze of Prussian Blue in order to bump up the contrast. Finally I added antlers to them as well using the antler stencils and titan buff.   A bit of text and a fine sprinkle of thinned out white paint, and this was the me I wanted to present, moodily wandering under a wintery sky.  Having both the positive and the negative of these images to work with - the stencil and the mask - was really fun.  This is me, being one with nature.

 To make it extra moody, I also ran it through an editing app on my Ipad - Distressed FX - to give it a little more atmosphere.   Of course the final painting doesn't look like this in person, but if I want to print this digital edit I certainly can.

Stencils and masks used in this project:

Small Deer Antlers Stencils and Mask S513 designed by June Pfaff Daley


Figures: Couples Stencil and Masks L730 designed by Valerie Sjodin

Botanical Wildflowers Stencils and Masks L774 designed by Rae Missigman

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas from StencilGirl!

from all of us at StencilGirl...

you a
Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Mary Beth's Must Haves

Hi, everyone! Mary Beth here!
I'm often asked during my Facebook livestreams about art supplies I'm using in my videos.
I keep a list of all my favorite art supplies here.
And today I'm sharing five more of my favorites!

I have four of these that I use for marker storage. Super quality!
See these in action in my Markers & Stencils livestream.

I love making my own washi tape with this blank tape!
It's perfect for using with acrylic paint and stencils
and can be collaged into journal pages or other mixed media projects.
See how I create my own washi tape in this video tutorial!

Golden Iridescent Bronze Acrylic...just call it magic paint as you watch the separation of color, so gorgeous!!
QoR Watercolors: I love this 12 half pan tin for travel!
See these two supplies together in my art journaling livestream here.

This is "bleeding" tissue. Sounds weird but it is super cool and you are going to want it!
See how I use it with stencils in my video here.

I love using a variety of art crayons with StencilGirl® Products!
See a comparison of these water-soluble crayons in my video here.

Thanks so much for joining me on the blog today!
I hope you love my favorite things as much as I do!
Mary Beth Shaw, Founder of StencilGirl® Products