Hello! My name’s Sam Bracegirdle, and I’m delighted to have been asked to create this collage piece for the StencilGirl® blog.
I first discovered StencilGirl® stencils, and Mary Beth Shaw, in an online class last year. I’d been stuck in a bit of a creative rut, but I can honestly say that Mary Beth’s way of working has reinvigorated me! I’ve been art journaling for over a decade, and amassed an array of art journals – all mostly empty. But the Strathmore journal I bought for that class in November is now just one page away from being finished. I keep flipping through it and marveling at how productive I’ve become!
I’ve learned that it’s OK to start off without a clue of where something is going to go. Better to just get stuck in, than never to have started at all. And that was the case with this project.
My starting point was a picture of some banisters, torn from a book on English country houses. It has my favourite colour combination (aqua, sand, cream) plus a strong repeated pattern that I thought could be echoed in the wider piece. I picked out stencils that I knew contained similar elements. Beyond that, I didn’t really have any idea about style, or meaning, or composition.
StencilGirl® stencils used:
I took an 9x12 inch wooden artist’s panel and sealed it with white gesso. Then I placed some collage pieces – vintage book pages (“Wendy and Jinx and the Missing Scientist.” How thrilling!) and needlepoint canvas offcuts - around the edges, to create texture.
When I came to glue the needlepoint canvas down with gel medium, I lifted the first piece to move it, and found that I liked the dimpled texture the gel medium left behind. So I decided to use the canvas as a stencil for the gel medium, rather than stick it down.
I placed the Illegible Stencil over the bottom left section of the panel and sponged Cosmic Shimmer Prussian Blue paint through it. When dry, I painted Fresco Finish paint in Heavy Cream over it, to knock it back into the background. I also painted it in random points over the rest of the panel, and blended in some Mermaid, using my fingers. I find Fresco Finish paints blend really well with fingers, and it’s one less brush to wash!
To echo some of the spindles of the banisters, I used the Open Buildings stencil like a stamp. I dipped a marine Scribble Stick in water and applied it direct to a section of the stencil which has a bar-like pattern. Then I placed the stencil where I wanted the pattern to transfer and carefully pressed down. I did this a few times, to get a repeat pattern. I concentrated mostly on the lower right section of the panel, as I felt this was where the focus of the piece was developing. To balance it out, I decided to leave the top right quadrant as white space.
Next, I took the Opera House Empress stencil and sponged black paint through parts of the roof sections, to frame the photo. I also picked out a window and a statue from it, to create the linear element on the far right. When finished, my sponge had very little paint on it, so I lightly swiped it across some of the textured points on the panel, and also round the edges. Then I warmed things up a bit with some Golden Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold which I watered down a bit and dabbed in points around the picture and in other areas.
Next, I placed the Sidewalk of Puerto Rico stencil over the left side of the panel and drew through it with the Stabilo All pencil in black, and a few strokes in yellow.
I removed the stencil and spritzed water on it. The Stabilo All pencil is water soluble, so the pigment moves around in really interesting ways. Once dry, I repeated it, taking the pattern to the top left of the panel.
Finally, I applied a couple of old rub on transfers from my stash – some text and an architectural pillar. I also applied some thin lines of Izink Ice in gold to accent parts of the picture and the statue & window. To finish, I added the word Missing!, a chapter title from the vintage book pages, and swiped round the sides of the panel with some black paint, to create definition.