Thursday, May 20, 2021

Watercolor, Gouache, and Acrylics with StencilGirl® Products

Hi Everyone, I'm Brenda Townsend of Brilliant Spectrum Art, and I'm so delighted to be with you as the StencilGirl® Products Guest Blogger today! Honestly, I'm primarily a painter who works in watercolor, gouache, and acrylics. I had used three beautiful stencils created by my awesome teacher, Helen Shafer Garcia (Echevarias, Echevaria Ballet, Filigree Sprigs) to create my series, "Critters Who Will Eat Your Succulents."

In the two paintings pictured above, I used gesso with the stencils, but needed something to create more contrast between my gouache and the stenciling.  I love to play and experiment, and for some reason, leaf rubbings came to mind.  I scanned my workspace for a suitable material that I could use to rub across the raised surface.  I ended up trying a Conte crayon on its side and was quite pleased with the results!  I began to consider what other materials might also serve the same purpose, and that is the idea behind my blog post today: Experimenting to see which other art supplies could be used to get similar results with stencils and gesso.


If you choose to use this simple technique, here are a few tips for best results:

  • Don't be shy with the amount of gesso you use... The more you use, the higher the gesso will be raised, and easier to capture with the medium dragged on its side.
  • Use a credit card to scrape the gesso through the stencil.  I tried sponging the gesso, and it didn't allow the gesso to create a raised relief effect.  Ideally, you want to be able to feel it underneath your fingertips when dry.
  • I used Golden Gesso bright white acrylic primer. It's a bit more expensive, but it allows you to achieve the best results possible.

Overall, I experimented on cold press watercolor paper, linen-finish watercolor paper, and Bristol Board using acrylic ink, goauche, regular watercolor, and concentrated watercolor for the stenciled backgrounds.  To create contrast, I used Conte crayon, square pastels, soft pastels, oil pastels, and Marabu Art Crayons which are a type of watercolor crayon.


As a fan of all things Mid-Century Modern, I used Square Clover Leaf 6, Lattice Full, and Centered Circle which remind me of the "breezeblock" walls, so prevalent in Mid Mod architecture. 


First, I used a credit card and gesso to stencil the various designs onto the paper.

Next, I layered a variety of mediums and on the backgrounds to see what kinds of effects could be achieved.


Each combination ended up with quite a different feel, depending upon materials used, so the outcomes are nearly endless!  I hope this post inspires you to experiment with this simple technique and discover which styles you like best, to enhance the great work you’re already doing.  It’s an effective technique to pull out when you just want to add some quick contrast to your 3-D piece.


Ideas for further exploration:

·         Colored pencil 

·         Prismacolor Nupastels

·         Crayola crayon


Happy Creating!

Love, Brenda @BrilliantSpectrumArt

I am Brenda Townsend of Brilliant Spectrum Art. I'm a California-Credentialed Arts Educator, working in watercolor, acrylic, colored pencil, pastels and more on paper, murals, and theatre sets. Some of my favorite subjects include lights, tikis, mermaids, birds, flowers, and/or shells in a fantasy setting, with an exotica/retro vibe. Major artistic influences include Disney artist, Mary Blair, The Artist SHAG, Oceanic Art and the Natural World. I work in multi-media, and my process often involves using hand- made stamps and stencils and using found objects to print. I paint my current thoughts and discoveries on top of these backgrounds, in a semi-realistic style, using exciting and surprising color palettes.

I feel passionate about creating uplifting, fun, and beautiful works with broad appeal to provide viewers an emotional respite from everyday life. My work is escapist, joyous, and unapologetic, exuding positive energy which allows viewers to recharge and be transported while experiencing an enhanced reality.


  1. Love the way you experimented, and also love your "Critters who will eat your succulents" series. Clever and delightful idea! (And perhaps exorcising some frustrations with such critters? I can visualize similar series - Critters Who Steal Your Bird Food, for one ;-)

  2. Thank you so much, Terry! And yes, it was definitely a cathartic series, aimed at our little friends who like friends who like to nibble lol. Love your idea for subsequent series titles!��


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