Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Paint it Black


Paint it Black

Hi everyone.  I'm Nancy Curry and I am here to give you a glimpse into a little art vacation that I take from time to time.  Perhaps after reading this blog, you might join me.                   

I adore color. I really do, but a few times a year, I take a holiday away from all it for a few days or even a week. For me, the time in retreat from color that I crave acts as an intermezzo or amuse-bouche. It cleanses my mental palette and allows me to focus on other parts of good composition. My intermezzo coincided perfectly with my first project for the team so bear with me if I go against nature and head into monochrome. Last year I focused on Payne's Gray and did a series of florals and a landscape. This year after working with Lamp Black for a class, I decided to extend my time with it and explore different tones, how it reacts to different papers, and where it fits in my art practice. 

As part of my exploration, I took StencilGirl® stencils for a spin. I used them with deli, tissue, rice, drawing, mixed media, and watercolor (cold and hot pressed) paper and loved learning how each took the watercolor. Stencils used from left to right are: Wonky Eyes, Art Deco Fairview, StencilClub 6/2020 and StencilClub 5/2021 (Past club sets are available to current club members.)

All tones of Lamp Black


Collage Fodder

I took some of these paper for a ride in a trio of paint and paper collages on heavyweight index cards. I am participating for the first time in the ICAD (Index Card a Day) challenge by Daisy Yellow in Instagram so why not use them to practice.  They will be the star of the video below and are the beauty shot at the top of the page.  It was fun to add some silver leafing to the small format collages.  My go-to adhesive is Duo by USArtQuest but any low tack adhesive will do.  My go-to paper adhesive is PPA also by USArtquest, but any clear matte drying glue or matte medium will work for the collage. Stencils used in the trio above include: Eddy Rose 6 and Art Deco Fairview.

This more intensive collage piece was done on watercolor paper.  I enjoyed layering the tissue papers with the heavier weight ones.  Stencils used here include: Art Deco Fairview and my Stay in Your Magic set for StencilClub 10/2018.

Shadow Dancing

I really enjoyed monoprinting with the backs of stencils on various papers. I liked using all of the papers other than the tissue paper for this. The resulting prints are largely gestural which makes their imperfections all the more forgiving.  The pictures below show these monoprint results. You'll see the how-to moment in the video, but it's not rocket science. You simply paint on the back of the stencil. The two stencils used: Rural Buildings and StencilClub 6/2020.

It Takes a Village

I also did a bit of painting on plain drawing paper....florals, of course.  That paper doesn't allow for much repetition with the paint, however, I was able to spot darken the tones by letting the paper fully dry and dry brushing in areas (very little water used.)



Finally, I enjoyed using full stencils with repeat images.  I used a larger brush and quickly brushed through the stencil.  The quicker you are the less time there will be for you to overthink and pool the watercolor.  Moving quickly without too much thought will help limit the running underneath the stencil.  I did not use it for my play, but Pixie Spray is awesome for holding the stencil still and affixed to the paper.  If you haven't tried it, you should.  You can see a timelapse of the process at the end of the video. These will be collage fodder for me mostly but once in a while I might frame them as is.

All We Need is Love

Large open areas can be difficult but they can be successful.  This one is not perfect but I love the softness in the black so much.  If I were to redo it, I would do it on hot-pressed watercolor paper. Cecilia Swatton designed this LOVE word stencil. The Rooted in Nature Lg Monarch stencil worked a little better because there is more to the composition to distract any imperfections. 

Fly Away Home

Here's a timelapse video I put together to help you visualize the process:

You may have noticed that the stencil designs stand out in a different way than they do in color. They look very cohesive and soothing to me. But for me, it's also a practice that helps me experiment in brush strokes, composition, tonality, and to just challenge myself more. I can see my own errors better when painting or even in stencil placement, as well as working on transitions between light and dark that will help when I return to color. I also am able to use mark-making more effectively as a tool. Often I resort to color, but here the single color simplifies everything and highlights the marks and their impact on the piece. If you have never taken an intermezzo, try it and let me know how it goes for you. I'd love to hear.  

As always, it's a delight to be on the blog--now as a team member. I'm in great company this year and we all bring a different point of view to the table. I'll be back in August with another adventure. To see more of my pursuits, follow me on Instagram and Facebook at Nancy Curry Art. For my class schedule, blog, and full galleries, hop over to Nancy Curry Art. I often do reels/IG TV to showcase what I'm up to.  I'd love to have your feedback there, too! 


  1. What a wonderful and inspiring "no color vacation"! Thanks for sharing this great idea!

    1. Thanks so much, Terry!!! Sorry for the late reply.

  2. Oh Nancy I love these. I love your compositions (my weakness) and all the shades and contrast. Your work always bring joy and sometimes surprise with them. Thank you for sharing

  3. These are so amazing, Nancy! <3

  4. You are very sweet. Thank you so much!!!!


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