Sue Plumb here today with a fun new project to inspire you. It’s been a little while since I shared my last project here as part of the StencilGirl® Creative Team, so I was only too happy to jump in and get my hands dirty when I was asked to be a guest designer this month.
As I will be moving house soon, I have been busy sorting through my art supplies and assessing what I have on hand. This task also highlighted which supplies have been neglected lately, particularly some of my paints. With that in mind, I decided to create a mixed media canvas for this project and put some of those paints to good use. Unfortunately, paint is one of those supplies that does have a shelf life, and I did have to throw some of them away that had dried up. (If you have paints in your stash that you haven’t pulled out for a while, I encourage you to check them and use them whilst you can!)
My project began with a 10x12” canvas panel which came pre-primed, so it saved me applying a coat of gesso. I started with some collage on my background, adding a Jane Davenport printed napkin and some spotted tissue paper using matte medium. I then dried it off and started on my painted layers using a mix of acrylic paints applied with a silicone spatula and my fingers.
If you are unfamiliar with mixed media, there are couple of important points I want to share with you here. First of all – layers! Mixed media is all about layers and each one contributes to the overall depth and impact a piece will have. Yes, along the way, you will inevitably cover up some of the layers you create, but it is the way in which those layers combine that will deliver the final result. The second point is what many of us like to refer to as the “ugly stage”. At some point during the process you are likely to look at the piece you are working on and think it looks terrible, but my best advice here is to push past that stage, continue on, and know that it will all come together in the end.
Once I had my background colour down, it was time to start adding some stencilled detail. The first one I reached for was a branches mask that came from Into the Woods by Suzi Dennis. I used a green Distress Oxide and a sponge to add some detail along the bottom edge of the canvas. However, once I looked at it I realised that the detail didn’t stand out enough, so I went back to my painted layers and lightly added some white paint using a brayer to strip some of the colour back and allow my detail to show more clearly. I repeated the process with the mask and the Distress Oxide and was much happier with the result. (See – it really is a process of layers!) I then used the same Distress Oxide and sponge with the Looping Leafy Vines Background stencil to add detail along the remaining edges of the canvas.
Next, I added some floral detail using the Deconstructed Floral Bouquet stencil, teal Archival ink and a sponge. I only used one section of the stencil and moved it around the canvas to repeat the same flower design in different areas. At this point I decided it was time to add some texture, so I went back to the Looping Leafy Vines stencil but this time I used a teal-coloured texture paste instead. (I often like to use the same stencil more than once on a project but with different mediums to achieve a different look.) I then added more texture paste, only this time a pink, using the Peony Blooms stencil; and again I focused my attention around the edge of the canvas.
Now it was time to turn my attention to the focal point for my canvas. I had a printed napkin that featured a bright design with Toucans and tropical foliage, so I decided to use one of the Toucans as my centrepiece. I removed the backing layers from the napkin, leaving me with the topmost thin sheet, then traced around the part of the design I wanted using a water brush. Moistening the paper like this allows you to then separate the piece away gently and gives a softer edge that is easier to blend into the background than if it were cut with scissors. (Watch my process video to see exactly how it is done.) I used matte medium to apply it to the canvas, along with some extra foliage printed pieces.
Now it was time to start adding all the final details to bring the piece to completion. To add some light to the foreground and the surrounds, I used the small Maidenhair Fern Stencil with Masks and stippled some light green paint through it with a brush and then dried it off.
To tie in the black colour of the Toucan, I used a rubber stamp featuring small stars and spots and black StazOn ink to lightly stamp tiny black details randomly around the canvas. I also used a black Stabilo All pencil to create subtle shadowing around the Toucan’s silhouette.
I added further detail to the piece using one of my all-time favourite stencils, Organized Chaos by Cat Kerr, white paint and stippled the design randomly around the page. (This is one of my go-to techniques for finishing mixed media pieces like this.) After that, it was simply a matter of sticking down the large quote, small phrase stickers, and a few printed vellum flowers to add dimension. (I love the way the vellum curls up from the canvas when applied with a small dab of wet glue.)
If you would like to see the evolution of exactly how this piece came together, or see any of the techniques I have mentioned, please watch my process video.