Add Dimension with Art Stencils

When I first attempted to make mixed-media art, I was always fixated on the focal point. I started with an image and then build around it.

After being disappointed with my results, I studied the artwork and techniques of artists whose work I admired. One thing I learned was how important it is to create interest and texture in your background so the focal point doesn’t look like it’s just sitting there. Background, especially applied in layers, helps integrate the focal point and give it context.

Art stencils and ideas | Seth Apter
Mixed-media art by Seth Apter.

There are many ways to add background interest, and one of my favorites lately is via art stencils. For example:

You can spray paint or ink through a stencil to create patterns on your collage substrate.

You can layer art stencils onto a gelatin plate prepared with paint, make a monoprint, and use that as your substrate.

You can apply molding paste or fiber paste through a stencil, creating a dimensional background or focal point.

In the next installment of our Art Lessons Collage and Paint series, Dimensional Stenciling, Seth Apter shows how to use art stencils and fiber paste to create raised texture in mixed media.

Fiber paste is an opaque, white paste with a texture similar to thick frosting. When dry, fiber paste is extremely flexible in form and provides a highly matte surface.

Art stencils and ideas | Seth Apter
A putty knife is a valuable tool for mixed-media art techniques.

You can spread the fiber paste with a number of tools, for example: old hotel room key cards, Bondo spreaders, pan scrapers, and even scraps of cardboard.

The putty knife is one of Seth’s favorite tools for art projects like this. If you’ve never used one before, he suggests you think of spreading peanut butter or frosting when using the knife, and you will quickly become comfortable with this technique.

Looking for other great mixed-media art supplies to add texture? Try the following:

• Molding paste
• Pumice gel
• Glass bead gel
• Granular gel
• Heavy-body acrylic paints
• Spackle
• Joint Compound
• Plaster of Paris
• Gesso

Each of these products can be used to get a entirely different look. Try tinting, mixing, or straight from the jar. Some products will give you an opaque look while other lend a more ethereal feel.

Download Dimensional Stenciling now and start playing with dimension and texture in your art.

P.S. Have you used art stencils to create texture and/or dimension? Offer your tips in the space below.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.