Make Strong and Precise Marks Using Art Stencils

There’s something definitive about stencil art. The crisp lines make you believe in a shape that wasn’t there before the artist created it. Even when used abstractly, the images come together to make a piece of art that’s pleasing to the eye. And chances are that as you view mixed-media art made with stenciling techniques, new ideas come to mind. I hope so. Because as Margaret Peot says, “All human beings are artists. We all have ideas and pictures in our mind that move and inspire us and we all want to leave our mark on our world.”

Margaret’s new book, Stencil Craft: Techniques for Fashion, Art & Home, is full of ideas to guide you to act on that inspiration. I found many ideas that I’m looking forward to trying. If you’re new to stencil art, or maybe you just love learning everything you can about it, you’ll appreciate the following excerpt from Stencil Craft.

Stencil art by Margaret Peot |
Traveling Minstrel (gouache and acrylic on paper, 13×15) by Margaret Peot is from a series of stencil prints named Call Down the Moon.

Stencil Basics by Margaret Peot

A stencil is anything you place on a surface to block paint. You can use stencils to paint specific images, to make textures, or to add color. Stencils can be made of almost anything, from carefully cut Mylar to torn brown paper, from masking tape to dried weeds and grasses.

If you tape stripes on a wall and paint the wall, the tape is the stencil. If you hold an oak leaf on a piece of paper and brush paint off the edge of it, the oak leaf is the stencil. If you spray paint onto a surface across a feather or rumpled lace, it can make an almost photographically detailed image. If you scatter a handful of coins across a piece of white fabric and spray aqua fabric paint across them, the coins block the sprayed paint from the fabric and the result is a cheerful dotted fabric that you can make into a summer skirt, or napkins for a picnic.

There are two reasons to use cut stencils, and sometimes they overlap. The main reason to use cut stencils is that you want to print one image more than once–several t-shirts with the same design, an edition of art prints or perhaps signage for a party. The second reason is that you want the particular look that a stencil gives: bold and crisp. In order to function and to be effective, the stencil has to be hyper-designed; highlights and shadows become abstract shapes, lines have changeable weight. Delicate marks are not as easy to get with a stencil. A stencil generally makes marks with a strong appearance and precise edges.

The magic of stencils is that they can be used and reused for a multitude of projects. The same stencil can be used to print a t-shirt, a greeting card, placemats, a tote, or they can even be worked into a stencil collage. ~Margaret

The beauty of Stencil Craft is that you’ll learn how to use stencils so that you get the best results. Stencil Craft includes 14 demonstrations for creating, designing, and using art stencils, for all levels of mixed-media artists.

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