I began using art stencils fairly recently, and while I’m not sure what took me so long, I can tell you that I wish I had started sooner! I discovered that I can use a makeup sponge to dab leftover paint through a stencil on a blank art journal page, and have the beginnings of a colorful background. This felt like a huge step out of my comfort zone at first, but you might be ready to take your stencil art to the next level by creating your own custom stencils. Let Margaret Peot show you how.
Margaret is the author of Stencil Craft: Techniques for Fashion, Art, and Home, and it’s my pleasure to share with you the following excerpt from her book. Enjoy! ~Cherie
The Magic of Art Stencils by Margaret Peot
There are two reasons to use cut art 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 art stencils is that they can be used and re-used for a multitude of projects. The same stencil can be used to print a T-shirt, a greeting card, placemats, a tote, or can even be worked into a stencil collage.
Stencil Art: Print a One-Color Self Portrait
Making the stencils for this portrait brought to mind the paint-by-number experiences from my childhood. The shadows and lights were separated out in a surprisingly abstract manner, and yet it usually all came together in a satisfying way. You could make a stencil portrait in as many colors as a paint-by-number set, adding details and intricacy with each layer of color.
Editioning and paper placement: If you’re printing multiples for a series, tape the top of the stencil to your work surface and tape a ruler or straight edge down so you have something to butt your printing paper against. This will ensure that your paper placement is the same every time.
Materials: black acrylic paint • computer • frosted or matte Mylar or clear acetate • masking tape • medium-weight printmaking or drawing paper • pencil • photo of yourself • printer • Sharpie marker (fine point) • stencil brush • stencil burner • tracing paper
1. Choose a dramatically lit picture of yourself and print it out as big as you can. It doesn’t have to be high quality. Here I drew the back of my head in with a Sharpie directly onto the photograph as it was too low contrast to be seen when tracing in the next step.
2. Tape a piece of tracing paper over the photograph and start planning your stencil with a pencil. Draw around all the very lightest places and the dark places. There will be spots in the photo that are neither one nor the other–a medium tone–but you will have to decide whether or not they are black or white. Once you have decided what is black and what is white, commit to the lines by drawing over them with a Sharpie. You might want to color in some of the tracing to make sure it works.
3. With a fine-point Sharpie, trace the drawing onto a piece of stencil material, in this case matte Mylar. Since there are so many tiny details in this design, a stencil burner works great to cut it out.
4. Using a stencil brush and black acrylic, paint through the stencil onto the paper below.
5. Lift the stencil when the paint is not super wet yet not totally dry. If you wait until it is completely dry, the stencil can stick slightly and pull off some of the paper when you peel it off. ~Margaret