Studio Saturdays: Making stencil images your own

Introducing Studio Saturdays: Enjoy a featured technique each weekend. Today: stencils!


Have you hesitated incorporating stencils into your mixed-media art because you think they look too cookie cutter, stiff, or formal? They don’t have to. I own a ton of stencils because they’re one of the most versatile supplies in my stash.

Stenciled art journal page
I love the fluid look of this art journal page created with stencils.

If you use a loose medium with a stencil, your designs will look more fluid and unique. I used watercolor with three stencils to create an art journal page, and I think it looks anything but stiff. Here’s how I did it:

  • I taped the edge of a Marrakech stencil from StencilGirl Products onto an art journal page (I’m working in a large Dylusions Creative Journal from Ranger). Using a palette of gold and turquoise, I painted the shapes, blending the colors. Watercolor isn’t typically used with stencils, but I love the painterly look it gives.
Stenciled watercolor
I colored in the ogee shapes with watercolor.
  • With the stencil still in place I traced around each design with a Faber-Castell PITT artist pen. I moved quickly and wasn’t very precise, which gave a hand-drawn touch. After removing the stencil I splattered paint across the page with the paintbrush.
  • The birds were created with the Swallow two-layer stencil from Stencil1. I placed the detailed stencil over a book page and painted it with black watercolor, let it dry, removed it, then put the open stencil on top and painted a light gray wash. I made another bird by flipping the stencils over to create a mirror image. I cut out the birds and adhered them to the page with glue stick.
Stenciling a book page
Watercolor was used with the stencil on a book page.
  • I wrote part of a poem in the blank spaces between the background designs. Lastly, to add depth to the page I traced the left side of the ogee designs with a black Stabilo All pencil, then went over the lines with a wet paintbrush to create shadows.
Adding shadows to stencil images
Shadows were added with a water-soluble black pencil.

I love the way this art journal page turned out, and I can’t wait to see what else I can do with my ever-growing stencil stash.

An art journal page created with stencil designs
The finished art journal page.

I’m always amazed at the creative ways our artists use stencils for art journaling, collage, printmaking, and textile art. Click on the images below and check out these fantastic stencil resources filled with fun techniques that will take your art to a new level!

Stencil video
Layering with Stencils download
Stencil art book
StencilGirl book
Stencil Craft book
Stencil Craft book
Art Lesson: Stencil Auditions
Art Lesson: Stencil Auditions
Stencil technique video
Breaking the Rules DVD
Mixed media video
Art Journaling Live 2 DVD





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