It’s finally spring in New England, and after an extremely long winter, seeing buds on the trees and the forsythia blooming seems like a miracle. I love celebrating the seasons and nature in my artwork, and this year I have even more incentive: the Roxanne Evans Stout Springtime Collage Collection. This exclusive bundle includes two books by Roxanne, plus two of her stencils, and it was the perfect inspiration to head into my studio and make a spring collage.
Truth be told, I love kits that include art supplies. And these stencils—wow. Roxanne designed them for StencilGirl Products, and they’re so incredibly versatile (the stencils themselves are top quality, too). Designs include birds, a frame, a flower, and greenery, and you can use them for any mixed-media project, on practically any surface. I decided to create a painted fabric banner inspired by Roxanne’s technique of incorporating treasured vintage objects and interesting textures. In her book Dancing on Raindrops: A Visual Journal, you’ll be treated to so much inspiration as you get lost in the gorgeous photos of Roxanne’s studio, artwork, and incredible collections. The book even includes great creativity prompts. Storytelling with Collage is packed with techniques and ideas for working with found objects, fabric, stitch, textured papers—even metal. My copy is always close by and I look through it often.
For this spring collage I started with a scrap of linen, one of my favorite fabrics to work with. Whenever I’m trying a new technique or materials I do a test first—no sense in wasting time and supplies if something won’t work. I planned to stencil on the fabric with paint, but thought I’d create a gesso ground first. A test on a scrap of linen worked great, but the gesso didn’t pop that much against the natural color of the linen.
So, I colored the linen by giving it a bath in walnut ink and hot water for a couple of hours. The effect was just what I wanted, and I added some spatters of straight walnut ink to give the fabric a little interest.
The fabric was cut into a banner shape, then brushed with white gesso. I was going for an uneven coat to reveal some of the woven texture of the fabric.
When that dried I stenciled the larger bird from the Songbird of Hope stencil as the focal image of this spring collage, using coral, blue-gray, and black acrylic paint, pouncing it onto the fabric with a wedge sponge. The great thing about this stencil is that you can create any bird you like—your state bird, a pet, a fantasy bird—anything!
I stenciled the wing design over the bird in white, and then stenciled the design again in white on a linen scrap and cut it out. The cut-out wing was used as a decorative piece on the banner, attached with a tiny vintage mother-of-pearl button. See what I mean about this stencil being versatile? The flower from the Out the Window stencil was painted below the bird, using the same shade of coral. To give the painted area a little more depth I dry-brushed some walnut ink in a few spots.
Next, I chose a backing fabric to frame the banner, auditioning a few until I found the perfect match. The fabric was cut about ½” larger on four sides, and the edges were frayed to match the rustic look of the linen. The two fabric pieces were tacked together with a little glue stick.
To embellish the spring collage, I added more vintage buttons and stitched a few ‘X’s, going through both pieces of fabric to better attach them. Machine stitching would look great as well, and this is a perfect opportunity to go through your stash of vintage and natural items to see what else might work: perhaps a feather, shell, or small stone. Both of Roxanne’s books offer tons of ideas for collage, handmade books, stenciling, and more. You’ll learn to view the world in a new way, seeing the tiniest paper scrap, a rusty washer, or bent twigs as worthy components for your next project.
A dried branch was used for a hanger, attached with scraps of sari ribbon. After poking three holes at the top of the banner, I created rough eyelets using heavy-duty cotton thread and making straight stitches around each hole.
I love the finished piece so much that I’m thinking of creating three more, one for each season. What will you do with your new supplies and inspiration? Don’t wait on this one—this exclusive kit will be a much-loved and used part of your mixed-media stash.
Learn about Roxanne’s fascinating creative process, and learn more about this kit in her great guest blog!