Stencil Fun

All kinds of things can be written about stencils. I purchased stencils, ones that provided both positive and negative space. (The stencil with the shape in it is positive and the loose shape that you can trace around is negative) for most of my art life. Then I discovered make-your-own  stencils and now my best shapes are  original ones. You can use a piece of cereal box cardboard or one of a similar weight. Practice drawing your cut-out until you are happy with it. Then cut it out and trace it onto the cardboard. Use an X-acto knife or similar tool and cut it out on a piece of glass wrap the edges even though they are not sharp, or a self-heal mat. Don’t be obsessive about cutting, a few jagged areas only make the stencil more interesting.

Some fun, store purchased stencils that have different applications and that are loads of fun, especially for younger artists,  are the 1 1/2 ” ABC stencils cut in a military font. These come in different sizes, I think both 3″ and 4″ too. They are cut out of oilboard so they are very durable. These are available at www(dot)dickblick(dot)com, which is a great mail order store for art supplies — cheap and fast.

To stencil, use a heavy bodied acrylic (sorry, not the cheapies) for the first layer, then a light bodied (cheap) acrylic paint for successive layers. These are the paints in little bottles from Michael’s that are under a dollar. They don’t have as much pigment as the more expensive paints, and show up a bit translucent, which is a neat technique.

Try stenciling through a piece of screen or cover a part of the cardboard with an acrylic mask to prevent paint in that area. Remove whenever you want. You can complete this project by adding a light spray of spray paint. (WARNING: Use only in well ventilated space, like a garage with the door open. ) Spread floor with lots of newspaper, but you know that, and dispose of the newspaper in a plastic garbage bag with a tie. Leave the garage while the paint is completely drying. And close the garage door if it’s windy.

If you used neighboring colors on the color wheel, or complementary colors, the background will come out fun. In this procedure, it is best to remember that less is more, but that tip depends on personal preference, as always.

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