Stencils are a gift from above for some of us, and Mary Beth Shaw knows not only the value of their use, but also how to teach it to others. Shaw is the author of Stencil Girl: Mixed-Media Techniques for Making and Using Stencils.
“I’m a girl who loves stencils,” says Shaw. “As an artist, I know stencils have the ability to really make us look good. Stencils add beautifully complex detail to our art–easy repeats, dynamic silhouettes and layer after layer of glorious patterns. Oh, be still my heart.”
“Working on watercolor paper,” Shaw says, “Pam collaged a dictionary page with Mixed Media Adhesive and marked off her stencil area with water-soluble pencil, then whitewashed the area outside the stencil. She also added additional collage elements. She stenciled a design on deli paper with permanent Liquid Pencil. The stamped-on face image from Pam Carriker Poetic Portrait Stamp Collection was created with StazOn ink in a window of the stencil design. Other collage, including the deli paper, was added. The body was painted with watercolor paints and the background with PanPastels. The permanent Liquid Pencil was used to create dots, which can be burnished to a sheen. Final details were done with a white pen.”
“Stencils are undoubtedly one of the most versatile tools available to the mixed-media world, yet I’m frequently asked how to use a stencil. I suspect people ask this question because there isn’t really one straight answer. I mean, think about it. Some of the most frequent ways we see stencil art is in the form of graffiti–on railroad cars and in urban landscapes–on T-shirts or as tattoos. Mixed-media artists might wonder what stencils could offer for their art.
“Well, I’m here to tell you that stencils can offer quite a bit. They can be used with paint, pencil, marker, glitter and pigment; on fabric, paper, canvas, wood or clay; in fine art applications, on greeting cards or in journals–just to name a few applications. You can buy stencils, you can make stencils, and you can invent stencil effects with found objects. You can also use reverse stencils, which we call masks.
“Pippin started by dripping and splattering warm-colored paint on a canvas. She then drew a dragonfly on paper and made a stencil by folding the paper in half and cutting it out. She placed the dragonfly stencil and outlined it, then used a commercial circle stencil for the small circles. Finally, she painted the background in white and used a fine black pen to outline the shapes. ~MBS
Learn more about how to use stencils with these resources (including a variety of stencils that you can use in your own art) at North Light Shop.