Monday 18 June 2012

Part one of stencilling project

In the next 2 weeks I'll be outlining some technical information on how to do my method of stencilling. So as not to barrage you with a huge amount of information in one go the instructions will arrive divided into 4 parts. To be posted twice a week (if I'm organised!).

This is the first instalment with some general background information.

What is stencilling?

It is the technique of pushing paint through a pattern cut out of a thin material. The positive areas of the material become a "mask" preventing the paint from contacting the surface and the negative areas that are cut out - referred to as "cells" - allow the paint to contact and bond to the underneath surface.

an acetate stencil lying on a painted canvas
Modern day stencils are generally made from white or clear acetate plastic. Stencils may also be hand cut from sheets of acetate plastic with an artists scalpel or small sharp scissors. Stencils must be made from waterproof material as they need to be resistant to acrylic paint and washable in water.

Materials and equipment needed

Surface to print on:
You can potentially stencil on a wide range on materials and surfaces such as fabric, all types of paper, walls and timber. In this class I'll be using artists cotton canvas which is widely available from suppliers of art materials.

*  I'll be using the "Matisse" brand acrylic paint I have on hand in my studio. Its not necessary to buy special types of paint. Good quality acrylic paint of any brand is fine. You might have problems getting good opacity with "student" colour as that type of paint has low levels of pigment.
*  I almost always mix colours straight from the tube with a portion of white paint before printing as this hugely improves the opacity of the paint.
*  For this class you'll need a minimum of 4 paint colours and as many as 10 for printing plus a tube of white acrylic paint.

Brushes, sponges and paints I use for stencilling

You can buy special stencil brushes but I don't use them and don't think they are necessary. I actually prefer brushes that are rounded rather than flat cut across the bristles, as true traditional stencil brushes are. It is fine to use sponges too. Sponges work well when the stencil cells are large but are too difficult when they are small and fine. In these lessons I recommend to use stiff bristled round brushes.

Other equipment needed:

*  Stencils
*  bucket of water
*  soft cloth for wiping stencils, such as an old face cloth or tea towel
*  tin foil, to use as a disposable palette
*  large paintbrush to prepare the background, like a 3" house painting brush
*  palette knives or popsicle sticks for mixing paint
*  optional, if you want to experiment with making your own simple hand cut stencil - overhead projection marking pen and 1 or more A4 size sheet of acetate plastic, small sharp scissors

Lastly, for this project we'll be making a decorative frame for a focal image. So you need to have selected the image you want to feature in the centre.

For the lessons I'll be picturing an example measuring about 45 x55cm. The focal image in the centre of the canvas is about 20 x 25cm. Its your choice to make anything the same scale or bigger or smaller, size is irrelevant.

Part 2 in about 3 days time. If you have any questions please ask away!

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