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!

Sunday 17 June 2012

Do some art with me

I had a trip to Sydney yesterday to the annual Craft Fair at Darling Harbour. Because I live in a tiny bush town with only a minimal amount of shops my 1 or 2 pilgrimages a year to craft shows are a significant way  to top up on resources, see what the new fads and trends are and to get inspired from seeing stuff I like.

My main purchases were felting fibre, machine embroidery threads and heaps of stencils. Its so pleasing to see stencilling making a bit of a revival lately. Its such a versatile and useful technique for artisans doing mixed media textile art.

In my most recent blogs I showed pictures of the collaborative artworks Rodney and I have been creating. He does the focal portraits and I do the stencilled decorative borders.While writing this this afternoon I noticed how similar this Frida Kahlo poster is to the pictures Rodney and I have been making. This poster has been on my office wall for a couple of years and I believe it is a coloured ink drawing originally done by Frida in her diary.

The image to the right of the Frida Kahlo illustration is the picture Rodney gave me for my birthday. It was the first one I decorated with a stencilled border and we liked it so much we were inspired to make some more. I haven't yet put my birthday picture on a stretcher, this canvas measures about 48x60cm.

Here is a picture of the new stencils bought at the craft fair. I couldn't wait to play with them today and raced down to the studio after getting out of bed at 11am, after Rodney had served me with chai tea and french toast with yoghurt and blueberries and after having read most of the weekend papers. After all I was cruelly ripped from bed at 4am on Saturday morning to get down to Sydney in the cold and rain....

stencils bought at art show, plus 2 cork stamps at top right
Because I'm really enthusiastic about stencilling at the moment I want to use my next blogs over a week or 2 to write and illustrate 3-4 step by step tutorials on how to use stencils.

Below is a new lovely portrait Rodney has done that I'll use to show in detail how to create layer by layer a decorative border with paint and stencils.

Lessons will begin tomorrow.