Thursday, May 24, 2012

Shimmering Stencil Tutorial

When Julie Fei-Fan Balzer asked me to try out some of her stencils as part of her stencil hop, I was thrilled.  I've been playing with stencils more and more lately, not for scrap-booking, but for art journal pages and custom journal covers.  I've discovered that stencils can give me some amazing affects when used in layering and mixed-media projects, and even as backgrounds for some of my art. In fact, when the stencils arrived and I started playing with them, I simply couldn't stop.

At first I was uncertain how I could make them work effectively for the type of work I do, then once I got going I found that the opportunities to enhance my art pieces were limitless.

What was more exciting was how effective they were when I used them with my precious Silks Acrylic Glazes.  Of course, the timing was perfect, they arrived just as I was in project preparation for my new online class A Taste of Silks.  This was a serendipity as I was able to include some wonderful projects in this class using these beautiful stencils.

As it turned out, I ended up with so many great ideas that I had a very hard time narrowing them down for this stencil-hop.

The stencil I am showcasing today is called Leaf Grid, It has been designed by Julie under her label Balzer Designs and is produced by The Crafter's Workshop.  Julie sent me two sizes, a 12"x12" and a 6"x6".  The designs on the smaller stencil are perfect for art journal and sketchbook pages, and the larger stencil is perfect for scrap book pages.  I used them in this project in the not-so-traditional way.

I'm not always one for using art and craft supplies the way they are supposed to be used, so in this project, I am going to show you how I used them to create beautiful flower patterns using Silks Acrylic Glaze as a resist to a Silks/watercolor background, then painting the flowers over the top using Silks once again.  

Silks Acrylic Glaze is a beautiful new product from Luminarte.  It is brilliant liquid acrylic glaze that has been laced with mica and other proprietary minerals to give it a spectacular shimmer. It is incredibly versatile, and one of the techniques I use here is Silks as Watercolor. It is a technique I also teach in my online class. (And NO, I'm not on the Luminarte payroll, I just LOVE their products.)


For this project, I use a Strathmore Visual Journal with 90lb watercolor paper.

Begin by wetting your page heavily until it shines.

Mix a little Silks with a lot of water in a palette well or cup and drip, splatter, and splash it over your wet page. Let the paint spread out and cover the entire page.  (The color I am using is Jasmine.)

Use a paper towel to dab off the excess water and paint.  This will encourage the pigment to sink into the paper, creating a lovely soft sheen.

Position an individual pattern from your large (12"x12") Leaf Grid stencil over your journal page.  Use a solid synthetic brush, or a stencil brush to gently dab on a little paint. I am using Ice, which has a white pigment with a spectacular new rainbow crystal-like mica.  The Ice will draw up a little of the wet pigment under it and reflect back the beautiful luminescent design.

Next, take the smaller stencil (6"x6") and position a portion of the design in and around your larger images.  Paint these using Fern.

What you are creating is a two-tone pattern that will become the foliage behind your flowers.

When the leaves are dry, load your brush with another mix of Silks and water using bright colors to add contrast to your page. (For this, I used a darker mix of Jasmine and a bright mix of Ginger Peach.) Wash this paint around your page, allowing the colors to blend and mix. 

You can see how the Silks act as a resist to the watercolor mix.

Use your paper towel to dab off the excess water and remove any color that has pooled over the stencil designs.

Let the page dry completely.

Next, use a watercolor pencil to draw in some basic flower designs over and around the leaves.

Paint these with Silks using Stargazer and Blue Flame directly from the pot.

Let this layer dry then use a flat brush to paint behind the flowers using regular watercolors.

This layer of regular watercolor will allow a little of the shimmer to show through. It will also act as a wonderful matte contrast to the shimmering flowers and leaves.

When your page is completely dry, use a fine line marker or pen to add detail to the flowers and leaves.

Finish by smudging a little charcoal around the edges of the flowers to give them some definition.

You can see how wonderful the stenciled leaves appear behind these simple flowers. The contrast between the flat watercolor background and the Silks flowers adds and amazing effect to this journal page.

I also used this beautiful Leaf Grid stencils to add texture and interest to the background behind this painting of a pear.  In this painting, I sprayed and rolled the stencil to create some contrasting patterns. I will show you more of this journal page next week.

I also used the Leaf Grid stencil as a support for sculpting leaves using Silks mixed with a variety of gel mediums. This is one of the techniques we play with in A Taste of Silks. If you'd like to know more about this class, please click here.  If you'd like to know more about Silks Acrylic Glaze, please click here.

If you'd like to get your hands on this beautiful Leaf Grid stencil, please click here, and if you'd like to see more amazing work using this stencil, just hop on over to the blogs of these talented, inspiring, artists.

Thanks for checking in. xx