Monday, September 29, 2008

Still Painting

If you've ever worked with stencils, then you know.  They seem like such a simple, elegant, easy thing to do.  Everything from conception to cutting them out to execution is simple.  Right?

Of course!  Which is why I decided (shut up, stop laughing at me!) that I could take a stencil from a book about stenciling I got quite some time ago, modify it (I can still hear you laughing) to get rid of the fleur de lis and add ivy leaves (spades if you prefer though I deliberately made the leaf asymmetrical) and lay it out properly.  You see, in the original it wasn't even.  It was wider than it was long, which wasn't a big deal, but when you folded it in half either way, it was crooked.  So I straightened it all out.  It only took, oh, about two hours working with a ruler and a curved edge.  And now I'm in the midst of slicing it out with a razor.  The best part?  I won't be done when I'm finished cutting it out.  No, that's just the beginning.  I have to treat the watercolor paper so that it doesn't absorb too much moisture and warp.  And then I have to actually tape this thing up, stencil it on, move it down to the next marked spot and stencil again.  All the way around the room.  Well, okay, I can skip the wall with the oh-my-gawds-what-were-they-thinking glue-on paneling that's peeling off now.  (I have plans for that wall later.)

Real artists use acetate and a hot acetate cutting thingy to cut out a stencil.  I don't have acetate and a hot acetate cutting thingy, so I'm doing this the old-fashioned way, the way they used to do it before acetate.

Wish me luck.  I'm gonna need it.


Things that puzzle this other goddess.... said...

Wow! Luck to you. I have NEVER been able to get a stencil to work nicely, even if I followed all the instructions correctly! So more power to you. ttptog

Kami said...

There's a bunch of tricks that go with stenciling that have worked for me in the past that are going well for me now.
1. Learn to love spray-on adhesive, the kind that if you allow it to dry for five minutes it is temporary aka removable. Using it on finer details helps keep those areas from blurring or uniting.
2. Less is more. Better to have a dappled or sponge effect than to have a little too much paint that then bleeds or cakes at the edges.
3. Use more than one color. Highlighting or shading gives the stencil added dimension and distracts from the fact that the stencil doesn't have a perfect silhouette (they very, very rarely do.)
4. If paint twists your panties in a knot, try oil pastels. Let them dry for about 2-3 weeks and then apply a topcoat of some kind--fixative, varnish, or acrylic clearcoat. I haven't tried this but I hear it creates very crisp stencils with deep coloration and there's no such thing as bleeding.
5. Always clean the stencil (or allow the paint to dry completely) between each and every application. Again, I haven't tried it with oil pastels but I suspect wiping down will help a lot, especially with fine details.
6. Set the stencil in place with drafting tape and then go ahead and get your fingers messy by carefully holding down edges near the areas you're working.
7. If all else fails, do the multiple light coat thingy. Barely apply any color at all, let dry, apply more, let dry, apply more, let dry. Personally, I don't think it's worth the extra aggravation. Be sure that the stencil isn't stuck close to the wall or you may inadvertently glue it in place ...