Friday, May 13, 2016

Making Mandalas with Stencils

I got a wonderful gift in the mail the other day, a review copy of Kathryn Costa's book, The Mandala Guidebook. Sometimes you just get lucky! Truly. I am not sure the book would have flown onto my radar screen otherwise. I like this book! 
I brought it into the studio the other day, all set to peruse some pages in order to write a review. Now you know StencilGirl Products sells lots of mandala-like stencils, but nothing beats the idea of starting from scratch and creating your own design, so I was excited to learn how to do this.
I became rather engrossed with the book and started reading page by page, as Kathryn covered everything from drawing a mandala freehand to using a grid; painting patterned papers and making collages; even using magazine pages. When I got to page 80, where she was drawing a Grid type mandala on a painted background, it hit me like a ton of bricks - the way the grid structure is formatted looks an awful lot like a Color Wheel! And StencilGirl has Color Wheel stencils, designed by my friend Pam Carriker. 
And, well, since I hate to measure anything, using stencils to trace my format, well it seemed like a bit of simple genius to me. 
I started out by putting a skim coat of acrylic paint on three backgrounds. I decided I would make mandalas using three of my favorite Pam Carriker Color Wheels stencils. I used a pencil to trace the stencil design onto the dry background. 
At first I was thinking I would just use this as my guide and then draw free hand within each space, but heck, I own a stencil company, so you know what I did next.......I grabbed some stencils
I started out by placing a stencil in the center ( Scribble Blooms, the flower in the center). If I were a more precise person, I might have worried about the paint that went outside of the center, however, I am not that person. 

....the photo above shows how I then used painter's tape to tape off a section of the stencil. I thought I would be able to easily fill in the sections this way. I intentionally made the taped off part slightly wider than my pencil lines thinking this would allow the sections to match up to one another (thus compensating for the width of the Mylar during tracing). 
After I stenciled all the sections, I went back with a paint pen and added further embellishment. 
Next up was the Green background and I pulled out some painted collage papers to glue into a few sections, using the stencil (once again) as a tracing guide so the sizes matched up. 
I know I shouldn't play favorites, but this is my fave. I just love how it turned out!!
And finally, the yellow one. Again, I pulled out some collage parts, this time literally scraps from a previous project. 
I've gotta say I was totally inspired by Kathryn's book. It provides specific, hands on, precise information about a variety of ways to make mandalas. I chose to take this in the direction of stencils, but there are lots of other projects I can't wait to explore, such as the Gratitude Mandala and the Labrinth. Anyone with an interest in making their own mandalas will definitely want this book in their library. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Celebrate Earth Day with StencilGirl + Earth Safe Finishes

Time for another Blog Hop and this time we are teaming up with the lovely people from Earth Safe Finishes.  Seems like the perfect way to celebrate Earth Day, doesn't it?
Nancy Burkhart of Earth Safe, has developed paints and mediums that are free of the toxins and solvents normally present in many of the products we artists use. 
I worry about toxins, especially when I am working with wax products. The need for ventilation is so pertinent I won't work with wax unless the room is properly ventilated.  
So imagine how excited I was when I discovered that Nancy has a product that is a substitute for Cold Wax! And she has pigments that can sub in for the oil sticks I typically use. Zero smell, zero toxins.

Follow along to see how I used these products.

1. I took a sheet of Arches Oil paper and cut it into a 9"x9" square. Using blue painter's tape, I taped off around the edges and taped off a cross shape through the center. That left me with four working square areas, which I treated as one piece.

2. Using Licorice Chalk Paint, I scraped some random marks across my substrate.

3. Truth be told, I couldn't wait to play with the pigments so I immediately opened them and put a few drops (they are intense!) on my palette. The colors are gorgeous and so highly pigmented that you really only need a couple drops, wow oh wow! This is a pretty unusual product - to find pigment in a liquid form, I'm not familiar with another company who makes this. I have certainly used powdered pigments before, but you need to wear a mask because the particles go airborne; these liquids are so darn convenient. You can add them to any of your mediums to create colorful versions of, say molding paste or texture medium or clear tinted gel. Or in my case, Cold Wax!
4. Next I opened up the wax. It wasn't what I was expecting, I thought it would be, well, more obviously waxy I suppose. It is fairly liquid, kind of runny yogurt consistency. And a creamy color. ZERO odor. I kid you not. It was unbelievable, absolutely no smell in these products. I put some wax on my palette and mixed it with the droplets of pigment. 
5. And finally I started to paint. This was all palette knife and skewer work (no brushes) and naturally several stencils jumped in, ha!! 
Since the wax itself is so fluid, I simply used my regular sponge to pounce it through the stencil. The Quinacridone Violet is a simply glorious color. That is it on top of the yellow (full strength) and mixed with some white in the foreground (see below). 

6. Here is my final piece after I peeled the tape away. I just love how it turned out. 
I want to spend some more time playing with these products, they have a lot of interesting potential I want to explore. And here's the thing - these days we are assaulted with toxic ingredients in every part of our life; it is really wonderful for a company to take the time to figure out other ways of manufacturing and to make safe products for artists. Kudos, Nancy!
And guess what? You can win my art. All you have to do is visit the blogs showcased today through Wednesday and leave a comment. The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN this one of a kind, 9x9 inch Cold Wax painting on Arches Oil Paper made by me.
One comment per blog please. You will have until Monday, April 25th at 11:59 p.m. Central Time to leave your comments.

The winner of Stencil Girl's give-away will be announced on StencilGirl's Facebook page on Wednesday, April 27th.

Here are the links to the other posts:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Storytelling with Collage

I was delighted (not to mention flattered!) when Roxanne Evan Stout asked me to participate in her book. I had admired her work from afar for many years and the topic of collage is near and dear my heart since collage jumpstarted me into the mixed media world. And, well, you know my pieces always involve a story.

My submission is an encaustic piece, one that is embedded with personal meaning. As sometimes happens, this piece came to me fast, a spilling over of emotion packed into  an 11x14 painting. 
Roxanne's book is exactly as I imagined it would be. 
Thoughtful and Contemplative, full of earthly visual delights, something to savor.......
One of those books where you read every single page. Artists I know like Orly Avineri, Seth Apter, Lorri Scott. But also a lot of new faces who are making wonderfully inspired work.
Everyone has a story. 
Learning to tell it is a gift, doing it with art and collage is the icing on the cake, at least for me. I am honored to be included in this special book. 
And her book (you are going to want it, hint, hint) is available everywhere. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

StencilGirls love StencilGuts

Before we had stencils and masks, we had Guts. Guts are the parts that drop out of the Mylar once the actual stencil is cut. When we pull the stencil off the machine, the guts are the leftover parts in the machine to be cleaned up and, uh, well, discarded. At least that is what most normal people do, most stencil companies too. 
Except you know me.......
I can't discard something so darn cool and we here at StencilGirl have been saving them all this time. I've been using them off and on for years. One of my students, Anne Holliday, named them Guts and I thought that was very descriptive and clever. 
Today, we offer them to you, our customers, 
Sorted and packaged for all your crafting pleasure. 

So, why would you want StencilGuts and what can you do with them? 

  • You want them because they have so many interesting uses; that is what we are showing you in this Blog Hop. Ways to use Guts. 
  • You want them because they are cheap fun. And who doesn't like cheap fun.  
  • You want them because we have very limited quantities. My grandson and I sorted them and pretty quickly realized it was a crazy amount of work. So I'm not sure when we will do it again, just sayin'.....
  • Help us save landfills by using Guts as an art supply.

The photo above shows StencilGuts covered with Washi tape and I love the way these turned out, just so darn cute! Plus fun to make.
The photo above shows Random Guts mixed in with Gel Medium (and some Fluid Acrylic paint) They make such an unexpected texture that is quite intriguing. I can see this with a metallic dry brushed over the top, yumyumyum.
And a potential layout. Carol Baxter imagines this one as a Gourmet Chef! I didn't even see it at first, but it made me laugh when I did! The shapes can be assembled in so many different ways. 
Imagine them painted with alcohol ink? Or you could assemble them on your Gelli Plate and make lovely printed papers or Deli sheets - think of them as baby masks.

And finally, one of my very favorite uses, shown above. Collagraph plate!! To make the plate, use a scrap of matboard or cardboard and glue the StencilGuts in place with Glossy Gel Medium. Be sure and carefully coat the front and back of your Collagraph Plate with Gel Medium so it will be fairly water resistance and will withstand paint. Allow the plate to dry thoroughly before using. 
Use a brayer to 'ink up' your plate with acrylic paint and pull prints. I find it more effective to spritz your paper lightly so it will receive the plate better. I don't have an actual printing press but have found it is pretty easy to rig up ways to make this work. 

So there you have it. StencilGuts! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. To see what everyone else has made, hop along with us. Links below:

 And you knew we would be giving some away, right?? Cause that's how we are.
StencilGirl Products will be giving away package of StencilGuts
from EACH category
(Geometric Shapes, Birds, Cats & Rabbits, Flourishes, Hands
& Body and Dirty Random Guts)
to one lucky winner!
It's the mongo StencilGuts collection.
Visit all the blogs on today’s hop and comment to win!
The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to WIN!
(One comment per blog please.)
You will have until Saturday, March 26th at 11:59PM Central Time to leave your comments.
Winners will be announced on
StencilGirl's Facebook page on Sunday, March 27th.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Life Book Post is nearly Live

Tomorrow, my main part of The Life Book goes live. I am excited, it is probably the largest venue of people I have ever taught. My lesson was a surprise even to me; I hope you like it. Although I am not allowed to share the art, here is a teeny weeny snippet. 
Add caption
Not signed up yet? There is still time. Click HERE
It is definitely worth it, there is so much value, I am very proud to be involved and also proud of my contribution.