Saturday, September 16, 2017

Stencils as Structure

Frida Kahlo journal page, made using a Crafters Workshop stencil.
When I first encountered the idea of using stencils in my mixed media work, my first thought was "eeew, no." I had the image of very stiff, uncreative, blocky, hard edged stencils, of penciling in lines and carefully filling the shapes with color, much like a coloring book.

But, as I explored the mixed media artwork people were creating that incorporated stencils, I began to get hooked. They layered them. They were sometimes sloppy (in an artful way, of course). They were shadowy. They were backgrounds, they were foregrounds. Some were detailed and tiny, some were bold and splashy.

My favorite stencils are faces. Why? Because faces are tricky. I have taken figure drawing and portrait drawing classes, and understand the anatomy and mathematics of the face and body. But for a quick midday art fix, I don't have time to waste, so using stencils to get the basic features penciled in correctly is really helpful. Getting the proportions right is important. Getting the eyes right, for placement and size, is especially important.

Lately I have been using face stencils on my lunch break, putting in the lines quickly, but going beyond the stenciled lines and giving them my own scribbly, loose-handed twist. The same stencil can look entirely different depending on the color choices, hair, media (watercolor, colored pencil, paint etc.) or background choice.

A Jane Davenport face stencil, with yellow lips and quirky eye makeup.
Jane Davenport's "Tilted Up" face stencil, with loose lines and wild hair.
Another Jane Davenport face stencil, with colors that reflect the medical greens and blues I see on a typical workday.
These faces were done on cardstock in my handmade journal. While cardstock isn't as great for watercolor as good watercolor paper, I like it in journals because it is strong, inexpensive, and works well for collage and also for stamping and stenciling.

Many of my Jane Davenport face stencils are from Artistcellar, and sadly, have been discontinued. However, Jane has her new line of stencil available at Michael's, and Artistcellar is about to debut a new line of Kylie Fowler face stencils, which I can't wait to try.


Sandee Setliff said...

I love what you are doing, the way you make the faces your own is fabulous!

Jill McDowell said...

I just love the idea of rating at lunch. You use your time so well.

Jackie P Neal said...

Your faces are amazing Linda! And what you said about using stencils in face artwork is the reason I never have, But I keep looking at your pieces and you have made these YOURS! And I think, why not pull out the ones I have and give it a try- see, you constantly inspire me ,my friend!
hugs,Jackie xx


Awesome! I especially love the last one!

Kim Collister said...

So glad that you gave stencils a try. You are right, they can be whatever you want them to be, but the do give you a nice starting focal point. Your faces are great and you have inspired me to spend more time playing outside my comfort zone.