Covering stencils

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A stencil protects what is underneath from paint or provides an area to paint while protecting the surrounding paper. Stencils provide a quick way to achieve a look. And who couldn't use some extra time today?

Anything can function as a stencil: hardware, coins, paper cut or torn into shapes, mesh, doilies. Figure 4-7 in the earlier "Spraying your art out" section was painted by resting lace on the paper and spraying paint over it. The lace served as a stencil. You can make your own stencils out of paper or anything else you have on hand.

Stenciling is fairly straightforward:

1. Position your stencil(s) on the paper.

You may be laying raggedly torn strips of paper to outline tree shapes or putting a penny where you want a circle to appear.

2. Mix up paint and water in your spray bottles.

The earlier "Spraying your art out" section gives mixing tips.

Often spraying is the preferred method with stenciling, but you can use a brush or a sponge as well.

4. Let the paint dry before removing the stencil.

Stamping is a method of creating or finding an item that becomes a paint carrier that can re-create an image multiple times. You know what a rubber stamp is. Same idea. However, rubber stamps are designed and copyrighted by someone else, and you're interested in creating original fine art. Stamping is a time-saving device that can produce a random, loose look.

Follow these steps for a cheap, easy way to make your own stamp:

1. Get a piece of mat board or illustration board about 2 inches square.

Your neighborhood frame shop can give you a handful of scraps of mat board for free. Quarter-inch thick foam core board or illustration board also works.

The board needs to have a smooth surface, so corrugated cardboard isn't good, and it's also highly acidic.

2. Use a cutting tool like a razor blade or utility knife to cut in your design.

You can create a stamp to produce realistic grass in a matter of seconds. The line you cut is the line that stamps, but it will be backwards. So if you cut a line that curves right on the stamp, it will curve left on your paper.

3. Attach a tape handle to the back of the board.

To create the handle, fold a piece of tape in half short-wise and sticky sides together, leaving both ends free to attach to the back of your board.

4. Mix some puddles of paint in your palette.

5. Dip your stamp in the paint and press it on your paper.

You can stamp numerous times to repeat a pattern if that's what you're aiming for.

If the edge of the square stamps into the paper, try bending the corners upward to prevent them from touching the paper.

Figure 4-12 shows some grass and the stamp I used to make it. You can do the same by scribing a few lines in a stamp to represent grass and repeating the pattern. To add some fence posts in the grass, use the edge of a piece of foam core to apply paint; for wider posts, drag the paint to the desired width.

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