Self Discovery Series: Finding Yourself

Sometimes the simplest way to self discovery in art is to find the color palette that speaks to you the most. So, now is the time to reflect on what colors truly call out to you by creating your own color warehouse using an excerpt from The Art of Mistakes as your guide. Once your color palette is decided upon, apply these vivid (or maybe even muted?) colors to the pages of an art journal using the Unmask That Paper Doll demo, from Stencil Girl by Mary Beth Shaw, as a reflection of your innermost self.

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Create Your Own Color Warehouse

Colors aren’t just something to fill in with at the end of a project. Color can be the thing that gets you going from the start. A collection of colors is a springboard for inspiration. The bigger the gathering of colors, the more you can play around with new pairings and combinations.

Create a system for collecting and storing colors that excite you.

Color samples really are everywhere:
• paint chips
• magazine clippings
• food packaging
• fabric scraps

The particular format for your color warehouse doesn’t really matter. You could use a journal, a shoe box, a bulletin board, a drawer, etc. It’s all about devising a system for hanging onto inspirations in the form of colors.

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Unmask That Paper Doll

Remember cutting paper dolls? In this project we are going to use them as a painting mask, which is a stencil in reverse. Using a mask is a cool way to create an interesting effect in your work. From scrapbook pages to journals to paintings, basically anything you can cut out can be used as a mask. And keep in mind that you can use both parts of whatever you are cutting. You can cut out the dolls, and then save the scrap and use it in another project.

Stencils and masks aren’t just for paint, you know. We are going to incorporate some other media as well, layering compatibly with acrylics to create additional depth. And finally, we will learn to use limited parts of stencils and evaluate them for their design qualities, not necessarily their overall effect.

Stencils and masks work together like peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and chocolate—depending on your preference. I love them any which way.

What You Need:
canvas panel, 12″ x 12″ (30cm x 30cm)
gel medium
glue brush
collage elements
white gesso
stencils
acrylic paints
paintbrushes
lightweight paper (copy paper)
pencil
scissors
washi tape
spray stencil adhesive
PanPastels
cosmetic sponge
foam brushes
acrylic sealer (such as Pam Carriker’s Mixed Media Adhesive)
Derwent Inktense pencil
sequin waste (punchinella)

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Step 1: Select random vintage collage text and glue to a canvas panel using gel medium. Apply glue underneath and on top of the collage papers.

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Step 2: Put a layer of white gesso over the whole canvas to make it more cohesive.

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Step 3: Place a stencil on top of the substrate and randomly apply paint, varying the amount.

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Bonus Tip!

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Step 4: Fold a piece of lightweight paper accordion style and make hand-cut paper dolls by drawing an outline of half a person on the folded edge.

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Step 5: Cut around the outline.

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Step 6: When considering what to add next, you might lay out elements on your canvas without adhering them. Play with them like puzzle pieces to see what arrangement looks best.

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Step 7: Adhere elements such as washi tape or additional collage elements, but don’t adhere the paper dolls just yet. Adding little stenciled sections after each collage element helps integrate things and create additional depth.

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Step 8: Spray stencil adhesive on the paper dolls and then position them on the painting. Apply acrylic paint over the paper dolls, using them as a reverse stencil.

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Step 9: Using a cosmetic sponge, dab pastels around the paper dolls. Smudge the pastels in other areas of the painting to create a cohesive effect.

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Step 10: Dab a layer of acrylic sealer over the top of the pastel areas to seal it and prevent it from smudging.

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Step 11: Gently lift the paper doll mask from the piece. If you have trouble getting the first edge, use the tip of your scissors to lift the first bit. Save the painted paper dolls for use in another project.

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Step 12: Add another stencil on top of your painting. Paint over the stencil using fluid acrylics and a foam brush. Note that only a portion of this stencil is used, just to create an archway.

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Step 13: Remove the stencil. Flip it upside down and add the stencil in a different part of your painting.

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Step 14: Remove the stencil. Add layers of paint as desired using your fingers or a brush.

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Step 15: Add some collage elements to your piece, including the silhouette of a person. Position the image so it replaces one of the negative spaces left by the dolls. I used an image of myself as a child for this.

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Step 16: Add more painting around the piece as you see fit, including details to the paper doll girls to enhance their differences, such as painting them different colors or framing areas around them. Using an Inktense pencil, outline the girls.

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Step 17: Add some stenciling around the borders if you like using punchinella.

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Step 18: Add any final touches.

For more great art demonstrations check out:
Stencil Girl The Art of Mistakes

About the Authors:
Melanie Rothschild is a self-taught artist whose elaborate interior accessories have been sold in stores throughout the United States including Neiman-Marcus, the shops at the Smithsonian Institution, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and hundreds of others for almost two decades. Her work is shown in fine art galleries and has been licensed to Target. She considers moxie, an irreverent nature, and a respect for mistake-making to be the tools of her trade. Melanie has a master’s degree in the Study of Creativity and an undergrad degree in Anthropology. She is from and lives in Los Angeles. “Like” Melanie on Facebook today!

Mary Beth Shaw uses stencils on anything and everything; if it will hold still, she will stencil it. Mary Beth’s spontaneous process utilizes pastel, ink, marker and acrylics layered with various collage, texture and three-dimensional materials. Mary Beth is author of Flavor for Mixed Media and Stencil Girl, a columnist for Somerset Studio magazine and the owner of StencilGirl Products. She is the host of two mixed media instructional videos, Stencil Girl Mixed Media Sampler Journal and Stencil Girl Mixed Media Wall Hanging. Mary Beth lives in Wildwood, Missouri with her husband and three cats and is passionate about every moment of life.

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