Tuesday, December 12, 2023


 I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the December 12 issue of StencilGirl Talk.  That post comes from a very gifted artist, Jane Bellante, who has made a video that features my 9" x 12" mask Longwood Florals L675   ... which looks like this:

If you have time during these busy December weeks, please check out the December 12 issue of StencilGirl Talk.  That's where you'll find the link to Jane's video. 

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Christmas Cards -- for Place Settings or to Mail

Today's post brings 6" x 6" Christmas cards decked out with quick, easy collages assembled using cut-outs from my stencil- and mask-prints (StencilGirlProducts.com.)  Most of my Christmas cards have a traditional look; a few others go out on a limb, giving traditional Christmas colors a nod, yet veering away from traditional designs to employ abstract imagery.

The white "glow" circles around some of today's candle flames are laser-cut white paper doilies of the type that's available here as well as elsewhere.  The metallic stickers (stripes, stars, snowflakes, etc.) are from PaperWishes.com.

Above:  I printed this black-and-white background with 6" x 6" Swatton Grid stencil s077. Atop that background I've mounted a small sheet of metallic silver paper multi-printed using 9" x 12" mask L268 TwinshipTopmost is a Christmas tree cut from textured red foil.  The star-like shape at bottom right, s well as the red stripes, are stickers from PaperWishes.com.


Above:  the pillar candle started as glossy black paper.  I sponged metallic green ink over the paper; when it dried, I used metallic red acrylic paint and my 6" x 6" mask Champagne s960 to make a mid-century modern-inspired print. This pillar candle is cut from that 6" x 6" print.

Above:  One of my Artist Trading Card-sized masks included in L769 ATC Mixup Swatton #2 is just the right size for making a print to become a pillar candle like the one above as well as the one below. 

Above: To print the pillar candle, I used 4" x 4" M051 Fern Fronds Silhouette Mini and green acrylic paint.

The next two cards feature pillar candles made from holographic giftwrap paper that I'd printed using 9" x 12" Facets L283.

Making the print for today's final Christmas card, above, I used  L769 ATC Mixup Swatton #2, one of 9 Artist Trading Card-sized stencils and masks that fill this 9" x 12" sheet of sturdy Mylar. I worked with pale gold metallic acrylic paint on a background of glossy black cardstock.

Flames in today's post were freehand-cut, but for anyone seeking  a flame shape already formed in a stencil or mask, Bulbs and Banners S955 is a 6" x 6" mask that has a sideways flame-like shape in its upper right.

6" x 6" fold-over style greeting card blanks are available here and here and possibly elsewhere.

There is a small surcharge for mailing 6" x 6" greeting cards.  Check with your local P.O.

Many thanks for visiting here today! To scroll thru the pages of my stencils and asks at StencilGirlProducts.com, please start here.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Christmas!--More Place-Setting Cards or Gift-Tag Cards or Cards to Mail

My blog post of October 10 featured print-making on wet-strength tissue paper.  That time, rather than use a gel plate to develop the prints, I used my sponge brayer approach. (Details are visible by scrolling down to the post dated October 10.)

One series of papers created that day looked like this:

First using Titanium White acrylic paint to lay down a print with 9" x 12" Mimosa L141; then following that with red acrylic paint and 9" x 12" Longwood Florals Stencil L676, I ended up with several sheets printed the same way.

Upon turning the finished papers upside-down, I saw the possibility of creating abstract versions of Christmas trees for Christmas greeting cards that I make on fold-over card blanks.  Today's 6" x 6" card blanks come from JAMPaper.com, but similar blanks are likewise available elsewhere online.  (I've been ordering card blanks and envelopes all over the internet!)   

Below are my results:

Above:  My abstract version of a Christmas tree still needs dressing up.  Previously I had dressed up another new Christmas card ....

The card face above (having started with the same fold-over card blank) became background for a Christmas tree that I cut from a print made on textured gold giftwrap paper with red acrylic paint and 9" x 12" Winter Berries Stencil L678 After putting down the gluestick, I pulled out my stickers bought online, where many varieties are available, including this and this A scattering of those stickers became the silver snowflakes around the tree.

In both cards above, my goal was of course to imply shapes and images commonly tied to Christmas trees but in abstract versions rather than representational.

Today's next card comes to life because of a laser-cut doily forming a halo around a flame that symbolizes fulfillment of a promise made long ago.

Above:  The best adhesive I've found for use with these delicate doilies is here....Grafix Artist-Tac.  I have a package I bought in 2020 and its adhesive is as good as ever!    This pillar candle was cut from a print made using my 4" x 4" mask Carnival M340I took advantage of the festive look of this print to trim it into a Christmas pillar candle.

The next Christmassy image, initially, hit me by surprise.  At first glance I didn't tie it in with this season at all.  But then the abstract-seeing part of me took over.  I still consider green and red the traditional Christmas colors so this collage fit the bill.  I trimmed it to fix the face of a 6" x 6" blank fold-over card and added shiny metallic stickers.  I printed the red foreground image using a 9" x 12" stencil-and-mask set created by Valerie Sjodin -- Figures Praising L727The background was printed with my 9" x 12" mask Looking Up Through Trees L753I made the heart with a paper punch.

I don't title my cards that I make to serve as place settings, gift-tags or cards to mail, but if I did, this one would have the title Joy!

Above:  My 4" x 4" mask Carnival M340 made another print that to my eye suggests high spirits; with stickers, it became another unique Christmas card embellishment.  Stickers come in nearly endless varieties available online, including thesethese and these.

Above:  Another laser-cut doily forms the glow around a flame symbolizing new life, fulfillment of a promise made long ago.  This pillar candle was cut from a festive print I made using my 6" x 6" mask Champagne s960

A wide variety of laser-cut paper doilies are available on Etsy, so if today's featured link takes you to something sold out, just keep looking on Etsy and you'll find something as beautiful as these shown here.  Likewise, you can find Nativity stickers at Etsy.

Thanks for checking out my blog today! To scroll thru the pages of my stencils and masks at StencilGirlProducts.com, please start here. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Christmas Gift Tags and other Collage Samples

Below:  These stocking-stuffer-sized Christmas gifts were attached to recipients' name labels.  The backs of the name labels were created with stencil- and mask-printed papers that I'd cut into pieces, then reassembled and glued onto a support sheet in crazy-quilt style.  Not shown here are sheets of giftwrap that I created in the same way as these gift tags. 

Christmas gift tags, shown from the back. Not shown are the recipients' names, written on the flip side of the tags.

Oh yes, I've made my share -- or more than my share! -- of collages (usually on stretched canvas) using cut-outs from prints/multi-prints I've developed using stencils and masks from StencilGirlProducts.com.  Most, but not all, are of my own design.  Randon Circles, designed by MaryBeth Shaw, is another favorite that I've used in making some of the multi-prints shown in the collage below.

In the collage above, I've used cut-outs from papers printed with these stencils and masks of my design:

9" x 12" Garden Montage L652

6" x 6" Looking Up Through Trees s793

6" x 6" Garden at Nemours s844

6" x 6" Ski Lift Works s463

For the mixed-media collage below, I started with a background using the subtraction technique described in past posts; for that I used masks in the 6" x 6" series Abstract Composition Backbones 1-4.  In the foreground, I used two cut-outs from a paint-stained mask; on the upper right and in the lower left quadrant: 6" x 6" mask Ornamental Iron Curls s462 . 

Below:  This collage uses mostly prints created with a gel plate, acrylic paints and 6" x 6" Palm Fronds Silhouette s238

Below:  This collage uses mostly papers printed with 9" x 12" mask Clustered Leaves L433The veined purple snippet in the focal area has to be identified as "origin unknown."  It was cut from an old paper; that's all I remember about it!

Above: This mixed media collage uses prints made with several stencils or masks from StencilGirlProducts.com.  These include the beautiful Branches series designed by Trish McKinney, and a 9" x 12" mask I designed, Tangled Pods L344.

Below:  Yet another mixed-media collage, featuring prints made using   9" x 12" masks Clustered Leaves L433 and Loopy Ladders L434.

Below (in a very small collage):  The star of the show was cut from a print made with 6" x 6" mask Ornamental Iron Curls s462 using acrylic paints of bold red against passive gray.  Along the left much of the left border runs a strip cut from a print developed using 9" x 12" Blooming Where Planted L449.

Here are 2 peeks at the room where all of this printing and assembly happens--  

Thanks for stopping here at my blog today!  To scroll thru the pages of my stencils and masks at StencilGirlProducts.com, please start here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

To Honor Ourselves as Artists

Back when I was teaching in-person classes at a local arts center, someone would ask a question along these lines...  "What's the right way to do this?  Is it any good?  Do you like it?  Will anyone like it?"

Fast-forward to today's online art-making groups.  From time to time, those same questions float to the surface.  One group member even posted his first artwork saying,  "This is terrible, isn't it!?"

This stuff makes me wince.  Ouch!  Ouch!  Ouch!

When my in-person class participants would approach a project this way, they would often deflate before my eyes at hearing my response -- "You're the artist.  I can't tell you how to express your own unique voice in the art you're making."

If pressed, I'd say, "Well, what do you think might happen if you try doing something of this...? Or, better yet, is there some other idea -- of your own -- that you can feel gradually showing up?  What's your gut saying?"

Before walking away, I've added, "You're the artist. The final decision is yours.  Nobody else can tell you what you can do to 'improve' your artwork.  If anybody even tries to do that, tell them, 'Go make your own art!' "

My early attempts at art-making were sadly lame -- but the only person who has the right or the ability to make that judgment is sitting here typing this.

An artist must develop his or her own voice thru studying art that holds personal appeal for him or her -- this includes taking classes taught by admired artists and/or reading their books if they've written any and/or watching their videos if they've made any.  Every class I've taken (there have been many) has benefitted me in some way.  

I recommend a mindset of "Take what you need from each class/book/video ... and leave the rest."  And then practice, practice, practice. 

No artist, in my opinion, ever really reaches a point where billboards could proclaim "So-and-so has not only found his/her own starkly fantastic voice but, even better, expresses it in sweet perfection with every artwork made!" 

If art-making ceases to be an evolving challenge, it becomes pointless.

There is always more to learn and explore and experiment with.  I continue to take classes and I've found excellent online instruction.  

I love the challenge of trying something new.  I take for granted that my early attempts in uncharted territory will flop.  So what!?  If I could create a masterpiece at the starting gate, I'd be wasting my time. 

When I determine that something is a "flop," I consider it a learning experience --because that's exactly what it's been.

But what's much more important is the fact that I am the one making that judgement.

There is only one person I need to please with my finished artwork.  Yep, the one who's sitting here typing this.

Not everyone will like my artwork, especially since I've segued away from representational art-making, to devote most of my energy to abstraction.  The majority of people enjoy looking at representational art, not abstraction. That's completely understandable.  My art will "speak" to some people yet to others it will stand mute.

I wince when coming across a neophyte who seems to be seeking validation by trying to make art that pleases other people.  

My ground-floor education was in what was at that time called "commercial art." Its goal was to create graphics to please clients. There's certainly a place for that in this world (or at least there was, before AI was developed.)  

AI may very well take over the field of visual advertising.  (Or has it already?)  

All the more reason, I say, to focus on making art that challenges each of us and brings us joy.  I believe it's a gift to hunger to create something new.

I also believe that at the end of the day, we teach ourselves how to express our own unique voices.  This happens while studying artwork of artists whom we admire -- a pastime that never ends -- and practicing, practicing, practicing.

I believe it's possible to do this even if personal finances mandate a full-time job.  (It is however just about impossible if a live-in self-centered, short-sighted individual dominates the big picture.)

I'm blessed with a wonderful husband who offers positive feedback altho I've never asked for it, nor will I ever. It's his emotional support in all other areas of my life that frees me to find my own voice, then modify it over and over, as I go thru the ever-evolving process of pushing into art-making territory that feels fresh and exciting to me.

During next week's Thanksgiving, let's be thankful that each of us has a unique art-making voice to home in on.  Every individual, in his or her own way, is gifted.  Each of us makes art as an expression of self that nobody else can "improve."  

Black, Red and White/Silver !

 I have high praise for online art-making classes online given by UK artist Sally Hirst!  

Sally encourages a practice that I've always found difficult:  Keeping an art journal for practicing growth in composition and other important areas of art-making.

I managed to take this art journal challenge, and today's post follows me as I move thru the steps I took:

The papers showing black-and-white text are cut from tissue paper that started life as giftwrap tissue.  

Most of the other papers shown in today's post (including the top 3 preparation shots) are cut-outs from prints made on wet-strength tissue paper with acrylic paints and (in no particular order) these masks ....

6" x 6" mask Sassy Spray s465

9" x 12" mask Palm Fronds Silhouette Large L791

9" x 12" mask Prayer Flags L371

9" x 12" Winter Berries Stencil L678 

9" x 12" mask Facets L283

9" x 12" mask Clustered Leaves L433

9" x 12" stencil Mimosa L141

6" x 6" mask Pavilion Shadows s463

6" x 6" Abstract Composition Backbones Mask 2 s865

Many thanks for your interest today! To scroll thru the pages of my stencils and masks at StencilGirlProducts.com, please start here.

Saturday, November 11, 2023


 The 3-day sale is over. and life goes on...

Part of my October 10 post looked like this:

I chose my sponge brayer approach* in making prints on wet-strength tissue paper.

Below are a couple of those prints.  The top one was made with 9" x 12" Fire Cherries L879 ....

...and the bottom print was made using 9" x 12" Garden Montage L652 

What happened next?  I started auditioning these prints and/or parts of them onto a prepared background...

After making my final selections, I adhered them to the background with matte gel medium.  Next, I 
used zinc white acrylic paint to paint out areas of what eventually became background for a duck shape.

The final piece looks like this:

The finished piece has been given subtle changes.  Will this stretched canvas always have this duck shape as the star of the show?  I haven't decided.  More changes may be in its future!

However, by playing with Photoshop, I've found an image that better pleases my eye.  It's simply a cropped version of the "finished" (unfinished?) mixed media collage shown above....

*My sponge brayer approach is simple and it saves my wrists and hands; they suffer if I indulge in too much sponge-pouncing to make prints with my masks and stencils.  My steps are below: 

I squeeze out heavy-body acrylic paint (shown at the top of the photo above); then I load the sponge brayer by rolling it repeatedly over the acrylic paint.  Often I add more paint as I go, since the sponge soaks up a lot of it while getting the outer layer loaded.

Above:  A sponge brayer being loaded with heavy-body acrylic paint.  This old photo shows my using a disposable foam plate. Now, I use a tablet of pallet paper.

After loading the brayer with paint, I place a stencil or mask atop a substrate, secure it with masking tape, and roll the brayer across the top.  See below:

Thank you for checking out my blog today! To scroll thru the pages of my masks and stencils at StencilGirlProducts.com, please start here.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Reprint -- Thanksgiving Turkey!

Today's focus starts with a gizmo that make stencil- and mask-printing go faster than a New York minute!

My gizmo was sold by Art-C but I can't locate any currently available battery-powered brushes marketed by that company. 

However, battery-operated cosmetic brushes can work just as well, despite offering fewer choices in brush heads with bristles.  One is here and a similar one is here.  (Others are available but I picked two of the lowest in price.)

Mine is still running on its original batteries installed years ago!

There's no need to apply a lot of pressure when making prints; the spinning bristles do all the work.

Above:  the orange-tinted brush head is a sponge.  The other two brush heads have soft bristles.  For me, both heads work equally well.

Above:  I made the top left print with my new 6" x 6" mask Chandelier s971, and the lower right print with my new 6" x 6" mask Diatom s972.

It's normally my practice to use heavy body acrylic paint with masks and stencils, since heavy body paints are helpful in reducing "run-under" areas of excess paint that detract from a sharp print with crisp lines.   

But because I chose this battery-powered gizmo today, it was easy to use regular liquid acrylic paint.  The motion of the gizmo's rotating brush heads provides coverage without allowing any excess paint to "run under" the solid areas of a mask or stencil.

Now for the Thanksgiving turkey!

The black-and-white prints shown above have met my scissors.  The cuts are shown below in red:


I made a very quick job of coloring white areas using color pencils.  Then came the gluestick.  The result --

Tomorrow's post spotlights a different approach to using my new 6" x 6" mask Chandelier s971 and 6" x 6" mask Diatom s972.

Thank you for visiting here today! To scroll thru the pages of my masks and stencils at StencilGirlProducts.com, please start here.

Thinking about storage for 6" x 6" masks and stencils? You may want to take a look here.