Faux Painting, Stenciling, Stenciling Tips
Stenciling is a wonderful way to personalize your work and create unique art to enhance a particular area or architectural feature.
by Melanie Royals
Stenciling “free form” is a wonderful way to personalize your work and create unique art to enhance a particular area or architectural feature. It does present it’s own challenges, however, because you are required to place each element separately in a pleasing, well-designed manner. Here are some tips for doing just that:
Thumbnail sketches: Create quick and simple drawings of the general shape and form you think the stenciling will take shape on the wall. Make a drawing to scale of each wall you are working on on graph paper, including all doors, windows, cabinetry, and major pieces of furniture that will be placed on walls. This is called an “elevation”. Make copies of this so you can easily sketch out a couple of versions of your design.
When working with clients, the thumbnail sketch gives you something that you can present, get approval on, and determine the time involved to quote a price from. Doing this thumbnail will help you to create a design that has balance, harmony, variety, good scale, and movement.
Proofs: I believe that is always VERY important to proof your stencils. Creating proofs of new stencils allows you to become more familiar with how the design plays out with shading, coloration, etc. The first time you stencil a new design it will probably take you 2 to 3 times longer than after you become familiar with it. With free form design, proofs are even more useful because you can use them to actually determine placement of elements and to visually see how elements will relate to each other BEFORE you stencil them in.
Proofs done on a translucent material are even more useful because you can see through to the background, and flip to get the reverse version. Frosted mylar or acetate, works great for this. Vellum or tracing paper works also, but is a little harder to see through.
When free form designing I always try to “work” in the direction of growth. This means I will start from the “source” (many times this is just imagined!) and work out from there. You always want to work from dense to open, from general to specific, laying in the largest masses first.
When working with a Grape Ivy Vine stencil (from the “Taste of Tuscany” article on previous page), I paint in the large areas of vines to establish the “base” of the design, adding smaller individual leaves of groupings last. You can achieve a lot of variety by flipping the stencils, and eliminating or adding leaves. Stenciled architectural features such as trellis or columns can give you a great starting point. In the case of a trellis, you can use that to visually connect the entire design around the room, adding grapes and ivy only in special and specific areas.
Melanie Royals, artist, designer and teacher provides decorative painters around the world with a source for beautiful and sophisticated stencil designers through her company, Royal Design Studio. As founder and instructor for the San Diego School of Decorative Arts, she shares her professional experience, knowledge, signature techniques and love for the art acquired over 14 years of involvement in the decorative painting field. She also teaches at the annual SALI convention as well as at other fine painting institutions around the country. Melanie is currently working on a book for Northlight Publications, titled “Easy Trompe L‘oeil Murals with Stencils”, which is due for a Fall 2000 release.