Painting & Decorating: Stencil Painting
When it comes to painting, the color choice or combination of colors (“color palette”) has a significant affect on both the appearance and value of a home. This holds true for both interior and exterior painting projects. At the exterior, the color configuration can make a narrow house appear wider or a short, stubby house look taller. On the interior, a light color can make a room appear larger, while a dark color has just the opposite effect.
Beyond color, a little paint and lots of imagination can go a long way in adding pizzazz to a home. Decorative painting techniques such as rag rolling, graining, marbling, and sponge painting can do wonders to add both depth and interest to a space. By the same token, if your idea of art is Rorschach drawings or you were thrown out of art class in kindergarten, you might want to try a simpler, yet equally decorative technique such as stencil painting.
Unlike the other techniques noted, painting with stencils requires less skill, you don’t need to worry about “coloring out of the lines” and the stencil can be used over and over to create a theme, pattern or border. What’s more, your creativity needn’t be limited to the interior of your home. Mailboxes, fences, fountains, flowerpots and trellises can be embellished with flowers, trailing ivy, birds, and butterflies or with whatever your imagination conjures up.
Stencil painting is fun, easy, inexpensive and doesn’t take much time. Here’s how it works. Start by deciding what you want to decorate and the subject or design that you want to use. For example, let’s say that you want to add a rose and some trailing ivy to a mailbox. Find a drawing of a rose and some ivy in a crafts book, art book or magazine. The size of the original art can be increased or decreased using a copy machine. Once you have the desired size, lay a sheet of clear acetate over the art, tape it into place and trace the design onto the acetate using a medium to fine point indelible marker.
Next, remove the acetate, tape it onto a sheet of cardboard and carefully cut the stencil with a utility knife. Don’t be hasty – the quality of your finished product has everything to do with how well your stencil is cut.
Plan stencils with one cutout sheet per color. For example, if your subject is a red rose, you will need one stencil for the red rose petals and one stencil for the green stem and leaves. This will prevent colors that are in close proximity to one another or that overlap from “bleeding” and ensure more professional results. Add registration marks (a small cross) to the corners of each stencil so that the various sheets can be aligned to complete the design. Poke a small hole at the center of each of the registration marks and use a pencil point to transfer these points to the surface being painted. Align subsequent registration marks with these points.
Before painting with a stencil, make sure that the object to be painted is clean and has a base color that will be enhanced by and will enhance the stencil colors. A light color is almost always a safe bet. Unfinished surfaces should be sanded, primed and painted with one to two coats of finish.
Once the finish coat has dried (and before beginning stencil painting) use a pencil to layout your stencil design and/or repeating pattern on the object to be painted. Tape the first color stencil to the object using blue painters tape. The blue painters tape isn’t as sticky and can be easily removed without the threat of taking paint with it.
With the stencil securely in place, dip a stencil brush into the first color, remove the excess paint onto a piece of paper and pounce the brush straight up and down onto the stencil. In contrast to a traditional paintbrush, a stencil brush is round and contains short, dense bristles.
After the first color is complete, carefully remove the first stencil and dry the paint using a hand held hair dryer. Tape the second stencil into place – aligning with the registration marks – and repeat the process using the appropriate color. Repeat the process for the each of the stencils that will complete the subject or design.
Cleaning the stencils and brushes frequently will prevent the paint from smearing and render the most professional results.
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