Stenciling Art Journal Pages

Stencils have never really thrilled me; I’ve never believed I knew how to use them. While experimenting this weekend, I discovered what I’d missed–a simple, effective stencil technique that makes great art journal pages or, trimmed down and layered on decorative paper, beautiful cards.

I am a fan of white-on-white or monochrome compositions, so I kept the early design simple:

stencilcurlyWhat you’ll need:

  • Stencil
  • Painter tape (See below)
  • Heavy paper (see below)
  • Palette knife
  • Regular gel (I use Golden’s Satin)
  • Bucket of water
  • Paper towels

1. Use heavy, slightly-sized paper. Print paper (not photocopy paper, but paper you would use for making letterpress or monoprints–at least 100 lbs), hot-press watercolor paper or smooth watercolor cards work well for this.

2. Position the stencil where you want it. Tape it down securely with blue painter tape or, even better, Frog Tape. Test the tape on a piece of paper to see that it doesn’t pull up paper when you remove it.

3. Using a palette knife, spread a thin, even coat of Golden Regular Gel (that’s exactly what it says on the label) across the stencil, working from left to right and top to bottom.

Close up of gel detail

Close up of gel detail

4. As soon as you have an even coat across the entire stencil area, check to make sure there are no gaps or bubbles, then remove the tape and the stencil. Pull the stencil straight up from a corner to avoid smearing.

5. Toss the stencil in a bucket of water until you can clean it. Once the gel sets, it’s hard to scrub off. Allow the card to dry completely before you cut it or trim it.

Once you get tired of the plain gel, you can add interference colors to the gel. (About 1 color to 4 gel). Interference colors give the image a sheen of color at certain angles.

Here are trees so you can’t see the interference in the gel


And here it is tilted so you can see the blue/green shimmer.


Want more choices? Try adding Pearl Ex pigment or gold acrylic paint to the gel.


You can also add silver acrylic paint.


If you want more color, you can use watercolors or pale acrylic to create a color background. But that’s another post!

–Quinn McDonald is glad she has a stash of stencils to play with. There is writing that needs doing on these pages.