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StencilGirl: Making Your Stencils Your Own

Hi everyone, my December installment of "Gwen's Gems" is up on StencilGirl Talk! This month I'm showing a few different ways that I take my stencils and use just parts of the design to really make them my own. I'm featuring some ways to use my Ornamental Peacock stencil for this one!

Truth Stenciled Mixed-Media Portrait - Gwen LafleurMake sure to head over to StencilGirl Talk to see more details from the finished piece, as well as a quick tutorial on how I started building her headdress.

Also, just a reminder that if you haven't yet checked out Creative JumpStart 2016, now's the time! The coupon has expired, but you can still save $5 on registration through the end of the year! There's a lot of fabulous inspiration planned, and this year it's all downloadable. I hope I'll see you there!


Video Tutorial - 4 Ways to Use My New Stencils

4 Ways to Use Masks in Your Artwork - Gwen Lafleur

In various classes I've taught (and taken!) as well as recently following the release of my first batch of stencils (which is actually mostly masks!) I frequently get asked, "what's the difference between a stencil and a mask?" Which is also usually accompanied by the question, "how do I use a mask?" So by request, I've put together a 12-minute video that goes over the basics of stencils vs. masks, and also gives you demonstrations and samples of four ways you can use masks in your artwork.


Here are some of the samples from my video demo:

Method one - treat it like a stencil and just apply your medium over top and around the mask. Followed by method two, two-step stenciling - use both the stencil and mask parts that come together when you buy it. I used my Ornamental Compass Mask for this sample.

Ways to Use a Mask - Methods 1 and 2 Demo SampleHere's a sample spread from my art journal where I've used this mask the same way - just treated it like a stencil, basically!

Peace Art Journal Page Cropped - Gwen LafleurFor more ideas with two-step stenciling, check back here on Monday ;)

Method number three was to mask a patterned background and paint around it, giving you a "window" to the pattern beneath. This is one of my favorite things to do with a mask. This was done using my Ornamental Peacock mask.

Mask a Patterned Background Demo Sample - Gwen LafleurThe final method I shared in this video was to use masks with reduction stenciling; use a baby wipe while the paint is still wet to remove the paint around the mask for a cool and subtle look.

Reduction Stenciling with Masks - Gwen LafleurI hope this was helpful and maybe even a little bit fun! If you haven't already seen them, you can see and purchase all of my stencils at StencilGirl Products, or your local store.

If you enjoyed this, I bet you'll like Creative JumpStart even more! (How was that for a segue?) Just another reminder that the introductory pricing is only good through December 31st. Make sure you check it out! Here's a little infographic that breaks down all the awesomeness for you.

CJS2016InfoGraphicIf you haven't already signed up and you're even just slightly tempted, make sure you head over and check it out today!



Carve December Part 1

Last year, Julie Fei-Fan Balzer hosted Carve December on Instagram - where you carve a new stamp every day in December. I really loved seeing what everyone was doing and wanted to participate, but I just couldn't do it at that point. I crossed my fingers that it would happen again this year, and it did! This time I was all ready with plenty of rubber, and some fun new carving tools as well!

Here are the stamps I've carved so far this month... I'm actually pretty impressed that I've only missed one day!

Carve December 1 - Gwen Lafleur

Carve December 2 - Gwen Lafleur

This one is one of my favorites... I love birds, and cardinals in particular as they remind me of family, Christmas, and home.

Carve December 3 - Gwen Lafleur

The next two have specific inspiration... the one on the left is inspired by an old Asian traditional pattern I found on, and the one on the right is inspired by some cool kitchen tile I saw online.

Carve December 4-5 - Gwen Lafleur

This one was inspired by a line from "O Little Town of Bethlehem" that was quoted in a Christmas Devotional that I watched that evening. "Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light..." I knew I had to do something about light and Christmas, so there you go!

Carve December 6 - Gwen Lafleur

Next up, this is inspired by a very cool iron window grate on the building across the street from my office. The grate just stacks the pattern like the top of my sample card, but I also really like it turned around.

Carve December 7 - Gwen Lafleur

This one was inspired by a gorgeous piece of architectural scrap I found online that I couldn't justify buying. This is the next best thing, right? I really just liked the pattern anyway. This is close enough for me :)

Carve December 8 - Gwen Lafleur

Just a random quarter-repeat pattern... I always love these.

Carve December 9 - Gwen Lafleur

The next one came from my vow to try something quick and simple. It was originally inspired by a Maltese cross but I kind of screwed it up resulting in these funky spikes. I asked on Instagram and Facebook  if I should carve out the spikes, but the consensus was to keep them. I'm thinking I will, and if I really want one sans spikes, I can carve a new one!

Carve December 10 - Gwen Lafleur

This one was inspired by some cool vintage metal findings I saw online that I really liked... fairly simple, but I loved the result!

Carve December 11 - Gwen Lafleur

Another one initially inspired by a vintage finding (but didn't look much like it in the end!) It wasn't intended to make a pattern, but I think I'll probably mostly use it this way.

Carve December 13 - Gwen Lafleur

Next up, I've been using the lotus image fairly frequently, so I thought I needed a stamp! I love this one...

Carve December 14 - Gwen Lafleur

And finally, the last stamp of this first batch - very heavily inspired by the gorgeous illustrations in Lost Ocean - a beautiful adult coloring book I just picked up. I really love jellyfish (in tanks - not while I'm in the ocean!) and this is a motif I use from time to time, so it had to happen.

Carve December 15 - Gwen Lafleur

That's it for the stamps! Since I've gotten so many questions on Instagram and Facebook about the tools that you see in my pictures, as well as the rubber I'm using, I thought I'd just put that here as well.

I started with Speedball carving tools and Speedy Carve rubber, and I do still use those from time to time. Nothing wrong with any of them, but not long after I started carving, I wanted some tools that were a bit different - smaller blades, different shaped tips... I ran across this Flexcut Relief Printmaking Carving set and picked that up.

Flexcut Relief Printmaking Carver Set

I really liked that a lot, and then when I experimented with different types of rubber and used Moo Carve for the first time with these tools, I really fell in love with them. Of course, then I wanted to expand a bit, and I found this Flexcut Micro-Palm Set. They're not cheap, and they're actually intended for wood carving, but I thought I'd give it a try.

Flexcut Micro-Palm Set

I absolutely love these... you need a strop to keep them sharpened (I use the one that came with my printmaking set.) They're sharp, so you need to be careful. I've developed a preference for Moo Carve, and I think they work best with that, although they do work fine on Speedy Carve as well. I just feel like that rubber pushes back at me a bit. A lot of people really dislike Moo Carve because it's crumbly. I like it for that reason - I think it's easy to get details, and the rubber is unforgiving - one stray cut and you can ruin your design, but it doesn't fight me the same way. I still use both, but I just thought I'd share since I get lots of questions about it.


Just a quick reminder... if you haven't yet checked out Creative JumpStart 2016, what are you waiting for? The introductory coupon has expired, but you still get $5 off registration through the end of the year. I hope to see you there!


A Mixed Media Project with Art-C Mini Pallets

Not too long ago I got a chance to work with The Groove Tool by Art-C (Momenta) for a blog hop with StencilGirl. That was tons of fun, so I was super flattered and excited when Art-C contacted me and asked me to do a project and a tutorial with more Art-C products. This time, they sent me some of their mini wood pallets and paints as well as some of their embellishment packs. I've always loved the crafts I've seen online using pallets, so I was super intrigued and excited by the idea of having mini craft pallets.

Without further ado, here's the project I created:

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project by Gwen LafleurI have to say, this was so much fun for me to make... I got so caught up in playing that I literally couldn't stop! If you'd like to get a few mini pallets and try something similar at home, here's an overview of how I put this together.

First, I knew I wanted to stack my two of the pallets together, so I picked them out and put down a base color with the Art-C Chestnut gel stain. I just rubbed it in with a paper towel; I love how it brought out the texture in the wood. I used a Q-tip to make sure I could get into the tight areas.

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project Step 1 by Gwen LafleurI also added the stain to a wooden frame from an embellishment pack. Then I used some of the Art-C gold metallic paint to add a slightly distressed effect to the wood and a paper butterfly embellishment.

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project Step 2 by Gwen LafleurFollowing that, I went through and used some Art-C white chalk paint for another layer of light distressing. Then I took the same paint and some of their fun stick-on stencil packs to start putting down the background where I was going to build up my layers. I love letters and numbers as a design element, so I picked out some numbers and randomly placed them in a few areas of the background.

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project Step 3 by Gwen LafleurNext, I started building up my layers with papers and embellishments from the collage packs. I laid them out on the desk to audition, then once I had the ones I wanted I used the Art-C Chestnut gel stain and the gold paint and distressed the edges of each piece. I added in a strip of embroidered ribbon and a few jewels and laid it all out to see how it would look.

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project Step 4 by Gwen LafleurI decided it still needed a little something... this was my "a-ha!" moment of the project. I pulled out some Art-C mini glass bottles and sand packs. Then I grabbed the blue Art-C gel stain and stained my white sand blue (put a few drops in a cup, pour in the sand, and stir!) then let it dry a bit and funneled it into my bottles.

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project Step 5 by Gwen LafleurOnce the sand was in, I put the corks firmly back into the bottles and used a hat pin to poke a hole in the center of each cork. Then I took two blue paper roses out of my stash and pushed the wire stems through the holes.

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project Step 6 by Gwen LafleurI used the Art-C gold metallic paint and blue gel stain to add some final distressing to the flower petals, the pallets, and a few other little touch-ups. Then I used some strong glue to adhere the bottles to the 3x5 pallet. I wrapped the gold ribbon around and glued that in place, then glued everything together and let it set overnight. And voila! A finished mixed media piece made with Art-C wooden craft pallets that will be perfect to hang on the wall.

Here are a few more details of the finished project:

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project close-up 3 by Gwen Lafleur

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project close-up 2 by Gwen Lafleur

Mixed Media Art-C Pallet Project close-up 1 by Gwen LafleurIf you'd like to get some of these pallets and paints / stains for yourself, they're currently sold at Michael's, or you can contact Art-C directly and they'll hook you up. I hope you enjoyed today's project! Make sure to visit and like Art-C Mixed Media Products on Facebook for more ideas and inspiration.


Creative JumpStart 2016!

I'm super excited to announce that I'll be participating as an artist in Creative JumpStart (CJS) 2016, run for the 5th time by Nathalie Kalbach. If you're not familiar with CJS, it's a one-of-a-kind online event to kick your creativity into high gear in January 2016. 


You'll learn techniques, discover new materials, and connect with artists and crafters. 

If you sign up, throughout January you'll get 25 downloadable videos from 24 featured artists. I'm proud to be one of those artists, called “JumpStarters.” See for yourself:

Creative JumpStart 2016 Teaser from Nathalie Kalbach on Vimeo.


Head on over to Nathalie's site to sign up and get more details about the videos and all 24 participating artists. You get 25 downloadable videos and for a limited time, the cost of all this inspiration is just $45 (USD) if you sign up before December 31, 2015 at 11:59 pm (EST)!

But wait – it gets better: just for being one of my blog readers, you’ll get $5 extra off when you use this coupon code during checkout: cjs2016 (Please note: This is a limited offer valid from 10:00 am Dec 4, 2015 to 11:59 pm EST on Dec 11, 2015.)

So what are you waiting for? Click over to Nathalie's site, sign up , apply the coupon code during check out process, and get ready for a month of inspiration to kick off the new year!

December 2015 StencilClub

Hi everyone, today is StencilClub inspiration day over on the StencilGirl blog! I've got two art journaling spreads using this month's fabulous stencils - another release from Mary Beth's Private Collection.

To start, I used them for one of my Inspiration Wednesday challenges:

Dec2015 StencilClub - Art Journal Page 1a - Gwen LafleurYou can see the other side over on the group post.

I also did another art journaling spread in my junque journal:

Dec2015 StencilClub - Art Journal 2 - Gwen LafleurIt's hard to tell from the photo above, but the numbers have a dimensional, glossy finish. If you're interested, here's a quick little tutorial so you can see how I made them.

First, I used the 4x4 stencil with bronze metallic paint all over a sheet of vellum finish mixed media paper.

Dec2015 StencilClub - Number Embellishments 1 - Gwen LafleurNext, I used the 6x6 numbers stencil and black paint:

Dec2015 StencilClub - Number Embellishments 2 - Gwen LafleurOnce that was dry, I used my Dina Wakley Media paints with fine liner tips to outline the numbers. I tried a few different colors since I wasn't totally sure what I wanted to use.

Dec2015 StencilClub - Number Embellishments 3 - Gwen LafleurOnce all of the paint was dry, I used JudiKins Diamond Glaze and covered the numbers and let it dry overnight. This gives you a hard, clear, raised and glossy finish. When that was dry, I cut out the numbers - some in strips, some individual.

Dec2015 StencilClub - Number Embellishments 4 - Gwen LafleurIt's really hard to get a picture of the dimension since it's clear, but here you can kind of get a sense of it. Anyway, I hope you're feeling inspired! And if you're not a member of StencilClub yet and you love this month's stencils, sign up by December 15th and you'll get this as your first kit!

Happy stenciling!