The Wonderful World of Stenciling

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:

Well it looks like it got that garden shed done just in time for some winter storage and you know what? I think I am going to head south to Carrie North Carolina.  Now Toni Coldwell wants to learn how to be an artist and as a matter of fact, so do I.

Can you imagine decorating your home with this beautiful painting?  Seems like that chicken is perched right on top of that frame.  Well believe it or not, most of these are created with stencils.   Now I'm no artist but I've been told even I'll be able to turn out works of art like this.  I'm about to find out as I arrive at the home of Toni Caldwell.
TONI:
Ron, come in -
RON HAZELTON:
Good morning Toni.

TONI:
Come in, welcome, thank you.  Great.  How are you?
RON HAZELTON:
Very nice.  Wow, this is a lovely house.
TONI:
Thank you.
RON HAZELTON:
Very interesting.  This is an octagonal living room over here.
TONI:
Yeah. The man who built this room actually won some awards for it.
RON HAZELTON:
Really, I can see why. Toni has big plans to decorate the walls of her daughter's room. So we've agreed to meet at her house for a lesson.  Our instructor is a friend of mine. An accomplished stencil artist and teacher, Janet Phelps.

Now when I first saw that work in your house, I thought it was all hand painted.  I was amazed to learn that that was stenciling.
JANET:
Well that's the new Tronpe L’oeil

RON HAZELTON:
Janet went on to explain that trompe l'oeil is French for trick of the eye which is the effect we're trying to achieve.  First we pour out dollops of artist acrylic paint. Then Janet shows us the basic brush strokes on regular paper.
JANET:
When you load your brush, you must always wipe it off so that you don't over load your stencil and it runs underneath your stencil. And the first stroke that I'm going to show you, you hold your brush perpendicular and you make just Circle strokes.

And it gives you a very smooth finish.  And then we're going to do the stipple strokes. And that's straight up and down.  This is pretty simple so far, isn't it?
RON HAZELTON:
The secret to the convincing lifelike wall paintings we're about to create are these precisely cut thin plastic stencils.
JANET:
So what I want you to do right now is find overlay one.
RON HAZELTON:
Our paintings will require 3 or 4 stencils or overlays. After being taped in position, paint is applied.  The first stencil is then removed and a second overlay is taped in position using small dots as registration marks. 
JANET:
It's a little pinhole marked with an R.
RON HAZELTON:
After painting, it's replaced with overlay 3 and so on.  Each overlay uses a different paint color.   Plastic stencil sets like these cost between 10 and $200. They can be used not only on walls but also on mirrors, frames and accessories.
Toni:
I feel like I'm creating a masterpiece. I feel like a real artist.
RON HAZELTON:
Toni and I are ready to reveal our paintings. It's almost magical.
TONI:
Ta da.
RON HAZELTON:
Wow. There's just one more detail to add.
JANET:
What I will show you now is putting the shadows in.  And if there's a hard part in stenciling, this is it.  You run down the side of your bucket with your angle brush like this. 
RON HAZELTON:
Shadowing takes a steady hand.  But done right, it really adds dimension to the picture.
JANET:
Very good.

TONI:
I really feel like a pro now.
JANET:
Well I think they look wonderful and I think you're both ready to move on to Alexandra's room.
RON HAZELTON:
Now we head up to Toni's daughter's room to apply our newly learned skills. Toni paints her heart stencil while I start on a goose. At least it will look like a goose when it's finished. Once again we mark our registration points for each of the successive overlays.
TONI:
I'm having the best time.   Oh wow, that's really looking beautiful.
RON HAZELTON:
Janet helps Toni with one last detail.
JANET:
Up here, it's beautiful.  Slowly, easy.  Oh how beautiful.  Magnificent.


RON HAZELTON:
Hey - look at that, huh.
TONI:
Beautiful.
RON HAZELTON:
Even better than the last one I think.
TONI:
It is perfect.
RON HAZELTON:
I paint in some grass and then add shadows to the goose.  Just in time for Toni's daughter, 4 years old Alexandra to add her own touch. We're all very pleased with our creations.
JANET:
Oh it's wonderful.
TONI:
Oh, I am so excited about what we have created here Ron today. It's really fantastic.
RON HAZELTON:
You going to cut loose now and stencil the entire house?

TONI:
I'm ready to stencil the house and the world.

RON HAZELTON:
Thanks so much for having me over.

TONI:
Thank you very much for coming.  It was a great day.

Learn how to stencil a wall; includes details on working with stencils, stippling and shadowing.

An excellent resource for this type of stenciling is  StencilSearch.com.


The name for this kind of stenciling is theorem painting , an early American  decorative technique that dates back to the first half of the 19th century.   The method uses a series of stencils cut in such a way that no two areas immediately next to each other are placed on the same stencil.  The technique uses a sequence of two or more stencils or overlays that are aligned using common reference or index marks.

The idea here is to discover the artist within you, even if you don’t consider yourself as having artistic talent or ability.  I am one of those who does not feel gifted in that way, yet, I must say, I felt very pleased with the results, especially since it was my very first attempt.

Whether you’re an ardent crafter or weekend hobbyist, you’ll discover a world of fresh and exciting artistic possibilities with theorem stencils.