The Stencil-A Tool for the Ages
This column will explore the variety of ways that stencils, masks and edges have been used throughout the ages, and are still being used creatively today by artists and artisans around the world.
As a guest on Christopher Lowell’s (www.christopherlowell.com) show, Jeff Raum (www.jeffraumstencils.com) described it perfectly. He said, “Stencils are just holes that the artist fills with his creativity”. Whether it is used as a method of transferring a pattern…. an adhesive mask for raised or imbedded in texture…. a shield for gilding… or as an integral part of a painted embellishment or mural… a stencil provides a “window of opportunity” that no other technique can match for efficiency, versatility and simple, elegant beauty. In every sense of the word, stencils give you an edge.
It is a simple concept, unspoiled by progress – a process that has not been lost or destroyed by exclusivity. Yet, even among us, while we enjoy the effects and convenience of using this incredible tool, stenciling is sometimes looked upon as a “lesser” art. Perhaps that’s because it’s a tool that has been used by everyday people for centuries, from the earliest cave art (http://heritage-key.com/world/top-ten-cave-paintings) to urban graffiti.
The art of the people is a powerful thing.
It is intriguing to me that there is a sort of underground movement using stencils in the streets right now with some very interesting and powerful designs being used for decoration and self-expression on sidewalks and buildings all over the world. (http://stencilrevolution.com) This urban art has trickled down into the mainstream into fashion, advertisements, graffiti style murals in more traditional settings…. and some inspired pieces are making their way into galleries, fine art magazines and museums.
Anyone can do it, right? Well, yes. Anyone can get pleasing results with a little practice. That’s part of the beauty of it. Here is a link to basic dry brush stenciling instructions (http://www.madstencilist.com/documents/98basicinstruct.htm Stencils can bring an artistic experience even to one who is not an artist. But not everyone can do it with great finesse. That takes dedication, skillful means and an artful eye.
As a professional or a hobbyist, knowing how to use stencils can add tremendous variety to your work. Some enjoy doing their own thing or using stencils in very simplified ways. Some are inspired to stretch themselves by having a benchmark; a standard by which to measure one’s progress, and recognition for advancing one’s skills to that level. IDAL’s certification program has been in place since SALI’s inception to answer that need. (http://www.decorativeartisans.org/certification.php) In response to changing styles, IDAL initiated a new certification level that is becoming a popular option to the traditional Certified Stenciler certification. It is the Certified Stencil Artisan.
This category has a more relaxed criterion for the composition of the work, while maintaining the stringent code for excellence in the execution. It was my pleasure to become one of the first CSAs along with Lori Wilson in 2007, and I can say that it was not easy. I’m glad that I participated in the program, and hope that others will find it valuable.
I look forward to continuing to explore the variety of effects possible with stencils to share in upcoming issues and in the meantime enjoy your creative pursuits!
© 2010 Sheri Hoeger, CSA
The Mad Stencilist www.madstencilist.com
Big Oak Arts www.bigoakarts.com
Art to Live By www.arttoliveby.com