Saturday, August 24, 2013

Do it yourself stencils for face painting

I have to admit it. I'm kind of a do-it-yourself person when it comes to most things. Possibly that came from having frugal parents, who were also do-it-yourselfers. We lived on a farm, and many times you just had to do-it-yourself to get the job done.

Whatever the case, when I looked at stencils as a face painter, I knew I'd love to try them out, but having invested quite a bit lately on equipment and paint, I couldn't invest more (approximately $2.50 or more each) on something I wasn't sure I'd use a lot, especially if they were small pieces of plastic which I could somehow make on my own from materials at hand.

So yesterday I pulled out some Medium Weight Dura-lar overlay film from my college days art supplies and decided to give making my own stencils a go. If you'd like to try it yourself, here are the instructions.

Materials you'll need:
• Self-healing cutting mat
• X-acto knife and blades
• Metal ruler
• Scissors
• Hold punch
• Overlay film (clear) in a heavier weight
• Fine tip permanent marker

First cut your large sheets of overlay film into rectangles of about 3.75 x 3.25 inches using the cutting mat, X-acto knife, and metal ruler. Be careful. Overlay film is slick, yet the X-acto knife tends to stick a little. Scoring it lightly and then going back over it works well. Always keep the non-knife hand well out of the way while cutting. When cutting freehand, cut away from your fingers rather than toward them. That way if you slip, you won't cut yourself. (This is an activity for adults only, since it involves a very sharp knife.) As an artist, I've been using this kind of knife for years, and about six years ago I had just the tip of my finger in the way as I sliced down the edge of a ruler. It was a painful lesson in being more careful and concentrating when using a knife.

Trim the corners with your scissor so they are nicely rounded. This is important, since overlay film corners are sharp, and you don't want to stab anyone you're face painting. Use a hole punch to put a hole in one corner. (Pick the same corner on each rectangle so you can later mount your stencils in a group on a metal ring from the craft store.)

Now you're ready to chose designs for your stencils. I started with something that looked organically reptilian for adding a little pizzaz to dragon skin, monsters, and snakes. Also, since the shapes were uneven, it was easier to hide errors in my first attempts at cutting. Draw your design on your overlay film with the permanent marker. If you don't like to draw, you can find a pattern you like from any visual source and put it under the film to trace.

Using the X-acto knife, score the shape you'd like to cut out. You don't have to go through the overlay the first time. I found it easier to score it and then go back to go through. You're less likely to slip and make a cut you don't want this way. Also, I found that it was easier to hold the knife still and turn the overlay under the blade to make curved cuts. Slow and steady will give you the best results, so take your time.

After you've removed your cutaway pieces, you're pretty much finished. Your stencil should be as usable as any other stencil available by purchase. When using it, experiment with light texture over dark and dark over light to see which colors you prefer. Enjoy!

Face painter alert! Be careful using your new stencils anywhere around a person's eyes. The rounded corners will help, but you should always use caution with any piece of equipment which is used around the eye.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stepping back

I think I enjoy portraits because the human face is so amazing in it's range of expression. Here's my latest project, which I was working on today. While I'm working, I sometimes lose touch with the portrait as a whole, but in order to take this progression photo, I had to step back. I immediately noticed problems, which I'll have to correct tomorrow. Can you see them, too?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The idea binder

I've found that while face painting children, it's helpful to have a binder of designs for them to look at. I have a second binder which I use for myself if I need a reference for some reason. Here are some pages from my binder.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer, slow down!

This summer started with a bang when we went to San Antonio for Kathryn's BMT (Basic Military Training) graduation.
This is us at the Alamo. We had never been there before.
I highly recommend the River Walk. It's beautiful.
Then we had a family reunion in northern Wisconsin.
First we visited Carme and Dale.

Then we drove to the campgrounds and pitched Susan's tent.
(I'm glad she won it, because our old one was squashed during a storm.)

There were 117 relatives at the reunion.
This was the talent show Tuesday night.

Then we had Bible Camp at church. I was on the craft team this year. On the last day they had a blow up water slide, freeze pops, and an epic water balloon battle. (I missed the water balloon battle because I had to go look for something in the building, and that's when they started it.)

I wish the summers didn't go by so quickly!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

If the walls could speak, they'd say, "Paint me!"

Here's what I've been up to. (Another new thing.) I'm doing some decorative painting in a nursery. I'll post pictures when it's entirely finished. (They're putting in new light fixtures, furniture, etc., so it should be beautiful.)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Pencil portrait: finished!

Today I decided that one way or another, I was going to get this portrait finished. Now I can relax tonight.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Anti-grav 0008

I'm a little behind schedule with this one, because we had a graduation and company over the Memorial Day weekend, but life is back to normal now. (More or less.)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Anti-grav 0007

Anti-grav 0006

I didn't want to make my daughter wait for the next one, so I put them together. There will be an immediate post of the next strip.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Anti-grav 0005

This time I did two cartoons at once, but held one back. For a brief time, I was actually ahead of my schedule! (It was an awesome twenty-four hours.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Anti-grav 0004

They let Kathryn call us the day before Mother's Day. I don't think it was a coincidence, but either way, I'm glad they did, because we love hearing from her. Our letters are frequent and large, so she's getting all the news from home. Only a few more weeks and we'll see her!

In the meantime, Anti-grav continues. Our intrepid hero is still struggling with his sister, who has no sympathy for him. (Or maybe she's struggling with him.) Obviously, as they are stuck in the same space-exploring vessel together, it's going to be an interesting ride.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Anti-Grav 0003

We've gotten calls from Kathryn twice now. The second one was quite a surprise, since we didn't think we'd hear from her for weeks. It's probably part of her training to make the calls home erratic. You have to be ready for whatever comes in the military.

As you can see, our hero is finding that his talents don't quite click with his sister's world view (which is more along the lines of stay-out-of-my-stuff-or-I-will-get-you). His sidekick is Allen, a newbie to the strip. I'll be introducing a few other characters here and there. Good things are in store, so follow if you don't want to miss any. : )

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Where I'll be this summer

Yes, instead of enjoying the sunshine and chasing chickens out of my hastas (unsuccessfully), I will be teaching acrylic painting to kids at the local Michaels. I'm excited about it, because usually art class ends with school, but this year it's going to continue all summer. Quite frankly, I'm giddy at the thought of someone paying me to have fun painting with kids. What could be more fun? There is a certainty that at no point during the summer will I wake up and say, "Gee, I could have been an accountant." Nope. I'd rather be painting.

: )

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Anti-Grav 0002

I'm finding it a little hard to keep cartoons coming at the rate that my letters to Kathryn are ready. I'm getting about two out each week, and fortunately other family members are sending her letters, too, so maybe she won't feel the gaps so much. (My letters are composites of several days running, because that's how long it takes me to get the time to do cartoons.) The cartoons aren't exactly professional level, not having done frequent cartooning over the past years, but at least they get the idea across. Just like any art (and probably anything else), you have to do it for hours daily to become good at it.


: )

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Anti-Grav 0001: Cartoons for Kathryn

Kathryn left for basic training last week (Air Force), so I'm sending her cartoons in my letters. I'll share them here, too. : )

Please forgive me if my posts are shorter. Kathryn's letters are pages long, and I think I'm emptying my word quota on her.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Getting together with an old friend

Right before Easter break I asked my older students what they would like to do for the rest of the year. We'd tried many new things this year, besides revisited some old favorites, and although they seemed to enjoy each project, I just wanted to know their preference. It turns out that the general consensus was that they wanted to paint. Since we've done some watercolor and acrylic in the past, I suggested gouache.

I don't know if you've ever tried gouache, but it's a great medium to use. It is like watercolor, but opaque instead of translucent. I became acquainted with gouache in college, where I slowly built up my Winsor & Newton collection of tubes, not having tons of ready cash. For some reason, possibly because I became enamored with pen and ink for awhile, I quit painting with gouache around that time.

I thought I'd share a sample that I got ready for my class this week. (We'll be doing a little from Rod Lawrence's book to get comfortable with gouache before we strike out on our own projects.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Wire sculpture

You have to understand that, primarily, I'm not a 3D kind of person when it comes to art. This isn't to say I don't enjoy 3D art. It just means that I don't do much of it myself, preferring to paint or draw. So wire sculpture, which I had never done before, was entirely new. But still, I thought, how hard could it possible be? Well...

The first thing I figured out is that most of my class took to wire sculpture quicker than I did. They had a blast, and one of the classes is going to do it again next week, although we're going to bring in some corrugated card board shapes as an extra element. I can't wait to see what happens.

Personal first try: butterfly on a stick (in Green Bay colors). I don't think it would be a good idea to remove it, so don't ask me to.

Dolphin jumping above ocean (sun not visible yet) in progress. 
The rare, pink one-legged songbird. My husband thought it was a chicken, but I let him know pretty quick that it was a normal bird, thank you very much.
Tree in progress.
I thought this was clever. One student made a dark thunder cloud with a tornado below it. The wind is blowing, the lightning is lightninging (is that a word?) and the birds are caught in the vortex. Drama with wire. He was totally satisfied with this hanging sculpture.

I'll try to get the rest of the photos up later so you can see the other student efforts. Who knew wire could be so much fun?

Oh, and a final tip. Don't sit on your sculpture when you're done. We found that one out the hard way.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Half-portrait project

The kids loved this project. My goal was to give them some practice in mirror imaging, observation, and working with pastels. The second class isn't quite finished with their projects, but I'm including them to show their progress.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In honor of a snow day

I forgot to post the winter pictures by the class a couple of weeks ago. We were working with gradients of color to show depth in our pictures. Very fun.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Funky fish art project

We had a great time during art class this week. I love art that doubles as funny or fun.