Repeat Made Easy: Learn to Paint with Hand-Crafted Stencils!

Stencils are a valuable tool for when you want to easily replicate something by hand. Just lay it down, paint in the spaces, and ta-da! You’re done. You can buy stencils in a store, but why not make your own? It’s easy to do.

Learn how to create and produce a painting with stencils!

Painting detail with stencil

Tools for making a stencil

Stencil tools

To create a stencil, we’ll need a couple of tools. The first is thick, heavy-weight paper. It’s best for this task because don’t want thin paper that might tear. The second tool we’ll need is an X-Acto knife. With this, we’ll cut out all of the little details in our stencil. I also applied matte medium to my paper before drawing on it. You don’t have to prepare the paper (with gesso, for instance) like this, but it helps give your paper more rigidity, which is ideal in a stencil.

Cut it out!

Cutting stencils out - progress Stencils cut out

Now that you have your paper ready and X-Acto knife, draw your design. I made the outline of bunches of flowers using a fine-tipped pen. But, feel free to use a pencil, too. After I was satisfied with my drawing, I began to cut out the shapes. Once I finished that, I cut out five separate stencils I’ll use for my painting with a pair of scissors.

Cutting around stencils with scissors

Tip: Focus on shapes when construct your stencil. How will different shapes look when placed together? How can a bunch of smaller shapes build one, larger form?

Remember, any areas that you cut will become negative space. That means when you paint over them, those shapes will show. And, if you choose to flip your stencils over (from the side you originally drew on), the image will be reversed!

Stencils ready to go

Applying your stencil

I made my stencils flower-centric because I painted a landscape scene with acrylic paint. After dealing with the cold winter temperatures, I’m fantasizing about fields of flowers! So, my small set of stencils feature blooms in different shapes and sizes.

Painting in stencils

Now, here’s the fun part. I selected a few different hues of acrylic paint and laid my stencil on top of my painting. Using a set of small brushes, I painted in the negative space. Be sure not to shift your stencil while you’re painting –  you could use tape to secure it if you’re worried about it moving.

You can see that I have within one stencil, I have a different colors. This is more than alright. I had three separate brushes to make the process easier.

brushes used in painting

Make sure you use a brush size that fits your stencil. That way, you won’t accidentally paint outside of it.

Paint in stencils

Once you’ve painted all the areas of your stencil, lift it up and see your design. How easy was that? In a short period of time, you’ve got something that you can replicate over and over again. It’s perfect for paintings where you have the same repeating elements — like my field of flowers.

Detail painting

Can you imagine having to paint each one by hand? With my stencils, I can make large groups with relative ease. And, best of all, I can angle the stencils different ways to keep the painting visually exciting. There’s a lot of freedom with this simple tool.

Finished painting

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One Response to “Repeat Made Easy: Learn to Paint with Hand-Crafted Stencils!”
  1. MARY LU

    This gives me ideas to create what I have on hand, paint, card stock, etc. I watched the stamping ideas which are really neat but can’t afford stamps and ink. Retired, limited income, I am looking for cards and I do have a printer that I can use for some things. I need to look for basic art supplies. Thank you.