Using Stencils In Your Original Art

A stencil from an ordinary image can be pure joy to paint. Reproducing the image on a surface is very satisfying. But is that all you can do with a stencil? Not at all. Artists of all kinds use stencils as a starting point and go far beyond the expression of the original stencil.

The use of a Marilyn Monroe stencil is an homage to Andy Warhol, whose use of her image inspired varied uses of stencils in pop art.

We take the original stencil and put it through its paces here:

In the first painting on the left, I didn’t even know which layer was which, and as you can see I painted the mid-tone black and the black layer pink. But using pink and orange gave me the idea to do the second rendering, closer to the photographer’s intent but with abstractions in some of the layers. Finally, editorializing with a masked Marilyn at the end pushes this from stencil to contemporary collector’s edition. Right?

Going back to do the whole thing a second time (because I forgot to press start on the video the first time), I started with the (correct) light, dark and mid-tone layers, and then continued to get more abstract with the renderings, eventually adding an ironic tag.

Not sure I would call these an artistic success, but it’s fun to push the stencils a bit and see what happens.