Gwen's Gems: One Fish, Two Fish Mixed Media Painting - Collage Technique - Stencils and Acrylic paints

Posted by Galy OConnor on

Gwen's Gems: One Fish, Two Fish Mixed Media Painting

Hi everyone. It's Gwen. For this month's project, I'm back focusing on using stencils and acrylic paints to make lots of layers in this mixed media piece. Here's a peek at what the final product looks like:

Are you ready for a little tutorial on this one? Here's an overview of how it all came together along with a few ideas on how you could change it up to make this concept work for you.
First up, I worked on the background. I started with an 11x14 cradled birch panel (3/4" deep) and gesso'd it, then painted the whole thing with a mix of Payne's Gray and Indigo paints. (Obviously, you could use a canvas, put it in your art journal... just about anything!) Once that was dry, I started by stenciling my Ornamental Circle Cluster Screen stencil in bronze. Next I used Nickel Azo Brown and Mars Yellow paints (and of course you can use any paints you have at home) on top to start to add in a little cloudiness to contrast with the sharpness of the stencilled lines.
Once that was dry, I added Mary Beth Shaw's River Rocks Mini Stencil in a few areas with white, then used a baby wipe to fade out the edges so it would blend into the background. I let that dry, then used my Ornamental Floral Screen stencil with gold paint and scrubbed in with some more browns.
With that, the background was done! Time to move onto the focal point. I decided I wanted lots of fish on this one (I have a thing for fish and sea life, which is a bit weird since I can't stand seafood!) You could also go with a single, large focal point, or a few images of varying sizes.
To make my fish, I took Mary Beth's Fossil Fish stencil and a black Stabilo All pencil and just outlined the shape of the fish on a page protector. Next is where you can really make the stencil design your own; instead of using the shape exactly as stenciled, I went in and played with exaggerating the fins and customizing the shape for my project. There's no law that says you have to use your stencils exactly as designed, right?
Once I had the design of the fish the way I wanted it (which is easy to play with since with this pencil on plastic, you can use a drop of water to wipe off lines you don't want,) I cut it out with an x-acto knife and then test stenciled through the resulting hole to make sure it was going to work. Now I've got an entirely new stencil to compliment the Fossil Fish stencil! (Keep in mind that this should only be done for personal use.)
I went ahead and stenciled with my fish on my background using white paint. Let that dry, then put the stencil back in place and go back over each shape with color.
Now it's time to play! I used a white Stabilo All pencil to very lightly mark the areas on each fish where I wanted a different pattern. You could easily just make each fish one pattern, but I decided to go a bit wild (since, you guessed it! I was going to do a lot of covering up later on.) Above you can see what it looked like after I finished this step. Here's a list of all the stencils I used here:
You know? I'm not sure I used enough stencils on this piece... ha!

Next up, I wanted to add some words, so I used the new Make it Count stencil by Seth Apter, along with his Text and Texture Transform stencil and some black paint. Obviously you could skip this step, but I liked the idea of adding a message to the piece by putting words on each of the fish.

Now we're almost there... just details left! I stenciled some small fish in the background using the Aiden's School Stencil (I like the way it gives a sense of depth by adding different sizes.) I scrubbed in some Transparent Brown Iron Oxide paint to start to add shading to the fish, then outlined with my black Stabilo pencil and used a waterbrush to feather it out for deeper shading. Next I outlined the fish with some gold fluid acrylic paint mixed with airbrush medium in a fine line applicator.

Just a few more steps... I added some more details, then I pushed back some of the brightness with one of my dirty glazes (Van Dyke Brown, Micaeous Iron Oxide, Interference Gold, and polymer medium.) I also used some teal and light green glazes to bump up the color here and there.

Finally, I used some gold Liquid Pearls to get just a touch of dimension around each fish, plus I also added some dots with the gold and a few more with a white Posca paint pen. Here's the final product again:
Whew! Lots of steps and stencils, but I love how it came out. Depending on the look you want, you could skip the glazes, the outlining, etc... Mix it up so it works for you!

Naturally, I have a few close-ups...

So that's it for this month! I hope you enjoyed my project and tutorial, and if you get inspired to make one of your own, make sure to come back and link me up!

Until next time, happy stenciling!


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