Stencils among my favourite things to work with, whether for painting or printmaking, working flat, blended or atmospheric, or creating impasto effects.
Anybody who's taken one of my classes knows that I love – and encourage – making custom stencils, because they are personal and show the hand of the artist.
But that doesn't mean I don't love a good commercial stencil, because I do! If only my wallet were fatter, so would my collection of bought stencils be (maybe you can relate!).
Good commercial stencils have wonderful, sometimes intricate, designs, are sturdy, and can last indefinitely if cared for. They will also be translucent so you position the design exactly where you want it onto a prepared surface for example.
This blog post isn't about those high quality and at least somewhat expensive stencils though!
Instead I'd like to introduce you to the world of dollar store stencils.
Pictured above are collections I have purchased at Dollarama and at Dollar Tree. I didn't buy all of the sets available, but both places offered a few. (Continued below.)
VIDEO: When I get new stencils, I make reference prints using black ink. I like to use my gel plate so I can pull positive and negative prints, but you can also use a sponge, stomp or stencil brush directly onto paper. Finally I like to try a few simple prints just to get acquainted with the stencils.
The Dollar Tree stencils come one per package, are cleanly and fully punched out, their shapes are good and classic, the plastic is smooth, flexible, transparent but thinner than I'd prefer.
Dollarama's come with four designs per package, which are nicely illustrated on the packaging so you can preview your selection, or to help put them back in the correct package after use. They are less well made than Dollar Tree's (I had to finish punching out a number of the shapes myself), but plastic is thicker and somewhat stiffer, a different kind of plastic that feels more durable. They are also opaque, which makes them less easy to position precisely.
Both are roughly 6" x 6" in size, suitable for small gel plates for example, or used as accents in larger work.
Whatever the drawbacks, the price is hard to beat for someone on a very tight budget, or feeding a stencil habit they need to keep the costs down on! You may also just find the designs useful.
Dollar Tree's are $1 for a single stencil (but always with many variations on an image theme!).
Dollarama's are $1.25 for a 4-pack of various patterns.
If you don't find them at your local store, you may have to try another location. What's available at any given location can vary quite a lot in general I find.
Who doesn't love saving a little money on art or craft supplies? Let me know in the comments if you've tried any of these out. Also what's been your favourite cheap & cheerful art or craft supply?
Prices are in Canadian dollars.
Life in a Pandemic: Anxious Times
Instead of writing more in this second blog post about my installation at the In Situ 2018 festival, (to see part one click here), I will speak to you via the video below, shot and edited by my charming colleague photographer/videographer Nettie Seip, to whom I owe many thanks!
You'll see me on-site in the room during the early stages of installation as I talk about the work and my intentions for it. Then you get to tour through it at night with it fully installed while the festival was in progress.
Please take a look and let me know what you think!
Perhaps after the holidays I will put together some time-lapse video shot over the three nights I spent drawing the Hearts in Place mural in front of the festival audience. I will upload it to my YouTube channel – please click on the link and if you like it, consider subscribing :-)
Video shot and edited by Nettie Seip, www.nettiephotography.com
Whether you have a long-dormant love of model railroads or can't resist dollhouses and their tiny furnishings, you're far from alone in loving miniatures. I grew up with my own dollhouse made of printed steel, but rather jealous of my cousin who had a big table in his basement devoted to his model railroad, set in a landscape he'd made and populated by exquisitely detailed buildings and street scenes.
A couple of years ago in pursuit of materials for some miniature projects (still on the drawing board) I visited, on my friend Fred's recommendation, The Credit Valley Railway Company, a truly amazing place with aisle upon aisle of trains, other vehicles, and buildings of different eras, human figures, street furniture, vegetation – even different kinds of grasses! Investigating those aisles was such an engrossing way to spend a couple of afternoons.
Plenty of artists love miniatures, miniature painting is quite a tradition, particularly in south Asia and Iran to my knowledge, but some artists either create dimensional miniatures or use the kind I drooled over at the store as their raw material.
Sculptor Kim Adams, 2014 winner of a Governor General's Award in Visual Art (click to view his award page), is one such artist whose work I particularly admire. His elaborate installations a few years ago at the Art Gallery of Ontario (click to view a slideshow from that work) were fascinating.
What got me thinking about this topic recently was an article in The Guardian about sculptor/miniature artist Randy Hage who has done a whole series in which he has re-created old New York City storefronts with amazing detail, right down to the litter, the papered-over windows and the inevitable graffiti.
On his site (click to link to it) you can see side-by-side comparison photos of the shot he took of the actual storefront and his 1/12 scale miniature. Beautiful work! Below is a time-lapse as he makes one storefront “Ideal Hosiery”.
Finally there's an epic miniature museum project in Mississauga/Oakville called Our Home & Miniature Land where they are painstakingly re-creating Canada in miniature, starting with Toronto and Hamilton. Click here or on their name to check out their site. The project is not complete yet, though they have had a public open house, but the videos of their progress are amazing! Below are a couple of samples to whet your appetite. I can't wait to see it all in person!
How about you? Are you a miniatures geek whether secretly or proudly? Did you have a dollhouse or model railroad when you were growing up, or make other kinds of models?
If so, please tell me about them in the comments below!
We had an enthusiastic group at Saturday's painting demonstration at Otto Art gallery in Toronto. I showed how I approach painting two series: my 'Aroundeds' and the 'Radiants' series that gave the show its title. I will continue to work on the 'Radiant' demo painting and post photo updates here when ready.
Sandra Otto, the gallerist, shot video of most of the event, which you can watch below in two parts.
As for the 'Arounded' painting, here are progress shots of the drying process so you can see how the painting reveals itself over time as it dries. I will continue to post more until it is pretty much 100% clear.
Please check back for even more updates/photos and links!
And if you found this at all interesting, please give this post a like or a tweet – it helps a lot, thanks!
Last week I gave a talk with a demonstration component to members of the Oshawa Art Association. My main demo was of the process I use to make my 'Arounded' acrylic paintings. A magical part of the process is watching the painting emerge as the paint dries.
At the talk I promised that I would share photos of the drying process because the changes are so dramatic as the gel portion dries, due to the nature of acrylics: when wet, the gel or mediums are milky white; they dry clear (more or less, depending on medium and other factors).
Spots with the very thickest applications can take a considerable time to dry fully. Extremely thick applications done all at once may never truly clarify.
Although there are small remaining gel "peaks" that are not yet clear, this sequence gives you a good look at the drying effects over time.
The Need to Make Things
As a visual artist I like nothing more than getting up to my elbows in paint or little plastic toys, or wading in at the deep end in pursuit of an idea. When I am not teaching others in a similar vein, you can find me researching, writing and noodling around in my studio, seeing where my latest lines of inquiry lead me.
All images and content on this website © Kim-Lee Kho 2005–2018 except as indicated. All rights reserved. No reproduction without express, written permission.