Art as therapy

6 June 2014

I should be stitching my dislocation quilt for the Festival of quilts in August. Actually the deadline isn't August- the deadline is 1 July. I have to have my finished quilt delivered by 1 July.

But there is nothing like a deadline to distract you!

So instead of stitching I've been fiddling about with more home-made stencils. Actually there is a reason for this because I have been asked to design some little place settings for a wedding at the beginning of August – the wedding reception is an afternoon tea.

Now I read somewhere, but I cannot remember where, that you can make very good stencil is by using Lutrador.  I have no idea where I read that, or indeed what the technique is, but I found some scraps of this stuff which I think is lutrador when I was unpacking the studio - so I thought "what the heck! let's have a go!"

I cut with a craft knife and then used a white acrylic paint to stiffen the fabric. (Teacups above, a random design below)

In the photograph below are used a teacup stencil and applied to the paint with a sponge, not a cosmetic sponge but a washing up sponge. The paint used was a heavy bodied black acrylic. The results are not very successful.

Here I had another go this time applying fluid acrylic - a fresco finish paint from Paper Artsy – using my favourite flat brush to apply the paint through the stencil. This was a bit more successful.

Elsewhere I had been dabbling with a few commercial stencils in the page of my sketchbook, again using the wonderful fresco finish paints some of which are opaque and some of which are translucent, so you get some wonderful effects.

It's a sketchbook, so things don't have to go to plan! That's okay! Because in this case things didn't go to plan!

That second stencil, which looks so lovely before you apply any paint, just made a bit of a random mess on the page. Again I had applied a heavy bodied acrylic with a sponge. I think these stencils probably work better with a brush and a fluid acrylic.

But it's a sketchbook so you can just trundle along.  So with absolutely no idea where I was heading but venting some of the weeks frustrations from the day job (it's been a bad week!) and using my lovely fresco finish paints, off I set.

I worked until I realised it was almost dark – you can tell from this last photograph that the light had faded.  To be honest, I don't like the page at all. I like some of the techniques, I love the way some of the translucent paints allow you to see what's going on underneath (that's the magic of these paints) but the page? Well it's just a page in the sketchbook.

But as therapy it worked wonders. I went to bed much more relaxed than when I had started the evening and that is why I'm sharing this page with you - not for its artistic quality but for its therapeutic quality. 


  1. Love love love the teacup stencil!! (Well, I just love teacups as well!!) And stenciling and printing can be such fun. Oh yes, and such a distraction! And what's a deadline but a way to motivate you produce all kinds of different work, that has nothing to do with the deadline! Go for it, I say!

  2. Damn it, I thought i had until the 3rd week of July, best crack on then, but I've got a couple of others to do too…..I'm on one long therapy trip with my work haha :) See you soon for tea and a chat xx

  3. I do love your teacup stencil too. I'm sorry you've had a rough week at work but well done for bringing Dr Art out to play. I have always been grateful to creativity for pulling me out of some unhappy places. You've got some great effects to play with and take further in the future.

  4. Isn't playing with art a wonderful way of undoing the harm the day can do. It works for me too.


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