A stencil is both the intermediate object used to create a pattern/image and it is also the resulting design created. Stencils can be thin materials such as paper, plastics, wood or metal with a pattern cut out, over which, paint is applied to an underlying object.
This method of creating art has been used widely by the famous artist, Banksy, to create politically motivated satirical wall and street art. His work is known for being subversive epigrams, carrying dark humour with graffiti execution in a unique stencilling technique.
Choose a stencil
Investing in a stencil has its benefits: they are reusable, easy to carry around and can be used on multiple objects/surfaces. You can either buy a stencil online, from a stationary store or get a custom-made stencil from many websites online. <insert example link>
Brush, roller, sponge or spray paint?
This depends entirely on how elaborate your project is. For massive stencilled feature walls, use a dense foam roller to cover big areas quickly. For smaller projects, stencil brushes do extremely well and give you more options like shading and blending. Sponges can be used to create textures that you may not get with a paint brush. Spray paints give you the closest finish to a “Banksy-styled” stencil wall. It’s fun to use and you can create good effects but make sure your room has good ventilation. For this tutorial, we are going to use spray paint.
Prep your wall
Before you start your project, it’s important to prepare your wall. A good foundation goes a long way. Read our article on how to prepare a wall for an art project to make sure everything is in order before you kick-start.
If you’ve ordered or picked up your stencil from anywhere, chances are, it is rolled up. Just place your stencil on the packaging paper and roll it in the opposite direction. Tape it and let the stencil stay rolled in for a day. Repeat the process until you get satisfactory results.
Fixing your stencil
Use small pieces of blue tack decorators tape to firmly stick your stencil in place. To achieve a more stable result you can use a repositionable spray. Spray a light coat on the back of the stencil and stick it in place. A Banksy stencil does not need a perfect finish, so do not worry about getting precise results. A little imperfection will give your work a lot of character.
Mask off surrounding areas
Spend a lot of time and enough attention to this part of the project. Use newspapers and masking tape to cover surrounding areas. Use a dust sheet for floor protection. Make sure all furniture has been moved so you can work freely.
Understand how spray paints work
Use a gas mask at all times when working with spray paints. Do some test sprays on some empty paper to make sure your can is spraying well. If you are new to spray paints, take some time to spray close and far, lightly and heavily to understand the effects you can create.
At right angles, spray over the stencil in small bursts. Remember to never spray too close to the wall or over the same spot for too long. This will cause your paint to drip and over spraying will look messy. You may have to apply a second coat, so repeat the process.
If you have worked with stencils before, you can experiment with different effects. After filling in a coat, you can lightly spray on the edges with a different shade, or dab with a dense, circular, dry paint brush to give a neater, more controlled result.
Take off the stencil
The best part about stencilling is that you do not have to wait for the paint to dry. Carefully remove the surrounding newspapers and then the stencil to reveal your artwork.
Clean your stencil
Soak your stencil in soapy water till the water bubbles and the paint starts coming off easily. Stencils that are thin and delicate can be placed on a flat surface and use a sponge to gently rub off the paint. Acrylics will be slightly more difficult to clean than emulsions. Carefully rub off edges of paint that will not come off with the sponge. Larger stencils can be cleaned in a bath.