Art journal with me: Using stencils and masks in your art journal

Join me at the art table as I show you how to paint a beautifully layered art journal spread using stencils and masks.

Using stencils and masks in art journaling

Grab your art journal, pull out some of your favorite paints and mark making tools, gather together some stencils and masks from your stash, and let’s paint!

I’m painting in my handmade mixed media art journal, which is filled with a mix of starter pages that have some collage, stencils, and marks on them, and some plain pages where I can give my thoughts free reign.

Watch the process: Using stencils and masks in your art journal

Tips and tricks for using stencils and masks

I know not everyone has a huge stash of stencils and masks lying around. When I first started art journaling, that was certainly the case for me. I built up very modest collection of stencils and a handful of masks over the course of a few years, but I did also find a few nifty ways to DIY my own masks.

Stenciling can also be tricky, especially the first couple of times. So I’m sharing a few of my tips for how you can get crisp lines below.

How to make your own stencils

Don’t have too many stencils? Make your own! All you need are an X-acto knife or a very sharp paper cutter, and cardboard or a clear transparency sheet. Draw or trace a design and carefully cut out your traced stencil pattern. If you cut carefully and retain the shape of the cut-out perfectly, you also have a mask for your stencil!

Here’s another tip: Do you see the dots on my art journal page? I cut a small rectangle out of a clear transparency sheet and used a single hole punch to punch some holes into it! Easy peasy!


How do you get crisp lines when stenciling?

The key is to use very little paint. When you load paint onto your brush, tap it on a scrap piece of paper a few times to get the excess paint off. Use a pouncing motion to apply the paint through your stencil. And make sure that you’re holding your stencil down firmly on the page.

If you “mess” it up, though, no worries at all! You can either let the entire stencil pattern go by immediately painting over it or use a toothpick to carefully lift up the excess paint. Or you can just let it be an interesting mark that peeks through the layers!

I often cover up parts of my stencils, as you will see me do in the video above, so I rarely stress about getting crisp lines.

What kind of brush do you use for stenciling?

For the best results, use a stencil brush or foam. I like using cheap makeup sponges for this.

How to make your own masks

Making your own DIY masks is very simple. All you really need is plain copy paper and a printer. Find some clipart images that are meaningful to you, print them out, and cut them up. Ta-da – you have your very own homemade mask! But a paper mask can be very flimsy. You have two options – switch out your printer paper for cardstock, which will make it slightly more durable. Or paint over your mask with some matte or gloss medium or even some clear gesso — or in a pinch white gesso — to strengthen it.

Art supplies

Acrylic paints in your favorite colors. I used the following:

Pebeo paints: Turquoise blue, Azo pink, Fluorescent pink
Camlin paints: Black

Black color pencil

A range of stencils and a mask that you can use as a focal image. I’ve used a mix of handmade stencils, a Rangers stencil by Tim Holtz, and a texture stencil by memory craft. The mask I used is by Sarah Trummp

Mechanical pencil

Black pen

Your favorite brushes

Note: Most of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you’re an India-based artist, I highly recommend ArtLounge — I get most of my art supplies from them, going to Amazon only for the few brands that they do not stock. Use the coupon code SHINJINIM at checkout to get an 8.5% discount.

I hope you enjoyed this art journaling video, and that it inspires you to pull out some paints and stencils and create in your art journal! I’d love to see what you create – use the hashtag #ArtJournalWithMG or tag me on Instagram so I can show you some love!

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Posted in Art tutorials.

I’m an artist and art educator, podcaster, tarot reader, and writer. I share my discoveries along the path to inspire you to live a more creative, soul-centered life. Receive my love letters for more of my musings on life and creativity. P.S. I love Instagram - join me there?

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