DIY Stencil Art

Several people have asked me about the black and gold tree painting I hung in the DTLA Loft project. I’ve replicated the steps here so that you can follow along and create your own tree painting.

The BEFORE picture

The black and gold one was painted on a large canvas I picked up at a hotel surplus sale. For this blog, I’m painting on 3 equal-sized vertical canvases. Inspired by Japanese screens, I’m again using metallic paint, this time on a white field. You can go with a variety of color schemes—pastels, autumn colors, tone on tone in one color family—and any sized canvas would work.

First gather the required materials:

  • Canvas (cheap canvases are readily available at flea markets, hotel and office liquidation sales, estate sales; I found these—framed and ready to be hung—at a hotel surplus store for $20 each)
  • Brushes (special stencil brushes are available at craft stores or stencil vendors) and sponges
  • Paints
  • Painter’s tape
  • Stencil (the stencil here is Timber Tree from Royal Design Studio Stencils)
  • Rags

Then follow these steps:

  1. Paint over the canvas (and perhaps the frame) with the ground color. Here I taped the frame and painted the canvas with 3 coats of a mixture of white and luminescent pearl using a sponge.
  2. Once the ground is dry, apply the stencil. Line up the edge of the stencil to the edges of the canvas. Use painter’s tape to hold the stencil in place and to cover the openings in the stencil assigned to another color.
  3. Paint using a dry brush or sponge. Offload the paint onto a rag to ensure a clean crisp finish. Excess paint will cause the paint to bleed; use less paint and apply more coats for the best finish. Finish each color before starting the next color.
  4. Paint additional coats as needed. Once one area is completed, lift the stencil carefully and move it to the next area, lining up the registration marks. Repeat steps 3 and 4.
  5. I also touched up the frame once I was done, lightly sanding and then wiping on a dark ebony finish.
  6. Hang using a level. Here I made sure to space the 3 canvases evenly. It’s bad feng shui to hang paintings unevenly and out of alignment.
The AFTER picture

And voila, just like that, an original artwork that looks expensive but took very little actual artistic skill. It’s a great way to add nature to an urban homescape. And your stencil can be reused again and again, to dress up walls and furniture. Enjoy!

Mina Yang

Mina Yang is a certified feng shui and design consultant and coach (as well as the mother of two energetic kids). She helps people transform their space (and life!) through her designs and online course on feng shui-inspired design.

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