How to Use Make a Folk Art Valentine (Using My New Stencil Collection)

I have fallen in love recently with the beautiful folk art I've been seeing around Asheville, NC. When thinking about creating my own piece for Valentine's Day, I realized that my new Storytellers Stencils would be the perfect tool for creating those popular mirrored images found in folk art!  The piece I created is encaustic and called "Happy." You can follow along below to learn how to make a folk art valentine yourself!

USE STENCILS FOR MIRRORED IMAGES

The first step was to consider the size of my piece and to draw a square of that size (6x6 inches here) on my sketch pad. It's important to model the exact size of your final painting in the sketch because you will need to choose stencil shapes that fit within this size. I found some pretty shapes in my Love Story Stencil. I really liked the size an feel of the flowers in this one, so they were the first pieces I added to the sketch.  I traced through the stencil in pencil, then flipped it over and traced a mirror image of that stencil on the other side! For embellishments, I used  more flowers from that piece and then some cute little branches around the central heart from the tree in my City Stories Stencil. I also used two cute stars from the Moon and Stars Stencil around the heart. In each case, I stenciled one shape, then flipped it for the mirror.

TRACING PAPER HELPS WITH COMPOSITION

The fun thing about using stencils is that you can play around with the positioning of your composition, and mirror your images very easily. A great way to do this is to trace a few shapes on tracing paper and play around with them until you find something pleasing.

ADD HAND DRAWN IMAGES

I added hand-drawn birds, roses, a heart and butterfly to the stenciled parts to bring it to life.  You can hand-draw portions or use only stencils depending on your drawing skill.  It looks really pretty either way. After I had my sketch-- I transferred it to a peach-colored wax surface I had already cooked up in the studio.  

COLOR

Since I am an encaustic artist, I used hot beeswax pigments, an etching tool and gold leaf to paint my final piece, but you can certainly use acrylics, watercolor or the medium of your choice to create your valentine. You could go small, scan the drawing and digitally color it to make cards.  Or you could even make a larger wall-sized piece by incorporating many more mirrored stencils into the design. The possibilities are endless.  Using stencils for folk art is lots of fun, and you can find many stencils, including my Storytellers collection at StencilGirl Products