How to Stencil on Canvas

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Home Decor, Stencils

For all those creatives out there who can’t draw, I have the perfect art project that involves only a vinyl stencil, some paint, and a blank canvas.

I’m ok at drawing but my creativity far outpaces my actual artistic skills. I have a feeling a lot of people are in my camp.

Those couple of hours in art class in elementary school just wasn’t quite enough practice.

I decided to do something about this the other day and channeled my creativity towards designing a couple of pieces in Illustrator but then used the help of a stencil to paint it on a canvas.

The floral monogram has 2 layers of colors which I did in sequence once one color dried. The abstract floral piece I first painted the canvas background a flat color and then stenciled a metallic silver on top after the base layer dried.

Getting the stencil right took a few tries but I think I figured out the optimal way to use vinyl stencils on canvas.

I decided after this that depending on the design, sometimes it’s easier to just do a reverse stenciling job. If the design has a bunch of little pieces, it’s sometimes easier to paint the design color first, layer on the design, and then paint over the whole canvas. Here’s my tutorial on how to do this type of reverse stenciling on canvas.

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Materials for canvas painting with vinyl

Canvas – I bought a pack of blank canvas boards that fit into those really check standard black frames that you can get everywhere. There are tons of options available on Amazon including this one that I used.

Paint – I used acrylic paint for this project. It is super affordable and can be wiped off with some alcohol if you mess up. I bought this assorted set of acrylic paint from Amazon. I also love Folk Art’s acrylic chalk paint and metallic acrylics as well which is what I used in the abstract floral piece.

Vinyl – Any vinyl works. I just grabbed a sheet from an assorted set I also got from Amazon.

Cutting Machine – I use a Cricut. Check out my recommendations for Cricut machines and accessories for beginners for more info.

Design – Both the printable version and the SVG cut file of the floral wreath monogram and abstract flowers set are available for free in my resource library.

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    How to cut vinyl stencils with the Cricut

    I used my Cricut for this project because of how intricate the design is. I’m not sure if it is just my machine or if it happens to everyone but whenever I cut non-Cricut brand vinyl, it always cuts through the whole sheet.

    I usually use the vinyl setting but put it on less pressure.

    While I could optimize for material, I like to attach all the pieces so I can see the end results which helps later on in the project.

    How to use vinyl as a stencil on canvas

    For a design like this, I find it easiest to be able to cut up my stencil into small manageable chunks.

    This not only makes it easier to transfer the vinyl so it doesn’t get all tangled up, but it also helps position the design symmetrically relative to everything else.

    I’ve purposely designed the monogram wreath such that it can be cut up into pieces. I just peel off the stencil and stick it on the canvas.

    I find it is difficult to use transfer paper with vinyl on canvas so it is easiest if you just start with a more manageable design.

    How to stencil acrylic paint on canvas

    After cutting up and applying my stencil in chunks. I work with the acrylic paint one chunk at a time.

    This particular project is 8″x11″ so the actual design was small. I just used a q-tip to dab on the paint

    It is important to remove the stencil when the paint is still relatively wet especially when using acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is like plastic and still peel off in chunks if left to dry with the stencil.

    This is another reason why I like to cut up the design into sections so I can work each one to completion and peel off the stencil part while the paint is still well.

    If you don’t like the look of stenciled letters, you can also dab in the paint afterward with a small brush. I made this “J” monogram wreath for my daughter’s room which doesn’t need any special stencil treatment but the set of letters for this project in my resource library does have cutouts on the letters.

    The abstract flower was much easier. I just placed the out line down first and then transferred the stamen pieces individually.

    Alternatively, if you are interested in how to make any font into a stencil in Cricut Design Space, check out my tutorial on how to do this.

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    Cricut Floral Vinyl Art

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