As far as my process goes, what I am about to show is something of the now. Something I have taught myself because there aren't too many artists out there that will literally sit down and teach you the steps to making graffiti or stencils.
My process begins with the subject, something that will give me the energy to pick up the can and spray. I knew I wanted this next project to be BIG, or at least something I had never attempted to do before. Frustrated with the lack of images of womyn of color to be found in the mainstream, I wanted to create a series of stencils that put these womyn in the limelight, that made these womyn beautiful to whatever audience they came upon. Just a month later, I finished the series "Womyn So Empowered Are Dangerous". The process I am about to show illustrates my dedication to these womyn, as well as my ultimate mission to demystify the spray can.
Note: The woman being painted is Cherríe Moraga.
STEP 1: I have come to find that only a few pictures in this world make good stencils. They have to be fairly contrasted already and have to be close up or else the image will come out blurry in the end.
STEP 2: This is the most important part of the process, which is why Photoshop has become my best friend for quite some time now. Anyway, I had to come up with a negative and positive image for the portrait, which will later become a separate layer in the painting.
Then the most tedious part: the cutting. After blowing up my image by about 400%, I had to cut out the stencil using clear acetate paper, as well as the cutting out of the additional layers of the photo. (Depending on how detailed I want to be, I can cut the image out anywhere from 1 to 4 times.)
As far as preparation for the print goes, I usually tape down borders to keep everything looking clean, which you'll see in the final steps.
STEP 3: Now the fun part: spraying. I have to put each layer down one at a time and spray that layer a different color(s).
STEP 4: Also depending on my mood, I'll lay down patterns within the layers to create depth or texture.
STEP 5: This is just putting down another layer, covering the layer I just sprayed with a piece of cardboard I previously cut.
STEPS 6 & 7: Again, patterns for the background are key.
STEP 8: After pulling off the pattern stencil, this is what the background will look like.
STEPS 9 AND 10: Now I place the final layer on top, which is the cutout of Cherríe's face.
STEPS 11 AND 12: After lining up the edges, I spray a clean layer of black.
STEPS 13 AND 14: After some necessary drying time, take the stencil off. It's crazy because the whole time you don't know what the final product is gong to look like until you pull of that final sheet of acetate. This is why all my preparation in the beginning is key. Trust the process, my friends.
STEP 15: See?
STEPS 16 AND 17: Finally, take the edges/borders/tape off.
Simple Picture Slideshow:
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STEP 18: Done and done.