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Stencil Star: Carmen Benoit’s Decorative Painting

This week’s installment of our Stencil Star™ series has us traveling virtually to Arizona to see the incredible works of Carmen Benoit of Carmen Illustrates.  She uses Royal Design Studio wall stencils and patterns in creative and unique ways for her murals, decorative paint finishes and her fine art pieces.  Her love of stencil patterns and rich colors stem from her experience as a textile designer, love of design and travels.

(above, below) A close-up and full shot of an entryway. A Modello Eastern Center design (EasCen135) was selected for the base of the lighting fixture and done first.  Then there was glazing followed by hand painting in highlights and shadowing on the stencil design. Carmen shares, “This was the first Modello vinyl stencil I ever used and I have been hooked ever since!  Its ease of application offered many more possibilities over the tracing paper method I was using before.”


Her first stop was to achieve a degree in Fine Arts from ASU. After graduating, she created textile art for the clothing industry, working for an Indian company and later for a resort wear line. Exciting as the textile industry proved to be, the direction was not fulfilling enough not where she ultimately wanted to apply her talents.

In 1998, she decided to create her own business, Carmen Illustrates, to apply her talents toward the home decor market and commercial properties. She has since painted murals and created artwork for clients all over the country.  “From the beginning, it has always been about establishing sound technique––drummed into my head every time I dipped the brush…perfect the circle, push the negative space, achieve greater balance. I still remember my art instructors barking orders as they circled my canvas, arms folded.  But in a unique way, it established the foundation of my work ethic.  Art was a discipline and I needed to understand that,” she explains.  “I love to travel and study wall finishing techniques all over the world.  I enjoy life with my “official fan club” – my husband Edwin, and our two cocker spaniels, Bianca and Enzo,” Carmen says.  “There is no greater reward then seeing people achieve a better quality of life through an enriched environment.  I have incorporated Modello Design stencils to help enhance my environments. These products have proven to be a time saver and add a new dimension to my service offering.”

(above, below) Close-up and full shot.  A plain particle board island was given a face lift in a kitchen as opposed to getting all new cabinetry.  Plasters were used to create the embossed look of leather with the help of the Allover Arabesque Moroccan stencil in the central panels. The corner quadrants were created with an Indian block print.  The raised seaming was done and copper tacks pounded in.  On a side note, have to say that the Modello weeding tool that is included in every order  came in quite handy for first creating the holes where the tacks would go!

(below) An elegant pattern in between the beams was desired so the Modello Marquetry vinyl stencil (MarqALL102) was made into a custom mylar stencil but slightly altered so that every other space was left open.  (The client was concerned it might get too busy.)  The ceiling inserts were done on canvas in the studio and then later installed.  To this day I love the pattern and my next vision for it involves an outside umbrella!

What draws you to Stenciling?

Stenciling has become another tool just like a new brush or specialty paint.  I love the ability to create dimensional effects as well as layering looks.  It also is a very cost effective way to transfer a design without using the traditional tracing paper method to create a template and then to elaborate on.  I am learning new applications everyday and love how I can pattern a wall, pillow, drapes or an outdoor umbrella in no time. I find the possibilities are endless…

The images above are all of custom canvases done with the Skylar’s Lace Floral stencil from the Allover Damask Collection.  I absolutely love this pattern and find it quite versatile!

What would be your dream Stenciling project?

Teaming up with an incredible group of talented artisans to work an exotic location like Morocco. The Peacock Pavilions Moroccan painting trips come to mind…or in a church in San Miguel del Allende (perhaps stenciling some beams with incredible patterns of color)…or being ask to collaborate on an Anthropologie retail space to enhance their environmental design. All would be perfectly fine with me!

A master bedroom had two niches that required a little bling and definition.  The solution?  Modello Designs Turkish Emblems stencils, a metallic foil treatment and French upholstery tacking to frame it off.

What is/are your top Stenciling tips?

If there were any helpful tips I could offer based on my experience it would be to keep the stencil moist while working. Also make certain to keep it clean.  I have noticed that especially when working with dimensional plasters that there is a build up of material as you work.  Wiping over it with a damp rag as you work helps keep your lines clean (no seepage) through the pattern and less clean up in the long run.

(above) “My latest ceiling was a rotunda in a dinette area.  Once again the Modello design team accommodated my request of taking an Eastern Border vinyl stencil pattern (EasBor314) and adapting it into a mylar stencil. The finish techniques involve metallic paints and foils as well as glazing and Venetian plaster,” Carmen explains.  For the center, she used a Modello Easter Center stencil (EasCen136) and after the Modello’s removal, hand painted details were applied. Tacks were added as a finishing touch.  You can spy the embossed leather island in the background.

It’s been such a pleasure sharing Carmen’s stencil and Modello pattern work with you! I am also really enjoying learning more about the backgrounds of our artists through this Stencil Star series! Her talent, education and textile design background really show through in her attention to detail  and quality of her work, don’t you think? To see more of Carmen’s talents do check out her website, Carmen Illustrates, and follow her projects on her Facebook fan page.

Royal Design Studio Wall Stencils and Paint Supplies for DIY Projects


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