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What to Read this Summer: Art & Artist Fiction

In my book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media is a chapter called “Letting Books and Movies Speak to You” and while I def. recommend my book as a summer read ;) , I thought I would list some others. I love to read – besides painting, reading is my all time favorite thing to do. Sometimes I pick up fiction books about artists or with an art theme and they do often inspire me whether by the story itself and/or by digging deeper into the art and the time period of a certain artist. A lot of the research inspires me later in my artwork in one way or the other. Here are five books I enjoyed in the past couple months (in no particular order):

The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland

This book was recommended to my by one of my students and it is a novel about the life of painter Emily Carr. Emily Carr was a Canadian painter who lived from 1871-1945. Emily Carr became known for her paintings and sketches about totemic carvings of the First Nations people of British Columbia and the rain forests of Vancouver Island. She took many trips with her canoe to reach remote aboriginal villages, very unusual for a woman in that time. The book gives a great insight of her life – the struggles of being a female modern artist, the landscape of her trips and the history of how Natives were forbidden to live their culture, beliefs, and speak their language. It is thought provoking and a great read!

The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro

Taking place in New York City in the 1940s and in the 2010s this book tells the story of Alizee Benoit, a fictional artist character, who was employed through the WPA Artist Program as a Muralist. The program (which is real) was created as a relief measure to employ artists and artisans to create murals, easel paintings, sculpture, graphic art, posters, photography, theatre scenic design, and arts and crafts. Many later famous artists were part of this program and one could argue that they wouldn’t have been famous if it wasn’t for this program that let them do art and earn their living while they developed. Alizee vanishes one day and “no one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner.” I enjoyed the fictional story of how being around those artists could have been, but it also made me research into the history of how the U.S. dealt with jewish refugees during WWII and the WPA program.

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

This story is again about a fictional artist called Sara de Vos who lives in Amsterdam and becomes the first woman to be admitted as a master painter to the city’s Guild of St. Luke in 1631. The story also plays in the 50s in NYC and in the 2000s in Sydney. I liked how this book took my to a different time period and of course I was curios to find out if there were indeed women in the painters guild in 1631. This lead me to discover painter Judith Leyster who lived from 1609-1660 – some of you might have seen one of her paintings in my book. If you like historic fiction, this is a great book including an art theme.

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline

Christina is the subject of Andrew Wyeth‘s famous painting “Christina’s World” and the novel tells her story. Her sickness, where she lived and how Wyeth become part of her and her brother’s live and painted her. It actually made me see the painting in a different way and I feel it touches me now more even though the feelings and thoughts of Christina in the book are pure fiction.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Not a book about an artist but about a painting  The Goldfinch by Carel Fabritius which indeed exists. The story about what happens to the painting is fiction but it is more the story of Theodore Decker who, at the age of 13, survives a terrorist bombing at an art museum in which his beloved mother dies. Staggering out of the museum he takes The Goldfinch with him and the story encompasses the story of Theodore’s live. I have to admit that I bought the book two years ago, started it and somehow totally hated it (yes- hated it) I put it down after 50 pages and thought “nope” – which rarely happens. But I gave it another chance this year and I do not know what rubbed me the wrong way back then but this time I loved it. The story is amazing and it is a great summer read about gangsters, teenagers, the art black market and more. If you are a late bloomer on this one like I am…read it ;)

I hope you enjoyed reading list. Do you have a fiction book about art / artists you would recommend for me to read?

Comments (1)

  • Deb


    What a fun idea for a blog post! Love to get new book ideas.
    I love reading your daily blog. It is inspiring and something I look forward to. I like the variety. I have really enjoyed your gallery and museum posts. It’s also been fun to see you having so much fun with the paints you made in your class at Kremer pigment.
    The new Finnabair impasto paints are fun too.
    Keep up the great life of Art itself as adventure.
    Glad you are now part of my life!


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Free For All – Michelle Rydell


Hello from the Creative Squad! Today we have a cool art journal spread from Michelle Rydell that uses my Buenos Aires stencil and this month’s theme: Free for All! It’s time for summer vacation and relaxing so around here the Creative Squad is taking a break from themes this month. They’re just going with the flow and making a project of their choosing. It’s a Free for All!

One of my favorite stencils of Nat’s is the Buenos Aires. I love how the shapes connect in so many different ways – creating different patterns, depending on how you look at it. I’m taking a class that focuses on black and white journaling, so I thought it might be fun to play with the positive and negative shapes…

I started by placing the Stencil down on a spread in my journal that has black paper on one side and white on the other; and tracing all the shapes with a pencil.

Then, I started drawing over the pencil lines with black and white gel pens. Because the gel pens take a minute to dry, I started on the outside shapes and worked inwards, so as to not get my hand in the wet ink.

Here’s how it looked when phase one was done. Do you see where I missed a few shapes?

It was easy to put the stencil back over the drawing and trace in the shapes I missed. Here’s the completed initial phase…

From here, I just started doodling. Whatever I did on the white side of the page, I repeated on the black side. This was so much fun and very meditative. When I felt like the doodling was complete, I added a quote around the border and called it done. Here’s the finished page…

Since it doesn’t require many supplies, or deep thought, this is a great technique to do on the couch, watching your favorite tv program! I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial, and will consider giving the technique a try sometime!

Thanks Michelle! I love how the simple color palette shows off the gorgeous pattern. In addition to white drawing paper, Michelle used the following supplies (some are affiliate links):

Play along with us too: I love to see how you interpret our monthly themes. Email me how you used my stencils and stamps with the theme and email me an image – I would love to share your projects in my “n*Spiration From Around the Globe“.

Comments (4)

  • Julie Tucker


    These pages are FABULOUS! I love them!!!!!!!!!!


  • Melody Willoughby


    Michelle, this is such a perfect page for our black and white journals! I love that stencils!!!


    • Michelle Rydell


      thank you so much Melody! I’m glad that you like it!


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Call for NEW Creative Squad Members!


Creative Squad Call!

Are you a Mixed Media Artist, Scrapbooker or Card Maker with a unique style and a passion for creativity?
Do you love to use stamps and stencils in your work and love to try new techniques and media?
Do you love to share your projects on social media and engage with other artists?

If the answer is yes, yes, yes, we are looking to fill some spots on our n*Studio Creative Squad and would love to hear from you! Here is what we need from you:

1. Full name, email address, links to social media sites/blog/website where we can see your work
2. A couple sentence bio or description of your work
3. 4-5 low res images of your work that best represent your style

Email your submission to nat(at) with “Creative Squad Submission” as the subject.
Enter by August 11, 2017  :)

As a Creative Squad member for Nathalie’s Studio you will serve a 6-month term beginning 10/1/2017. As part of the Creative Squad, you will receive a variety of Nathalie’s Studio products. You will create one project per month, using specified products or groups of products and inspired by a monthly theme. You will be featured once a month on the nStudio blog, Facebook page, and Instagram, and you will be part of an amazing team of artists with a legacy of awesomeness!

Apply today!

Comments (3)

  • Karen Bearse


    So tempting! I love your stamps and stencils… would love to be on your team just a bit overwhelmed right now. Hummm what to do…


  • Irma


    Really? Just 1 entry a month? Is a video or photo tutorial required? – Irma


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Irma, yes a, photos to go along with your post would be required- doesn’t have to be super long. If you look at the Creative Squad posts so far, you get a good grip for what is asked for :)


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Christmas in July Sale!

The Sale is on! It is officially Christmas in July in the n*Store where you can get 20% off Stamps, Stencils, Mugs, Cards, and DVDs now through Sunday 7/16/2017. Just use the coupon code JULY20 when you check out to save. Start shopping here :)

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NEW Mini ArtFoamies !!!


I am super excited about my new Mini versions of my ArtFoamies Foam Stamp Designs- let me show them to you

New Mini ArtFoamies by n*Studio from Nathalie Kalbach on Vimeo.

Want to see more videos regarding those foam stamps? Here is a video showing you how I created the last art journal page in the video above,  3Ways to use positive and negative foam stamps, and an Art Tapas Video where I explain how you can clean them.

Hope you like the new Minis :)

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Artful Adventures in Mixed Media is Out and Giveaway


My book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media is now officially out and being sent out all over the world. PINCH Me! It is so much fun to see it arrive at different locations and it makes me just giddy to see all those photos. If you ordered a copy- tag me on instagram so I can see it :)))

To celebrate the official release day today I am giving away two copies of my book: one here on the Blog and one during a Facebook Live Event today- check it out:

THIS GIVEAWAY IS Now CLOSED – Edited June 12th, 2017

Blog Giveaway: I will give away one signed copy of my book to a randomly drawn person, just leave a comment on this blog post below and let me know why you think this would be just the right book for YOU :) You can do so until June 8th, midnight EST.

The Winner of a signed copy of my book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media is :

Congratulations Julie, I sent you an email- Nat


I will also give away a signed copy of my book during my Facebook Live Kaffeeklatsch this afternoon, June 8th, 2017 at 4pm. – check it out on my FB page 


Thank you for all your support and for celebrating with me! You are amazing!!! My heart is full today – lots of Love


Comments (62)

  • Sue LD


    I am new to mixed media and would love to have this book.


  • Brenda Ryan


    Who wouldn’t want to win your book. The colors on the front cover are enough to draw you in. Congratulations on your book!


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Artful Adventures in Mixed Media or Thoughts on being a Writer at last

Pinch me, guys! My childhood dream has come true. When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up I didn’t answer “be an artist” – I said I wanted to become a writer.

I took a lot of detours, and even if it wasn’t in my original plan I became an artist AND a writer. My book, Artful Adventures in Mixed Media – Art and Techniques Inspired by Observation & Experience, is going to be released on June 8th, 2017, and is now on PRE-SALE.

I’d like to share the back-story…

My father passed away when I was a baby and my mother had to work a lot to take care of us. Neighbors who lived in the apartment below ours took a liking to me and I spent hours with them almost every day – they became my honorary Aunt Isabell and Uncle Günther. They had a living room with floor-to- ceiling bookshelves on all sides, they took me to the library and helped me get my first library card. I read to them and with them, everything I could get my hands on. And I wrote stories! In fourth grade my teacher sent one of my stories to a national school magazine, it was printed. I was sooooo proud. In my teens I got an old typewriter, heavy as lead, but I banged on it with gusto, starting – but never finishing – epic novels.

I was going to study journalism, I had big plans, but for some reason (perhaps a practical streak) I decided to study law. Well…at least I did a lot of writing as a paralegal, but legal arguments weren’t very interesting. I knew that writing a book would be awesome, but I wasn’t sure what story I would tell.

Things changed when I left the legal world, became a full-time artist, designer, blogger and teacher and then moved to the States. I wrote for my blog, so things were beginning to brew. And this time when I thought about a book I knew it would be about mixed media. A student in my Creative JumpStart 2016 class wrote that she’d like to ‘jumpstart me right back’ and suggested I should write a book about the things that I was already writing about on my blog. This email was so well-timed. It gave me the nudge I needed to write and send a book proposal. (Thank you, Denise G.)

A year later, here I am, an author. Artful Adventures in Mixed Media – Art and Techniques Inspired by Observation & Experience! It took me and the publisher a long time to decide on the title. (They considered calling it Uber Artful Adventures, but maybe they figured that could look like a manual for self-employed drivers so that one didn’t pass muster.)

So, what’s this book of mine about?

It’s an invitation to YOU to go on an Artful Adventure with me. I wrote it to reach everyone I can’t meet in person with my classes, to share the methods that make mixed media accessible to all, no matter their skill level. It’s about the process from inception to realization, how observations and experiences can be turned into works of art. I give practical guidelines and oodles of examples of how I find inspiration, how I gather and keep my ideas in sketchbooks, journals and photos, and what materials go on the journey with me in an Art-on- the-Go kit.

In each chapter there are techniques and step-by- step instructions for projects – stencils, layering, collage, textured painting, mono-printing, photo manipulation, and more, to ensure that the reader can go on their own Artful Adventures and create their own meaningful mixed media artwork!

I cannot wait to finally hold the book in my hands and I cannot wait for you to read it. I am scared and excited at the same time and sometimes just thinking about it makes me jump up and down …To everyone who has followed my blog, taken my classes, shared this journey – YOU made this book possible and for that I thank you!

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Stay In Touch with n*Studio!

Are you craving mixed media inspiration every day? Do you love art journaling, learning new techniques, watching tutorial videos, and shopping for fun new products? Does my fun and easy-going take on the creative process make your day? Well my artsy friends, there are several super easy ways for you to get the most from n*Studio.

Sign up here to receive n*Studio blog posts in your email inbox! This is a great way to get a daily dose of inspiration, including fun videos to help you learn new techniques, tips on using and maintaining mixed media supplies, features from my own art journal, inspiring work from my Creative Squad, and tons of fun and sometimes goofy photos of my workshops and travels around the world.  You won’t miss a thing and you’ll get a daily boost of creative energy right in your email to help you when you begin a project.

It’ll look like this…

You can also sign up for my Monthly Newsletter – a quick and informative taste of what’s going on at n*Studio!

What do I love about the newsletter? It’s a fast way to get some artmaking motivation, it’s condensed and easy to digest in just a few minutes, and it includes some special things that you won’t find on the blog or anywhere else! First I always include a note to let you know what’s happening in my world…

Then I usually include a couple bits of n*spiration for the month, including a featured project by one of the many artists out there who are doing totally amazing things with my products (let me know if you are and I’d love to feature you next). And of course I remind you of the next few upcoming workshops

And finally I always include a special coupon code for my online store that is only available to newsletter subscribers. You never know what will be on sale and it will change every time…

So Stay in Touch with me! Learn more, play more, and get the most from n*Studio. And of course there are no strings attached here – you may unsubscribe from any of these lists any time you want :)

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