Out and About – Marsha Valk


Hello my friends!  This month the Creative Squad is playing along with my Stroll Challenge and today Marsha Valk is sharing some super cool cards. She’s using my Stroll Through the Hood #1 & #2Cardboard, and Embroidery stamp sets, and working with the prompt word Pattern and the theme Out and About – Sometimes it’s hard to see all the cool and inspiring stuff that’s right under our noses. This month we hope you will join us in our 30 day Stroll Challenge and get Out and About where you live, and find some local inspiration.

Merriam-Webster has 11(!) definitions for the word ‘Pattern’. One of these is:
3: an artistic, musical, literary, or mechanical design or form, the geometrical pattern of the carpet, the strict pattern of rhythm and rhyme for a sonnet — Gigi Marino

…and it’s super fitting for the pattern I saw whilst Out and About.

I see patterns everywhere and all the time: tiles, bricks, grids, shadows, on flora and fauna… and I have quite a library of photos of patterns found right here where I live in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. But… there is a different pattern plastered all over my city right now and this particular pattern ties my place of residence to New York. And as my assignment was to combine today’s Stroll Challenge prompt with the Stroll #2 stamps, going with this pattern made sense to me.

2017 has been declared the national year of De Stijl, because the art group was founded a hundred years ago, in 1917. Amersfoort is taking this opportunity to celebrate one of its most famous former residents: Piet Mondriaan (or: Mondrian).

Mondriaan was born in Amersfoort in 1872 and he died in Manhattan in 1944. He lived in Amersfoort until 1880, when his family moved to another part of the Netherlands.

His birth house in now a museum where you can see some of his early (still naturalist) works and learn about his life.

Now onto the project!

I started out playing in the journal I keep for the Stroll Challenge prompts and then moved on to square and rectangle pieces of cardstock. I didn’t have to think about colours. I searched my stash for suitable stamping inks in the De Stijl colour palette: red, yellow, blue, black, grey and white. I covered each base with gesso first because I felt the plain white paper was too flat and stark.

And then I just stamped my compositions on top, starting with the grids and then filling in the spaces with colour and pattern, using post-it tape and scraps of paper to mask off and protect parts of the design whilst stamping. I’m not sure why, but I didn’t feel that the compositions with straight lines looked right. So I tried some more on a diagonal square piece of cardstock, which I liked much better.

But then it occurred to me that having the paper diagonal wasn’t very practical for, for instance, making cards. So I continued to play with diagonal lines and blocks of colour and left the paper straight.

Once the ink was dry, I adhered the cards I liked best onto black folded notecards.

Conclusion: creating pleasing compositions with just blocks of colour and lines is much harder than you might think. I hope you try it too. It’s an interesting and fun exercise!

Thank you Marsha – these rock! And so cool that your ‘hood is celebrating such an important artist! Marsha used the following supplies (some are affiliate links):

Play along with us this month and join the 30 day Artful Adventures Stroll Challenge! 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 (2)

  • Julie


    thank you for the inspiration today! Love the transition from the physical idea to paper. I will have to try this.


  • Michelle


    This is so much fun. I’m from The Hague (also in the Netherlands) and my city is also covered in Mondriaan prints. The “gemeentemuseum” has a year long Mondriaan exhibit.

    I love your interpretation of all this and how you translated it into your own art, Marsha!

    Xx Michelle


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Nice to Meet You! with Mary Thoma

Hello and welcome to a blog feature I call Nice to Meet You! From time to time I learn about some amazing artists out there who are working with my stamps and stencils and are creating some pretty fun and exciting projects. It’s always inspiring to see what others do with my designs. Sometimes they even introduce me to a new way of seeing the pattern or a new technique to try on my own. Today I’d like to introduce to you Mary Thoma:

Please introduce yourself to our readers:

My name is Mary Thoma. I am a native Oklahoman, making art in my own home in the small rural and diverse community of Spencer, Oklahoma. I am a recreational activities director at an adult day center and I am called on daily to use my creative energy.  I consider myself an artist serving other artists living with dementia or other cognitive disorders.  Many times, the artists I serve just don’t know they are artists until they are engaged in creative opportunities.

How do you make time to be creative?

I am an early riser, before the phone, TV, food or even coffee some mornings. 4AM many days I can usually get 3 good hours of standalone art time even on work days. There are mornings I barely have time to get my hands washed up before it’s time to run out the door. I get lost in “artistic flow” and the time just rockets by. Recently a Facebook follower asked me to illustrate a children’s book she had written so I will be adding illustration to my creative time as well.

What are some of your favorite n*Studio stamps / stencils?

Urban Scribble Foam Stamp Set
Buenos Aires 4×4 Stencil
Ornament Stencil
Art Deco Stencil






How do you love to use them?

I usually stamp with acrylic paint, not ink so Nathalie’s foam stamp designs hold up well in that application. I love using the stencil designs with my abstract work and with texture paste for incorporation into collage work. The structure of n*Studio Designs are beautifully and perfectly repeated so I don’t have to reinvent or recreate these dynamic elements to add to my own work.


What is your favorite medium to work in?

Mixed Media, graphite, pastel pencils, markers, color pencils, acrylic paint, Marabu Art Sprays, Ink and spray inks, texture pastes, watercolors, and collage. My art combines representational work with abstraction and Nathalie’s designs add a structured accent to my compositions.

What inspires you to be creative?

I will say it’s hard to beat Creative Jump Start. I also start running through emails and social media, I listen to audio books about great artists, I watch You Tube documentary videos on art and artists, and also manufacturers’ and retailers’ demonstration videos. I am very blessed to have a job that calls on my creativity. I take art tools like stencils and stamps to work with me to help my Adult Day Center Participants create artwork.

Do you have a favorite artist?

Presently, I am studying the work of Francis Picabia. It’s likely I am just too fickle to name just one favorite artist. I find the mid-century modern artists awe inspiring and continue to be highly motivated to study them and their work.

How did you get into art-making?

I think it might be the same way I started breathing. I must make art, it is sustenance for my soul. My parents encouraged my talent. Around 1959, I watched an advertisement for a mail order art course and drew the subjects demonstrated from memory.  My father said, “You didn’t do this, you traced it” I reacted viscerally to his accusation. He finally concluded I did the work. He and my mother provided me with art supplies. My mother was quick to take me to art exhibits.  I saw Jackson Pollock’s work in person on a national tour in the 1960’s. Western art by Catlin, Remington and Russel were introduced via the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center right here in my home town. I was a smart kid, but, not a very good student.  My public-school arts education kept me engaged academically sufficient to get me to graduation and into college with a major in fine arts. Otherwise you would be interviewing a high school dropout. I do not suffer “artist’s block” everything blank looks like a canvas to me.  I am looking forward to working full time as an artist and teaching artist. I have my very understanding family to thank for my artistic encouragement, now that my parents are gone, I have my husband, siblings, children and friends to cheer me along on my artistic journey.

In three words, how does art-making make you feel?

Art-making, makes me feel like an “artistic living fountain” flowing deep and wide.

Thank you Mary for sharing your art and story with us! Stay tuned for more Nice to Meet You! posts to learn about other artists!

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Book Signing @ The Ink Pad – Meet & Greet Nat!

Meet me at The Ink Pad in NYC for a book signing with my new book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media! Pick up a personalized copy of the book and go on an Artful Adventure with me :) To add to the fun, there will be some special prizes for the first 5 in-store preorders and first 5 in-store purchases of the book.  Drop by, say Hello, and pick up your copy!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017: 4pm – 7pm

See you there!

And for those of you who cannot make it, order a FREE signed Bookplate from the n*Store for your copy of Artful Adventures in Mixed Media. I will even personalize it for you if you let me know in the notes section of your order.


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Workshops at Scrapbooking Forever in SoCal

I’m super excited to be teaching 3 workshops at Scrapbooking Forever in Westlake Village in Southern California:

September 9, 2017, 10:00am – 6:00pm: Artvergnugen – Art Journaling Workshop

It starts the moment you sit down, an experience that is distinctly art journaling. A quick exhilaration, a sense of control, the art media’s surprising responsiveness as if they were simply an extension of you. There is a word for this creative experience: Artvergnugen! Artvergnugen is what makes your journal a piece of art. Join me and play with different art media and supplies; discover fun layering techniques with stamps, stencils and acrylic paints. Let’s talk about colors, composition, love-it or list-it to truly reveal your own style, and learn techniques, tips and tricks to take your art journaling further and turn it into Artvergnugen.

Register Here!

September 10, 2017, 9:00am – 1:00pm: Walk With Me – Altered Book Workshop

There is something so beautiful about a book – the cover, the spine, the paper, the typography and it makes a beautiful companion on a journey. Walk with Me and give an old and maybe discarded book a new colorful life. Learn fun stenciling, stamping and book altering techniques, how to draw when you can’t draw and use the book as a wonderful substrate to create a beautiful keepsake. Use acrylic paints, and inks and fun tools and techniques and be ready for a fun ride.

Register Here!

September 10, 2017, 2:00pm – 6:00pm: Master Art Express – Art Journaling Workshop

Imagine you could take a trip through Europe and at each stop one of the many masters of European art would materialize and invite you to explore their art to implement into your art journal. Let’s take this imaginary trip together and explore different European artists at each station, taking their artwork as an inspiration for mixed media techniques and colors. We will discuss why some things work and why some things don’t work and will solve the little “problems” that sometimes occur while creating art. Work with acrylic paints, acrylic inks, different tools and materials and gain a deeper knowledge about the versatility and possibilities of your art materials. Let the travel itself be part of the journey and take the elements of art in to push your own art journaling style just a notch further.

Register Here!

Can’t come to Southern California, but want to take a class with me? Check out my In-Person- Classes Page – where I am constantly updating where I will be teaching in the next couple months.

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Whatevers Part Three – In the Garden

A couple years ago my friends Vic Chrisman, Cat Scanlon and I founded The Whatevers, a Creative Storytelling Project. In a nutshell we decided to give old discarded photos we found a new life by telling the story of those shown. The three of us wrote an article for the recent Cloth Paper Scissors Issue – and we decided to revive the Whatevers every Wednesday this May on our blogs :)

Here is my project for this weeks’ photo

“Betsy’s community garden was a little piece of happiness for the kids n the otherwise quite kid unfriendly city.” …”Rolf became a florist, Fred became a landscaper, Matt became a Park Ranger and Betsy…never stopped planting seeds.”

This spread was actually a demo page for an image transfer class I taught a while ago and I was waiting for the right occasion to use the background with the buildings for. I painted the sunflowers onto the background.

I printed the photo out on printer paper and cut the persons out and applied them to the page. I painted over them with acrylic paints and markers and then added the journaling.

Now let’s check out what Vicki and Cat did with the photo and in case you want to play along with us -here is the original photo for you. Share with us what you came up with on the Whatevers Facebook Page or leave a link in the comment section :)

Here are the supplies I used for my page – some links are affiliate links:

Comments (5)

  • collette marcsis


    I absolutely LOVE The Whatevers! I love the creative stories and how different three people can use the save photo. I admit I’ve spend a lot of money on “Found Relatives” and then they just sat. Thanks for the inspiration to start using them in my journal.


  • Janelle Rourke


    I am so happy to see the Whatevers again. I loved playing along!


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      yeahhh – hope you will play with us again for this month. We have two more coming :)


  • Cat


    I am absolutely in LOVE LOVE LOVE with this. It’s perfect in every single way, I love how you added the hand painted flowers in the background. It’s stunning. Did I mention I love this? :-)


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Awe- thank you my sweet friend! I do love yours so much too – and Vic’s !!! This is so much fun!


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Out and About – Cheiron Brandon


Hello from the Creative Squad!  This month the Creative Squad will be playing along with my Stroll Challenge and today Cheiron Brandon is sharing a really cool canvas panel using my Stroll Through the Hood #2 and Embroidery stamp sets, and working with the prompt word Sky and the theme Out and About – Sometimes it’s hard to see all the cool and inspiring stuff that’s right under our noses. This month we hope you will join us in our 30 day Stroll Challenge and get Out and About where you live, and find some local inspiration.

Hi there! It’s Cheiron here and I hope you have been having fun with the Stroll through the Hood photo prompts this month. The word today is SKY and here is the picture I was inspired by. It is taken straight from my “hood” in New Jersey. Not the neighborhood I thought I would ever live in, but living here allows me to have a dedicated studio space. In my hood, I try to find adventure in the little things each day.

For my project this month, I decided to create a small canvas panel with some iridescent gelatos.

I started by scribbling some gelatos onto my panel.

Then I blended them into the canvas, added darker shades to highlight the edges.

To create my “sky”, I used a baby wipe through Nat’s Kassel stencil to remove some of the color from my canvas and reveal the white underneath.

I added more color and blended the edges even more.

Then I added Nat’s Star Fish stamp.

I then stamped the Grannies stamp and the Warehouse stamp from Stroll through the Hood 2 and added some crackle texture paste through Nat’s Beacon stencil to make the sky come alive even more.

I added Nat’s Running and Cross Circle stamps, and some word stickers to complete my canvas.

Thank you Cheiron for such a beautiful piece. Cheiron used the following supplies (some are affiliate links):

Play along with us this month and join the 30 day Artful Adventures Stroll Challenge! 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“.

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Find Your Fire !

I love making art, I love being creative, I love to craft. I often think how lucky I am that I found my fire! I would have never guessed that this is where my path would lead me in my later life. I hope everyone can find their fire!

What is yours?

Comments (1)

  • stephanie


    What a great spread! Thanks for so much inspiration to find our fires too.


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Gone Destination – Painting

I wanted share with you my painting “Gone Destination” which I had painted for one of the chapters of my book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media. The painting shows “Pearl Paint,  an art supply store, I used to visit often in NYC when I was still living in Germany and once in a while visit my family in the States. I loved this place and I loved the building. I was very sad when it closed down.  The paining is part of one of my chapters in my book where I show how and why I created the background – and what it was inspired by. I was pleasantly surprised that this was picked as the cover image for my book by the publisher (you see as an author you do not have a lot of say on that ;) ) . A student of mine, Julie B., really wanted it and so it is now on it’s way to California. I am so happy to know this painting that is so special to me will have a new loving home.

Speaking of Artful Adventures- are you playing along in the Stroll Through the Hood Challenge and Free Classroom? It is so much fun and I love seeing all the different “hoods” of those participating from all over the world, from all kinds of different neighborhoods- rural, urban …It is like an inspiring mini-vacation! Check it out if you haven’t yet and join the fun!

Have a wonderful day!

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