Art Of Living as an Artist

My 5am Challenge – Vote Flag Book

I am continuing with my 5am challenge – For a few weeks now I am challenging myself to get up at 5am each morning and working on a book binding or folding technique to learn something new. 

This time I created my Vote Flag Book using old flat rate envelopes, some leftover watercolor paper, and of course my Ballot Box stamp from my #keepyouposted rubber stamp set.

It’s an interesting book form – the pages like flags standing in the wind. You can see another example I made in this blog post.

Pretty cool looking and lots of surfaces for stamping :)

Here I alternated between my LOVE stamp and my Neither Rain Nor Sleet stamp (that nice usps truck) from my #keepyouposted set. For ink I used Moonlight Duos.

And of course the message here is simple: VOTE!

Here are some of the supplies I used:

Comments (1)

  • Jean Goza

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    Loving this!

    Reply

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My 5am Challenge – Small Flag Book

For a two weeks now I am challenging myself to get up at 5am and each morning I follow and work on a book binding or folding technique I have never done before – just to learn something new. 

This is a so called flag book and boy it was so much fun to make – I made a little sample book out of it with some of my stamps.

You can see in here my Fan-fare, Triangle Love, Fan-tastic Small, Hex Set Small, Floral Tile Small, Circle Jumble Small, and my Mini Motifs rubber stamp sets. And I just used normal paper and lots of different color inkpads.

The book makes a fun noise when you open it up – like flags in the wind and I loved just the sculptural aspect of it when standing upright

or laying flat.

Now you might ask if that is worth it to get up at 5 am for? YEAHHH – LOL – because it makes me so happy when I make a book like this almost first thing in the morning before I even have breakfast – and I feel like I already accomplished and learned something new and fun. But now excuse me …. I need to take a nap – LOL ;)

Here are some of the supplies I used:

Comments (6)

  • Mary Cheng

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    Love your book. I never made one, so will give it a try!
    I get up at 5.30am, yoga at 6.15am online on FB with my local class.
    Occasionally, I may do a tiny bit of crafting before yoga starts, to finish off a project.
    Love your Mail stamps.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      It is actually a real easy book and so much fun! You are an early riser as well !!! Wow!

      Reply

  • Tracie

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    This book looks so fun. I’m fascinated by the 5am thing. What prompted it? Do you have to go to bed a 9pm? Loved to hear more about the experiment

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Hi Tracie- there is a book called the 5am club- I don*t like the book and the story that much but the idea made sense to me to spend the first and very early hour of the day by learning something new and journaling . There is also a workout included …that I have to say is really to early for me hahaha. No – you do not have to be in bed by 9pm but naturally I am falling asleep around 10.30 pm LOL.

      Reply

  • Theresa Carroll

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    So inspiring, I have to make one! Thank you Natalie.

    Reply

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Artist in Residence – Interview with Sam Pullin

Today I am sharing an interview I did with fellow Jersey City artist Sam Pullin. This is an interview series I am calling Artist in Residence.

I heard this great quote on the web recently: “On the bright side, I am no longer calling this shelter-in-place. I am now an artist-in-residence.” It got me thinking about how times of adversity and challenge are often what inspire action and creation for us artists.

I decided to seek out some peers whom I admire and ask them how they are using this time to be working artists. What has changed for them? Where are they finding room to create at home if they previously worked in an offsite studio, out-of-doors, or are now sharing a home studio with other working-from-home family members? What are they creating now – is it influenced by the current situation or on a similar path as before? Are they feeling called to action or struggling to create?

Everyone is responding differently to this crisis. Let’s learn how others are coping with their new status as Artists in Residence.

 

I emailed Sam the above questions and here is what he had to say:


One of the silver linings of having more time at home is that it’s a great time to reconnect with old friends that the pace and demands of the world have caused us to loose touch with.

I have definitely spent way more time and energy on making paintings over this quarantine period and feel as though my work has developed technically because of the level of focus I can spend on it. I am also working a lot smaller because of my limited supplies, particularly when it comes to canvas and I think that the change in scale is making things a bit more engaging and new. I dont want to order any unnecessary items but if I run out of canvas I may have to. If I’m unable to paint I think I will loose my mind!

The subject matter of my recent paintings, which I’m calling the “quarantine series” is inspired by my reaction to what’s happening in the world.  The tone of the paintings range from funny and light hearted to horrific and obscene, reflecting on both on my desire to turn away grom the horror of what’s happening and the need to acknowledge the full extent of the suffering that this has caused. 

I have been thinking a lot about why I make art and who benefits from the art market while paying close attention to the economic bailout, the half assed response to the coronavirus at the federal level and the pundents and political leaders who are placing market profits over human life. After this virus takes it’s horrible toll and we come out the other side of this i think there will be an opportunity to restructure some aspects of society and I’m sure there will be some organizations and individuals that seek to exploit the situation. I plan on focusing my creative energy into something that can force the restructuring into something positive and distribute the resources in a more equitable manner…I’m not exactly sure how to do that, but I spend a lot of time thinking about it and I assume it will mean rallying people and coming together with others to build coalitions.

I always thought of art making as two separate but related endeavours: the introspective time spent in the studio making the work and effort of putting it into the world and allowing it to interact with the people. It’s nice to have time in the studio, but when this is done I want to take it out into the world and see what can be done.


Thank you Sam for your thoughtful response – I think we can all relate to your concerns and your hopes for when this passes.

You can learn more about Sam here on his instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bedbugs_in_love/

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In Nat’s Studio: Gallery Wall

Now that we live for about a month in our new house, my studio is taking shape. One of the early decoration projects I knew I would want to do was a gallery wall right above the fireplace in my studio – because- come on …that space was screaming for it. 

I have a lot of very dear-to-my-heart photos of my ancestors and lots of those photos are tied with memories of my grandaunt Margot telling me all those background stories when I was a child and also when I was an adult. We both shared a deep love for photos.

So still back in my old apartment I framed all the photos – I bought a pack of differently sized frames for that matter and started laying them out on the floor. I realized really quickly that was not the way to go – how do you arrange different sized photos in a way that it is balanced but doesn’t look contrived?

So I asked around on Instagram and some of my friends and it came down to one valuable tip or me: cut out paper mock ups of the different frames and start arranging them on the wall with masking tape until you are satisfied. Easy peasy when you think of it …but I didn’t …

What a great practical tip though – I was able to let different arrangements sit for a couple hours, step back and look from different angles and rearrange until I was satisfied. It also made the placements of the nails easy.

It makes me really happy to see those pictures of my grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents, granduncles and grandaunts on the wall .

My studio still needs some adjustments and work – but overall it is coming together and I love it very much. I love that now I have also a little reading-sitting area …still finding a spot for my many bags that are inhabiting the chair.

I think my grandaunt Margot would have approved :) 

Have you created a gallery wall? Do you have any tips on how to arrange it? I would love to hear!

Comments (2)

  • Laura Weed

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    Great tip for a gallery wall. I wouldn’t have thought of it either. How about a decorative basket under the chair for your bags?
    Soooo jelly of a fireplace in your studio…that is amazing! Loving seeing how your new house is coming together. Thank you for sharing it with us!

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Great idea Laura- the bag was just temporarily there- it has a home LOL. So glad you enjoy the pix of the house

      Reply

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Back to School: Watercolor Class at JCAS

Last Sunday was the last lesson of six in a Watercolor class with John Duval at the Jersey City Art School. As some of you might know I have taken two printmaking classes already there and I really love being able to do something different over several weeks, and just being able to walk there.

This was the first time I took a Sunday morning class and I have to say, despite my first hesitance of getting up early on a Sunday it was really awesome – having my friend Mary join helped ;)

What drew me in taking the class were several factors – I really suck in painting with watercolors and I love John’s loose expressionistic style depicting urban landscapes. Here are three gorgeous samples of John’s work- check out his website for more or follow him on instagram!

John started with explaining and showing the different applications of watercolor he uses for his watercolor paintings- from very wet application (wash), to medium wet and sticky watercolor application, to dry brush application.

He talked about the importance of planning a painting and how to not shift your plan. You can imagine that was a tough one for me ;)

Above one of my first attempts …gosh …sigh …but hey- it was fun and I learned a lot

One of my favorite aspects of the class was his usage of a limited color palette (yeah I know guys- awkward right?) and how to play with alternating warm and then cool colors and vice versa in the layers.

Me trying out the one tone approach – there are areas that I like and some I am like “WTH”?

I loved seeing his demos of painting from start to finish and talking through his process as well as how he chooses a subject to paint. At first I was really itchy to get back to the easel and paint myself, but I realized very soon that a lot of what he talked about and went through sticked in my head and was helpful for my own process. Very dear to my heart was his approach of not being afraid of changing up the scene so that it looks interesting or reflects how you feel rather than the actual depiction of the place.

John about to start after sketching a rough scene from a photo.

John’s finished piece piece from one of the demos- you can actually see a bit of the original photo on the left.

As we progressed in the class we picked our own images and I loved seeing what everyone was doing and talk through it.

I focused on the house and the water …as you can tell trees and foliage …not so much ;)

Love the beach scene of one of the fellow students- especially her shadows.

Such a great water texture here and I love the color scheme.

And I really loved the mood in this one- so gorgeous!

John is a great teacher, he is very good in explaining what he does and why he does it and he is good showing students why and where things work and where not. I loved taking a class from him and I will def. do so again …yes in watercolor —gasp ;)

If you are in the Jersey City – NYC area- take a class with John Duval – I am sure he sends out class informations through his newsletter !

What I learned in this class:

  • Watercolor is fun and sometimes you just need it to let it do it’s own thing
  • “Never say die until it’s dry” – John Duval – meaning once it is dry you cannot fix things so be quick
  • think about warm and cool colors more and how this can create visual interest and contrast
  • The watercolor consistency is defined by the water in the brush not on the palette – so don’t dip your paint brush all the time into the water (I only learned this so far in theory- still working on it)
  • Don’t give too much visual information – our little brains do a lot to fill in the gaps

What I take away for the future:

  • Why not add some “people” into a painting to make the scene more lively
  • Change scenes up – you can take a photo if you are going for reality
  • Have the wash or underpainting in my acrylic paintings look through a bit more often
  • Work with a limited color palette or even just one color and play with the tones, tints and shades for a study
  • Why not paint a bit more in watercolor – it is quick and it is just paper and I can actually only improve ;)

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke

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    What a fun post! I love the limited colors that you used in that first piece that you did (I do bet that it killed you to use limited colors).
    The beach piece is delightful.
    He really is talented and I just don’t know how artists can do so much with watercolors.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

      |

      ha. you know me well -yes it was really challenging to only use a limited palate but it was really good to do so . :)

      Reply

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Tour of the American Ancients Part #1

Last month my husband and I set out for our vacation – a road trip through mostly the South West of the U.S. We drove about 2,300 Miles and had an amazing time hitting many spots we went to before and a lot of new ones. We called it the Tour of the American Ancients because we visited many historical sites. It was awesome and so inspiring and I would love to share with you some highlights, spread out over the next couple weeks in three parts :) Join me on this Artful Adventure – Here is Part #1

This little guy was crossing the street in Nevada. The Desert Tortoise of the Mojave Desert is endangered and we have not seen one the two times before we were here- but this time we were lucky. We saw two Jack Rabbits right before, so maybe they were on a race. Needless to say we named the tortoise “Cecil” ;)

We visited Bryce Canyon, Utah yet again only for a short stint – we promised ourselves next time to really spent some time here and hike- it is so beautiful.

Those hoodoos had the most interesting gradated coloration – love it.

We drove on Highway 12 which is located near the north end of the Grand Staircase – Escalante in southern Utah. The views are breathtaking (and so is the driving- LOL).  Highway 12 is the 2nd on the list of “Most Beautiful Highways in the World“. Apparently the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is planned to be stripped of it’s Monument status and protection.

We had a great time at Capital Reefs National Park , Utah last time and planned a day of hiking there.  We stayed for two nights. We started the early morning off with a Ranger talk about Geology and it was super interesting and made us unterstand the area and different layers better.

While hiking I make sure to take a lot of photos so that I can take a breath ….eh I mean..for inspiration of course ;) Gnarled bent tree trunks- the texture and movement- so beautiful.

We hiked up to a natural bridge and then through a Canyon.

Look at the rock texture and doesn’t the hole look like a heart?

This formation looks like a nice layered chocolate cake …or maybe I just started to hallucinate as it was SOOOoooooo hot ;)

I just couldn’t get over the different layers and texture and the colors. I am not very well known for using a lot of earth tones in my work -but this trip definitely made me want to try it out.

We drove on and stoped at Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah. We had a lunch picnic under this natural bridge – one of our – so it felt – 200 hundred sandwiches on the trip ;) There is something so serene and wonderful to eat outside in nature and just be silent (well…besides the crunch of the salad) while taking it all in.

Our next stop was Hovenweep National Monument in Colorado and Utah- which was a new one for us. In the area are six prehistoric villages built by ancestral Puebloans between A.D. 1200 and 1300 and it was stunning to see those buildings at their locations. This tower building above reminded me a lot of some of the old castles of the time you see in Europe and I find it fascinating that at the same time on different continents the same structures were erected.

What a part of the history of this country – and ….this park was almost empty – nada nothing …and a lot of people did not seem to know about it.

It is a magic place  and I am so happy we went. I wish we could have stayed over night – it is supposed to be pitch black and the perfect place for star gazing. I took lot’s of notes, and sketched- just as I describe in my book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media and I cannot wait to see what parts of this trip might make its way into my artwork. More from our trip to come – hope you enjoyed this little adventure.

Comments (6)

  • Jan Hill

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    Wow great photos! We loved the Fairyland feel of Bryce Canyon too x

    Reply

  • Sue Clarke

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    I just love that gnarled wood and yes, it’s a heart!
    Stopping to take pics (and breathe)…funny.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Tehehehe- Sue – you gotta do what you gotta do to convince the other half that you are not really out of breath ;)

      Reply

  • Deb

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    AMAZING and inspirational photos! Thanks so much for sharing. Just like you I don’t usually use a wealth of earth tones in my artwork, but these photos have me planning to in the near future. Thanks.

    Reply

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Hands-On Acrylics at Kremer Pigments, NYC

A couple weeks ago I took a 1 day class on how to make acrylic paints at Kremer Pigments in NYC.

They usually only held classes so far on how to make watercolor and oil paints, and I found out about the acrylic making class a day before it took place and had to jump right on it.

The class was held in the basement – it has a little closed off area where they make their Kremer paints.

Below my workspace :)

Roger, who held the class, explained that this was the first time teaching it, as acrylic paint is one of the hardest paints to make.

It all starts with making a color paste out of pigments and water , sometimes also alcohol is needed to break the water tension.

Roger showed us how to mix the color paste and how the consistency of the paste should look like.

and here I am mixing orange

using a muler for another color to grind out the last lumps

look at this luscious ultramarine blue

the green pigment below was accidentally in the pile- it turned out this wasn’t suitable for acrylics – but it was for sure pretty (bummer)

Here are my color pastes

After making the colors pastes in the first half of the class it was time to make acrylic medium in the viscosity and sheen of our liking.

If you wonder about some German labels, Kremer Pigments is actually a German company :) The medium making part was harder for me than the color paste as there are so many different ways to make it.

The next step was to combine the color paste and the acrylic medium

and voila – I got acrylic paint. I mostly strived to make thick and soft bodied matte paint. Some of them turned out pretty cool – some of them I think were a bit weak in their consistency of the color paste and one of my mediums was really off and changed a bit later (guess I didn’t do it the right way- LOL)

But all in all I love my new acrylic paints and I definitely will do this again by just using pre-made mediums to get the colors and the consistency of my needs. It was a really awesome class, Roger was incredibly knowledgable and so patient – answering a hundred million questions from us (we were all there for different reasons – to make paints for different needs). If you are in NYC and you feel you would like to learn about making paints check out their class schedule. And …the store is worth a visit in any event for some color therapy :)

Comments (8)

  • Tracy Krueger

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    Wow! That looks like SO much fun!

    Reply

  • Jackie P Neal

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    OMgosh! How fun and interesting Nat! you must have been in color heaven!!
    Wish we had cool places like this near us! “(
    Thanks for sharing- great post!
    hugs,Jackie

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Jackie, I was in color heaven indeed …I never saw a place like that before either- it is really unique!

      Reply

  • Jean Goza

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    Wow, what a great class! It must have been so fun. Love the colors you “manufactured”. :-)

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Yeah- it was fun — and thank you about the colors. Some of them turned out really great!

      Reply

  • stephanie

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    How fun!

    Reply

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Inspired by my Summer Vacation

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After sending in my final manuscript for my book and being done with loads of “secret” stuff I will share in the next months with you, I needed a little break and I took a week off to recharge.

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My husband and I went for a couple of days down the Jersey Shore and spent some time with our family close to Sea Isle City. You see my awesome niece and nephew in the photo above. We had a really relaxing time, celebrated big birthdays and anniversaries and the beach was just so beautiful! Love my family!

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On our anniversary we stopped on the way back to Jersey City at Ashbury Park. I love the old convention building and there is a lot of awesome street art around there.

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Including the above by Dylan Egon a Jersey City artist.

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What an inspiring walk down the boardwalk.

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And a Shepard Fairey also not too shabby -love it!

I spend one day at home and then headed out to Boston to visit my friend Julie Fei-Fan Balzer . We had a crazy fun time. We went to the Museum of Fine Art – and finished the Art Stroll with some sketching (the art stroll is coming later)

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Here is our model and our friend Jen on the left and Julie’s sketching on the right bottom.

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I bought a Picasso – Top and was totally stoked about it – this is my fancy modeling pose – always great when you crack yourself up

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We spent some time in the beautiful Boston Common Garden

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We had an insane amount of food ….yes that is my kind of vacation and so yummie-. High Tea – chatting, laughing and having a good girlfriend time- now if that is not vacation *wink

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Can you tell how much in love I was with the food? I was like “common Julie, hurry up with the photo, I cannot wait any longer”

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We took a stroll through the Greenway – and admired Ai Weiwei‘s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads

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and other art installations and parts

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And ended the day with some bowling – oh man…I really stink at bowling- so here is Julie- she did really well and looked good doing it

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We ate even more – here I am in a fancy bib and two new shells -and hey – I don’t care- eating lobster is super duper expensive in Europe – so this is special and funny in a plastic bib – LOL

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And this was pretty funny in a cafe in the morning.

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Essentially I could have summed up the days with Julie in the collage below – hehehe.

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Now I am back in the n*Studio and recharged for new fun things to come! There was so much inspiration in the museum, the chats, the sightseeing, the beach, the food. It feels good to have a brush in the hand again and let see where the inspiration from my summer vacation leads me.

What did you do for your summer vacation this year and what did inspire you on your vacation?

Comments (10)

  • Jackie P Neal

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    So great to see you out and about having fun Nat!! I would love to hang with you and Julie- what great companions you would be!
    Thanks so much for sharing hugs,Jackie

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      We are a bit crazy- LOL- but overall tame ;) Have a wonderful weekend and huge hugs back!

      Reply

  • SAM

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    N., loved the art walks, and I have another small world — I was raised on a chicken farm in Vineland, New Jersey — In the back of everybodys’ farms, for miles and miles around; Campbell Soup Company rented our land to raise tomatoes for their famous tomatoe soup — I absolutely started salivating as soon as you mentioned eating South Jersey tomatoes– I still have mouth sores for eating millions of tomatoes every summer — Nat, thanks for the memories !!! love this vacation of yours —SAM

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      How fun – I loooooveee Jersey tomatoes- they are the best :) Have a wonderful weekend!

      Reply

  • Joi@RR

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    As always – I just loved seeing you having some free time Nat. And seeing you and Julie always makes me smile big. You are both so darned cute!!! LOVE YOUR PICASSO – for sure! Someday – I believe we will see YOUR art up on one of those walls. It just seems like it should be there. Glad your book is done and can’t wait to hear the secrets soon!!! Xj.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Awe- thank you Joi! I will spill some beans …well the first set of beans very soon …I think …in about two weeks :) Cannot wait. Have a wonderful day!!!

      Reply

  • Sandra L.

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    I couldn’t help but laugh when I read about your vacation. What a small world we live in. When I first moved to NJ I lived in Sea Isle with my sister and her family and then moved to Cape May where I live now. Sea Isle was nice but barren and CM is just gorgeous. Sounds like you had a fantastic vacation and then you headed to one of my favorite places..Boston. My daughter went to Boston University of the Arts and I loved going to visit. Sadly not much of a vacation for me this year as health is a issue.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Hi Sandra, fun – hope you were safe and sound this weekend with the storm at Cape May! I wish you all the best with your health !!!! have a wonderful week!,nat

      Reply

  • Sue Clarke

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    Love your new top Nat!
    High Tea is always fun with cucumber sandwiches and desserts.
    I had a wonderful summer with 2 camping trips and one week in a cabin on a lake. Inspired by nature I made a painting of birch trees when a painter at the campground gave me a one on one class.
    Now back to school for my son and I (lunch lady with a hair net) and the fall with pumpkin muffins and cooler days ahead with (hopefully) some pretty leaves to draw inspiration from.

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      thank you , Sue! That sounds like a wonderful summer camping time and I love that you had a one on one with a painter and made a birch tree painting. So cool!!! Have a wonderful start at school again – I am not ready yet for pumpkin and fall – LOL :)

      Reply

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Photoshoot at F+W in Cincinnati, Ohio

KalbachFWShootCollage

This June I went to Cincinnati for the photo shoot for my book. It was such a fun week and I loved learning yet another step on how an art & craft book gets put together.

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Christine is the awesome photographer for F+W and here she is taking photos of some of my artwork for the book. What takes me ages to do took her about 2 seconds per painting.

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The interesting part was how the step-outs for the book are being photographed. There was an insane amount of pre work involved. Basically each step needs to be prepared so it can be photographed without stopping and waiting for paint to dry or layers to be applied. So I had to replicate certain projects about 10 times, just so I could show the different stages of a technique. Which …admittedly while preparing wasn’t my favorite part- but it made the photo shoot a breeze!

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We also did some video shooting for the promo video of the book …yeah baby – hair frizz is my name on a hot and humid day – LOL.

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We filmed some footage on a train track – yes for a different reason when just getting rid of me *Wink

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Aaron below was looking out for me and that there is no train coming …well in this pic he is being shooshed away by me so I can take a picture, but for the rest of the shoot he was either protective or attaching clothes pins secretly onto us.

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Justin filming me doing “weird” stuff

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And Christine taking pictures of Justin filming me doing “weird” stuff

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Oh – and Aaron on hour 3 walking around with the clothes pin that I attached onto him unnoticed. Take that – LOL- I can play the game too ;)

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And for the rest of the week I was Ellie …because …you know certain coffee places like to give you new names – hehehe

KalbachFWShoot14

It was a lot of fun and I am so grateful that I get to work with such an awesome team on something that is so dear to my heart. The book is going soon to copy editing, so I have a bit of a breather time before I get it back. Oh man this is really not for the impatient one- hehehehe.

Have a wonderful day my friends .. yours truly

ellie

Comments (10)

  • Maura

    |

    Ellie….. cuz you are, of course, Nat-ellie! lol…. I feel your pain… uh I mean joy! XOXOX

    Reply

  • Joi@RR

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    Sooooooooooooo excited for you Nat. This was so fun to see! XXj.

    Reply

  • JoAnn Campisi

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    It is so fascinating to go behind the scenes….thank you for sharing. It will be fabulous because you are!

    Reply

  • Lea Fritts

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    Looks like you had a blast, even with all the hard work! Love your fun style, as always. You always brighten my day! Hugs!

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

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      Awe -thank you lea- for brighten my day with your sweet comment!!! hugs

      Reply

  • Rae

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    What a fun post to read. I loved seeing the behind the scenes shots and the train track looked like a super fun photo shoot. You are so adorable. AND you are wearing my favorite sneakers! I live in mine and they look like it haha! Love ya!

    Reply

    • Nathalie Kalbach

      |

      heheeh- Rae- mine are newer ones- the old sneakers fell apart after many years. Sometimes I look at them and think “boy …you like really new” LOL. have a wonderful weekend my friend!

      Reply

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