Sing Your Song – Emilie Murphy

Hello from my Creative Squad! Today we are having Emilie Murphy sing with a wonderful set of patterned cards. She is using my Granada stencil, and my Birds, Mini Motifs, and Fan-fare stamp sets along with our theme: Sing Your Song – Everybody has their own voice, their own groove, their own one-of-a-kind personality. What is something unique about YOU that you are proud of? Don’t be shy, Sing YOUR Song!

Hi there! Hope you are doing well.

I really hesitated about what song I would sing to you this month.  I decided to make some cards because that is something that I love to do. Sending personalized cards to friends and family is one of my favorite things to do.

I first used my 8×10 Gelli plate to create some monochrome backgrounds using the Nat’s “Granada” stencil 9×12 and blue acrylic paints. The Gelli plate is a great tool to make a diversity of background quickly. I showed here just one example. If you are not familiar about what a Gelli plate is and what we can do with it, I encourage you to go on the Youtube channel of Gelli Arts.

I started to apply a dark color of blue first.

I right away placed down Nat’s Granada stencil then removed some paint with a piece of copy paper.

Then I applied a mid-tone color of blue and an off-white color to get a gradient of different blues.

Here is what I got:

Then I kept going to get a variety of monochrome backgrounds.

I always have fun playing with my Gelli plate but I have to say that the best part of this project was to play stamping with Nat’s new Mini Motifs stamp set. The possibilities are really endless to make patterns. I also used some Fan-fare stamps to complete my patterns because these two stamps sets go so well together.

Let me guide you now how I made my cards. They measure 4 ½ x4 ½ inches. I used white cardstock as base.

I cut the backgrounds made previously in 3 ¾ x 3 ¾ inches pieces and darkened the edges with my black Moonlight Duo ink pad.

I cut also some 2 ½ x 2 ½ cardstock pieces that are going to be the centered pieces of my cards. I colored them with my Moonlight duo Ink Pads. I just rubbed directly on the paper, both of the color and white parts of the pad, until I was satisfied with the tint of the color I got.

Then I stamped on them different patterns using the Mini Motifs, Birds and Fan-fare stamps set with my Moonlight duo Ink pads.

Following are a few examples:

I also used some embossing white powder for some patterns.

To add some interest I added details and final touches with some Posca pens and a 0.5 Micron pen.

Finally, I assembled my cards. I matted my centered 2 ½ x 2 ½ inches pieces on a 2 5/8 x 2 5/8 piece of black cardstock to have a thin black border.

I finished my cards by adding a black border with a micron pen around the background piece.

Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and would like to give a try.  These new stamp sets offer so many possibilities to make nice and unique cards in a short period of time.

Have a good rest of the week and see you next month!

Thank you Emilie – love all the different patterns you explored through these! What fun to see the possibilities!

Give it a try: you can find all my Stencils and Rubber Stamps in my Online Shop and here are some of the other supplies Emilie used:

Feel inspired? Working on something yourself that you’d like to share?  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 next  “n*Spiration From Around the Globe“.

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Stroll Through the Hood – June 2020

DISCLAIMER: This Blog Post contains images that will show you that I am a supporter of the Black Lives Matter Movement.  Some might think of it as totally inappropriate to post, hate me for it, think this has no place on an art related blog or social media. If you have a problem with this, you might be better off looking at something else . Don’t email me to complain, don’t visit my blog or facebook anymore because I might post things like this again and that might get you in a grumpy mood..

Strolls through my hood get me out of my studio, they help me get unstuck and often I get inspired by what I see and get new ideas to create something. It is part of my philosophy about Artful Adventures in Mixed Media – which is the subject of my book. Here are some photos that I gathered in the last couple weeks – as New Jersey and New York are slowly going to Phase one and now to Phase 2 after the lockdown.

The first time I walked from uptown to downtown again after months of lockdown was weird and felt as if I would see things anew. I noticed all those “Give Up” graffitis and love how different versions of “never” appeared on top of them.

This spoke “untold story” to me.

I love all those little messages on the stoops – I wish we had a stoop – our house apparently used to have one as we could see from old tax pictures but in the 40s it was taken down from most of the houses in our streets.

On our bike rides during the lockdown my friends Cindy, Paula and I had discussed how going back to using the Path and Subway to go to NYC for work and other things made us quite nervous and so we decided to actually do it while things were still very quiet to ease ourselves back into it. It was good to figure out how much you actually touch etc. before everything is cramped again. It took about half an hour before I could find my subway card as I had totally forgotten which bag I had carried 3 months ago when I last rode the subway.

This is the WTC station – which is usually packed on a Monday at 10 am …pretty eerie. Now I am sure it is way fuller again as Phase 2 is of the reopening in NYC started and a lot of people from Jersey City as well are going back to work. I am not using the Path or subway unless I absolutely have to …like for a doctor’s appointment but at least I have thought about how to tackle this.

Just a couple days after the horrible the murder of George Floyd by Policemen this mural popped up in my neighborhood. It is really powerful.

I have thought long about breaking with the lockdown to go to the protests here in Jersey City, but I have made up my mind that and decided I would make sure to stay on the edges, distanced, with a mask and go if it would get too crowded.

After the protests I made sure to get tested each time and stay home until I received the test results.

The protests in Jersey City and all over New Jersey were peaceful and businesses would hand out masks, hand sanitizer and water. One of the protests to which 4000 people came, was organized by a local High School. It was amazing to hear the young organizers speak for hours about the issues. It made me hopeful for our future.

And they have a lot of humor too ;)

One of our little cafes , Crema, in the neighborhood created this clever booth in front of their window. It makes it easy to order and receive pastries, ice cream and coffee contactless . So clever. We are hoping that most of the small businesses here will make it …what a tough time this was and still is.

New Kicks – I thought I would have some custom made with my painting for my Stroll through the Hoods :)

Mingus has a new hangout spot …lol- he cracks us up.

Loved this message and the font on the plywood of a construction side.

Two beautiful houses – the one on the left beautifully restored, the one on the right falling apart and abandoned.

I love this building – it is also empty.

This is the original wallpaper in a dessert place that just opened up , all these storefronts that haven*t been used for ages, have amazing hidden treasures. I am so happy that the new place kept this.

Detail of a beautiful Art Deco Entrance – love the weathered colors that are still visible and isn’t it just amazing?

Little bike ride along this mural.

I hope you are all well – sending you Love!!! Until next month with hopefully more strolls through the hood.

Comments (5)

  • susan


    i always enjoy your strolls and it is great that you share them with us. some of us don’t get much scenery on our own strolls. i adore your brutally honest disclaimer! the birthday balloons and flowers made me tear up … great grief comes from great love. i love the chalk messages on the steps. someone has chalked loving and supportive messages in our grocery store parking lot. i enjoy your architecture and kitty pictures. your shoes! your shoes!!! i do believe this is my favorite stroll yet.
    many thanks!!!


  • Vee Zellers


    I love your strolls through your hood. you have made me much more aware
    of the beautiful architecture around in ‘my hood’. Your view of the surrounding is
    so interesting and makes me THINK!

    LOVE you shoes!!

    Please continue being safe and keep STROLLING.


  • Rebecca


    I always enjoy your ‘stroll through the hood’ photos, but today’s post really touched my heart. Thank you for marching! And thank you for your care to test, etc. after each one (a testament to your care for others)–it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, too, for sharing about the UnMuted series on Instagram–still checking out all of those amazing artists. Last, but not least, always love seeing pictures of sweet Mingus. Wishing you many, many more happy and safe strolls!


  • Sue Clarke


    Great new kicks!
    The “we can’t breathe” is incredible and beyond sad into angry for sure!
    The pics of the two houses is sad, yet hopeful. I wish that the house on the right would get redone as well.
    I wonder if it was hard for the owners of the house on
    the left to make the decision to fix their home when the one next door is falling down? I wonder if that reflects on humankind.
    Peace and wishing you well Nat.


  • Deb


    Loved your post. Really poignant. Really enjoyed the photos. Loved Mingus and your new shoes are Amazing! Enjoy many more strolls in them!


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Certain – Art Journal

“It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” ― James Baldwin

I think we are seeing some of this terrible combination at work these days so I had to use this quote in my art journal.

Pretty simple to bring this page together with acrylic paint and my foam stamps. I used both of my Midtown sets for this page to show the size difference between Midtown and Midtown Minis.

And the quote in uni posca black with white signo overtop.

Here you can see the two stamp sets and how they compare.

Here are some of the supplies I used:

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A Look Back – Cool Stuff You May Have Missed 17 – Acrylic Spray Paint

A Look Back – This time I’m looking at one of my favorite mixed media supplies – Acrylic Spray Paint. I particularly love how you can layer and apply a veil of color with it, and it is so perfect with using stencils too. Below are 5 ways to experiment with Acrylic Spray Paint in this Look Back.

A Look Back is a blog series to show you some projects and posts that you may have missed – sometimes going WAY back in the archive. I think it will be fun to revisit a few ideas that we haven’t seen for a while. I’m excited to see how a little look back might inspire something new in the future :)


First up we are going back (way back) to 2013 and this post about some of my essential supplies – as you can see I have been a fan of acrylic spray paint for a long time now :) I list a bunch of ways I loved using it back then – many of which I still do!


From 2016 you can watch this Creative Ice Breaker video and see me in action with my Lily Wallpaper Stencil and some white liquitex spray paint. I love how spray paint can make a super crisp design or a soft focus one with a stencil.


Next up is this post from 2017 where I use Montana spray paint for the first time – a favorite brand of water-based spray paints with a cool matte finish. Here I use my popular Versailles stencil:


In this post from 2017 I show how to layer up 3 different stencils with spray paint and make it work. Here I get nice results from using my Mesa Verde, Granada, and Santa Fe stencils that all work well together.


Finally, here is a post from 2019 when I was doing the Stencilfied Challenge. It’s a really nice example of what look you can get from blending just a couple colors of spray paint with one single stencil – in this case my Buenos Aires stencil. This is one of my favorite ways to use acrylic spray paints for a background.

I hope you enjoyed this look back and maybe it inspired you to give something new a try :)

Here are some of the supplies I used:

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Be the Change – Art Journal

“Everybody wants change but nobody wants to change. Be the change!” A good message I think when you feel powerless – you CAN make a difference and be the change!

I used acrylic paint and acrylic markers here for my building scene and background. I had fun focusing on some of the patterns in the architecture.

I added paint splatters to bring everything together.

Here are some of the supplies I used.

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Sing Your Song – Nicole Watson

Hello from my Creative Squad! Today we have a gorgeous art journal spread from Nicole Watson that will have you singing your song too! In addition to my Early Bird rubber stamp, my Valley Road stencil, a seminal poem by Maya Angelou, and an array of ephemera, Nicole was inspired by this month’s theme: Sing Your Song – Everybody has their own voice, their own groove, their own one-of-a-kind personality. What is something unique about YOU that you are proud of? Don’t be shy, Sing YOUR Song!

Layers or ephemera grunge, handwriting/text, stabilo pencils and gesso often fill my journal pages. These are just some of the tools that I use to sing my song. When Nat introduced this month’s theme to us, I didn’t know what song I would sing with these tools. However, as the events of the world have unfolded in these past few weeks, I haven’t been able to get the words of Maya Angelou’s poem “Caged Bird” out of my head so, I used this poem as inspiration for my page.

Here is a video showing my process:

After gessoing my pages, I layered them with ephemera from music books and handwritten notebooks using matte medium. Then, I scrunched up some pattern tissue and added it to my pages as well. I really like how effortlessly pattern tissue adds texture to pages. To push back some of the strong black lines on the tissue and unite all the elements, I spread some watered-down gesso different placed on the ephemera.

Next, I grabbed a charcoal pencil to sketch in a bird cage. Using a charcoal pencil allows me to easily erase sketchy marks I don’t like (as you’ll see in the video!) and the charcoal also adds to the grunge on the page. When I was finished with the sketch, I grabbed my stabilo all to trace the lines and then activated it with water. I also used my graphite stabilo to add sketchy lines to the cage and the other page.

Then, I added some color using acrylic paint with my paintbrush and with Nat’s Valley Road stencil. 

Since I didn’t want the stenciled images to stand out as the top layer, I used paint, stabilo, and gesso to push them back a bit. I added a few more touches here and there with splatters and some additional blue paint to the bird cage.

I knew I wanted to add part of the poem to my page, so I typed an excerpt from it with my typewriter. 

I also wanted a large focal point word and thought about stickers, but wanted a more vintage look. I hunted around my studio and dug in boxes for a “sing” flashcard I just knew I had…which I couldn’t find! So, I dug through all my flashcards and found “fly” instead. If you don’t have old flashcards, you can use large letter stickers or type something on your computer in a larger font and use paint to grunge up. After adding some paint spatters to the flashcard, I layered the text on the flashcard and felt something needed to draw more attention to that area, so I sketched some circles down the page.

To add the bird, I stamped Nat’s Early Bird stamp on a loose sheet of watercolor paper and also an old notebook page sheet (the same one I typed on). I didn’t know which one would look better, so I painted them both. I decided I liked how the white watercolor paper helped the bird pop a bit more. After securing the bird to the page, I also added some flicks of the fuchsia and orange paint to the pages to carry the bird color across them.

Often my art journal pages capture memories and moments in time. Before I began this spread, I paged through my journal a bit reminiscing about where I was in life when I created some of the pages. They are how I sing my song not only with technique, but allow me to process and journal about life.

Thank you Nicole! Love your beautiful sombre palette and the powerful message here! 

Give it a try: you can find all my Stencils and Rubber Stamps in my Online Shop and in addition to various pieces of ephemera, here are some of the other supplies Nicole used:

Feel inspired? Working on something yourself that you’d like to share?  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 next  “n*Spiration From Around the Globe“.

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Best of Creative JumpStart Vol. 2 – Online Workshop Bundle

Today I’m happy to announce that Best of Creative JumpStart Vol. 2 is now on sale! This is the second bundle of mixed media lessons by some of our amazing CJS artist teachers, this bundle includes videos from Creative JumpStart 2016.

For just $9.99 you will receive access to download links for 12 inspiring Creative JumpStart lessons from 2016. Here are the stellar teachers and lessons in this bundle:

  • Marsha Valk – CJS16 Picasso – Cardboard Wall Installation
  • Mystele Kirkeeng – CJS16 Kahlo – Stucco Panel Portrait
  • Rae Missigman – CJS16 Matisse – Colorful Art Journal Blooms
  • Andrea Gomoll – CJS16 Kahlo – Watercolor Floral Portrait
  • Natalya Khorover (Aikens) – CJS16 Kiefer – Abstract Stitched Canvas
  • Nathalie Kalbach – CJS16 Kiefer – Texture Exploration on Canvas
  • Birgit Koopsen – CJS16 Basquiat – Heart vs. Head Portrait
  • Julie Fei-Fan Balzer – CJS16 Matisse – Watercolor Stick Portrait of a Lady
  • Michelle Ward – CJS16 Matisse – Stencils and Spray Paint
  • Catherine Scanlon – CJS16 Picasso – Floral Painting Inspired by Words
  • Jane LaFazio – CJS16 Kahlo – Watercolor Flowers Collage
  • Jodi Ohl – CJS16 Basquiat – Out of Your Head and On to The Canvas

Sign up HERE today for a nice bundle of technique and project lessons from the Creative JumpStart archive!

And if you haven’t yet, you may still sign up for Best of CJS Vol.1 with videos from 2014 and 2015. Stay tuned for more Best of CJS video bundles and enjoy Jumping with us again :)

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