Creative Squad

Creative Squad: Favorite Art – My Way – Maura Hibbitts

Hello from my Creative Squad! Today we have a mysterious and serene art journal spread from Maura Hibbitts using my Art Deco Fairview, Batik, and Tokyo stencils and my Fairview Fan rubber stamp for our new theme: Favorite Art – My Way – Look at a favorite work of art and create something inspired by it, drawing from the colors, shapes, subject matter, feeling etc. that strikes you most when you look at it.

For reasons I don’t completely understand, I’ve been drawn to “Smoke of Ambergris” by John Singer Sargent, since I first saw this painting in a museum. Usually, bright colors call to me, but this painting is soaked in neutrals. Maybe it’s the hints of far off lands seen in the echo of architecture and floor tile. Maybe it’s the feeling of serenity as the woman lifts her veil over the brazier. There is a mystery here that is both simple and complex, an insight into another time and place, that intrigues me.

I began by brushing chalky grey gesso up and down my art journal pages, leaving some open areas. Next, I added a layer of translucent white paint, again using vertical strokes, to mimic the vertical lines in the painting. I also felt like this created the hint of shadows.

I added a stenciled layer to the dry background using Nat’s Tokyo stencil and pale gold paint.  I like to use a cosmetic sponge for this step, and you always want to use a light touch with the paint to keep the design crisp.

Next up, another stenciled layer. This time, I used Nat’s Art Deco Fairview stencil and a blend of titan buff and burnt umber paints. The layers are building…

Cut a figure out of a magazine or catalog and adhere to the page using collage medium. I added a word sticker over a label on the clothing. I chose this particular figure for the neutral clothing.

I added a bit of stenciling to the dress using Nat’s Tokyo stencil and titan buff paint.

On a piece of watercolor paper, paint it with titan buff and let dry. Next, stamp Nat’s Fairview Fan stamp onto it, using ground espresso distress ink (or any brown ink).

Smudge quinacridone gold paint around the figure and let dry. Edge the figure with a graphite pencil, then use a water brush to create a shadow.

Add three vertical stripes on the opposing corners of the pages with Nat’s Batik stencil and quinacridone gold paint.

Cut the stamped image into a hat to represent the veil in the painting. Also add a portion to the dress.

Hand letter some words to the open page with a brown Posca pen. I chose the words “A sense of mystery in our daily life.” I feel the mystery in the painting “Smoke of Ambergris”, but also sense this is a ritual for the woman in the painting. I wanted to echo the neutral tones of the painting and vertical lines, as well as bringing in a hint of the east into my art journal. Get inspired by a favorite piece of art and create! Maura

Thank you Maura! I love that painting too and how you interpreted the color palette and elements is very pleasing to the eye :)

Give it a try: you can find all my Stencils and Rubber Stamps in my Online Shop and in addition to her magazine image, here are some of the supplies Maura used:

Looking for more projects? Follow the Creative Squad on Instagram here.

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke


    Love love love this Maura!
    The original is peaceful and you’ve captured the feeling perfectly and made it modern.
    This gives me some ideas.


    • Maura


      Thanks so much Sue! I am so glad you enjoyed this, and it gave you some creative ideas. Have fun creating! Maura


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Creative Squad: On Repeat – Maura Hibbitts

Hello from my Creative Squad! Today we have a cool upcycled project from Maura Hibbitts using a fabric bag, my Batik 2 and Far Out ArtFoamies stamps, and our new theme: On Repeat – Let’s play with patterns! Repeat a design motif or shape to create a pattern-inspired project of your choosing.

When you look at the natural world, do you see repeating patterns of color and design? How about when you look at a garden? My own gardens tend to be a bit on the wild and untidy side, but when I see a well cared for garden, I notice how the flower colors are repeated throughout. I’ve also noticed how leaf shape and size can be repeated for emphasis. I think you will even observe this in a wildflower meadow, nothing is growing in isolation, but it is “on repeat.” These observations led me to create this gift bag with a flower garden theme.

I began with an upcycled cloth bag (Texas Tamales – yum!) and cut a piece of cardboard to fit inside. This keeps the paint from seeping through to the other side. Use an acrylic brush to paint both sides with Cobalt Teal Hue, and don’t worry if you see some of the print coming through, it will add to your design. Use a heat tool to dry it quickly if you wish. 

Blend Burnt Umber and Translucent White on the gel plate. Using the brayer, or stamping directly onto the gel plate, transfer the paint to the ArtFoamies Far Out stamp. Stamp a repeated image across the base of the bag on both sides, this will represent the ground or soil.

Next, add Green Gold to the clean gel plate. (I use a baby wipe to get the plate clean, or you can wash it.) Use a brayer and apply the paint to the striped section of the Batik 2 ArtFoamie stamp. Now, stamp this in a repeating pattern of three above the Far Out stamped images. Again, repeat this on both sides of the bag.

Now, add Cadmium Orange Hue to the clean gel plate, and use the brayer to apply the orange to the circular area of the Batik 2 ArtFoamie. Stamp this color on the center image. Repeat the process using the Diarylide Yellow to either side. Now you have three images across the bag front and back.

Use Posca Paint pens in coordinating colors and outline the stamped circle images. Draw a stem for the flower, then outline a few leaves in green from the striped area of the Batik 2 images. You can also doodle a butterfly on each side in Lavender if you like. The butterflies have been visiting my garden lately, so I wanted to add some in.

Let the bag dry completely. Sew buttons to the center of the “flower” with embroidery thread, to complete your flower garden gift bag.

Finish the bag by tying on some ribbon. (I used hand dyed ribbon.) You could also add charms or beads. Your handmade bag is a gift in itself, or you could fill it with seed packets, teas, a few crafty supplies…the ideas are endless.

Repetition is all around us – from our daily routine, to architecture, to patterns in the natural world, like our gardens. Enjoy the repeating moments and have fun expressing them in your art! – Maura

Thank you Maura. I absolutely love how you reimagined the Batik 2 stamp as a flower – looks awesome with the Posca details and a button center!

Give it a try: you can find all my Foam Stamps in my Online Shop and in addition to an upcycled fabric bag, here are some of the supplies Maura used:

Looking for more projects? Follow the Creative Squad on Instagram here.

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Batik Pattern 1 – “X” Marks the Spot!

One of my favorite things about all of my Batik foam stamp designs is that every stamp has a few things going on. You can use the whole thing, but you can also just use one element if you need some interesting patterns or marks. My Batik Pattern 1 stamps are no exception, whether you reach for the full sized Batik Pattern 1 or the Mini Batik Pattern 1 version. Sometimes I need some border elements and the bottom half of the stamp is a go to. Other times I want a bold statement and I need some X’s to “mark the spot” so to speak.

Above all else, I reach for the stamp because it’s so versatile for mark making. Especially if you don’t stamp the full stamp perfectly, and you weave it into your layers, you can suggest all sorts of stuff like maybe it is hinting at hash marks, tallying, or keeping some sort of record.

Even though it looks bold at first glance, Batik Pattern 1 doesn’t have to be the focal point. Use a mellow color and it can blend in with layers and add to the complexity of your image without stealing the show.

It layers up nicely with other foam stamps or in keeping with a love theme, my Love Tag and Love Knots rubber stamps. The abstract marks of the pattern can blend in with backgrounds.

But if you do want to call attention to the design, I totally recommend adding some embroidery to highlight it. Whether you follow the design exactly…

Or maybe just use it as a jumping off point.

So grab your Batik Pattern 1 foam stamp or the cute Mini version, and get stamping – on fabric, in your art journal, or somewhere else that calls to you.

Here are some of the supplies used in these projects:

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Letting Go – Art Journal

I found one of my fat Liquitex markers in Silver and as I rarely use those anymore I wondered if it was still working. It had been laying in the drawer for years.

So I started doing some marks on the paper and wow indeed it was still ok. I love how the big marker leaves a nice textured impression. To be honest this is probably the only way I would use them as they don’t really work with my own current style and artwork, but it was interesting here in my art journal today.

I layered my Batik stencil on top and added some acrylic color over it, then stamped with my Jazzed and Groovy foam stamps and then added more acrylic paint again.

It was fun to just play a little bit with layering – something I like to do often as it makes you see things in a different way and discover new connections.

Here are some of the supplies I used:

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A Look Back – Lady in Red (in my Art Journal)

A Look Back – As I was looking through my blog archives I started to notice a reoccurring fashion trend happening right there in my art journal. There were a lot of girls wearing red. I don’t know why. I usually gravitate towards black or something a bit more neutral. But in the world of my art journal, the girls are rocking this strong hue. It didn’t take me long to find five of them, and I bet if you go back and look at my posts you can find even more. So I thought it would be fun to dedicate this Look Back to the Lady in Red in my art journal :)

This first one is from way back in 2014 when I came out with my Batik Stencil. This cool chick is standing strong in a red trench that means business. And I like how I used the Batik pattern on the left and then printed the reverse on the right using the painted back side of the stencil. You can check out the original post here.

At the start of 2015 my art journal gal is in a red dress AND some fierce makeup too. Don’t mess with her. But maybe you want to borrow something from her wardrobe :) You can see the original post for this page here. It’s all about that layered background – symbolic of the drama that can surround us and overwhelm us if we’re not careful.

Later in 2015 I had my girl in a fun red top and blue hair – she is definitely not afraid of color! Check out the original post here to see the full background and a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that works perfectly for artists.

In 2018 I traveled to Japan and brought back, among other things, collage material and loads of artistic inspo of course! I created this art journal page with a woman in a red jacket and hat, using inksticks and an inkstone – materials used for writing and calligraphy. I made quite a few art journal pages after this trip that were really pared down and only using a color or two. Pretty cool how travel can influence you like that.

Along those same lines, this spread is from just a few weeks later in 2018 and the white page still plays an important role …and my girl is still in red! Although in this page she is sporting a fun red print! I love how she is completely popping off the blue Manhattan stamped background. You can see the original post here.

I hope you enjoyed this. 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’s 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 :)

Here are some of the supplies I used in these projects:

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Stenciled Papers from my Creative Squad

Last month our Creative Squad member Judi Kauffman shared some stenciled papers she made while going through her stack of ink pads. Here is what she did with my Batik and Amsterdam stencils and the beautiful patterned papers that resulted:

I had started out testing my old ink pads to see which ones were worth keeping. Some of the foam on ancient pigment pads had disintegrated, others were dry and discontinued so re-inkers weren’t possible. (The first photo with lots of sheets show where things started.)

The rest of the photos show sheets that I stenciled and dry-brushed. 

Not shown: I trimmed the sheets, cut them into randomly-sized rectangles, and put the prints onto white and ivory card bases in three sizes ranging from A2 to 5×7. Also kept one scrap for a bookmark and made one card with the tiny slivers that were leftovers from trimming. I left one sheet as-is and made Mark Rothko-style cards, another sheet is waiting for some stamping. And I did use a stencil from another company for one sheet as well. (Last week’s Big Project was organizing ALL of my stencils – egad!)

Thanks for sharing Judi! What a great way to get organized and to make something beautiful from the process. And I love that the sheets then went into other card projects and a bookmark etc.

You can find all of my stencils in my Online Store. Here are some of the supplies that Judi used:

Comments (1)

  • Yvonne Marchant


    Think I need to go through long forgotten ink pads hummm big and juicy ones spring to mind though they might be all mud lol


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Creative Squad: Gratitude is my Attitude – Riikka Kovasin

Hello from my Creative Squad! Today we have a post and video from Riikka Kovasin who is sharing her take on our new monthly theme for November and it’s all about being thankful and showing gratitude: Gratitude is my Attitude – This month we are playing along with the November ArtCollab: Showing Gratitude – and specifically giving thanks to those who have helped us along the way in our artistic journey. Who was crucial in helping you become the artist you are today? Let’s give these amazing souls a shout out! Riikka shares her gratitude with a paper quilt using my Batik stencil, Queen Anne rubber stamp and Love Knots rubber stamp.

Quilt of gratitude 

Hello, it’s Riikka here today to share my monthly project. This time the theme was appropriately gratitude as Thanksgiving is just some weeks away.

Gratitude is something that might be easily forgot with all the hustle going on in the world. Gratitude is something I try to show each day, but a reminder to count my blessings made me happy. For this project I was thinking about those who have led me to this place artistically. As I couldn’t possibly name just one, I started thinking about how to honor a bunch of people but still keep the piece cohesive. That made me think about networks, trees, grids and then quilts. My first idea was to dedicate a patch to each person I’m feeling grateful for, but in the end the quilt is more metaphorical than actually consisting of patches dedicated to different people. It’s meant to show that there’s many people I’m feeling grateful for and that the entity is bigger than the sum of its parts.

This piece is surprisingly flat to be my project. I usually strive for dimensional things, but this time a more restricted expression seemed to be in order. I did add something raising from the picture plane, though. There’s a couple of stitches added to the quilt. They play homage to the actual hand sewn quilts but also repeat the X pattern that can be found on the “Batik” stencil and “Love Knots” stamp I used. Some may see an X as a prohibiting sign, but to me it’s usually a combining element. The two lines gather the sides together, make a bridge, combine things. Maybe that stems from my schooling as a seamstress, where for example hemming is done using an X like stitch. 

To have some texture and variation, not just that of color and pattern, I used two different papers in my make. I made the collage paper on top of regular 160g cardstock, which I often use as my starting point, but also on top of hand made paper. The soft handmade paper absorbed the colors differently and also had an uneven surface, so there’s a little variation in the piece. If you want to see how I made this project, please see the video below.

For the color palette I chose to go with my current favorite. The piece could have been almost any color, really, but I feel most at home when I’m working with teal and blue tones. But gratitude needed something more than just cool and aloof blues, it needed warmth, earthiness. For that I combined the teals and turquoises with rusty, amber tones. The contrast between the two colors makes each segment pop and keeps the piece interesting. At least I hope that it does that!

I’m grateful that you stopped by today. Thank you!

Xoxo Riikka

Thank you Riikka – such a thoughtful way to express your gratitude – in a quilt inspired project.

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

Follow the Creative Squad on Instagram here.

Comments (1)

  • Robin


    What a wonderful metaphor and project. Thanks so much for sharing it!


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The Fear of No – Art Journal

“It’s OK to say no, sometimes it is an expression of respect of the person asking.”

First I primed the ledger page with some light gesso as I did not know how the paper would take water. I used my Batik Stencil and traced parts of the pattern with a Derwent water soluble sketching pencil, then used a wet brush to pick up some of the pencil lines, dragging some grey coloring into the shapes.

I also used my Tokyo Stencil with a brush and watercolor and went over the stencil, knowing that it would not be a defined stenciled image, but liking it.

I added a sketch on deli paper, also done with the water soluble pencil, and adhered it with gel medium.

I finished up my page by journaling with a black Posca marker – a super thin one.

Here are some of the supplies I used:

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Print Collaboration from my Creative Squad

I’m sharing a nice collaboration that Judi Kauffman from my Creative Squad did with another artist.

Judi turned her friend Nancy McNiff’s cast-off gel prints done with Nathalie’s Batik Pattern 1, Pattern 2, and Pattern 3 foam stamps into some very striking cards. When the two friends have gel printing days Judi always rescues prints that Nancy would otherwise leave in the trash. Nancy’s much more ruthless, while Judi sees beauty in what Nancy thinks of as duds! Judi added her own touches with black, white and hot pink colored pencils and Tim Holtz’s stickers. 

What a great idea to do some printmaking and card making with another friend. Besides it being a fun activity, you never know what will come from it – collage material, print exchanges, and even a chance to allow ideas to flow back and forth. I just love how this session created some beautiful “trash to treasure” cards!

***A fun surprise: The rectangles on the two larger cards are removable ATCs, signed on the back and held in place with easily removable low-tack tape!***

Here are some of the supplies they used:

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