Creative Squad

Creative Squad: Light & Shadow – Robin Seiz

Hello from my Creative Squad! Today we have Robin Seiz sharing with us a project inspired by a journey far away and resulting in the more familiar journey of making art. Robin is using my Elephant Parade and Ornament Wallpaper stencils and our theme: Light & Shadow – In art and maybe also in life, the balance between light and shadow is an important consideration. Play with this equilibrium in your art and show us how the two sides work together.

Light and Dark – Playing with Color

One of the things I remember most about my visit to India is the beautiful patterns and colors of the Saree; the traditional drape that women wear. I remember a friend taking me into a shop and there were hundreds of fabrics laid out.The contrast of light and dark was present in all of them. I just wanted to touch each and every one and drape them over me. It’s with these patterns and color in mind that I chose Nat’s Elephant Parade stencil and mask. It’s the perfect stencil to use for layering colors and pattern. I wanted to try the elephant both with a dark background and light pattern and a light background and a dark pattern to compare the images.

At the beginning of the pandemic I was making masks and I have quite a bit of “featherweight interfacing” left. I have been thinking it would be fun to try and print on this fabric. It has a great texture! So this seemed like the perfect project to combine the two and make a journal cover.

I cut a piece of interfacing 20 inches by 12 1/2 inches and applied White Gesso. I wasn’t worried about covering the entire piece. I just wanted some extra texture and “tooth” to the surface.

The journal cover was going to cover a used book that I had on my shelf, so I measured and  placed a piece of paper in the middle of the interfacing so I would know where the front stopped and the back began. I did the same for the top and the bottom of the journal. I’m not a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination, so when I say, “I measured,” —  I mean I eyeballed it! 

I applied Liquitex Basic Gold acrylic paint with a makeup sponge to the background and then used Golden Quinacridone Magenta to apply the Elephant Parade stencil

Since I wanted to see the light on dark, I applied the gold paint with the patterned stencil over the dark elephant. I absolutely loved the result. 

The background definitely needed something, so I applied Nat’s Ornament Wallpaper stencil which also reminds me of an Indian print. I did this in the dark Golden Quinaacridone Magenta. The problem with using the same color, was the elephant faded into the background rather than appearing in the foreground as I had planned. 

In order for the elephant to stand out from the background I applied white gesso around the edges of the elephant and then added some gold back. This technique brought the elephant to the foreground.

It was time to move on to the back of the journal cover and to experiment with dark on light. Let’s just say this took a lot of work to get anywhere close to the same effect as the front of the journal. Sometimes, what I have in my head just doesn’t turn out the same way on paper (or fabric in this case!) The dark on light paint just didn’t have the same “pop” as the light on dark.

First I tried the same technique of applying the white gesso with a cosmetic sponge. I was in a hurry and didn’t wait long enough for the paint to dry before I applied the gesso and it turned the magenta to a light pink. ICK! The technique that worked on the front, really didn’t work the same for the back. Next, I outlined the elephant with a black marker thinking it would bring it forward; that didn’t work either! I tried adding the dark magenta color around the elephant and didn’t like that.

When all else fails, I usually go back to covering everything with gesso. (again!) This time I let it dry completely. This time I went over the white gesso with gold paint leaving a little edge of white. I also outlined the elephant in gold gel pen. I added the same background stencil. The elephant did come to the foreground, but I’m definitely not as happy with the back of the journal. I did learn an important lesson — the contrast of light on dark is much more striking and pleasing to my eye than dark on light.

This project is an example of why I love mixed media. When things don’t work out the way I have planned, I let go of what I thought would happen, keep adding layers and trying different techniques until I’m satisfied with the end result.

Thank you Robin – loved hearing how you worked through your process to achieve a rich, beautiful result!

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

Don’t forget to check out Nat’s Creative Squad on Instagram too: Each week we post projects, ideas, and inspiration for mixed media art.

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Mirror Mirror – Maura Hibbitts

Happy Tuesday folks and welcome to a post from my Creative Squad. Today we have Maura Hibbitts sharing a colorful and intriguing art journal page with us that uses my Elephant Parade and Mesa Verde stencils and this month’s theme: Mirror Mirror – A mirror can be a reflection of many things. We look into them every day and can see who we are outside and in. But they can also just be a fun visual tool to play with as we flip and reverse images and patterns. Play with reflection this month.

As I was looking through my stencils for this month’s project, I came across Nat’s Elephant Parade and knew I wanted to work with this one. A few days ago, I was speaking with a former student and her parents about her Peace Corps work in Botswana, I am so proud of her! Among the many things we talked about were elephants, as there is a large wildlife refuge near her village with lots of elephants. It also took me back to a trip to India a few years ago with my husband, and I know neither of us will ever forget our ride on an elephant. Color is always a part of my creative soul, and our autumn colors have been so beautiful this year. My sons have captured the reflections of trees and sky in the lakes here, in their photos. These are the ideas that meshed together in my art journal.

I decided to go with the primary colors with the elephant and began with the top one, using the Elephant Parade stencil, a cosmetic sponge, and yellow, orange and red paints. As I worked across the stencil, I blended between the colors a bit. Since I was changing colors as I worked, I took a bit of washi tape (since I have a huge collection) and taped it in place.

I turned the stencil upside down in my art journal, taped it in place, and started sponging in the contrasting colors, red with green, but then I goofed and put orange and purple together instead of orange and blue. Oh well, I still like how it looks with warm colors on top and cool colors below.

With colors left over from my palette, I decided to also do the opposing page (not in my original plan), so took the sponges and swiped the leftover paint onto the page in a circular motion.

Now that I had a second page, I needed to work with it and wanted to find a stencil with an Indian feel to it to go with the elephants. Mesa Verde stencil to the rescue! I taped it in place, and used black paint over the dark colors, white over the light colors, and then I just had to add in some gold. (bright colors and gold remind me of India). After I finished the left side, I looked over at the elephant page, and decided to repeat with the stencil here also.

To create an idea of a reflection with the elephants, I added a line with the graphite pencil and water brush. Once that dried, I felt the elephants needed to stand out more, so added some scribbly lines with a carbon ink pen.

Now for the words…I started with Mirror at the top in hand lettering with a black paint pen. Then, I turned the page upside down and did a reverse of Mirror with a white paint pen, added gold and went around it with black to make it stand out.

While I was writing my Mirror reflection I started thinking about mirrors showing us two images (or more), and how there is often two sides to every story, so I added these words in with a grey paint pen.

Bright colors, reflections, and  journeys all play a part in my art journal pages.

Mirrors can reflect our images, calm waters can act like mirrors to reflect the landscape and sky around them. Artists have used mirrors in their paintings, adding intrigue with a glimpse into that small bit of the painting. We find mirrors in fairy tales…”mirror, mirror on the wall”…and stories.  I’ve been thinking about the stories on both sides of the mirror. Thanks for sharing my reflective journey, Maura

Thank you Maura – love the resulting page with those lovely colors AND love your thoughts on mirrors and their stories.

Want to give Maura’s project a try? You can find all my Stencils in my Online Shop and here are some of the other supplies Maura 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 or tag me #natkalbach how you used my stencils and stamps – I would love to share your projects in my next  “n*Spiration From Around the Globe“.

Comments (1)

  • Aimeslee Winans


    Wonderful art journaling with a wise message. xoxo


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