Creative Squad

Artful Adventures – Michelle Rydell


Hello from the Creative Squad! Today we have a post from Michelle Rydell sharing an art journal that she created for taking on some weekly Artful Adventures. She used my Hamburg stencil, and this month’s theme: Artful Adventures. Are you planning an Artful Adventure this summer? Whether it’s a day at the beach or a full blown International Vacation, don’t forget to take the time to soak up the uniqueness of your new surroundings and gather some inspiration for future artmaking. This month we’re turning to Nat’s new book Artful Adventures in Mixed Media, to help us find inspiration as we travel. We’ll be noticing color, shape, texture and more and then we’ll be taking that to the studio to help inspire some mixed media projects. Join us in the adventure!

I have to say that I was very inspired by Nat’s “Artful Adventures” book!  (and I am not just saying that because this is her blog – ha). I’m a color enthusiast and Artful Adventures is a visual feast of color!  The chapter about gathering inspiration from books and movies got me thinking about that, and I knew I wanted to take inspiration from her book in some way.

I decided to combine that with another book that has really inspired me, called  “The Artist’s Way,” by Julia Cameron.  It’s a book about rediscovering your creative self, and it really helped me do just that. One of the tools that the book suggests, is that you take yourself on a weekly artist date; which is an excursion alone, to do something that feeds your creative soul.  It can be anything from a long walk in nature, to visiting a junk store, to going to a movie. I’m telling you this, because it’s one thing from the book that I rarely make time to do, even though I really want to; and Nat’s book gave me an idea. What if I use my weekly artist dates as a springboard for my art journaling?  That would inspire me to actually do them! I’m going to make a special journal for recording my artist’s dates!

So, my project for today is inspired by both books –  “Artful Adventures,” and “The Artist’s Way.”

Here’s how I made my little book…

I happened to have an old October Afternoon chipboard mini-book cover lying around, so I decided to use that as my substrate. It’s 5 x 7 – just the right size for recording my adventures.  You could use any piece of chipboard or even heavy cardboard instead. I wanted to use the gorgeous colors from the Nat’s painting on the Artful Adventures cover as inspiration, so I gathered up some paints that matched as closely as possible…

I gessoed the chipboard first, so the paint wouldn’t soak into the chipboard, keeping the colors brighter.  Then I added a couple of coats of a dark teal color as a base.


I used the Hamburg stencil to add interest to the background. I sponged small areas at a time with a lighter teal, while twisting and turning the stencil to create movement and texture.

I love the beautiful green on Nat’s painting, so I attempted to mimic that by adding yellow over the teal –  as a border, and also dripping it across the top.  At first it wasn’t showing the green, so I sprayed some water on the drips to make them more transparent, and then it mixed with the teal to create green – yeayyy!  I hope I did it justice!

I wanted to add some contrast so I decided to add a pink flower to the cover.  I painted the center on copy paper, and then added the Hamburg stencil pattern again, with a subtle color change.

I pasted the pink flower middle onto another layer of white copy paper, and drew the petals for the flower.  Then glued it onto the front of the cover.  One of the drips looked like a stem to me, so I outlined it in black. Then I finished it off by adding a title with a white poster paint pen. Here’s the finished book-

And one last photo so you can see the pink and coral title page I painted, so the word “play” would show thru the cover in pink.  I plan to put a quote about Artist’s Dates here. The inside of the front cover was created by adding a layer of gesso to the same bright pinks and corals, then rubbing some of it off with a dry paper towel.

My plan is to add to this book each time I go on an artist date, by writing my thoughts and creating a little art piece inspired by the experience.  I hope you like it, and maybe you will try making one too!

Thank you Michelle! We hope you have many happy art dates!!! Michelle used the following (some are affiliate links):

Play along with us too and share your Artful Adventures with us: 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 (4)

  • Sue Clarke


    Thank you for your detailed instructions and that teal is gorgeous Michelle.


    • Michelle Rydell


      thank you Sue! I’m so glad you liked the tutorial!


  • Julie Tucker


    This is gorgeous! LOVING the colors!!!!!!!!


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Pattern Lovers – Tina Walker


Happy Tuesday from the Creative Squad! Today Tina Walker is starting us off on a new theme for June with a super cool canvas and a fun art journal spread using my Hamburg stencil and my Cardboard stamp set. This month’s theme is: Pattern Lovers Love Patterns: We admit it – sometimes we go a little crazy over cool patterns. We see them everywhere and whether it’s in the human-made stuff all around us or in the designs by Mother Nature, we love them all. So this month we’re playing with pattern and giving it the attention it deserves!

Hi! Tina Walker here today with a new month and a new theme. June’s theme is a theme that I am super excited about – Patterns!

Patterns and repeating images are some of the best ways to create interesting and eye-catching art. I am always looking for patterns in nature and for ways to create patterns out of patterns. My main project this month uses 1 stencil and 1 stamp to create an interesting piece full of pattern on pattern. Not only was it fun to make, it was quick and easy.

Place your favorite Nat StencilGirl stencil over a primed canvas, I used Hamburg. Using spray-mist, acrylic paint, or inks, paint over the entire canvas. I used Marabu Acrylic Art sprays that are permanent. Once they dry, you can layer one spritz over another without creating a muddy brown color. Love!

Randomly stamp canvas. Here I used Pie Top from Nat’s Cardboard stamp set.

Repeat this step, rotating the stencil 90 degrees so that the stenciled image overlaps the previous layer.

Repeat until you have a base that is full of yummy layers and pattern on pattern.

Place several widths of artist or masking tape over your stenciled/stamped canvas to create a pattern. I trimmed the edge for an interesting look.

Make sure the tape is securly adhered to the canvas.

Using your favorite spray paint, spray entire canvas in contrasting or coordinating color, I chose white. Then allow to dry completely. Remove tape.

Reveal the magic of pattern on pattern. This project took approximately 30-45 minutes, from start to finish! My kind of art.

As I was adding my stenciled layers to my canvas, I didn’t want to waste the gorgeous paint on the surface of the Hamburg stencil, so I ‘stamped’ the stencil to an art journal page. Not only did my patterned canvas create a super easy and fun piece, I had an instant background started on an art journal spread.

Here’s the spread I created with ‘stamp off’.

I love it when one project creates another. And pattern on pattern…be still my heart! ♥

I hope you enjoyed my projects today. Have a great day!

Thank you Tina for two projects that definitely celebrate PATTERN! Tina used these supplies – some links 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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What Makes You Different – Art Journal Page

I made this art journal page with my new 9×12 Hamburg Stencil which was inspired by my hometown Hamburg in Germany.

The “H” in the pattern refers to the city abbreviation of HH for Hansestadt Hamburg, and is found on license plates in the city.

I used grey spray paint over the stencil laid over a previously painted background

For the journaling I used the ArtGraf Varco sticks- which I love love os much and then went over the writing again with a wet brush to move the pigments.

The magazine image was painted over with some acrylic markers and pencils.

Here is a supply list for the spread

Comments (2)

  • Julie


    Love this page! Love the colors, the sketching over the magazine person and oh, that stencil. Thank you for sharing.


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Europe Workshop Tour- Part 3 – Short Stop in Germany


After Art Mesa in Madrid, Spain I flew to Hamburg, Germany for 3 days of Fun, Friends and Food. It was quite crazy with every two hours a different place and friend to visit. That was the good thing – the bad was, that the summer was basically missing. I don’t think I saw the sun in the time there -and I had to buy a warm rain jacket – and shoes (ohhhh to bad – LOL)


Staying in my old hood always makes me happy. For some it is a nightmare for me it is “home”


Fun sign – I liked it


Best subway ride going up alongside the harbor


The Elb Philharmony – also seen from the subway


short fly by at city hall


and my favorite office supply store Büromarkt Hansen – family owned – which also carries all those yummy Liquitex Spray Paints !


Did I say food? Oh and of course a little beer – yep – we are in Germany after all.



A walk at the harbor after dinner with a friend


And good old Bismarck crowned with a capricorn. A nice art action to criticize the way some antiquated and right groups in Germany use Bismarck and his Monuments for a weird personality cult.


Fun decoration piece at one of my friends house.

And that was it from Germany – next up is my trip to Finnland ;)

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Stroll Through The Hood … the new and old one

DISCLAIMER: This Blog Post contains a picture with a peeing panda – some might think of it as totally inappropriate . 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 anymore because I might post things like this again and for sure shield your precious kids’ eyes !


A lot of times I get asked what inspires me. And one of my key answers is always “a stroll through the hood”. It might be street art, it might be thoughts or feelings connected with certain sights, it might be stuff I find to buy…in one way or the other you might find the photos, the thoughts, the feelings, the colors or anything from those strolls in my art journal, a mixed media project or a scrapbooking layout.

I would love to show you once a month what inspired me while strolling through my neighborhood. I hope you like the little insights into my daily life where I live . This is also a wonderful way for me to remind myself on the inspiring things in the hood. Maybe you get inspired by those posts and even invite ME to a stroll in YOUR hood – feel free to grab the logo and leave a comment for me on the post and share!

This time I am showing you some pictures of my stroll through my old hood in Germany – Hamburg (as I was there in May) and through the new hood in Jersey City :)


Love this paste up by El Bocho and yes it was so right …because I saw it the morning I came into Hamburg right after the red eye flight…gotta love jet lag…not ;)


Love this – one of my favorite junk stores with this fun sign reminding me of how much I miss German costumer service …not ;) – Sign reads: “The letters cost 1EUR and up! If you want to bargain because you think that is fun, you pay a higher price!”

If you know the rules you are fine, don’t you think? LOL


Fun fun fun colors and tile art


Miss this old squatted theater in the hood…yes, I know some of you might think of it as a terrible eye sore…I love it because this building is it’s last domain standing against tearing down wonderful old buildings in this hood and putting up new unaffordable apartment houses or another expensive empty office building.


This paste up just made me laugh ….a lot


and this

And now back to Jersey City – I love my new neighbor hood – there is so much to discover still:


Here is a street in Little India- so colorful and oh the food ….so good!


I love this probably 50s sign – and the fire stairs…


The cast iron around the entrances – so beautiful – I guess it makes sense that this is also referred to as the New Orleans Alley. I met Walt who lives here all his life and is a “bit” older, he told me that the steel workers that lived here a hundred years ago, didn’t like this at all because this reminded them of work. I find it so fascinating how these things change with different people – I sure love it but I might think different if you would put computer screens around my entrance or easels !


I love this mural by Alice Pasquini  – the colors make me swoon!


Some pictures of a recent bicycle tour on Liberty State Island. It was beautiful -just a couple minutes and you are out there in some nature and you see the city skylines (Jersey City and New York City) and it is amazing – what a million dollar view…for free :)


and another one for free


and this…this is the old train station in Liberty State Park. After the immigrants arrived at Ellis Island and went through the whole ordeal of immigration, all the people that would not stay in New York would start their journey to the rest of America from this train station. Which is now falling apart. Sad…such an amazing place, so much history and so many stories behind it! You can almost hear the hustle and bustle.


And then there is time for a picnic…with a free view of the Lady and crowded tourist ferries landing at her feed…or mine …or whatever.

I hope you enjoyed this stroll through my old and new hood , you must have liked it…I mean… I showed you a peeing panda, that is pretty impressive, don’t you think?  ;)

have a beautiful day!


Comments (6)

  • Vicki


    I’ve never seen a peering Panda! Thank you!!


  • Gerit


    Love all of it, the peeing panda make me lol


  • Sue Clarke


    It’s so fun to see what you see Nat. I love the wrought iron and it’s interesting to think about it from a worker’s perspective that they don’t wish to see (at home). I tend to take pics with one shoe in the field of view too so I liked that one especially.


  • Laura Strack


    I love going on your strolls. Thanks for taking me with you. Some day, I would love to visit Hamburg or New York and your strolls entice me more and more.


  • Kathy P


    Awesome eye for the artistic elegance of a place, Nat! Loved that beautiful mural, too—AND that cute panda!!! You should some day take a trip to Charleston and Savannah- I think you would enjoy much scenic beauty in the homes and wrought iron and cityscapes there so much! Thanks for sharing this again with us here!


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      I love Charleston and Savannah. I have been there on my very first trip to the U.S. in 94- but def wanna go back ! Thanks for visiting me Kathy :)


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Stroll Through The Hood



A lot of times I get asked what inspires me. And one of my key answers is always “a stroll through the hood”. It might be street art, it might be thoughts or feelings connected with certain sights, it might be stuff I find to buy…in one way or the other you might find the photos, the thoughts, the feelings, the colors or anything from those strolls in my art journal, a mixed media project or a scrapbooking layout.

I would love to show you once a month what inspired me while strolling through my neighborhood. I hope you like the little insights into my daily life where I live (this is the last one from Hamburg, Germany). This is also a wonderful way for me to remind myself on the inspiring things in the hood. Maybe you get inspired by those posts and even invite ME to a stroll in YOUR hood – feel free to grab the logo and leave a comment for me on the post and share!



While on a Beatles-Tour with a friend (yes…you gotta do some sightseeing in your own city) I actually for the first time realized the St. Joseeh Church in my neighbor-neighborhood St. Pauli. The Beatles started their career in Hamburg and it is said that Lennon once said: “I might have been born in Liverpool but I grew up in Hamburg.” Well…same for me- I might have been born in Düsseldorf but I grew up here as well…or so I think…snigger ;)



Actually I let you down a bit on photos of the hood- LOL- there will be photos of me in the hood mostly. I asked Andreas Muhme to take some photos of me in the hood as a memory- and we had a wonderful morning.


He always makes me laugh and do the worst faces…I guess it is a face of the hood ;)



Here is actually my bestie, former room mate and maid of honor Esther goofing around in front of our old apartment. We used to live in the yellow house in the background which back then wasn’t as cutely renovated and we froze a lot with wooden windows and had the ugliest bathroom you could imagine. But oh I loved this little place – lot’s of happy memories connected with it.



And just recently they put up these tourist signs in my hood. It is quite funny for me- because 20 years ago when I moved here, my family would anxiously call me because they heard bad stuff again about my area on the news and would asked if I was ok. Nobody wanted to live here, the rents were still low and now, the rent skyrocketed, and it is constantly changing – some things are good some things are not good at all…this neighborhood is tourist destination when you go to Hamburg. I made a joke when I saw the sign and said “I guess it is indeed time to go now” ;)


And so..this was the last stroll through my Hamburg Hood (at least online ;) ) …I am moving in less than 2 weeks. Packing up stuff, doing lot’s of paper work, sorting, giving things away to friends, seeing lot’s of friends every day…slowly saying good bye to this wonderful place that was my home for 20 years. But I am so excited to stroll through my new hood in Jersey City next month and I cannot wait to share pictures with you.

Have a wonderful day!




Comments (17)

  • Scra


    Thank you SO much for sharing. Beautiful pictures of you!!! :D

    And how exciting to move to the big U.S!! That’s a big change!!! :)

    Moving both business and family — You go girl! :D

    You are brave!! :D


  • fran from down under


    Thank you so much for sharing the hood with us Nat. It has been a wonderful journey and I’m looking forward to following you as you start a new phase of your life .All the best . ENJOY


  • fran from down under


    Thank you so much for sharing the hood with us Nat. It has been a wonderful journey and I’m looking forward to following you as you start a new phase of your life .All the best . ENJOY


  • Madeline Rains


    This must be challenging. I love all the strolls through Hamburg that you have shared. On to new adventures!

    Your pictures also make me sad. I lived in exciting cities my whole life until I met my husband and moved to the country and I still miss that vibrancy of city life. But I am doing my best to embrace country life.


  • lily


    Lovely stroll. Bittersweet….. You will me missed!
    Looking forward to the new strolls in your new hood!!


  • suzanne bouchard


    Nathalie I wish you all the best in the USa but i really don’t understand why you are mking this move!


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Fragmented II or Hamburg*End(si)e Canvas

This is my favorite canvas that I created for the exhibition. Actually not only for the exhibition. I created it already with a place to hang it in my mind in our new home in Jersey City. It is a wall that is in the middle of our dining and living room – there is a little fireplace in the wall. So the plan is to hang this canvas on one side and make another one the same size  70x80cm (27.5×31.5 inches) – or the other side of the wall but with a Jersey City or NYC theme- have to see ;). mmmh- now I wonder if that is a size I can get in the States- better inquire – LOL .


Again symbols, landmarks and typical Hamburg-related things on this canvas.



I painted with Liquitex Heavy Body Acrylic Paints, Markers and Spray Paints.



After this canvas I am almost striving to do even bigger canvases…but then there is the question, where to hang it – LOL.

Have a colorful day today :)



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Sketch Show



Still sketching along. I love it – I am not about to sketch faces..not my thing (yet- LOL- who knows ;) -but I do love to sketch things that I have seen many times. It is amazing how many things you discover when you look closer because you want to sketch them. For example I didn’t realize that I could see the roof of the convention center from our roof terrace, or how green our city really is or …



I cannot wait to also explore my new home next month through sketching. It is fun- try it!

Have a wonderful day


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Hamburg*End(Si)e or…my very first exhibition



So last friday was the day of my first exhibition. If you are a regular reader of my blog and newsletter you know ow long it took me to do this and how scared and excited I was about the whole thing :) For the first time showing a bigger amount of my art work to friends and other people who have nothing to do with Mixed Media usually. Also most of my friends never really saw or got what I am doing anyway – not that they are not interested  – they just couldn’t grasp the concept ;)

Let me say right away – IT WAS AWESOME! – so you are done reading, if that is all you want to know – LOL – for the rest…let’s get into the details why it was one really cool experience!

1. Creating Process



Once I had the theme of the Exhibition in my head – a mixture between all Hamburg-Related things -mixed with a good bye twist – I had ideas for more canvases to create. I spent many days from early morning till late night in my studio painting and it was awesome. I loved working with my favorite techniques – and as I said many times before- if you master the technique it is quite easy to just let creativity flow.



My obstacles were of other nature …painting on canvases that are bigger than my usual surfaces…



and I tackled that too and I loved it. I want to do more of those!



I am ready for it ;)

2. Preparing the Exhibition



It was pretty amazing how much work even in such a small exhibition goes – I never really thought about it…see it is all a learning process for me. Gathering the artwork which I thought would fit best for the rooms and theme…



planning out in which rooms which art work can hang …trying to take into account space, wall size, windows and light – I didn’t do the best job on the light in one room as at a certain point the light was glaring on the pictures distracting the view a bit- but oh well…that is why you do your first exhibition in a small and familiar place then ;)



The hardest while preparing…coming up with names and …prices…the never ending discussion for an artist how to price your work. I was told I priced it to low by all of the people at the exhibition…I also talked a long time at the exhibition to a friend who is working at the Art Academy here in  Hamburg and she stated that in her experience it is mostly the women that have a problem pricing their art work, while the guys just do it. She has seen rows and rows of art students and it is always the same issue. Interesting…why is that? Well…I guess I fulfill the norm here ;)



Transporting and packing the artwork…some are super easy, some are causing problems because of fragility. I also learned that huge canvases do not fit in a smart car…and I also learned that carrying a huge canvases for half an hour in about 90 Fahrenheit (32 C)  is quite straining…Note to myself: ASK friends for help next time ;) On the other hand – carrying canvases around in a bag and having strangers ask you if they can take a look to hear them saying “Oh that is so cool, where did you buy that?” is also pretty fun…



Hanging the work…it is good if you have a friend who is 6.76 feet tall (2.06m) – you do not need a ladder and hanging stuff is a breeze ;)

3. The Exhibition



It was the hottest day ever and the last day of the school vacation – so only 1/3 of the people we invited came – it was small but yet wonderful . Sorry for not many pictures of the exhibition and people itself – I was way to busy and excited to take any…

It was special to show my work and the coolest part was hearing what others thought of my work, what they saw, what they liked (very different tastes- so fun to notice that once again ;) )



I loved when they discovered the tiniest details, asked questions and told me what they thought or felt seeing a certain canvas.



And after a while I started relaxing too and joining the party that formed on the balcony later that evening when it got a bit cooler outside when the sun started to go down



and we even got a nice firework to see to top off the exhibition :) What a great way to say an early good bye to Hamburg -even though we won’t move for another five weeks ;)



4. Conclusion

It was awesome. It was special for me and I am sure I will always remember this first intimate moment showcasing my work life. I had the feeling people liked my work and I even sold five canvases. I am stoked to know that four of them will be hanging in three different law offices throughout Hamburg (St. Pauli, Eimsbüttel and Altona). I am so giddy about it -I wanna go to all of them and look at them there- LOL. I would absolutely do it again and I hope there will be a chance to do so in my new home one day too :)

5. Thank You

Thanks to Klingner & Kollegen who invited me and made it possible to exhibit my work, to Liquitex for the support with their awesome paint media, to my wonderful readers that kept me going with my first exhibition, my awesome husband without whom this whole art adventure would have never started, my friend Julie Fei-Fan Balzer for her pushing and brain picking sessions and to all those that came to the exhibition on a very hot and murky day and who made me a really happy trooper. Thanks to A. to whom I sold my first two canvases – wow- that was so cool! Thank you!

Huge hugs



Comments (31)

  • Michelle Looi


    Congratulations ! Fab work and all that beautiful creations taht you are sharing with the world! x0x0x0


  • Julie


    Yea!!! What fun but a lot of work. So happy for you and so glad it turned out so well! Your work is beautiful! THanks for sharing your opportunity with us and congratulations again!


  • Jeni


    How wonderfully exciting! Your hubby must be so proud. I love your works! (Maybe you are leaving Hamburg a bit too soon! But welcome!)


  • Kathy Gledsdale


    Don’t they all look so wonderful against the white wall. So glad it all went so well for you, well done. x


  • Denise


    Congratulations on the exhibit and selling 5 pieces. Wow! Love the pictures and seeing what it is like to set up an exhibit. Keep going!


  • Sue Clarke


    For some reason it never occurred to me that you would be selling your work (no wonder you were nervous). I’m glad to hear that it went awesome and I’m not at all surprised.


  • Gina Sismilich


    Natalie – I have been watching as you created for this show. Your canvases are phenomenal. So much color and detail – I couldn’t even say which was my favorite they were all so terrific. How wonderful that you sold 5 – that doesn’t always happen at shows. You took a theme and developed it with your own wonderful artistic flair. Congratulations.


  • Laura Strack


    If it matters at all, I would have gladly attended your first exhibition!! It would have been a great honor. I am sure there will be many more to come and maybe I will be able to attend. That would be great day for me :) Congratulations Nat, so very proud of you.


  • AnnaB


    Yay, reading this makes me so happy! I wish I could have been there. Huge congrats and high five to you for pushing yourself and doing this!


  • Jean A Marmo


    How exciting! Love reading about the show from beginning to end!


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