Blog: Inspiration

A Look Back – Cool Stuff You May Have Missed 02

A Look Back – 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 :)

This time I’m going to show posts and projects using one of my favorite tools – bamboo sketching pens. I love to use them to add marks and writing to my pages and they usually help me loosen up too. Here is A Look Back at some ideas. Enjoy!

Let’s start with the essentials :) Yes the bamboo sketching pen is right there (number 6), front and center, in my Art on the Go Kit. This is the stuff I travel with so that I can create whenever and wherever the mood strikes me. Check it out.

How about some sketching with the bamboo pen on deli paper and then collaging it into your art journal? You can see the full spread here. I also used my Amsterdam stencil for the subtle background pattern and my Grove Street foam stamp for the circles.

Here’s a blast from the past – 2015 to be exact. And I used the bamboo sketching pen for some lettering in a scrapbook page. I also added some cool patterns to the circles in the page using my Marks stamp set – still have a couple of those left in the online shop where they are super on sale ;) Check out the entire page here and you can even catch a video of me talking about my products in that post!

In this art journal page I used the bamboo sketching pen for sgraffito – scratching into the paint in the background. And then I used it to draw with acrylic ink around the figure. See the original post from 2015 here.

And Finally, I like to use the pens also just to draw – as I have done here with the two women. It is a loose way to draw and a lot of fun. Here is the original spread. I used my Central Ave,  Broadway, and Grove street foam stamps for the circles in the background and my Downtown foam stamps for the patterns at the bottom.

I hope you enjoyed A Look Back through my archive and maybe you are inspired to try some of the bamboo sketching pen techniques I shared.

Here are some of the supplies that were used in these pieces:

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A Look Back – Cool Stuff You May Have Missed 01

A Look Back – Today I’m starting a new 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 :)

This time I’m going to show things related to the theme “Layers”. I am big on layering in my art journal and my mixed media paintings. Layers can do a lot for you when you’re trying to pull a piece together or give a spread a little extra oomph. Here is A Look Back at some ideas. Enjoy!

First is an Art Journal spread way back from 2013 when I was just planning my move to the US! I went a little crazy with layering up the background here with my Circuit and Crackle stencils and all kinds of media. Check out the full post to really see all the deep layering I created.

This is an Art Journal page where I used a stencil as my final layer to resolve a not-so-great background. I had done a lot of stamping and stuff underneath and wasn’t too happy with it. Then I added my Buenos Aires stencil as a final layer and presto! Background resolved and now I love it. You can check out the full spread here.

Here’s another Art Journal page from 2013 where I played with spray paints and stencils to build up a really layered background. I still love how grungy it turned out and totally works with the mood of the page.

Next I want to talk about choosing a strong focal point in contrast to a layered and complex background. Sometimes you need a place for the eye to rest. Choose wisely – this focal point will be the “focus” of the piece :) Here I used my Lady Liberty stamp to grab your attention. You can see what the page is all about here.

How about layering up a combination of marks – both stamped, stenciled, and by hand? I love to mix it all together to create something that really is fun to make and to look at in the end. This is an art journal spread from 2017 where I’m mixing up my Kassel and Manhattan stencils, my Versailles foam stamp, and my Satin Doll rubber stamp. Lots to look at :)

Creative Squad alum Marsha Valk did a wonderful layered project for us back in 2017 involving the use of embossing powders and resist to create these “faux batik” papers with my Batik stencil and Batik 3 foam stamp. You can check out her video in the post – it shows just how she both adds and subtracts layers to make these super fun designs.

Finally how about a layered landscape I created back in 2015. I call this painting 2 Tallest and it’s the view of the NYC and Jersey City skylines from the perspective of the Statue of Liberty. You can see a little video in my original post of how I layered up paint and stencils to create the mood of the piece. This view never gets old btw! I’ve got some nice Giclee prints of this one still available too :)

I hope you enjoyed A Look Back through my archive and maybe you are inspired to try some of the layering techniques I shared.

Here are some of the supplies that were used in these pieces:

And catch me chatting LIVE today on Facebook at 12 noon EST. I’m showing my NEW ArtFoamies stamps!!!

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Inspired by: The New Cathedral in Coventry

At the beginning of the month I was teaching with my friend Julie in Coventry. I came in on Thursday morning and Thursday afternoon was the only time for some sightseeing – so off we went.

Coventry was devastatingly destroyed during the German Blitz in 1940 during World War II and many people died during the attacks and many lost their homes. Coventry Cathedral was destroyed as well and remains as a ruin in the middle of the city. I posted about the ruins last year – you can find the post here. This year I went also into the New Cathedral – wow!

What a beautiful building.

Above is the Baptistery window which you will see right after you go in. The New Cathedral was built next to the remains of the old cathedral. “Spence the architect insisted that instead of re-building the old cathedral it should be kept in ruins as a garden of remembrance and that the new cathedral should be built alongside, the two buildings together effectively forming one church.” The cathedral was consecrated on 25 May 1962.

The Christ in Glory tapestry by Graham Sutherland, which is maybe one of the worlds largest, is breath taking!

There were also hundreds of seat cushions- little pieces of art!

Below is the Chapel of Christ the Servant (also known as the Chapel of Industry). A giant glass building with  a cross and crown of thorns above the altar

Next to the Chapel of Christ the Servant is the Chapel of Christ in Gethsemane.

A mosaic of the angel who offers the cup of suffering to Christ as he prayed.

I am so glad I went back to see the New Cathedral as well. I think last year when I was there with Birgit it was closed.

St Michael’s Victory over the Devil, a sculpture by Jacob Epstein outside the Chapel.


I am glad I could share this little trip with Julie – although- boy was I tired after the red eye flight over the pond ;)

And I leave this post with this plague on the wall of the old cathedral.

Hope this little trip was inspiring for you!


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Inspired by: Amsterdam

A couple weeks ago my husband and I spent a couple days in Amsterdam. Amsterdam will always hold a special place in my heart, because that is the city my husband and I actually got together :)

We stayed in an Airbnb apartment which was amazing and in a house from the 15hundreds – the top photo is the view out of the bedroom window – pretty cool

Of course we went straight to a cheese store ..well we had to do some grocery shopping and that includes getting good cheese …Oh man, heaven!

We also took a little Canal tour – for the hundreds time- but it never gets old. Look at those pretty houseboats

and houses

and bridge corners

and did I say houses?


It was a bit of a gloomy day but still nice enough for the tour

I already started painting some of the views – just so beautiful!

We also walked a lot and that requires some refreshment and people watching at one of our favorite bars for that .

And everything looks even prettier when it gets dark

I fell in Love with the houses below while waiting for the tram close to the Rijksmuseum.

All the details- swoon.

And we went back to the one windmill in Amsterdam – which houses the Brewery I’TIJ’ which we have been visiting for 20 years and has changed and hasn’t :)

we spent a lovely afternoon there with drinks, cheese with celery salt etc. and some friends. It was a really good short trip. I do miss the possibility of going to a different country by train or plane in just a couple hours, so I am glad we were able to sneak this little trip in when taking care of some matters in Germany :)


Comments (2)

  • Jean Goza


    Loved the photos. Amsterdam has been on my bucket list for awhile. I agree about travel in Europe. I love the ability to hop on a train or plane and be in another country so quickly. Very cool!


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Jean – you would love it or sure! Amsterdam is awesome!


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Inspired by Paducah, Kentucky

A couple weeks ago I taught some workshops in Paducah Kentucky, which was so much fun – but on top of it I also loved how inspirational this town is.

Well …first of all- the tiny airport made me smile …

when the one and only and tiny baggage belt started ringing an alarm indicating the baggage comes out I snorted and laughed out loud ….

I loved Kristin’s gorgeous planters with succulent outside the studio

tiny typewriter platers, what is not to love about it?

Wooden Sculpture – amazing!

Also all around the store were differently painted hydrants – it was fun to look out for them.

Aren’t those cool?

At the same time I was there there happened to be a Art and Music Festival and of course, there were tons of BBQ stands- this one proudly displayed all the trophies they won. And yes…I ate BBQ – lots of BBQ LOL

I loved those goggly eyes in a bush

But my favorite part of Paducah def. were all the beautiful and unique old houses. So gorgeous – look at the brickbuilding on top – that one was abandoned and had a secret garden in the back


Look at this one – so so so beautiful

This building looked like a little castle

and I love the porch and the windows on this one.

And I totally lost my heart on this cute litte Dutch Colonial …look at the cute heart shutter boards – swoon!

Cannot wait to sketch  more houses :) Hope you enjoyed the little stroll through Paducah !

Comments (4)

  • Kristin Williams


    Loved seeing Paducah through your eyes! Come back, soon! xoxoxo K


  • Kathy


    Love the photos capturing the charm of Paducah.


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Currently Digging – May 2018 AIT

Once in a while I thought I would share with you some nifty finds – like an Artist who’s work caught my eye…, some Inspiration or the what, when and where that caught my eye and got my creative juices flowing, and Tools & Techniques I am currently digging like a new way to use a material or an application that I’m taking away. Hope you enjoy this.

Here we go for this month:

I am a huge fan of Cy Twombly and not only did I see some amazing paintings of his just recently, I was also at the Gagosian Gallery with Kim and another friend to see a collection of his drawings. No photos allowed there though – the following is from MoMA.

His vivid colors, scratching, dripping, writing – fascinating and so tactile. I especially loved his work in handmade books also shown at the gallery. Makes me want to grab my art journal and get loose :)

I have two words for you…Babylon Berlin

It is a German TV Series- which you can watch on Netflix which plays 1929 in Berlin during the Weimarer Republic. It is not for the faint hard – nor for someone who might have a problem with explicit pictures or language …

It is amazing! Not only is the criminal story great and the interweaving of historic facts and fiction, but the visual inspiration is so GOOD! Alone all the different scenes in rooms with the most amazing wallpaper, the clothing, the pattern , the colors. I could not stop watching and I def. would love to go back and now that I know how the story goes ;) I would love to look at some of the decoration again. I hope the English dubbed version is ok – I know that is sometimes a problem with those shows and I personally could not stand it …but then…LOL- lucky for me once …I didn’t have to ;)

Ok….ready? You gonna laugh but I am totally digging USING Washi paper and Washi tape.

Before I was just COLLECTING it but now that I am off to reorganize my studio once again and am therefore using tons of stuff …I am actually totally hooked using it ;)

Since I have been hoarding it for such a long time and also because the adhesive is not the best anyway – I apply some gel medium under the tape and paper and over it. Now …if you are a collector of Washi tape and paper …hopefully I made you wanna use it as well with this post ;)

See you soon again with some new nifty finds that I am currently digging !

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Inspired by Japanese Manholes

As many people I have an obsession with beautiful manholes … and so Japan did not disappoint, in fact …there were some of the most beautiful manholes I have ever seen and I thought I show just a couple

Almost every neighborhood has different manholes – depending also on what the neighborhood is known for.

this one was a “simple” one in Tokyo – sooo gorgeous!

OK- I am cheating LOL- I am sneaking in some pavement plates- because …excuse me …they are beautiful

This one is in Kyoto – I love the fans – and directions

And of course the most beautiful which I shared already – in Nara …I loved how colorful those little manholes and pavement covers were

No idea what this little Dude is …I assume a turtle …but mmhhhh – fun though!

And cherry blossom at Ueno Park.

Just for the Manholes I would go back – LOL. Which one of the selection here is your favorite?

Comments (4)

  • stephanie


    the flower. That is SO cool that they make the covers into art.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      yeah -they are taking it a notch further with the manholes :)


  • Sue Clarke


    Cherry Blossom is my fav but they are all pretty cool.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      agreed – now I want to go back and take more pix of manholes- LOL


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Inspired By: Japanese Food

For some it might sound weird to be inspired by food- but well … I am ..colors, smells, forms, presentation  and …let’s face it, it is easier to create art with a filled stomach as well. So here are some food related impressions from Japan :)

Daiwa Sushi at the Tsukiji fish market was the best sushi I have ever had totally worth the 45 minute wait. The tuna was the most intense red tuna …and a beautiful one for sure I have ever seen and eating Sushi at 7am in the morning was def. differently and set for a good mood :)

Imagine walking around and smelling fresh baked dough and seeing how Ningyo-yaki are being made. Each cookie made by the man with the mold revealed later on a beautiful design on the outside of the waffle representing the Seven Gods of Fortune and the inside sweet red bean taste was delicious. The cookies in the front are also tasty but different.

Ramen – oh man – we ate sooooo much Ramen – and I loved it. It isn’t your student food in a cup if that is what you have in mind – instead you get fresh veggies and meat if you wish in a wonderful Japanese stock with homemade noodles. The picture above shows one of the fun Ramen Counter Booth Seating Charts – crazy fun.

This is probably the most beautiful ice cream I have ever eaten! It was Matcha (green tea) ice cream and the waffle showing the messenger fox with a key were a great treat at one of the temples.

Pickled vegetables ….I loved the signs and the wooden buckets they were stored in at a market

And yes …I was intrigued – since most we had no idea what it was

But it was pretty like the one above ….

Yakitori- grilled chicken with veggies …it was not only amazingly tasteful but the presentation was beautiful too.

And of course all the different labels of those Sake bottles from a Sake tasting intrigued me. See the tag with the string on one of the bottles- what a cool label.

And of course I loved the beer label as well – which btw- American Craft Beer always has some amazing artsy labels- I need to do a blog post about that too :)

We stayed one night at a tradition Ryokan with traditional food served in the room and we changed into home Kimonos – it was fun and very comfy!

The food served there was so pretty and the all the little dishes were just insane.

Often we had no idea what we ate and to be honest some of the food was even for us foodies a tiny bit challenging but it was an experience I wouldn’t wanna miss.


The fish up top was delicious and I just was reminded of Marsha Valk’s wonderful video at Creative JumpStart where she showed a gorgeous project based on a Picasso inspired fish dish.

Here is the breakfast with some things staring back at me- LOL.

As I wrote earlier on my blog post about Tokyo I took a cooking class and wow- was that awesome! We went to the market beforehand and smelling, seeing, using different fresh ingredients was just awesome. Here you see the our instructor Yukari crushing black sesame seeds with a wooden Japanese pestle in a porcelain mortar which has grooves on the side. Needless to say that I had to hunt down this pestle and mortar and bring it back home – LOL

And then look at the table setting -it is a feast for the eye – and it makes you just happy to look at this. In the middle you see a Chirashi Sushi which I would describe as a Sushi Salad. DELICIOUS

Here is our cooking class group with two more from the States, one women from Singapore and one from Finland- so much fun. If you are in Tokyo take a class with Yukari-she is AMAZING!

Home made udon noodles …and I mean like right in front of me made udon noodles with vegetable tempura. Oh man – it was one of the best meals EVER. I am still dreaming of those Udon Noodles and my mouth is watering while I am writing this.

Well worth the hour wait in line alone (my husband was at a conference) – in fact – good food is a big thing in Japan and you just get a bit more patient (although living in the NYC metropolitan area waiting in line at a restaurant is not unusual for me)  and usually you get more than rewarded once you are inside. BTW- you get your menu and order while waiting and you pretty much get your food a minute after you sat down.

And yes –this is a pizza. Now I am picky as hell when it comes to pizza since I am a real half Italian but boy ….this was hands down one of the best Pizzas I have ever eaten …and it was in Tokyo at Pizza Studio Tamaki. It was a pretty crazy experience.

I hope you enjoyed this kind of different inspirational post ;) Are you hungry yet?

Comments (4)

  • JoAnn


    Wow – love your photos and the food looks amazing. Such an amazing trip🌿


  • Bonniemon


    I loved your tale of eating in Japan! Thanks for sharing it with us.


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