Blog: Review

Winding Down: My Top Ten Moments of 2014 in Photos

It has become a tradition of mine and other blogger friends to wind down the year with some  Top “insert number”- Lists of work , posts and photos, before the year ends. It makes me go back and look at what I have done and accomplished and it also makes me dwell in memories. Too often we forget about the things we did and accomplished throughout the year- often just bashing ourselves for not fulfilling all the wonderful new year’s resolutions from last year.  Maybe this makes you wanna do it too – if so – share :)


2014 was a year I traveled a lot for workshops, I had a couple amazing dear friends over from Europe and I had some really wonderful moments. In no particular order:




The first 3 times we had snow in 2014 I was totally excited…like a little kid. I know everyone thinks as I am from Germany , that I am used to loads of snow, but I lived in the north of Germany in Hamburg, which rather as the climate of Seattle and not a lot of snow. I do admit though  that by the 4th time as a pedestrian in a city I got a bit fed up with snow – LOL- isn’t the grass always greener on the other side ? ;)

2. Strolls through the hood with friends


HA – another snow pictures – lol. But actually it stands for the wonderful moments I had with my friends that came over from Europe and were excited to stroll through my new neighborhood even though the City of Cities was so close by. I loved every minute with them- living in a different country makes you miss your friends a lot – I am very thankful for being able to stay in touch with my friends and see them, because I know that this is not the norm for many people that move to a new country.

3. Hikes and Walks 


I took this photo on a hike in Hong Kong. It was a wonderful little hike I took with my husband and we stumbled across these mating butterflies. We both worked a lot this year and had many projects that kept us more busy than usual – I am happy about the moments we had just to ourselves enjoying the beauty of nature – and I hope we will be able to create some more moments in 2015 :)

4. Temple Hong Kong, China


In the middle of a bustling city was this old temple – and oasis of calmness and beauty. It felt like being away from everything and I loved taking it in for a moment.

5. Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


This was just an breathtaking sight – several Indian Temples in a cave which you get to by walking past this huge statue, up a lot of stairs …touched by cute looking but nasty monkeys.

6. Meeting Penny and Val and their Mom


When I was invited by Val and Penny to teach in Malaysia, a lot of people were concerned that I would travel there, especially as just a couple days before the flight, the first Malaysian Airline airplane vanished. The news as always had a very special way in portraying country and people and had many people prejudiced. I am so glad I went. Penny, Val and their Mom hosted me and my husband in the most amazing way ever. I learned so much about this country, I ate the best food of my life at places I would have probably not have set my foot in if by myself (tehehehe) and I was reminded once again, that you need to open your heart and mind in order to get back a million more times. I hope some day I can have Penny and Val come and visit us and I hope they will enjoy the same hospitality in the country I live as I did in their country.

7. Studio and Outside Time


2014 I spent a lot of time in my studio and also some time outside on the deck in between. I do love the ability to get out on our deck from my studio and I love to step out and just sit there for a couple minutes, to take a break from working on my desk or on a painting.


8. Laughing like crazy


This photo , which is also going into  my “worst photos ever” category, stands for the awesome times I had with my friends where I almost peed my pants because I was laughing so hard. This Photos was a meager attempt of taking a selfie of Jenn, Julie, Birgit, me and the Statue of Liberty …as you can see…it was just an attempt …what a great carefree fun time we had.

9. At ease with myself


This photo taken by the amazing Sara Stadtmiller, is one of the few photos of myself that I really like. I often doubt myself and the day when Liquitex was so awesome to send a video crew and Sara to photograph I unfortunately felt very uneasy and very aware of myself. Sara had a wonderful way to make me feel calm and enjoy this day and when I look at this photo, I am reminded that at the moments I am creating, I am happy and I just don’t care about anything else around me.

10. Relax


Throughout this year I forgot how to relax …the more I enjoyed the past couple weeks several evenings with my loved ones in front of the fireplace -just watching the fire, reading, talking, watching schtuff, wrapping gifts and having a nice relaxed time.


2014 was pretty amazing, but balancing every aspect of my life has been hard at times. Every time something works well in one place I feel I fail in many other places. For 2015 I wish for more relaxing time, more time with family and friends, and that I take some things lighter or more lightly.

What do you wish for for 2015 for yourself?




Comments (3)

  • Rebecca Buchanan


    Nathalie, this post really touched me. I am much older than you, but you inspire me very much. Here you share your memories with us in such an open and honest way. I love your imperfect selfie–the laughter and love shine through anyway. Your story about Val, Penny, their mother and their hospitality is heartwarming. Thank you for sharing about self-doubt–that certainly resonates with so many of us. Yes, I could count on one hand the number of photos of myself that I actually like. And yet you are courageous enough to ‘keep on keeping on’ and we are all the better for it. The word courage comes from the latin word for ‘heart’. You certainly have a lot of heart. Thank you for sharing–Cheers to 2015!


  • Sue Clarke


    The photos are wonderful and what a year you’ve had. Lots of travel and creativity Nat. I wish for a paying job now that my son is 12 years old and settled in middle school. I also hope to create on a more regular basis as it centers me. The mating butterflies is such a unique photo. Happy New Year!


  • Seth


    What wonderful memories Natalie of the past year. Thanks for sharing this and allowing us to join you for such special experiences.


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Featuring Magazine Review

A couple weeks ago, I was asked if I would like to write an article about the Featuring Magazine which content is ArtJournaling, Mixed Media and More. I do have to admit I am always a bit scared of such requests, because I try to only write about things that I truly like and I also only use things that I love, so when someone asks me to write a review about something I have never had in my hand, I fear of what to do if I do not like it…because basically …I couldn’t lie. Well – I was intrigued to say yes after seeing the cover because it spoke to me and my style.



Pretty happy to say that when I received the latest issue I wasn’t disappointed :) First off all I was very impressed by the quality of this magazine based in the Netherlands. The format, the paper, the editing, the photos – very professional and appealing. What I love most is that there is no bric-a-brac on the pages…it is just the text and the artwork leading to the artwork having an even bigger impact. I love it!



I loved the featured artists, and I had never heard of most of the people in this issue and it was awesome to learn about so many talented people. For example reading Sandra van Doorn‘s Poetry an her illustrations going along with it – was a super special treatment. I loved everything about it and it made me just happy reading and looking ! But there were many more and I have a long list of people I will have to check out on their websites.



The articles and interviews are extremely well written – you want to take your time with this magazine and it will take some time to get through it as there is so much inspiration in the words and in the artwork, that each on of it has to sit a little bit, before you can continue. And then you are sad when you have been through the whole magazine.

It is  not cheap – which no magazine of quality is, and since I have worked for many years with a team on a magazine I know how much work is behind such a magazine. Actually for that quality it is even pretty decently priced! This is not a how-to-magazine – but for me it is right up my alley as I had the feeling I could take out so many different things from only one issue – inspiration from the artwork, the articles, learning about new people, even new ways of artwork and the stories of other likeminded creative people. I cannot wait for the next issue …and I guess….by asking me to write a review they got me hooked on the magazine ;)

Have a fantastic day :)

huge hugs




Comments (3)

  • KABOOM!! | Marit's Paper World (blog)


    […] message and name was blasted out across Facebook and Twitter. And have you seen this review that Nathalie Kalbach wrote on her blog? WOWZAH, thank you […]


  • Sue Clarke


    I love this magazine and have bought every issue so far!
    The quality of the paper is wonderful and I savor each article. It takes me weeks to read through the whole issue since I like to let what I read sink in. So glad to hear that you also liked it Nat (but I’m not surprised).


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n*Lab Tales – Today featuring Ranger Tim Holtz Distress Paints



Some of you know this sign already – n*Lab Tales are just a little summary of my experiments with a certain products that are either new or new to me. When I get something new I need to take it apart and examine it in all kind of different ways in order to be able to make it my own and add it to my stash.  Sometimes I take it even further and integrate the product into my workshops. n*Lab tales are not tutorials -just basic narratives of what I found out, how I used it and what I liked/disliked. It is little peek into my n*Studio life.


I got the new Ranger Dylusions’ Colors -six there is- and there is not secret I really love these Ink Sprays – and there was no surprise I loved the new ones too. The new White Linen btw- is awesome – I will show a little spot where I used it.

What was totally new was the new Distress Paints by Ranger and I was told they are unlike any other paint product out there. AHA…mmmhhh – really? LOL- sorry Ranger, I love your products- but I am like that- I need to know for sure plus everything paint makes me excited to try. So let me first give you the known gist of the Distress Paints – 24 colors,  fluid water-based acrylic paints, reactive with water and coming with a dabber.

I will admit – that the description at first did not knock me out of my shoes- because I know fluid acrylic paints, acrylic paints are water-based and react with water – so what is the big deal besides that the colors are appealing if you are already familiar with and you love the other Distress Products from Ranger, which I do.


So…with a bit of a MEH-approach (I am honest) I started experimenting with those paints. I actually almost thought they would be more a Gouache like paint- until I realized “nope- they are permanent, once dried”. So what I started doing was just playing with them in my art journal. Seeing how they are with different brushes, how I can control them , how they react when I mix them dry and wet with a brush.



This is when I started to like the paint already quite a bit. I liked how you can work them and that they are actually VERY controllable although so fluid. I also like the very long opening time of the colors on the palette/ranger mat. I like that the mixing and blending is nice in a wet on wet technique- while it is very opaque on a wet on dry technique. I also love the matte still very vibrant appearance the matte finish by the way perfect for art journals as they help with the “sticking” problem. I also like this chalky like effect.


Next I played and experimented a bit with the reaction to other water-based products while wet. I liked the marbling effect. Here you see the Broken China Distress Paint mixed with some Dirty Martini Dylusions Ink Spray. It takes  a bit practicing on when to mix those for the best and still vibrant result, as you want to avoid the matte Distress Paint mixing too much into the nice vibrant Dylusions Ink Spray…so that it is not just a matte finish in the end- but it is doable and fun. Love it.


I started playing with different paper surfaces. On the top you see ripped and very rough paper and on the bottom very smooth paper from Dyan’s Dylusions’ Journal. What I found was that the rougher the surface -like the torn paper- the faster the paint dries. It was almost impossible without wetting with water to work the paint on rough paper, while it was without water super easy and nice (even with your hands a fun thing) on smooth paper. Well once you know that – all is good and you can work with that knowledge – plus you can use it for more visible texture as the rough paper parts getting darker of course :)



here you see the whole page- the background was just playing and trying things- I used a lot of the Dylusions Ink Sprays with the background too to see the results with the dried Distress Paints, and then as you can see the white that is the new Dylusions White Linen – love it. I also used Dyans new Couture stamps- I had fun- as you can tell ;) I worked a bit more with Wendy Vecchi’s new Golden Embossing Paste – yum. I also tried a bit stenciling with the Distress Paint Dabber but the paint is definitely too fluid for crisp results with stencils, so you would still need a cosmetic sponge or similar to apply the paint in a thinner matter – or maybe I need to practice more ;).



And then came the part that made me like super exciting. Stamping! Indeed a very nice paint to be able to stamp with ruber stamps- and super easy to apply because the dabber and you can also add different colors- and you can then stamp directly on Transparencies (remember that one Creative Jumpstart video I did? ;) ) – LOOOOVEEEE. But wait there is more….



This made my heart pitter patter – The resist results with the paints. I used here Picket Fence and Weathered Wood Distress Paints and stamped with my favorite Stampers Anonymous Stamp. Then I sprayed with Black Marble and Squeezed Orange Dylusions Ink Sprays and also applied some Distress Inks – I think – Spiced Marmelade and Fired Brick over it. I loooooveee how this came out. That was one of my highlights, as yes – you can do resists with all acrylic paints- but this so far- had the best result for me.

So before I show you another art journal page- my favorite features of the Ranger Distress Paints:

  • Resist Results 
  • Matte but yet vibrant finish – perfect for art journals
  • Capability of applying to plastic and metal
  • Dabber cap – in the hope it won’t dry out
  • Possibility to use it with my rubber stamps
  • Color Range – love the colors and wonderful to mix with other Ranger Paint Products
  • Texture when dried – more visible texture than tactile
  • Opacity when applied over dried areas



supplies by Ranger: 
Distress Paints
Distress Inks
Distress Stains
Dylusions Ink Sprays
Dylusions Stencils
Inkssentials Glue Stick
Inkssentials Mini Mister
Pearls, Stampers Anonymous Stamps, Derwent Sketching Pencils


I will definitely use those in my stash and I see them also in future classes as I have some more ideas to use them with techniques already  ;)

Have a gorgeous day


Related Links:

n*Lab Tales- Derwent Artbars

n*Lab Tales – Letraset Promarkers with Letraset Airbrush System

n*Lab Tales- Ice Resin

Comments (22)

  • Michaela "Micki" Harper


    Hi Nat,
    Ok, so just to make sure I read right (I’ve got the flu and been in bed – still in bed) once these paints dry I can add other media on top and the paints will not reactivate or smear like the Distress Inks or the Spray Inks, right? Ohhhhh for mixed media that’ll be awesome…. :-). Loved your experiements.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Hi Micki,
      yep- it is permanent once dried :)


  • Lisa Flaherty


    Great review! I assumed that the Distress Paints were unique only in their color line. I LOVE the painted still lifes you’ve done, the one near the top of this post with the collage of book text, and the other blue and green one of your art supplies posted to Instagram.


  • Sue Clarke


    These are on my “to get” list and now I will try several colors since I liked the results you got in your art journal. I am TOTALLY in love with the Dylusions ink sprays already!


  • rains


    I’ve been so curious about these paints, even after watching TIm Holtz play with them on a video. Thank you so much for this thorough report! Just what I’d been craving. I will definitely get some, and will watch your other “Lab tales”.


  • Rob


    Thanks Nat for your report, I was pretty reticent to try them because I still have the last range of Paint Dabbers with dried up tops. But now I’m tempted after reading your report.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Rob- I hope they won’t dry – that of course I cannot say yet. I know though what you mean …


  • Milagros


    Gracias por compartir tus experimentos, preciosos resultados.


  • mjmarmo


    Wow – amazing results!


  • Kathy P


    Thanks, Nat, for that very throrough and honest evaluation of these new fun paints. Sounds like I need some in my stash! And will be looking for that class…..!


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