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What happened at the art retreat, Dancing with Your Muse? A whole lot of play and laughter!

Along with the art, there was something else that happened – connection. Spending an entire weekend together, with the building entirely to ourselves, we got to know each other in a way that just isn’t possible in a one day workshop.

Conversations over the weekend went to unexpected places, both heart warming and boisterous! Bet you can guess which kind this was between Gwen and Julie!

In order to make something like this happen, it takes a team. Collaborating with the extraordinary Glenda Miles brings a heart and organization to the event like no other!

There were also generous sponsors, Marabu and StencilGirl, who made it possible for there to be a smorgasbord of color and supplies for the weekend.

One thing I love about putting on an art retreat is that participants get to try supplies they’ve never used before. Here Chris is using Marabu’s Mousse with stencils.

Along with trying new art supplies, there is a creative energy that fills the room that emboldens you to let loose with art supplies, like here with the Art Spray and StencilGirl stencils.

There’s always a new technique revealed at these events, and they’re usually an OOPS! Here you can see the scissors becoming a paint applicator. Don’t think this one will catch on but it sure did lead to a lot of laughter in the moment!

With loving care, each Muse came to life. Even though every woman here had the same materials, every sculpture was dramatically different. Sue was so Zen as she worked on her Muse.

Some were serene and peaceful.

Some were wild and free.

Some were playful.

Some had wings.

Naomi even tested out what she made for her Muse and thinking that there just might be a new fashion trend happening!

Here’s our group with our muses!

In between making our muses, we were gel printing away!

With a huge selection of StencilGirl stencils to choose from, there was no limit to what could happen on the Gel Press plates.

Metallic paints were a favorite as the layers built up.

The were squeals of happiness as buried patterns revealed themselves.

In fact, there was so much printing going, the floors in our bedrooms were filling up with drying prints.

Michelle squeezed every moment of play that she could! Here she is all ready for our Saturday night dance party and she’s grabbing one last print before the music begins!


Julie and I aren’t praying, we’re watching our feet trying to master the steps of the Hustle. We may not have been the most coordinated of groups, it’s hard to know which is your right or your left, but our laughter filled the building and even spilled onto the grounds!

Thank you to every one of these wonderful women for spending the weekend playing – I will never forget our adventures!

Next year’s retreat will be announced in the next month or so, so if you’d like to be a part of the all inclusive play* get signed up for my newsletter to know as soon as details are released.

*All inclusive play includes your single or double room with ensuite bathroom, all meals, snacks, and more so all you need to bring is yourself and an itty bitty supply list!

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Lots of color in a gel print

When you’re gel printing, is there a magic number of colors you should use to get a good print? Should you use 3 colors or 12 colors?

Not only am I using a lot of colors, they don’t even “go together”- that is until they are layered in a gel print.

Lots of color in a gel print

There are gorgeous prints with just 1 color and there are gorgeous prints with 10+ colors. The right number of colors depends on what you like. It’s not the number of colors that makes a print turn out well.

There’s a twist to how color works on a gel plate but once you understand that, you have the freedom to use as many colors as you wish and skip the mud.

Lots of color in a gel print

What’s the trick to getting all the details to show up when you’re using an intricate stencil? Your fingertips.

Instead of using your whole hand, use your fingertips to push the paper into the paint. When you do that, you can capture all of the pattern, even on a intricate stencil like Downtown by Nat Kalbach for StencilGirl.

In the video you saw me walk my fingertips across the paper, and when I took the pull, it was pretty obvious which places I missed. O.O.P.S.! But what happens if you use the whole hand?

Lots of color in a gel print

When you use your whole hand to take a print with a detailed stencil, you only get part of the image. That’s what I did when taking the pull on the brayer clean up paper.

Understanding why you get a crisp print or a partial print gives you the freedom to create the look you want for the print.

Lots of color in a gel print

There isn’t a right or wrong when it comes to gel printing, it’s about what you like. The trick is understanding how to build layers on a gel plate so that you can create the kinds of prints you want.

Fully understanding how layering works on a gel plate takes more than 1 video so I created Mastering the Layers -an online workshop about both the techniques to create layers and the understanding of how layers interact.

Check all the details about the online workshop, Mastering the Layers and the 3 bonuses when you get signed up now.

$149 + get all 3 Bonus Lessons!

Mastering the Layers online gel printing workshop
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Excited to share a Mash up collaboration with the ever fun Mary Beth Shaw with you for this month’s StencilClub release! It’s a mash up and what that means is we picked our faves from each other’s stencils and then riffed on them isolating part of the design and shifting the size up or down.

In the video, you’ll see how to use them with a gel plate for speedy stenciling and you’ll see how I handle an OOPS or two!

What’s StencilClub? It’s exclusive stencils that aren’t sold anywhere else, delivered to your door each month. It includes a 9x 12, a 6×6, and a 4×4 stencil plus there’s a members only video and downloadable PDF each month from the artist(s) who created that month’s stencils.

That means this month, you’ll get to see both our takes on playing with stencils- we’re sharing transparent parts and gelli sandwiches with club members. StencilClub is only $25 a month (yup, that includes shipping in the US)! You can find all the club details here.

The fastest way to stencil is with a gel plate. The first way I shared in the video gives you loose, mixed media type of stenciling.

But what about if you want crisp details? The fine lines of the squiggly circles were captured by putting the stencil on the plate first and then adding paint.

One of the reasons I love this mash up is the choices. After having 2 loose circle patterns, I love that there were contrasting patterns to pick from!

One of the challenges of using an altered book for a journal is that there is the middle issue. It can be tough to stencil there but if you hold the book as flat you can as you’re stenciling then the pattern will go across it.

To fill in the areas of the center that didn’t have color on them, I used an Art Crayon by Marabu.

OOPS! As soon as that white paint hit the page, I knew it was an O.O.P.S., an Outstanding Opportunity Presenting Suddenly. Never would have had that pastel touch of orange here if it wasn’t for that white paint OOPS.

When adding writing on top of paint, a patient person would wait for the paint to completely and totally dry. I’m not that patient so I use a fountain pen to scribble journal.

Fountain pens have very few parts, unlike a ballpoint pen. The tip can be wiped off if paint builds up on it, unlike felt tip pens, which struggle even on dry paint.

Gel printing directly into an art journal is one way to use these stencils, keep scrolling to see more gel printing with these!

Below are prints I made just horsing around with a gel plate and all the mash up stencils.

When you’re not gel printing directly in your art journal,what can you do with the prints? Backgrounds for art journal pages, collage, anything mixed media, and when you need a really quick card, these are so handy!

Thanks Mary Beth for being so much fun to collaborate with! This month’s StencilClub stencils ship out to you on August 15th, so get signed up before that!

Here are the supplies used. Some of these links are affiliate links which means I get a small percentage. It doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps keep the free tutorials coming!

You can find the StencilClub stencils here.


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