What’s new?

Albert’s Steampunk Dreams
permanent collection
Happy Basset Brewing Company

Trick or Treat Reverse Canvas

Image of the full completed canvas.
“Trick or Treat”. 3D Art Reverse Canvas 8″ x 10″.


Boo! Did I scare you? Ha! Probably not. Growing up in Australia, we didn’t celebrate Halloween, so it remains to this day quite a novelty for me. I love looking at people’s houses and yards all decorated, the kids in their costumes, and all the fun activities like Trunk and Treats that take place at this time of year. This year, we’re doing drive thru trick or treating at our Trunk and Treat, so no-one has to get out of the car. What is your community doing?

Sadly, my neighborhood doesn’t have footpaths (sidewalks), which means I don’t get any trick or treaters. To cheer myself up and to get in the Halloween spirit, I decided to create this wacky, spooky canvas to have some fun!

In case you didn’t know, it’s called a reverse canvas because you use it back to front. Kind of like an open shadow box. For this project, I wanted a super grungy look so I removed the canvas, and replaced it with this collaged, stamped, and embossed background cardstock which I nailed to the back of the frame using decorative thumb tacks.

Close-up image shown of the card stock which has been collaged, stamped, and embossed with numbers and writing (old book pages).
Collaged, stamped, and embossed paper cardstock was used as the background for the frame.

For the background, I really wanted to use the TCW877 Spider’s Web stencil designed by Jaime Echt. Since my canvas is an 8″ x 10″ size, I went with the 6″ stencil which was a perfect fit inside the frame for for my web!

Close up images showing the TCW877 Spider's web stencil in use with black gesso.
Stencil TCW 877 Spider’s Web 6″, designed by Jaime Echt

Using a cosmetic sponge, I dabbed our TCW9002 Black Gesso through the stencil onto the black background. I chose the black gesso because it’s matte and opaque, which suited the grungy background theme perfectly! It also worked perfectly to paint the frame for a cohesive look.

Close up image of the gesso applied to the card stock. The stencil has been removed so you can see the stenciled outline of the spider's web on the background.
TCW9022 Black gesso was sponged through the stencil using a cosmetic sponge.

Now, it was time to create the foreground and focal points. I used our TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium to adhere all the 3D elements around and inside the frame.

Image showing the jar of TCW9011 Matte Gel medium with the frame and 3D elements, showing that the medium was used to adhere the 3D elements to the frame.
TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium was used to adhere the 3D elements.
Close up image of the skeletons in their outfits (witches hat and shoes).
TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium was used to adhere the 3D elements, including these skeletons.
Close up image showing the large skeleton skull with hand painted gem eyes, and a chipboard skeleton key (antique key).
TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium was used to adhere the 3D elements such as the fabulous outfits.

To finish the project, I used a hot temp glue gun to create finely strung spider webs and globs of slime.

To see more of this project up close and in progress, please check out my quick video overview on my YouTube Channel.

Close up image showing the glue gun spider webs and slime globs. The spider is printed on clear acetate, and hangs from silver bullion wire, suspended over the web for a 3D effect.
A hot glue gun provided the spider webs and slime globs.

Bloom Where You Are Planted

“Bloom where you are planted”. Mixed media artwork on water color paper 9″ x 12″.



Thanks for taking the time to read my blog post today, I really appreciate it. Recently, I took an online class with Renee Mueller. Her class was inspired by an afternoon in the garden with her family, the sense of connection she felt with them, and the beauty of her surroundings and the sky, as they laid on a blanket and watched the clouds go scudding by.

My interpretation of this class is shown in the image, above. I created a deep purple clematis vine, which reminds me of my maternal grandfather’s garden. He grew passionfruit along the back fence, and I always remember with fascination the flowers and their color. Watching Renee work and asking us to select a vine to paint, brought this deep purple clematis to mind which also brought the passionfruit flower memories flooding back.

Before I began, I wanted to give the background some interest before the class work started, so I did some gelli printing using my 8″ x 10″ Gel Press Gelli Plate to begin and to help the page lose it’s initial white starkness. I find it’s always easier to create on a non-blank page, don’t you?

For this page, I started with stencil TCW874 12″ Poppy Grid by Rebekah Meier, using Unbleached Titanium acrylic paint. I brayered over the stencil with the paint, then did the print. Next, I used stencil TCW454 12″ Specimens by Rebekah Meier, with Light Naples Yellow acrylic paint. I used only the geometrical shapes from this stencil as background accents in a few places on the page.

Next, I wanted to try gelli printing a sky with clouds over the previous stenciling. I wanted to keep the paint light and airy to simulate the sky with clouds, but also to reveal some of the stenciling underneath for interest and depth. I lightly rolled Permanent Blue Light acrylic paint with the brayer first, then I added Titanium white, brayered randomly and lightly as clouds, and pulled the print. The finished sky is shown in the bottom right corner of the image, below.

Image showing the gelli-plate printing process with brayer, acrylic paints, stenciling, and outcome.
Stencils TCW874 Poppy Grid and TCW454 Specimens gelli-printed for background depth and interest.

To protect the gelli-printed sky background, I covered it with a thin layer of TCW9007 Matte Clear Gesso. Now, I was ready to begin the class. Renee had us begin the project by doing a wash of acrylic paint for the sky, clouds, and surrounding greenery. I used Payne’s Gray, Sap Green, and Titanium white as my wash colors. Once I had achieved my desired effects, I then used TCW9001 White Gesso with my fingers to blend it in as clouds and light. I must admit, I was so tempted to stop here because I absolutely adore how this background turned out and I didn’t want to cover any of it up! I will definitely be using these techniques again.
I added some watered down splatters of sap green acrylic paint and dried the project fully. I then added another layer of clear gesso to seal and protect these middle ground layers, as shown in the image, below. Aren’t they gorgeous?

Image showing close up images of the middle ground with acrylic paint washes, paint splatters, and white gesso clouds and light.
TCW9001 White Gesso blended with fingers to add light and clouds to the background.

Now, it was time to create the foreground and focal points. I created the clematis vines and leaves using the Sap green acrylic paint. I then added the clematis flower blooms and buds using the TCW9055 Orchid ColorSparx powder as a watercolor paint mixed with water. I just adore the vibrancy and intensity of the ColorSparx powders, and this color might just be my new favorite!

Image showing close up of clematis vine with deep purple flowers and green leaves and stems.
TCW9055 ColorSparx Orchid powder was used as watercolor for the flowers.

Next, I completed the focal point images with a hand-painted bud, torn paper collage, and hand embroidery on ribbon to represent the connections stitching us all together. I applied these focal point elements to my page using TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium as both glue and sealer.

Image showing close ups of collage and hand embroidery focal point elements.
TCW9011 Matte Gel Medium was used as glue and sealer for the focal point elements.

To finish the project, I added a hand lettered sentiment that fit with the theme. I chose ‘Bloom where you are planted’ because I have moved multiple times in my life around the world (not recently), and I realize it is up to me to thrive wherever I plant myself!

To see more of this project up close and in progress, please check out my quick video overview on my YouTube Channel.

Image of artwork page: Bloom where you are planted by Michaela Butterworth.
“Bloom where you are planted”. 9″ x 12″ Mixed media on watercolor paper.

Thanks again for stopping by today, it really means a lot to me. I hope this post inspired you and gave you the courage to try some new techniques and maybe even some new supplies too.
Until next time, happy playing, and happy day!

ColorSparx At Play

Three stenciled designs on watercolor paper using ColorSparx powders.

Well hello there!

Here in Kansas, fall is really beginning. Lots of leaves are falling from the trees, most of which haven’t had cold enough temperatures yet to start to change to pretty colors. However, I noticed this morning, the tips of some of the trees are beginning to turn to beautiful fall shades, which I adore and which inspire me greatly.

This week, I was trying some new techniques, experimenting with stencils and the wonderful ColorSparx powders. Before I joined the TCW Design Team, I had never used the ColorSparx powders, so I hadn’t experienced their beauty or their versatility first hand.

Since receiving my first ColorSparx powders about two months ago, I have been playing with them constantly, trying new techniques, learning what to do, and just as importantly, what not to do with them.

I thought this week I would show you some of what I tried, what worked, what didn’t, and what I learned during the process, all in the hopes that it will encourage you to experiment and try something new, too!

When you purchase ColorSparx, they come with a card of great suggestions to try. I definitely recommend giving those techniques a start. That’s how I got started. From there, I have progressed to trying the ColorSparx powders mixed into different mediums, such as modeling pastes, gessoes, and gel mediums. There are so many possibilities!

This week, I wanted to try some water techniques with the Colorsparx powders and stencils. Here’s some photos and narrative of what I tried, and how it turned out…

Recently, I learned a technique which intrigued me. After adding water to the watercolor paper page with a brush, sprinkle on the ColorSparx powders, lay the stencil on top and walk away. Yep, walk away. Let the page dry overnight.

Using this technique, the color pools under the plastic stencil, and clings to the edges of the stencil cut lines, leaving darker outlines of the cut out shapes. Once dried, I took a black Micron pigma pen and outlined the stencil shapes, and voila! One hot, and happening page! (if you turn the page upside down, it looks like flames! Good to know, right?).

For this page, I used stencil TCW568 Moving Vines with TCW ColorSparx Powders in Gamboge, Crimson, Scarlet, and Orange. For the sentiment, I used TCW9039 Copper Penny Modeling Paste which has a dreamy, creamy, spreadable texture, that is so easy to use with a palette knife. The next morning I was swooning over these gorgeous, vibrant, fall colors and shimmery copper sentiment!

TCW568 Moving Vines stencil with fall colored ColorSparx powders. SOLD

My next experiment had me using the TCW192 Gingko Stencil with the Gamboge, Fuschia, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Orange, and Scarlet ColorSparx Powders. I used exactly the same water technique as the Moving Vines experiment, above. The Yellow Ochre and Gamboge powders have a touch of green sparks in them, and I really love how that green soaked into the ginko leaf shapes. For this page, I used the same black Micron pigma pen to outline the leaves. Then, I decided I wanted the leaves to ‘pop’ out of the page more, so I outlined the leaves with a white signo pen. In places, you can see where the white ink absorbs some of the color sparks pigment, adding unexpected tints! To make the tints more noticeable, I outlined the leaves one more time with the pigma pen. I really love the way the leaves look three-dimensional, and as though they are about to pop off the page!

TCW192 Gingko stencil with ColorSparx powders, black pigma and white signo pens. SOLD

Last, I decided to use the TCW658 Mini Jungle Vines stencil with the TCW9043 Marcasite Silver Modeling paste applied using a palette knife. I used another combination of the Colorsparx powders, in Olive Green, Crimson, Gamboge, Orange, and Scarlet, and I used the same water technique that I used for the previous two pages, shown above.

This page was a good learning experience for me. I added too much water, when the modeling paste was not fully dry. I should have dried the modeling paste completely with my heat gun, then added the water and powders. Lesson learned.

The water soaked into the edges of some of the leaves, making the modeling paste dissolve overnight. When adding the water for the powder, I added too much water to the page, which caused some of the colors to blend together, turning an icky mud brown. Ooops, please, learn from my mistakes!

As a result, it took this page far longer to dry than the previous two pages, and the colors turned out much murkier and darker than I would have liked. Once dried, I used the same outlining technique for the stenciled shapes, that I did for the gingko leaves. In the end, it really didn’t turn out too badly, as you can see in the image below, on the right side.

On the left side, a mini collage named “Fall Beauty” from the Fall Series SOLD. 6″ x 8″ mini collage.
On the right side, TCW658 Mini Jungle Vines stencil with TCW9043 Marcasite Silver Modeling paste and ColorSparx powders. SOLD

I’m sure you’re probably wondering what the image on the left side of the above photo is. While I had the powders out, I played with just sprinkling powders on some other pages I had practiced on earlier with modeling paste. I left these pages to dry with the other pages shown above.
When I came to look at the pages the next morning, they were all simply too gorgeous to not be used.

What I decided to do was take the off cuts from the pages above, combined with these other pages cut into what I like to call “moments of joy and beauty”. I then created a series of seven mini collages, each collage measuring approx.. 6″ x 8″, featuring a fall theme, using these ‘left over bits’ die and hand cut into pieces. I hand poured some resin leaves, painted them with TCW9002 Black gesso and finished them with waxes. One leaf was added to each collage as a three-dimensional element. I’ve included photos of the six additional mini collages, below, for you to see.

Fall Series of mini collages, 6″ x 8″. “Falls Desire” on the left, and “Fall, Olive you” SOLD on the right.
Fall Series of mini collages, 6″ x 8″. “Falling for you” on the left, and “Leaves Aflame” on the right.
Fall Series of mini collages, 6″ x 8″. “Free FallingSOLD on the left, and “Fall Suspension” SOLD on the right.

Sunflower Garden Keeper Mixed Media Board


Yesterday, I put the finishing touches on the beautiful Sunflower Keeper who is tending her garden and thinking about what to plant next. This project was inspired by the Montage Moments class I took from Kate Morgan on Ivy Newport’s site.

This project is a 12″ x 12″ mixed media board featuring modeling paste, gel medium, lots of ColorSparx watercolor powders, stenciling, painting, collage, and assemblage. And yes, those are real cicada wings (from an already deceased one), and her skirt features turkey feathers which I find a ton of daily while I walk Miss Maggie.

To watch my two part video tutorial about how the garden was created, hop on over to my YouTube channel.

To read my Design Team Blog Post about this artwork’s creation, head on over to the TCW Blog post page.

To see more photos of the Sunflower Keeper deep in thought in her garden, check out my Instagram post.

Explore Multi-Layered Mixed Media Artwork Page


Today’s project over on the TCW Blog and my YouTube channel features a yummy 12 layered gelli plate printed and stenciled mixed media artwork page.

Explore Multi-Layered Mixed Media Artwork page

To watch my video tutorial about how this artwork was created, hop on over to my YouTube channel.

To read my blog post about this artwork, head on over to the TCW Blog post page.

Texture Mini-Series – SOLD


I’m in the process of taking an incredible online class called Soulful Abstracts with the uber talented French artist, Laly Mille. I have absolutely adored every project so far for this class, and I’m only a third of the way through the class!

Yesterday, I finished my Texture Mini Series for the class featuring four canvases measuring 6″ x 8″. These canvases contain a variety of textures including fabrics, paper, cardboard, and 3-D embellishments. The muted colour palette was selected intentionally to help highlight the depth and focus of the viewer on the variety of textures in each piece.
To view all pieces, hop on over to my Instagram account, as shown below.

Screenshot of one of the Texture Mini Series canvases, “Love” as shown on my Instagram account (aussiegrl154).

Steampunk Junk
Mini Journal – SOLD


For my first project as a Design Team Member for The Crafter’s Workshop (TCW), I decided to use my all time favorite TCW stencil, Steampunk Gears (TCW262s) to hand craft a custom mini journal. This journal is 4″ square, features 24 hand painted pages, a custom colored cotton canvas cover, and steampunk gear charms.

To see more, check out my blog post over on the TCW blog and watch my process video over on my YouTube Channel.

Hand made Steampunk Junk mini journal

The Crafter’s Workshop
Design Team Member


Today, it was announced that I was selected to be on the 2020-21 Design Team for TCW, The Crafter’s Workshop.

Every other week I’ll be creating a new project or artwork, featuring TCW stencils and products, and writing a blog post for the TCW blog, so hop on over and check out our amazing daily projects by our fabulous design team. 12 incredibly talented artists from all over the world will be posting their works, process photos & videos, and tips for creating your own mixed media projects.

Don’t worry, I’ll also be posting my projects here on my blog too!

TCW Design Team Badge GIF

Hand crafted nature journal

Tonight, I completed my Wanderlust 2020, Week 20, Nature Journal class with Christine Karpiak from Canada.

Christine’s class taught us how to gut an old book, and give it new life with new pages, signatures, and covers. I rediscovered how much I enjoy hand making journals! Very enjoyable.

Wanderlust 2020 – Week 20 – Hand crafted nature journal

Albert’s Steampunk Dreams earns highest bid and revenue – SOLD

April 25, 2020

Tonight was the Facebook Live Art Auction for the Friends of Topeka Zoo fundraiser. Tonight, Albert was auctioned off for $1,550 with full proceeds benefiting The Friends Of The Topeka Zoo non-profit organization. In addition, I also donated my Zoo Membership which raised an additional $100. A great event, and I’m delighted to hear that they reached their event goal amount. Grateful for a wonderful opportunity to give back to our community, especially in these times.

Follow My Blog

Get new content delivered directly to your inbox.