The Truth About a Sabbatical with Nathalie Kalbach

I know it is hard when you’re running a business and trying to keep up a creative practice as well as always be growing and innovating and that it can be tiring. Exciting but exhausting. Nathalie (Nat) Kalbach has been someone who has been inspiring me from her art to her business for over ten years.

Episode 458 Airs LIVE on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2024 at 7:30pm GMT / 2:30pm ET / 11:30am PT / 9:30am in Hawaii.

In December of 2018, I asked Nat to be on the show to talk about all the things she does with her art and business. Link to last show. Her Creative JumpStart program which would run for the whole month of January served as a model and an inspiration for me for camp. In 2019 I had planned on doing camp but hadn’t worked out all the kinks. In January of 2020, I started the process and it launched at the end of June of 2020.

It was a huge success and I am grateful to Nat sharing some insights with me. But I know after running camp for only two years it was a lot of work for one person. Nat did Creative JumpStart (CJS) for over ten years. The last year it ran was 2022, she needed a break. She needed a change.

Nat took a sabbatical. There are a lot of expectations of a sabbatical. I know because I had one in January of 2018. We are going to hear the good and bad about taking a sabbatical.

See my questions I will ask her below.


  1. Nathalie, can you give everybody a little background about your art and business? 
  2. We are talking about taking a sabbatical. What did taking a sabbatical mean to you?
  3. What did your life/business look like when you started feeling burned out or uninspired? Did you know what it was and just kept pushing forward or was it new? 
  4. How many years into teaching online and in person was it that you knew you had to make a change?
  5. You had an idea for your sabbatical and where you wanted to be at the end of it. Can you share any specific things you wanted to do? And why they did or did not work out?
  6. You followed some advice from a friend to do something completely different. What kinds of things did you do that were completely new?
  7. How did those new things help you?
  8. How long was your sabbatical? How long do you think it needed to be to accomplish everything you wanted?
  9. Sometimes sabbatical is a refresh, a restart, and a respite. And sometimes it isn’t any of these. It can be frustrating and I know I was not able to accomplish as much as I wanted to. How will you plan your next sabbatical or will you ever take another one? When will you know it is time to take the next one?
  10. Why do you think big paintings was not a realistic goal for the sabbatical?
  11. How was your sabbatical a reset? What did it remind you that you love? 
  12. Were you able to really take a break from the financial burden of being an entrepreneur and pause your business?

You can join us for the LIVE taping

I hope you will join us this Wednesday. This month we focus on mental health. We will be LIVE on Wednesday, Jan 24, 2024 at 7:30pm GMT / 2:30pm ET / 11:30am PT / 9:30am in Hawaii. Sign up to get the link at

You can always join us for the live taping experience and be part of the community. Come a little early and introduce yourself in the chat, tell us where you are located in the world and say hey!  

Listen here

Connect with Nat

Nat’s Substack:

Nat’s insta:

Nat’s Website:


[00:00:00] diane: Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of Creatives Ignite. And I am super excited because today I get to meet with Natalie Callback. I’m gonna call her Nat for the rest of this time, but she is somebody who has been inspiring me for over 10 years. Good to see you, Brandy. I see you in there coming in from Canada.

[00:00:23] Um, it, she is somebody who has artistically and [00:00:30] entrepreneurially entrepreneur. I don’t know how to say that and I’m probably didn’t say it really well. Has is, has that, has been part of the inspiration. So she’s a teacher, she’s taught classes. She, to me, was a pioneer in the, um, that part of educating art classes online.

[00:00:47] This was way before Skillshare, way before I. All the other ones that are out. Um, Natalie was doing this and I was participating and I absolutely love it. [00:01:00] So recently, so she’s a great writer. She’s written a book or multiple books, but I know one book for sure. I have in my, uh, library, she wrote, she has a substack, which I’ll share with y’all, but she wrote about a sabbatical she took.

[00:01:14] And I always think, um, I know a lot of us, a lot of people popped in great to see everybody. You can always join us live on Wednesdays. Um, but we all, we maybe are all working too much or we’re spreading ourselves too thin and we think, oh, if I could [00:01:30] just take a sabbatical and there’s a designer who, um, has done this and he does it every seven years, and it just seems like, oh, that’s for.

[00:01:40] Like really rich people or something, you know, it’s like, I’m not gonna be able to do that. But I actually think maybe there’s some ways that we can incorporate sabbatical in our regular practice. Um, maybe we don’t have to take a whole year, maybe we don’t have to take a whole month. Um, but maybe there’s a different ways to look at it.

[00:01:58] But taking a break. So we’re [00:02:00] gonna dive in Natalie and ask you a ton of questions about why you did sabbatical and, um, when you did it, what you did, what you were expecting. But before we begin, I probably did not do it justice, but could you give them a little bit of your background and who you are, where you are, 

[00:02:18] Nat Kalbach: and what you do?

[00:02:20] Thank you so much for having me, Diana. I always love talking to you and um, yeah, thank you for everyone who came. Looking forward to meet you. Um, trying to [00:02:30] look at the chat at the same time. So, I’m Natalie Callback short, Nat. Um, as you may hear from my accent, I, uh, may live in, um, in, um, Jersey City, uh, and New Jersey.

[00:02:44] But I’m actually from, uh, Germany. I only lived for 10 years in the us. Um, I’m gonna say that because most often people are very curious about it. Um, my husband is American. He is from, um, central Jersey [00:03:00] as he loves to, uh, say. And no, he was not an in the Army, but he, uh, was in Germany and that’s where we met 25 years ago.

[00:03:09] And so 10 years ago we came back, or he came back and I came with him. So here I am. Um, I was not always an artist. I used to be a paralegal, uh, for I studied law, was a paralegal for 17 years, and at some point as an outlet, outlet, um, of, uh, kind of stressful work, um, which I [00:03:30] did like though, um, I started doing, um, scrapbooking and art and then I’m, I ventured into mixed media and, um.

[00:03:42] So, yeah. Um, and I started out writing a block, uh, I think about 2002. Um, and then wrote about my, you know, just like discovering certain things and trying out, uh, things, uh, [00:04:00] discovering things with pains and et cetera. I never had a, had a feeling that I was, uh, essentially like talented in art or anything.

[00:04:09] In fact, I had an art teacher who once told me, um, that I had no talent whatsoever and I had tried really hard and so I was like, oh, okay, that makes sense. Then I guess I study law. So anyway, I came back and, um, and that was good. And, um, there was, it was a [00:04:30] coincidence in where I was and how it happened, but, um, people started asking me if I would teach workshops, uh, sometimes in art and craft supply stores, um, sometimes just for adults that wanted to have a creative outlet.

[00:04:47] And so I started first in Germany and then I was asked all over in Europe. And then eventually it became a, a really big thing that I would travel in my vacation [00:05:00] time, which in Germany is a lot, you know, we have, um, six weeks of vacation. Don’t tell anyone if you’re from the us but, um, so I would spend most of my vacation to actually, um, go to different, uh, places like Australia and Israel.

[00:05:16] Uh, I, you know, it was pretty cool. Um, Greece and my first time in New York I was teaching, so it was, it was, you know, very exciting. Um, thank you. About the wall cake paper. [00:05:30] So it was very exciting. And yeah. And then, um, around, um, I was trying to figure out when I started teaching online, but it was, it was, um.

[00:05:43] Probably around 2008 that I did the first online workshops. And as, uh, Diane said it wasn’t, you know, you didn’t have these like, really big platforms that would, um, help you with that. Um, I, [00:06:00] I would do some videos and um, would put them on a password protected part of a page and then you would send out, you know, something.

[00:06:09] And when I look at some of the videos, I recently found some of them, um, they’re horrible. They look like they’re this small on the screen and it’s really bad. Um, anyway, I mean, back then it might not been, it was great 

[00:06:24] diane: though. But, but one of the things that I also think of you as this pioneer is that you would [00:06:30] have Creative Jumpstart, which is a, was a 31 days of there was a prompt and she would get in touch with all these different artists.

[00:06:38] 31 artists, you were included. So 30 other people. They would shoot these videos and a lot of it was over the head down and they would be from her prompt making this stuff. And then as a participant, we were doing it as well. And there were ways for us to share. I mean, but to me, you were teaching all these [00:07:00] people for so many over 10 years or 10 years, right?

[00:07:03] You were teaching, teaching these teachers how to do it. They were artists. They were not tech probably. So all the stuff that maybe just comes so natural, there’s all these YouTubes. YouTube wasn’t even around. I mean this was not like, to me this was a, a big thing and she just took it on and she was happily to teach, um, so many people.

[00:07:26] And it really created a new, um, [00:07:30] way for a lot of people to learn and people who were more remote, like Mayas and Norway and not really around a whole bunch of maybe other artists, smaller town. There are, um, some Santa’s, uh, reindeer there, but, um, but like, those are the things that if you hadn’t pushed and these things weren’t cheap in the beginning, right?

[00:07:53] Like you to, I mean, there, there wasn’t the same kind of, you had to do a lot of workarounds, 

[00:07:59] Nat Kalbach: [00:08:00] right? Um, it was actually, in a way, it was cheaper. I feel that because you, um. Maybe because we were just like using what we had and you would be like, okay, how can I make it work with, um, a webcam that I try to, you know, giraffe onto some shelves so that I can do.

[00:08:23] I mean, and it was kind of funny nowadays you can buy all these like beams and, you know, people tell you how to [00:08:30] do the best way with lighting. I mean, no, like, I wasn’t even thinking about lighting and in a way that was actually more freeing. Nobody, not a lot of people had really big expectations either.

[00:08:44] I mean, not, I mean of course the content had to be right, but it wasn’t like someone was expecting, um, like a movie production. I feel that is, depending on what you do, that has changed a lot. Um, a lot of [00:09:00] critique was w uh, would come around at some point or the other about, you know, the production, the, the lighting and all kinds of things.

[00:09:09] And, um, I thought it was always very interesting because there are a lot of artists that have something to give to teach. Um, so. Um, let them do their thing and then, you know, that might be better than just having a one-on-one, like a holiday Oscar worth, uh, thing. Right. But anyway, that’s, [00:09:30] I’m very, you know, I’m very outspoken about these things, but I had a lot of fun.

[00:09:35] I loved I, because I was in Germany and the thing that I did in this mixed media realm and art journaling, there weren’t a lot of people in my, um, in my vicinity that were very close by. So the online teaching and connecting online was a big way to connect, connect with like-minded people. And as we all have seen through the [00:10:00] pandemic, it was an early way of actually bringing people together.

[00:10:04] Um, making it possible for people who maybe not had the means to travel and to, to pay a lot for these workshops or people that may be not able to travel because they have, um, you know, disabilities or, anyway, all kinds of different reasons. And, um, I always thought it was such a great way to connect. Um.

[00:10:28] Besides also, of course, meeting [00:10:30] in person because that I also enjoyed a lot. And Creative Jumpstart came very much from that urge to connect with my peers, but also to connect with like-minded people and bring people together. So the first, uh, I think the first two years were free and we had like 6,000 or 7,000 students, which was absolutely insane and not sustainable for a free workshop.

[00:10:56] And then, um, when I started charging, which [00:11:00] I, I’m talking about like 20 bucks, and then I think the, the highest amount was at this end, like $65 for 31 classes. Um, I, I think, um, we had like an average of about 1200, 1300, uh, students. Each year. So yeah. 

[00:11:22] diane: So it was, it was a lot. But one of the things that, another pioneer way, not just teaching people how artists, how to teach online, you were also the [00:11:30] internet, the, um, there weren’t platforms like Teachable when you started.

[00:11:36] You were creating your own. Um, which I think, uh, if people like you weren’t doing that, we wouldn’t be where we are today in some of the things that do make it easy for us to do that. But, so there’s this kind of, to me you are this, uh, definitely. I mean, even in your art, you are licensing, you’ve been, uh, your, uh, I don’t know how you say like [00:12:00] you’re a represented artist.

[00:12:01] You’ve been, had your work on lots of things, not just, um, um, not just on things that, like there are things that we would buy and that it was like your rubber stamps or like you did stuff with, um, different. People who were, yeah, 

[00:12:18] Nat Kalbach: I did like licensing design and I still do, but I also had, I was an ambassador for, for example, for liquid tech, and they would have my artwork on, like, they would work with [00:12:30] me on kits that they would then put into, uh, big box stores with a teaching plan, like, you know, some, some curriculum or something in there.

[00:12:40] And then the, my artwork would be on the packaging, which that was super fun. That’s huge. That’s 

[00:12:47] diane: serious. It’s, that’s a really, but it’s, you kept, um, doing these things and you keep, um, you love architecture. So paint the picture for us in 2022. That was [00:13:00] the last creative jumpstart. So you’re doing other things.

[00:13:03] You’re creative Jumpstart is not your only source of income. You’re licensed your designs, you make products, um, and you, and you make art. Mm-Hmm. So what else, what was life like? Because there co it comes to a halt. I had you on the show back in 2018 in December, and I linked it up. So if anybody needs that link, I have it.

[00:13:24] Um, and we talked about Creative Jumpstart and the reason, but that was just one of the [00:13:30] things that you were doing. Kind of paint the picture for us in 2022. Where were you, where were you, where was your head? How, how were here, were you in, um, in just doing everything. 

[00:13:42] Nat Kalbach: Yeah. Um, so 2022 was a very different life, like for many, um, because, you know, we were just, um, coming out a little bit of the pandemic and things have changed.

[00:13:56] And, um, during the pandemic, um, [00:14:00] everything kind of for all of us came to our school stand. Um, and for teach and teaching, you know, there were no traveling and going to stores of course. So the online workshop the first year, um, which is really terrible to say, but in terms of a, from a business standpoint, that was actually, um, the best year, which is ter it’s terrible to acknowledge that, but it was because people were very hungry, you [00:14:30] know, like it was, um, they really wanted to, um, do something online.

[00:14:35] And even people that had not taken online workshops. Now they were ready to do that because they wanted to learn something, they wanted to do, they wanted to connect somehow. So the first year, uh, I did Creative Jumpstart during January, um, through the pandemic. It was actually really, really nice and, and, and amazing in terms of connection and what happened there.

[00:14:59] But [00:15:00] it also was the year where everyone kind of like caught on on this is how we do online things, how we, uh, every teacher realized, okay, these are ways how we do it. Lots of teachers did amazing stuff where they started teaching life workshops. That’s not really my thing, I have to admit. Um, um, I’m doing a lot in the, in the, I love, um, doing a class that’s like.

[00:15:25] Uh, I show you something and then you can do it in [00:15:30] yourself, in your area, and then we can share what you do and we can have feedback. I feel like this is my, my desk and if I do something here, I’m very limited in the way how I can paint or work. It’s not really connecting with my, with me and myself in terms of doing art.

[00:15:49] Um, so that I felt a little, uh, I, I was starting to feel that I was behind. So I was, all these years kind of, I’m pretty okay [00:16:00] with my, you know, technology and how I would do things, but now I started to feel, well, I’m actually, no, everyone is doing it, which is cool. I have no problems with that. That’s, I think it’s good.

[00:16:11] The more the merrier, you know, like a rising tide, right? Rises our ships and I truly believe in that. And also that the pie is big enough for all of us. I just felt that I personally. Um, I wasn’t interested in doing more online and trying to catch up with [00:16:30] all these things, um, because I was doing, I was sitting the whole time on my computer, whether it be trying to figure out how sustain my website, which was, you know, by that time now, the platform that I built on with, with, with its in own.

[00:16:49] Everything was custom designed for the classroom. It was very clunky, very hard. I paid a lot of money annually to actually just make it not break [00:17:00] down. Um, so that was a problem. Everything started to also be more expensive. Like, okay then, you know, I told Diane and uh, uh, earlier talk that for example, Vimeo would come and say all of a sudden, okay, it’s great, you have a pro account and you pay whatever, 600 bucks a month, a year, but you have so many hits and so many people that you are, bandwidth is actually like, we, we are not, we are just not giving you any plan option [00:17:30] anymore.

[00:17:30] We shut you down now and you have to call, uh, have a call with us to figure out a customary uh, plan. And I’m like, whoa. Now, now we are talking. This is like. Once a year, like it’s in January where I have all these people coming, but the rest of the year I usually don’t do that. So, you know, it became a real headache in terms of administration.

[00:17:56] And then, um, teaching, I knew that I didn’t [00:18:00] wanna teach and travel around anymore. I, uh, figured that also out. And the other thing was by doing so much online and just being on my computer all day, I would wake up, I would check emails, I would answer emails. I would try to figure things on, on the web. I would answer to comments.

[00:18:20] Um, you know, and then with the licensing design, I would basically, um, what you have to do, you have to, you have to show, [00:18:30] show how you can use the, like, right? Let’s say I do rubber stems or, um, a stencil. You have to, you have to show how these things can be done. So I had an. Halftime assist. I had a 20 hour, uh, week assistant who would help me with some things.

[00:18:46] I actually had what it was called, a design team of, uh, four people, sometimes five people who I would send my license designs to, and then they would create something and a [00:19:00] tutorial, and that would have to be on the web because then that would trigger hopefully some sales so that I get another 5% or 8% of the wholesale, which then amounted into something that I basically just paid to do all these things.

[00:19:16] Right? So. I don’t wanna sound ungrateful, but it was basically, it was like a hamster wheel and I wasn’t doing my own art. I would like put time in my calendar and say, I wanna, you [00:19:30] know, I love painting houses and buildings with, um, historical, um, like do historical research and they often go through changes and gentrification and write stories around it.

[00:19:43] And I, uh, basically hadn’t painted much in a year. So, um, and as a lot of artists that are here, um, today too, I think might feel now that if you really wanna do [00:20:00] art and that’s your thing, it’s not good. I was not in a good place. So I felt like, um, I felt the reason why I wanted to become a, a full-time artist was to do my art in the licensing design, the online workshops, the other teaching.

[00:20:17] Was to enable me to do that art, but now it became just a thing that I couldn’t do anymore. I wasn’t doing art, um, or I didn’t feel like it. And so I [00:20:30] knew I was tired, I was cranky. An email that would maybe normally not set me on fire, you know, when someone was like, I forgot my password. And you’re like, oh, bad.

[00:20:44] Like, you know, you knew, usually you, I would just answer and say, no worries. Like, just go to the button and say, forgot password. And I would sit here and just like, be like, well, you know, and it was unfair. It was unfair to, um, to the people [00:21:00] that, um, you know, support you and are part of your group, of your art group.

[00:21:06] And I also felt that, um, I. It wasn’t, it wasn’t honest for me anymore. Like I wasn’t in it anymore and now was time for change. So that’s how the thought of sabbatical came into play. 

[00:21:22] diane: Okay. So in this, you had been, um, you had moved at some point, um, you’d, did you ever live in [00:21:30] New York? 

[00:21:31] Nat Kalbach: No. Okay. So you always, I mean, we do say in Jersey City, we say we’re in the city, but let’s face the sphere.

[00:21:36] We’re just across the 

[00:21:37] diane: river. But then, um, you had loved this house that you’re in now from afar. You loved to take walks, you did tons of drawings. A lot of your sketchbooks and things like this are filled with buildings and you love architecture. So, um, when did you move, because I think you were in this house when you, you [00:22:00] decided, you were like, I’m not doing any art.

[00:22:02] What? Right. 

[00:22:04] Nat Kalbach: I wasn’t yet in the house, but we, um, we had closed on the house and I’ve, I’ve, you know, it’s a, it’s an old Victorian, not that old, but it’s from 1890. It’s a, it’s a house that needs a lot of love. Um, probably shouldn’t have bought it, but, you know, it is what it is. We love it. Um, has all original woodwork, but also original windows that are cracked and, you [00:22:30] know, rattle and steam pipes and, um, all kinds of stuff.

[00:22:34] So, um, it needs a lot of love and work and, and, you know, just attention. Um, but I started doing a lot of research into the house and, um, and started to get back into just that, that I love, I love the history of buildings. I think that the history of a city or, um, a place. Can be told through [00:23:00] buildings. And when I paint buildings, I don’t pal paint them in the colors that you would expect or are realistic.

[00:23:07] They’re, they’re transported by what I see in them and what I know about them. I knew that I would have to have a lot of time to also, you know, deal with contractors and a move and all kinds of stuff. I knew that it would be hard to, um, maintain the online teaching. I knew that it would be hard to keep on having [00:23:30] work and money for my assistant and my design team.

[00:23:35] You know, I was like talking to my husband about it and then he was like, maybe it is a good idea to just reset and get your head free and see if you can get back to your art and, um. Just sit, sit a year out or take a sabbatical from, you know, teaching and creative jump start. And the more I [00:24:00] thought about it, I really had a longing for that.

[00:24:04] But, um, yeah. 

[00:24:05] diane: Did you have a longing for something in particular? Like was there something that you wanted to do that had been like, um, just in the back of your mind, or it was just kind of like a tickle in your throat that you couldn’t get rid of? Um, you know, was it a type of painting or was it, um, what or what was 

[00:24:26] Nat Kalbach: it?

[00:24:27] Well, I definitely knew that I wanted to continue the [00:24:30] way of what, like I wanted to, the subject matter is always the same in terms of, you know, that research and historic and preservation and buildings. But I wanted to build to, which was, we can talk about that later, but it was, um, you know, a little weird like, oh, from.

[00:24:50] Don’t have any mojo to paint to. Well, we will solve that by just thinking we are gonna paint big. I want to paint big, you know, like I, I [00:25:00] don’t know what I was thinking. So I bought these like crazy big canvases that barely fit up the staircase. Um, didn’t even like make them myself, so I just bought them, make it easy.

[00:25:13] Um, and so that was crazy. Like you have an empty big, you know, surface on the easel, and then you’re like, okay, from, you don’t know you, you don’t feel it, you don’t feel like going, and then you’re [00:25:30] like. Like, just scale it up. It’s, it’s like, you know 

[00:25:34] diane: what? I haven’t been running. I’m gonna go run a marathon.

[00:25:37] Kind of, I mean, it’s, it can be a huge, uh, instead of taking a little bite, you’re like, now I’ve got the time. But it can be a real, um, barrier because then it’s all the expectations and then maybe it doesn’t, you, it starts not looking the way you want it to be, or you don’t have enough time or enough paint or whatever.

[00:25:56] You’re not tall enough. I don’t know. 

[00:25:58] Nat Kalbach: Yeah. And it’s interesting [00:26:00] because I had actually a friend, um, early on in my sabbatical when I was working on one of the painting. He’s a very prolific artist and a very, very, very good friend and mentor. And, um, he was at a, a party that we had and he came and he, he, he went to my studio and then he said, he looked at this one big painting that I made, and he was like, okay, Natalie.

[00:26:26] I wanna talk about it. What happened here? And it [00:26:30] wasn’t like, I mean, it sounds horrible, but it wa it wasn’t horrible, you know, like, but he could feel it. He could see it. And I said, why, why are you saying that? And he is like, I didn’t tell, like you were like going like, and then I talked about it like this, this thought of doing big paintings and going all out.

[00:26:48] And then he said like. Do, like, just start all over with what you usually do. Like, just like feel it again and be in your, in your body and, and [00:27:00] just do it. Like do something that you’re used to so that, because it’s your, your ma muscle memory, you know, that’s there. And, and just reactivate that and then you can go, uh, from there again.

[00:27:12] And you know, it was so, it was so weird. Sometimes you need someone else give you permission. Although, I mean, if he would say I give you permission, I would be like, what kind of a friend are you? I’m not asking you. But, so, you know, but I was like, oh my God, he gave me per permission. Thank you Adam. You know, [00:27:30] so, um, that was really good.

[00:27:32] But yes, that was a crazy thought. And the other thought that I had for the pandemic, I had this, um, grand thought that I would have figured out a new business model of how I would. Carry on from, um, no one spoiler alert, my sabbatical is over and I haven’t. 

[00:27:55] diane: But I think that’s what happens. We are, um, maybe [00:28:00] uninspired.

[00:28:00] We are, um, just, we’re burned out. We’re, we’re tired of doing what we, we want to get back to doing the things that we used to like to do, but in a new way. And we have these big goals of like, figuring out something that will make a difference for the rest of our business or our lives or whatever. So were was, were you able, and I know this is further down, I can’t remember, um, were you able to really put your business on [00:28:30] hold?

[00:28:31] Like, could you step back for a period of time and not have to think about it? Took 

[00:28:36] all 

[00:28:37] Nat Kalbach: that stuff? Yeah, it took a little bit. Um, so, you know, um, I made a hard cut at. Like January 1st, I’m gonna start with my sabbatical. I announced it beforehand. There were a lot of people that were disappointed in terms of the workshops and that my annual, like 12 year long, uh, creative Jumpstart would not run in January.[00:29:00] 

[00:29:01] And um, but I had, um, I had given Kim notice who was my, um, assistant for six years, um, which was very hard. Uh, we would communicate, um, besides the weekend. Every day we would talk text all the time, and I felt, I felt like I let her down. I’m very happy to say that. It actually was very good for her as well, because [00:29:30] she’s an artist in her own right.

[00:29:31] And she, uh, very, very immediately started doing a lot of her own artwork and has been exhibited, uh, meanwhile in a lot of places and has had great art reviews. And so it was actually probably, uh, also like good for her in terms of, okay, I can now do my own thing. Um, I don’t know if she saw it that way. Um, I should ask her now again and say, Hey, how did that feel?[00:30:00] 

[00:30:00] Um, but yeah, that was, that was hard. Um, and then, you know, I did a lot of social media, so it was kind of weird because, uh, I felt like. In a way you’re like, oh, I don’t wanna do it because it’s so annoying. But then also you have this like, feeling like, is that right? I’m not posting anything. So it took me a while to actually get to the point that no one’s gonna miss you, and it’s okay, you will survive.

[00:30:29] If you [00:30:30] don’t, if you don’t post, like, um, in fact, if you only post once a month or every few months, there will be still people saying, that’s great, you’re still alive, awesome to see you loved. But from your own standpoint out, you also let go of that. And that was great. So yeah, it was a little hard, but I had signed up for a pottery course and, and you 

[00:30:52] diane: had never done pottery before, 

[00:30:54] Nat Kalbach: right?

[00:30:54] Never done it. Okay. No. Well, I, I watched the great, um, people will probably say, oh my God. [00:31:00] Um, but I watched the Great British, uh, pottery show and, you know, I found it was. It was so intriguing because there’s so many things you can do with, um, pottery and ceramic art. And I knew that I didn’t wanna be like, it’s not like I’m not gonna buy a kiln.

[00:31:18] I’m not gonna be right. You know, now I, that’s not my next step. I knew that. But, um, I seem to have a lot of like amazing friends. And another very good friend of mine [00:31:30] who is an artist, said to me sometimes you just have to do things that you have never done before. Um, and they will set you free. And I was like, maybe I should follow her, uh, advice.

[00:31:42] And I signed up for 10 week, uh, pottery class once a week, um, for 10 weeks at the New York and New Jersey, uh, ceramic, um, institute, which is run by. Uh, Frank Bosco, who’s a very, uh, amazing [00:32:00] artist. He has done work with, um, Frank Stellar to cover when Stellar was like, you know, mentoring into ceramics and some other stuff.

[00:32:09] So he has this classroom and it was six people we were doing, we were sitting at the wheel and, um, he’s a, he is a, a wonderful teacher, a wonderful person, very dry. Not everyone might get it, but, um, when, when I came in, he said something like, welcome to hell. [00:32:30] Um, don’t expect that you will learn in 10 weeks.

[00:32:34] Uh, what I have learned in 20 years. And I loved that. I was like, that’s awesome. I like you. So I did that and I also, um, I. Accidentally A friend of mine, we know, we have a good friend who’s a stained glass, um, restaurant artist, but also he restores stained glass windows [00:33:00] and churches and Yale library or you know, like he’s, if there’s a church or synagogue or something, or stained glass window to repaired, he, he, he is your, uh, your guy.

[00:33:12] And he has a, he has a amazing studio and people work for him in Union City. And, um, and my friend, she’s a little younger. I. Loves TikTok. And she said, state glass window stuff is all the rage on, on TikTok. And I was like, I [00:33:30] wouldn’t know because I don’t do TikTok, but I believe you. And she’s like, we should ask Zach if he would wanna give us a class.

[00:33:36] And he said Yes, and so free, we free girlfriends. We would go, um, every couple weeks and would take a class with them for like almost half a year. And we made our own stain glass window, painted it, everything. Um, so there were these two very different things and that you were 

[00:33:55] diane: both brand new to, 

[00:33:57] Nat Kalbach: right.

[00:33:57] Brand new and I, it, that was the [00:34:00] best thing I’ve done, I think in terms of like something creative that I did during my sabbatical because, um, it was, you know, when you’re, when you do something that you haven’t done, you, um. I didn’t have, like, some people might be different with that, but I didn’t have this.

[00:34:22] I really tried hard to hone in my own way of telling my students don’t have this perfect picture in my [00:34:30] head. You will. It’s too hard. You’re setting yourself up for being disappointed or, you know, for failure. Not failure is a hard work, but it’s really hard because you have this picture in your head and there you’re learning though.

[00:34:43] diane: You’re learning, you’re not, you get on a bike and you fall off and then you get back up and you fall. Right. But we don’t wanna get bloody, we just wanna get up and go to wherever we wanna go. Right. And that’s what we wanna do with our art too. We, we have an idea that we should be able to make this perfect cup or this perfect painting, or this of what it is in [00:35:00] our head, but our muscle memory’s not there yet and we, it takes 

[00:35:03] Nat Kalbach: practice.

[00:35:04] Right, right. And that’s what, you know, the pottery guy, Frank, basically said is like, don’t, don’t, don’t expect that, that’s not, you’re not gonna get the perfect bowl. You know, like. And I really, I, I loved it. I loved when I had like a, a little thing that I, it looked wonky and terrible, but I was, I did that, I made that I, and you know, the, the curve, the learning curve in [00:35:30] the beginning of whatever you do is actually like, really hot.

[00:35:34] Like it’s, it goes quick, right? And then, and then it just goes like forever, like this. But that feeling was so important to have that, again, that excitement of trying something new out of doing something. So. The first four months probably. Um, I tried to do the big painting, which as we know sucked. But [00:36:00] like, other than that, I didn’t do much art.

[00:36:03] I didn’t, I didn’t touch anything 

[00:36:04] diane: else, you know? Was it because you were, you didn’t feel it, or you were just like burned out? You just Yeah, and 

[00:36:10] Nat Kalbach: I, I gave myself the, I gave myself the, the permission and I said, at least you’re doing something creative and something will come out of that. And then at the same time, I’m sorry if I jumped.

[00:36:23] diane: No, you had a friend who told you to do something else, to do something completely different. That was the next question I was gonna [00:36:30] ask you anyway. Yeah. So, so in this time we tend sometimes if you’re four months in and I don’t know how long, how long was your total sabbatical. 

[00:36:40] Nat Kalbach: It was a year, so till December 31st, this last year.

[00:36:45] And, um, I also signed up, I also started, um, volunteering at our Landmarks Conservancy, which I had followed for a long time here in Jersey City. And I liked the work and, you know, when I was doing research [00:37:00] into some of the buildings that I wanted to paint, I would find their research material or their resources.

[00:37:06] So I was very interested in what they were doing and I thought, well, maybe I should apply to be on their board. A friend of mine was on the board and I thought maybe some of my skills would be beneficial to them. They had a, like, um, social media that was there, but you know, it wasn’t like consistent or something.

[00:37:29] It [00:37:30] was funny, while I’d rather to do my own social media, when I came on the board, I was like, Hey, I have a strategic plan for your social media, and I would love to love to start that and, and do that. And, uh, I did it. I had so much fun, like, because it had nothing to do with my business. Uh, I loved learning about different things in the city, uh, old buildings, architecture.

[00:37:57] And I also signed up for, uh, [00:38:00] an NYU class and historic preservation to do a certificate, uh, program. And this all sounds crazy, but it was like I didn’t do my art. I didn’t figure out my business plan. So I was doing that. Um, I, not with the plan, like I’m becoming a historic preservation person, but um, sure enough, I had a lot of exposure to, you know, community meetings.

[00:38:27] There were like things where. Uh, and [00:38:30] one thing was where I was invited to, um, a neighborhood association meeting at the Museum of Jersey City History. And, um, that was like with a developer and a house was demolished. Just so, because that’s the way how we do it here in Jersey sometimes, you know, we just, we just knock it down.

[00:38:50] And so, and so we had this, we had this meeting and it was a coincidence that the museum’s director heard my [00:39:00] accent, which. Jarring It is, but apparently sometimes that’s good. Um, and he was, he came to me and I, you know, I, I didn’t speak as an artist. I was there for our organization, and he said, you are an artist, aren’t you?

[00:39:15] And I was like, whoa, this is scary. How does he know? You know? And he said he saw me because during the pandemic, we have this thing in Jersey City for 35 years. It’s called the, um, Jersey City Arts and [00:39:30] Studio Tour. So once a year, the city, uh, city artists open up their studios, or they go and have their artwork displayed.

[00:39:38] And I had participated a couple times, um, before the pandemic, and then during the pandemic they made this online. And what I did online was I had all kinds of different paintings of mine and placed them on a, on a map. And I, I made it like a stroll through the neighborhood. Where I [00:40:00] would zoom into a painting and talk about that building in the context of the neighborhood.

[00:40:06] And he had seen that. Um, and the museum wasn’t even open. He had just seen it and remembered me when I was at this meeting and he said, well, we have the Jersey City Art and Studio Tour coming up again this year. Would you wanna have your artwork in our museum? That would be a perfect fit. 

[00:40:27] diane: I mean, you, you weren’t even going for, to get a [00:40:30] museum show.

[00:40:30] This was like you were just here representing for the historical preservation. Right. Which I, but this goes back to another thing is for, and you had said this, we had talked about this before, um, because you were so busy online and having online communities and inspiring people and teaching in-person workshops, teaching online workshops, it was a lot of time in front of your computer and there was a lot of like, worldwide, um, people that know, [00:41:00] you know who you are and, but you didn’t have as much time to spend in the day to day in your neighborhood, uh, building those kind of ties.

[00:41:09] And I think that that’s something that, um, really hit me after we had talked Mm-Hmm. I was like, that makes a lot of sense. You know, like, um. As somebody who does love what you were around your space, but then you didn’t have, you are so people oriented. Mm-Hmm. That, that for you to [00:41:30] have this huge online, but in person, you didn’t have that as much.

[00:41:34] Even though the, the. Your, you were influenced, your art was influenced by the, the places that were around you. So I thought that that was, I mean, I just think that’s an awesome way that it worked out. That, um, to me, I just believe God was like, oh, hey, I’m just gonna put you here and now you’re gonna have a show.

[00:41:52] You know, like that is just the wonderful thing of you being you and then you starting to get into [00:42:00] now a deeper in-person community, and then somebody sees you because you have been, um, pioneering and you have been being visible, you know? So anyway, keep going. 

[00:42:11] Nat Kalbach: So he asked you. Yeah. You know, yeah. It was luck, uh, too, but it’s also, I was like, yeah, I mean, I’m a, a person who often says yes, and then I’m like, well, now I have to figure this out.

[00:42:25] So I have no work. I had no, like, what he had seen, I didn’t have [00:42:30] anymore, I had sold it during the pandemic. I was basically like really almost giving things away. I was like, you want a painting? Here’s 50 bucks. Take it. You know? So, so, so it was like, Ooh. And that was awesome because what 

[00:42:47] diane: the time of year was this?

[00:42:48] ’cause this makes you have to start making stuff. 

[00:42:51] Nat Kalbach: Mm. Uh, it was in June-ish. Okay. And the, uh, the, the [00:43:00] thing was in that he met me and the, um. The exhibition was in the beginning of October, I believe. Wow. So, um, I was like, and he, and then, you know, you’re, he will, they were like serious, like, uh, you know, he was like, yeah, well, okay.

[00:43:18] And he is emailing me and says, we have a curator and she’s gonna come to a studio visit. And then he, and I’m like, studio visit. I mean, if I tell this now Lucy, who she’s [00:43:30] probably like cracking up. I was like, studio visit, I have nothing. Its. So, but it was, I was so excited about this and I knew this was a really bad, like a big opportunity.

[00:43:46] And, you know, I had done all this work on buildings and research for the, um, conservancy. So I had, I walked around, I took photos, I, you know, for social media. I had done the research I [00:44:00] wrote about people, uh, you know, all these, you had sketchbooks, right? You were, I had sketchbooks and I was like, I do have the research already.

[00:44:07] I just need to paint it. And so I painted like a maniac. Uh. Just also for her visit, because I was like, how far? How much can I kind of like push this away? And, and she was like, no, no, we gotta do this now. Because she’s a curator. So her ex, you know her, she was like, where’s this person coming from? No [00:44:30] one has ever heard in Jersey City about this artist.

[00:44:33] Like, where is she coming from? Like, I need to at least first see what’s going on too. I mean, I don’t think she wasn’t trusting it, but I’m, you know, she wanted to know 

[00:44:42] diane: what is the worst, there’s a system. She has a system. Yeah. Of what? Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:44:46] Nat Kalbach: And it was such a catalyst, zeer for making art under pressure, although I don’t believe that you always need this pressure.

[00:44:56] Right. But it was, it was a mixture of feeling so [00:45:00] kind of validated that someone saw you several years ago, two years ago, still remembered you. It. So I made an impact on this person who’s actually not really into art. And then not wanting to, um, to disappoint this person, but also being like, let’s go. And I painted day and night.

[00:45:22] I painted like. 20 paintings or whatever, not for the studio visit, but until then. And [00:45:30] so, um, 

[00:45:30] diane: the exhibition, what size were you, were you working in a different way? A new way, yeah. How were you working? Small 

[00:45:35] Nat Kalbach: size again, back to small size. Okay. Scratch the big one. And, and I was like, you know, maybe like 24 by 24 might be the biggest or 12 by 24, but usually like 12 by 12, even 10 by 10.

[00:45:49] And so small, small pieces. Because also, let’s face this, face this, we are in a city, people have small apartments, right? Small places. Like, they’re like, where are you [00:46:00] gonna put that thing? That’s 

[00:46:01] diane: like, you’re still thinking about, uh, that, uh, sometimes people when they’re doing something, they don’t wanna get rid of some things.

[00:46:08] Um, but you’re thinking about, it’s still a business. This is still, you would like to sell your art and you’re thinking about, um, the, the user, the person who’s gonna buy it. Maybe, 

[00:46:18] Nat Kalbach: yeah, I wasn’t actually thinking, so, like, I wasn’t even thinking that I would sell anything because I have done these things before and usually maybe you, you know, maybe you do, maybe [00:46:30] you don’t.

[00:46:30] Maybe something comes out later. I wasn’t actually like thinking that would happen, but I, I just like, I wasn’t even, yeah, actually Lucy brought that up and she said, okay. So, um, so have you thought, like, when you, she was very organized to which I love, I love organized people, but she was like, okay, if you, you know, when you sit, like you have to put every painting, photograph it, put it in a Dropbox folder, [00:47:00] you have to have the si.

[00:47:01] You know, like, she was basically also teaching me how to do, how to prepare an exhibition. Mm-Hmm. Which, you know, I hadn’t done that. Like I had done some of it, but I was basically like, you know, a gal, like a gallery for the JC uh, art tour would say. It was a group exhibition. We take these free paintings and then you would drop them off.

[00:47:21] They would hang them, right? And you set them a couple things. So she was, she was like, no, I’m gonna look at all these paintings. I will pick which one I pick. [00:47:30] I want the stories with it. I think the stories are great. Uh, but also think about pricing. And I was like, pricing. She’s like, you wanna sell things right, don’t you?

[00:47:40] And I was like, I guess so. And then I was like, yeah, because it’s fun. And so, yeah, I did that. I’ve thought about pricing. I’ve thought about these things. And then, um, I sold four paintings during the exhibition, which was more than I would’ve, you know, wanted to, and the museum. [00:48:00] Now I’m braggy. Braggy. 

[00:48:01] diane: I don’t want No, go ahead.

[00:48:02] Two, two, let’s go. Because that gives us hope. So 

[00:48:06] Nat Kalbach: the museum decided that they wanna have the work there indefinitely for now. So I’m basically, when something sells, I can come in and we rehang things and I bring something new and, um, it’s been, it’s been amazing. 

[00:48:24] diane: Well, another part of this that I love, ’cause I love sketchbooks, is that she actually [00:48:30] insisted that you, you have your sketchbooks as well, and you were like, why is anybody gonna wanna see my sketchbook?

[00:48:38] Can you tell about that? And then the students that 

[00:48:40] Nat Kalbach: came in, yeah, she saw my art journals, uh, which I usually used to. Um, you know, warm up and try things out. And oftentimes when I have a painting, i I, I do it first in my art journal to kind of practice. And then I have a ledger book from the [00:49:00] 1817 something 1800 and it’s like one of those big gigantic ledger books.

[00:49:04] And I put the painting in there too. So it’s like a, a text collection, uh, ledger. And I felt it was like kind of cool to put the paintings in there too. So I had this kind of thing where do it, try it first and sketch it out and try some things in my art journal. And then I put it on canvas and then in case the canvas is done, I’m gonna put it in the big ledger and like you put it in your [00:49:30] ledger.

[00:49:31] And, um, the Ledger book was, uh, that was the one that I based my pandemic. Online, um, exhibition on, and Martin, the museum’s director, was like, we gotta have the ledger in the display. So when I showed this to Lucy, she looked at my art journals and she was like, this is really cool. You should bring it because it shows your pro progress and how people, 

[00:49:57] diane: your process too, 

[00:49:58] Nat Kalbach: just of how you, and I was like, oh my [00:50:00] God, this is like, there’s a lot of ugly stuff in there and things you real like, you know, like, like it’s important to me, but it’s not, there are a lot of things that I would never really share because it’s like, who did that?

[00:50:15] You know? So, so, yeah. So, so she was like, no, no, bring some. So we had like maybe four or five books somewhere in a display, display page so they couldn’t be touched. And just one page was open, but then [00:50:30] some of them were just on a little, uh, kind of like a pedestal or something. Yeah. Yeah. And I had actually like, had them open, but I had them had like a little double-sided like painters tape so that the page that I wanted to show was open.

[00:50:46] But it take, took like two seconds at the opening and the first person was like going through it and I kept like, you know, pinching it down. But people were drawn to it and so many [00:51:00] people asked me about those and they said, it’s so interesting to see how the process is, what you think, how you do that.

[00:51:06] And then actually, um, a friend of mine too, who knows what I do, but has never seen my AR journals. He works for a big, uh, tech company and he said, um, wow, you’re doing this. What is this? And I told him and he said, you’re like, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, buddy. Do we know each other? And then [00:51:30] he said, well, don’t you wanna come to my company and teach a workshop?

[00:51:35] Um, kind of like 

[00:51:36] diane: a team non, non right. For non creatives. Right. Which I think it has also kind of inspired you in and, and just, all these things have to do with your community, have to do with people that, you know, being nice to people, but also being out in the world. And then, um, it just co it has come around and I just think, um, it’s, uh, it’s [00:52:00] like a beginning of a slide where Mm-Hmm.

[00:52:03] It’s, it’s happening and all that hard work. Um, and it, it just is, uh, it’s paying off. And I’m glad that you took a sabbatical. I’m sorry that the big paintings didn’t work out maybe one day. But I do think that there’s something, there’s been such great things that have come out, but you being a, a rookie, doing the pottery class, taking ceramics, doing the stained glass, that was still visual, but then you [00:52:30] really poured into the historical preservation.

[00:52:33] You took another class that was not about painting, right? Mm-Hmm. It was, it was, um, something else. And then you did tons of history on just the buildings and the area, and you continued to do your work. But it, and I, I do think having that, um, spur of you needed to, Lucy was coming over and you were gonna have a show and you needed to get something.

[00:52:56] Sometimes having a deadline like that, I think is, [00:53:00] um, is important. Um, Mm-Hmm. I know that when. I’ve run groups and we have, there’s some accountability to somebody getting their website up. It’s like you’re saying you’re gonna do it. If you didn’t have accountability, you’d never get it done. If you, Lucy wasn’t coming, you wouldn’t have stayed up late painting or whatever.

[00:53:18] Nat Kalbach: Right, right. Yeah. And that was good. And I also think that, um, I thought about maybe doing something with companies at some point, but [00:53:30] I never thought that I would be, I personally would be interested in that because I was like, well, but I think being in the situation again, where I was the beginner and had no clue of doing things and that excitement, I’m looking forward to work with people who are, who don’t know anything about it.

[00:53:51] And it might, and they just signed up because they wanna figure it out for two hours or three hour. It’s a three hour workshop, three hours [00:54:00] during work. And, you know, I’m like, I’m excited because I’m, I’m sure there will be a couple people that that really got something out of that. That doesn’t mean that I need to convince them to do this for the rest of their life.

[00:54:16] That they have to be, you know, artists now or wanna be artists. It also means I don’t have to figure out how I sell some of my 

[00:54:26] diane: convince people. You said that the other day, you said, yeah, man, I [00:54:30] have to convince people to take this, or, you know, and, and I just, that has stuck with me since we talked because it’s like, that is what it feels like, but it is so freeing.

[00:54:39] And then, but this, uh, tech company where it’s something totally outside, those people aren’t doing design. Maybe they’re not, they’re like. Doing accounting or whatever they’re doing, you know, like regular HR stuff. And then they’re coming in as, um, a way to think differently and to, and they might not have [00:55:00] even ever seen an art journal.

[00:55:01] Mm-Hmm. Right. And I think that it’s like what the pottery class did for you or what the, um, historic preservation class did for you, you know, because it was just something outside, I think for me. Um, reading your substack, which I’m gonna put your, your links here, so if you’re watching on YouTube, you can just check ’em out.

[00:55:20] They’re right down below, they’re at the top. And then if you’re on wherever you get your podcast, they’re also right at the top. Um, I’m gonna read ’em. So Nat [00:55:30] callback, K-A-L-B-A-C That one you talk about. You had, um, I mean there’s images, there’s all kinds of stuff, which I think is great.

[00:55:39] So you were journaling, you were doing, um, collecting, you were making art journals as well, but you were collecting this information and then you shared it. And I think some, when I read it, I auto, I mean it popped up that you had one. I read it and then I wrote, but I commented because I was like, man, I could feel from your [00:56:00] thing the sabbatical was, um, successful, but in a way that you didn’t expect.

[00:56:06] Yes. And it, you didn’t come out think with the, so if you were measuring it on how you thought you were gonna be coming out of it, it wasn’t a success. No. But you don’t know where you’re going. But now you’re like, I found some things and I have. Some direction, or I have some things that are interesting to me that I didn’t know about before, or, um, you are [00:56:30] renewed.

[00:56:30] I think sometimes we, we think about a sabbatical being a refresh. Um, I’ll, it’s a restart. It’s a respite. I have a break. I don’t have to do things. But really, um, there’s a lot of mental stuff that goes on because if you are taking it at the end of a burnout, um, it’s hard to get back in. I think it’s really nice that you gave yourself four months to just kind of, um, heal, I guess.

[00:56:56] Mm-Hmm. You know, it’s not like you’re completely healed now, but [00:57:00] you’re at a much better, uh, different place than you expected. I think the expectations, just like you would say to somebody if it was their first time drawing, whatever, doing an art journal, drawing an apple, painting a building. You would say, Hey, don’t get in your head too much.

[00:57:14] But I think the same thing for sabbatical. I don’t think enough people say that, like Mm-Hmm. Um, my sabbatical was absolutely not everything I wanted it to be. There were lots of parts that were good, but I thought I would have more time. And when I’ve taken more breaks, [00:57:30] even if it was just a month, um, I still didn’t make the art I wanted to make because I didn’t have that regular practice.

[00:57:37] It was like your big canvases. Mm-Hmm. Like, I couldn’t, and I think for me, I have to continually be doing it, and I have a hard time getting out of the sketchbook, so I need to be just like you would if you wanted to paint on big campuses, you needed to be painting on big canvases before the sabbatical so that you’re more comfortable and you can move.

[00:57:56] Right? Mm-Hmm. And I just think it is the, [00:58:00] the mindset of this isn’t gonna solve everything. You’re not gonna have it all figured out because if you, if you, I. Were to just stay in sabbatical mode. How long do you think it would be till you figured it out? Like never?

[00:58:17] Nat Kalbach: Well, I think, I think the one thing that I do have is that, you know, I changed my career path once. Mm-Hmm. And when I did that, [00:58:30] I did that very, um, strategically. Like I didn’t just quit my job and said, this is it. Like I had, I had built up my, um, you know, my online teaching and my, um, my traveling. Um, you know, I, I had these connections.

[00:58:51] I had these, um, opportunities. I think I even had my first licensing agreement already. Maybe, maybe it came a little later. Uh, [00:59:00] but it was around the same time. Um. And so I also had like something to fall back onto. So I knew like, okay, I’m gonna try it. And if it doesn’t work out in three years, that would be around the time that I could still go back to being a paralegal without, uh, being out of, you know, knowledge too long before no one would want to have me back or I would have to ud everything.

[00:59:28] So I, I was [00:59:30] very, very, um, you know, I had like a plan and I was like, here are different income sources. This is how I could make it work. And, you know, it, it worked for the long time. So, um, this time I fought, when I went into the, into the, um, in, into the sabbatical. It wasn’t like a real career break, but I thought I would come out with this.

[00:59:59] diane: New [01:00:00] idea, new path. 

[01:00:01] Nat Kalbach: Mm-Hmm. Yeah, it’s like, and I, and what I did come out though with was, uh, a re like a knowledge of, uh, what I really like and where my interests are and, um, what makes sense, uh, in terms of for my artwork and other, um, things that I like to do. Um, and funnily enough, some kind of confidence that something will come out of this, which [01:00:30] is I’m, I’m not like, I’m not like o shouting it in the universe and something’s happening.

[01:00:36] I’m not very, actually very like, straightforward, organized. This is the first time I’m doing something crazy like this ever. For me, it feels like. What was she doing? But there is some sort of confidence that if you keep, like if I keep on working and, and dig a little deeper, that I will find a path. It’s just, it’s basically the same that I did while I was [01:01:00] still a paralegal and I was digging into this, um, you know, art thing and I, I did that.

[01:01:07] So the only difference is right now I don’t have like a, a steady income that I used to have when I did that, when I was still figuring that out. So, um, but I mean, if then maybe I have to get a hot, like if I don’t figure that out soon, then I might have to work like halftime somewhere, you know, like I will figure this out [01:01:30] somehow without having to go back and do online classes or the things that I realized are not.

[01:01:38] They had their time in their place and they were great, and I’m so glad I did it. Um, but I don’t wanna go back to that. That’s not my fallback, um, right 

[01:01:48] diane: now. Right. Well now I think maybe you have a renewed faith that the next things will come and that you will continuing to go down some of that historic, um, [01:02:00] ’cause that’s where you feel like the, the call to keep going.

[01:02:04] That there, there have been two things that have come out of you just having people in your life. And one of those was at the museum. And it was because you were there for the historic preservation, the conservancy. And then the other one is just maybe he came to that show and or who, you know, it’s like.

[01:02:24] Things will keep rolling, but you do have to keep Mm-Hmm. Um, talking about what you do. Um, you have to [01:02:30] keep, um, advocating for others or, you know, advocating for the buildings for so that people don’t just Right. Wreck ’em down or whatever. Right. Um, but there’s, I think that it’s like your passion and that you are like, think we’ll figure things out and if I need to go back and do something else, then it’s not gonna be where it’s gonna suck the life out of me.

[01:02:51] Um, so that I’m not able to get back to who I am. So if you were gonna do another, [01:03:00] um, how will you incorporate a sabbatical in a regular, in your regular life now? Um, so for someone who can’t take like a time off. Yes. 

[01:03:11] Nat Kalbach: I think it’s really, really, um, so I’m way better now in just, um, saying a weekend is a weekend.

[01:03:20] Um, I, I used to, not to because they’re like, I’m, you know, I’m always there. I always have to, um, be the person who does that. [01:03:30] I think of social media break if you are a lot on social media. I think that it’s a blessing and a curse. I know a lot of people say, I hate social media, and I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t necessarily, it depends, right?

[01:03:42] But I wouldn’t necessarily say that because I also think there is, um, it’s an opportunity that we have nowadays in a way that has never been there before to make your artwork seen by, uh, a range of people that [01:04:00] might have not seen it otherwise. Especially if you don’t have a gallery or, um, a ways of distributing that you know, that that’s actually pretty cool.

[01:04:09] Um, but I think you need to make sure that you are not, um. You’re not becoming what they want you to become the content creator. Like, that’s not your job. I’m, I don’t wanna be an influencer. I don’t wanna be a content creator. And, um, I don’t wanna play into this. Like, now I have to [01:04:30] make reels, like I’ve made like maybe one reel by accident and, you know, survived so far.

[01:04:38] So, um, so I think that’s important. 

[01:04:41] diane: That’s a great, 

[01:04:42] Nat Kalbach: I love that. Right? So you just like, take some breaks from that. Don’t feel, try to get out of that pressure. Uh, and I, I try to do that. I’m not good in not using, like, I have an attachment and I hate that and I wish it was better. But in terms of, [01:05:00] you know, creating content, I, I’m way more relaxed.

[01:05:04] Like maybe if you need that, then say I wanna have at least only two days a week, but I don’t even do that. It doesn’t matter. Um. And then the other thing is like really get, get out and do get to do really some other things like sign up for a class. Um, if you can’t take a real sabbatical, maybe sign up for something that you [01:05:30] always had a little, like if you’re painter, do dance it.

[01:05:33] Well, you don’t want to dance, but I’m saying like, do something that you have been interested in, but it has nothing to do because I think, um, there’s always something that work like happens in you. And when we learn something new, I also think, um, we’re so create creative. I think that’s the cool thing about creatives, that even if we do something that has nothing to do with what [01:06:00] we’re, or we think it has nothing to do with what we are doing.

[01:06:03] You always, when you learn something new, you always try to connect it to what you already, what’s there creatively. That gives you the opportunity to explore something that’s totally different. Let’s say you go and you, you, you take a dance class and then you would be like, how can I incorporate my art with dancing?

[01:06:27] I’m making this up now, but you know, how [01:06:30] do I combine historic preservation with, um, painting the buildings that I paint and, and, and then, you know, maybe write about it or whatever. Um, so there are ways to do that. Um, and also I think while I think that online, like be, like all these online tools and everything that we have at our hands are really amazing.

[01:06:56] What this year really honed back to me was, [01:07:00] um, how important interpersonal connections on, on a local scale are and how wonderful it is to also. Be exposed to people that might have the same goal or the same, um, yeah, like, you know, purpose or thinking about the same purpose, like being in this place. But, um, they come from all kinds of different ways of life and [01:07:30] it’s diverse, you know, and I think, I think that’s also I important.

[01:07:34] Um, and that gives a lot of sparks and ideas. I did oral history, a whole oral history project with our, um, with the Landmarks Conservancy. We got a grant and I interviewed a, an 104 year old, uh, woman. She’s amazing. She actually turned 105 in November. But, um, that conversation, just like [01:08:00] having this conversation and then, you know, that sparked also something in me because it’s storytelling, historic preservation.

[01:08:09] Painting old buildings, doing the research. So when you find something that you think that has nothing to do with what you’re doing, you will make connections somehow. And I think that’s where a lot of joy and fun can come out of. Um, so take your mind off of what, what you usually do, but see how you can kind [01:08:30] of like think about it back or you do Ja like I had this Jess talk.

[01:08:35] Um, I, I saw a Jess talk and I’m, my husband loves Jess. I’m, I would say like, I’m more like this elevator Jess person, so if it goes too crazy, I’m like, oh. So, but I had a, I heard this jazz talk actually, by my husband, but anyway, and we looked, we watched the Ken Burns documentary on Jazz Kill Me Now because I love Ken [01:09:00] Burns, but it’s like 10, 10 million hours of jazz history, right?

[01:09:06] I was, I was thinking about how they were talking, these jazz musicians were talking about jazz. And I was like, wow, there’s a lot of connections that I can make to, um, painting on canvas, like when you do a gem session, how they, how they have the skills, but how do they come together? And you know, every time I do something new and I kind of think, how can I [01:09:30] bring this back and make a bridge to what I know that’s when the fun thing happens.

[01:09:36] So that would be my suggestion. Do something that’s like really crazy, weird, different, um, or do something with your partner and see what his interest is and um, see if you can find a connection there actually. So. 

[01:09:53] diane: Yeah, I love that. This has been awesome. I wanna just make sure if, so that people can, uh, get in touch with you in other [01:10:00] ways.

[01:10:00] So nat or callback. K-A-L-B-A-C-H just in case. And then your website is Natalie’s studio. There’s two S’s right next to each other. Um, dot com. Natalie Studio and Natalie with A-H-N-A-T-H-A-L-I-E-S-S-T-U-D-I It’s pretty amazing that I can read that and it still, it didn’t mess up in my head [01:10:30] and coming outta my mouth.

[01:10:31] It, this was awesome. I got up super early today and I told that, I was like, man, there are some, this is why I do this at this time of day because it really energized me. I, I don’t even, I would never be able to go to sleep right now. I, this is, um, hopeful and this is, gives me hope. Um. So at a university we have to apply for sabbatical.

[01:10:51] I applied, it, got denied. Not that my project was bad, it just goes to the people who haven’t had one. So I’m all for that, but I’m like, [01:11:00] how can I still take or still make the things that I wanted to do? How can I make that? But I, it set means that I have to say no to something else, um, that maybe I’m currently doing so that I can, um, really go forward.

[01:11:13] And I think that’s something else that you taught me. But the other thing is just in my local community and with my, uh, alumni or other people that are here locally, what can I do and how can I connect with those people as well? Because I think that, that, that’s another, [01:11:30] uh, it’s a another point that you’ve said that’s really stuck with me, so.

[01:11:35] I love it. Thank you for spending time with me and with us, and I am just very thankful and to have you back and I can’t wait to have you back again. Um, and I can’t, I just keep, uh, love reading your, uh, substack and seeing your art and so just thank you so much. 

[01:11:56] Nat Kalbach: Thank you so much for having me again. It was so fun.

[01:11:59] And [01:12:00] thank you for these questions. They made me really think about this too. And um, thank you for everyone coming. So I hope we can connect and um, yeah. Thank you. 

[01:12:09] diane: Me too. And next week, just so everybody knows, um, we are, this is the last, uh, I know I say it’s January, but my, my client, my client, not my client, my friend Colin who is coming call, he’s um, he was on back in November or something and he is gonna come back because I didn’t know [01:12:30] he did all this stuff with mental health.

[01:12:31] But the reason he can’t do it on Wednesday and on the last day of January, within January is because he teaches a exercise class. And we’re gonna talk about that as we close out the mental health month for that we celebrate here on Creatives Ignite. Um, so it will be on, um. Next, uh, yeah, next, next Wednesday is the 31st.

[01:12:55] So on Thursday, same time, regular time, uh, [01:13:00] wherever you normally watch it, but it’ll be on Thursday. So I will see y’all on Thursday next week. Natalie, thank you so much. I hope that, um, I’ll keep bugging you and I’ll keep reading and, um, just thank you for inspiring and being willing to share and do something different and keep, keep us uh, keep painting ’cause I love your paintings.

[01:13:21] Nat Kalbach: Thank you so much. 

[01:13:23] diane: Bye. Have will. See I’ll see you Allall next week. Thank you again, Matt.[01:13:30] 

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