Sunday, December 14, 2014

migration issue no. 2, perzine, art zine

I spent this past week finalizing my second zine, getting it printed, videotaping, collating and sewing. In the video, I talk about how I make the mock-up zine and turn that into the double-sided pages that will be photocopied.

Once the photocopies are cut, next comes collating and trimming. The inside pages, when cut in half, need trimming in length and width if they peek beyond the cover.

Migration, issue no. 2, is 21 pages and includes 12 photocopied art works that I've completed during the last two years. It feels good to have this next chapter in print!

available in my gallery juana etsy shop.

Friday, December 5, 2014

mail art

I've been invited by Tammie of Beauty Flows to participate in the Around the World blog Hop and answer four questions.

What am I working on?

I've been making Mail Art these days. A couple of years ago, I joined liberate your art postcard swap which led me to mail art. Next I started decorating the envelopes of letters I sent to my relatives. Then this year I joined the letter writers alliance which promotes letter writing and a whole new world opened up.

Somewhere along the way, I learned about artistamps. These are faux stamps that you design. What fun! I got the perforated stamp paper from 100proofpress and went at it last week.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Although I am mostly self-taught, I studied sumi ink painting while living in Japan and that traditional art has been the biggest influence on my style. When learning sumi painting, I spent the first few months painting lines with the ink and brush. It was as tedious as you might imagine, but it was the backbone to learning how my body, the brush, paint and water work together.

After about a year and a half of studying, my teacher said I was ready to focus on painting what I wanted to paint. From that point on, I started painting portraits and figures.

Why do I create what I do?

I think Rainer Maria Rilke said it best in his letter to a young poet, Franz Kappus (translated by Mark Harman):

Go inside yourself. Explore the reason that compels you to write; test whether it stretches its roots into the deepest part of your heart, admit to yourself whether you would have to die if the opportunity to write were withheld from you. Above all else, ask yourself at your most silent hour of night: must I write? Dig inside yourself for a deep answer. And if the answer is yes, if it is possible for you to respond to this serious question with a strong and simple I must, then build your life on the basis of this necessity; your life, even at its most indifferent and attenuated, must become a sign and a witness for this compulsion.

How does my creating process work?

Ebb and Flow: There are times when I am quiet and ruminating on an idea and other times when my thoughts and actions are flowing simultaneously and laying those ideas down on paper.

Thank you for coming along with me on this journey!

If you haven't yet visited Tammy at Beauty Flows, have a visit. She has a magical world filled with her art and photography.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


detail, coupling II, gallery juana
detail of coupling II, 8 x 10 mixed media by galleryjuana

We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.
 ― William James

I have this old book titled, mechanical engineers' handbook. It is a heavy book loaded with illustrations, mathematical equations, and diagrams. I use it often for inspiration and for metaphors. The pages on couplings were the inspiration for my Coupling II mixed media work.

I had this idea of drawing a couple together in a room, but I was not happy with the way that idea was working out. So I decided to draw each figure on its own platform and connect them metaphorically.

This was my first time to work on ampersand's claybord and I really love how the surface responds to mixed media art. Originally, I thought I would develop the figure on rice paper and then adhere that to the clayboard, but I ditched that idea. I wanted the figure to have some transparency and allow the layers of color to be evident so I drew directly on the claybord. Continue reading for my step by step process for Coupling II.

from start to finish:

wip coupling II, gallery juana
background stamped layer

For the first layer, I used my flower linocut to stamp a wallpaper-like background with pyrrole orange fluid acrylics.

wip  coupling II, gallery juana
figure drawing in pencil, wip

Next, I drew my male figure and added a piece of japanese book ephemera to start the collage elements.

wip coupling II, gallery juana
figure drawing, wip

I started to add color and shading with conte crayons and charcoal to the figure.

wip coupling II, gallery juana
wip, figure

More blending and conte crayon on the figure and titan buff fluid acrylics to the background.

detail of background wip

I added layers of color with acrylics and pastels to the background.

wip coupling II, gallery juana
figure and background, wip

I darkened my figure. I think I was still wavering on what the overall tones of the collage would be. Did I want more flesh tones or white-washed tones? Also, there was a disconnect between the figure and the other elements of collage and pencil marks. I needed to add more collage elements, but I wanted the collage to be transparent enough to show some of the original wallpaper layer.

coupling II, wip, gallery juana
coupling II, wip, gallery juana

I set the claybord painting aside and worked on painting tissue paper for the collage background. I used fluid titanium white acylic mixed with hints of blues and greens and touches of nickel azo gold.

To keep the layer interesting, I cut the tissue pages into odd-shaped squares.  The background layer was built up with these squares and washes of acrylics.

coupling II, detail, gallery juana
coupling II, detail, gallery juana 

I like the final result. The stamped wallpaper still shows though the figure and in the top right. I drew diagrams of couplings inspired by the engineers' handbook in pencil throughout the drawing. Shown here is the male coupling.   The female coupling can be seen in my gallery juana etsy shop.

joining sunday sketches

Sunday, November 9, 2014

ledger journal pages

ledger journal bee, gallery juana
Bee linocut rubbing on vintage page from a travel notebook

With the days getting shorter and colder, I am spending more time at my art table and computer desk. I have been quiet on this blog but working away behind the scenes.

I just finished two figure collage works on ampersand's claybord. It was my first time to work on clayboard, and I really like the texture and flexibility of that substrate.

ledger journal portrait, gallery juana
pen line drawing, portrait

Today I needed to just let my mind wander, so I worked in my ledger journal. I usually draw or collage whatever comes into my head inspired by media clippings, my art experiments and my supply stash.

If my week goes as planned, I'll have a step by step tutorial posted about the collage works on ampersand's clayboard next Sunday.

wishing everyone a creative week and joining sunday sketches

Sunday, October 19, 2014

flower wallpaper

gallery juana, october flower linocut
flower linocut and wallpaper print on rice paper by galleryjuana

I continued working on the studies for the conversation series this week. I decided I wanted my figures to be in a room with a wallpaper background. For that purpose, I made a linocut with a flower and leaves. It was very satisfying to follow this through in one day from design to print.

A flower blossoms for its own joy.
Oscar Wilde

joining sunday sketches

Sunday, October 12, 2014

colored pencils

study for the conversation, gallery juana
study for "The Conversation", 8 x 10

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after.
― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Earlier in the week I rode my bicycle out to the local art store. They didn't have what I originally went there for, but in looking around I found a huge display of prismacolor colored pencils.

I didn't really need colored pencils as I have some derwent watercolor pencils, but the huge selection of colors were so enticing that I planted myself in front of the display. I bought three colors in the prismacolor premier line: french grey 30%, cool grey 50%, and powder blue. I already had a prismacolor colorless blender at home, so I was good to go.

Below you can see the succession of the above piece from pencil line drawing to the build up of color.

figure line drawing, gallery juana
line drawing for "the conversation" study

wip gallery Juana
 conte crayon and charcoal with colored pencil wip

wip gallery Juana
colored pencil wip

I want to add a second figure and will work on the second figure this week. Then I'll need to figure out how to fit them both on an 8 x 10 support. I already mail-ordered the supports so that size is pretty much settled.

What is your favorite colored pencil brand?
For a quick demo see the virtual instructor's video on this line of colored pencils.

joining sunday sketches

Saturday, October 4, 2014

art journal pages

john coltrane portrait, journal page

I start in the middle of a sentence and move both directions at once.
― John Coltrane

This past week I listened to Coltrane and Miles Davis music for the first time. While listening to round midnight, I sketched Coltrane's portrait in pencil. I then went over it with charcoal and outlined his hand with sumi ink.

september journal page, Flexible

I don't paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality. ― Frida Kahlo

I also completed my journal page for a life in the year of an art journal. The prompt was to complete a journal page inspired by Frida Kahlo's work. Using her painting titled The Broken Column as inspiration, I wanted this journal page to represent the ability to survive and live beyond life's low points.

I started out with a figure line drawing on top of a gesso and acrylic background. To that I added pastels set with titan buff acrylic. I then added painted and stamped tissue paper for the t-shirt.

I looked through my vintage 1941 Mechanical Engineers Handbook for images that would add a mechanical element. When I read "flexible couplings allow for a slight occasional misalignment" I felt it was a perfect metaphor of surviving the twists and turns that we experience in life. The drawings of coupling parts can be seen in the arm, lower body, and to the right of the face.

wishing everyone a good weekend and joining sunday sketches and a life in the year of an art journal

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

studio table

art tables after a day of collage

You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I have two art tables. One is for standing and the other is for sitting. The photo above was taken when I was deep into that day's collage, so both tables are covered with art supplies.

Whenever I work on a collage, various art supplies end up on my art tables: papers, book pages, linocut stamps, paints, pens. You name it, and I'm probably digging it out from a drawer or shelf.

Eventually, I run out of space on the tables, and I end up working on the collage in a space equivalent to a sheet of paper.

Other times, if I am working on a sumi ink painting or doing a linocut, the tables stay pretty neat and organized.

For the collage of this little bird, I used a stencil, sumi ink and acrylics for the background. The birds wings are a collage of papers from various books, washi, and painted tissue paper. The leaves are monoprints of dried leaves on tissue paper.

bird collage, 6 inches x 8 inches

I am joining Seth for his blog hop of messy studio tables.  Visit his blog to see more messy art studio tables.

also joining Alexandra's sunday sketches

Saturday, September 6, 2014


september left hand drawing
hand, pencil drawing

So do they go, those shining creatures, counting without confusion,
And holding in their slow, immeasurable gaze all the transactions
Of all the particles, item by atom, while the pyramids stand still
In the desert and the deermouse huddles in his hole and the rain falls
Piercing the skin of the pool with water in water and making a million
And a million designs to be pleasingly latticed and laced and interfused
And mirrored to the lord of everything that is by one and one and one.
excerpt from Angel and Stone by Howard Nemerov

Today was a great day for being outdoors. I rode my Surly to the outdoor market on this beautifully warm late summer day, bought some local vegies and fruit, and returned home.

Feeling rejuvenated, I made some tea and sat at my art table. This afternoon I experimented in my ledger journal with different mediums, trying to figure out which one felt right for this hand drawing. I finally realised that pencil was best and redrew it on a page from a vintage travel journal.

wishing everyone a good weekend
joining sunday sketches

Saturday, August 30, 2014

orcas island art journal

art journal,  moran state park on orcas island
days 2 and 3, moran state park on orcas island

Every morning, with coffee and art supplies nearby, I wrote down notes on what had happened the day before. Although, I completed two collage pages when on the trip, I am adding more to the art journal along with photos from the trip.

This week I finished pages for days two and three. Day two was spent riding back into town which involved a good elevation climb to get back to camp, so we spent the afternoon relaxing by a campfire.

Day three we hiked the four miles up with nearly a 1500 elevation climb, from the lower camp to Mt. Constitution. The climb up was along a beautiful, wide path and we didn't run into a single person. Coming down, we came a different way, recommended to us by the guide for its views. It was rocky, narrow and steep and my feet and knees were screaming by the time we reached the end. I was amazed at how different the terrain could be depending on which side of the mountain we were on.

wishing everyone a good weekend and joining sunday sketches

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Bike Touring Journal

bicycle touring journal
day one, orcas island tour

Last week we took a four-day bicycle tour to Orcas island. I'll spend the next few weeks adding more photos, drawings, and collaged pages. Above is the page I finished today.

Orcas Island is the hilliest and largest island of the San Juan Islands in Washington state. You can find my photos and blog about the trip on my photography blog.

orcas island journal
orcas island journal cover

I wanted to keep a journal devoted to this trip. So the week before we left, I gutted a thin old book and added some pages and collaged the cover. I used my birch trees collage as the focal point on the front cover. (above image)

trees and notes, orcas island journal page
trees and notes, orcas island journal page

Each morning of the trip, I wrote notes on what had happened the day before and did some simple sketches.

My muscles are still recuperating but I am already planning another trip! I hope everyone had a good week.

joining sunday sketches

Friday, August 8, 2014


progression I
Progression I, 7 x 10, collage by juana almaguer

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful.
Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path.
You know you will never get to the end of the journey.
But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.
Winston Churchill

I started this collage several months ago. It's an odd shape for me to work on (7 x 10 inches) and I got stumped at one point and set it aside. For a few weeks I deliberated what to add next and nothing came to heart. It eventually went in the drawer where I put my works in progress and completed works that need varnishing.

I came across it again this past week while collecting the pieces I was going to varnish. I kept it on my art table for a few days and even played with the idea of cutting it down to 7 x 7. Then one night at midnight, as usual, while I was trying to fall asleep, I got an image of what to do next with this collage.

This week I learned about diffuse vs. focused thinking. My midnight thoughts are the diffuse thinking. That is when I am not pushing my thoughts in any particular direction, and so my ideas have the freedom to take their own route.

I got up the next morning and completed the Progression I collage over the next two days by adding more washes of acrylics, enso stamping at the top and the circles at the bottom.

I wonder where you got that idea from? 
I mean, the idea that it's feeble to change your mind once it's made up. 
That's a wrong idea, you know. Make up your mind about things, by all means
 - but if something happens to show that you are wrong, then it is feeble not to change your mind, Elizabeth. Only the strongest people have the pluck to change their minds, and say so, if they see they have been wrong in their ideas.
Enid Blyton, The Naughtiest Girl in the School

joining sunday sketches

Sunday, August 3, 2014

memory and mapping the mind

mapping IV, galleryjuana
Mapping IV, 8 x 10, by Juana Almaguer

Forward, not permanent, 
sweet, not lasting,
The perfume and suppliance of a minute;
No more.
Shakespeare, Hamlet

This week I finished Mapping IV for my series of female portraits exploring the connection between the physical world and the mind's reality.

This one focuses on memory. I drew the hippocampus, amygdala as well as a neuron with its cell, axons, dendrites and terminal buttons. I monoprinted a leaf and drew a cross-section of galvanized wire rope and added dripped watercolors.

I added a knot that I puzzled together out of pieces of paper and collaged that onto the drawing. Trying to match the knot diagram and pieces of paper was definitely an exercise of my working memory. I have always wanted to be able to make various knots. I remember how my mother loved making all sorts of knots. I think she'd be proud of this paper knot:)

joining sunday sketches

Friday, July 25, 2014

A New Beginning

the big cry, art journal page, gallery juana
The Big Cry, journal page, july 2014

The last couple of weeks I've been reading The Tell-Tale Brain by V. S. Ramachandran and the section on perception complimented the journal prompt, tears, over at A Year in the Life of an Art Journal.

Although this journal page is titled the big cry, there wasn't any actual crying. It is more about my changing perspective and moving forward. This is the first summer I've had without any stressful life transitions. I've been able to focus more on living each day and appreciating what I encounter. I am amazed that even though I have been here for two years, there is so much I have not noticed and am seeing for the first time.

The fact that your perception of an unchanging image can change and flip radically is proof that perception must involve more than simply displaying an image in the brain. Even the simplest act of perception involves judgement and interpretation. Perception is an actively formed opinion of the world rather than a passive reaction to sensory input from it.
V.S. Ramachandran

journal page, the big cry, galleryjuana
the big cry, journal page wip

Man himself must first of all have become calculable, regular, necessary even in his own image of himself, if he is to be able to stand security for his own future.

art journal page, the big cry, gallery juana
the big cry, art journal page, wip

This journal page began with writing whatever thoughts came to me for the prompt tears. I wrote three pages worth but all on one page. To do that I would turn the page 90 degrees and begin writing again. I did that three times, each time with a different color pen. I was hoping that the writing would still show through the layers. To help that along, I covered key words with masking tape so they would stay clean throughout the layers. The words new beginning and reborn ended up being the only words that I kept visible in the end.

A short video demonstrating the journal writing

I also decided to block in the figure and leave only the outline of the figure. Toward the top of the journal page, I drew necker's cube which is named after Louis Albert Necker who discovered that our perception changes even though the image is stagnant. If you stare at the cube (first image on this blog post), it will change it's orientation. Let me know if it works for you:)

joining sunday sketches and A Year in the Life of an Art Journal

Sunday, July 20, 2014

the act of drawing

art journal page, july 8 2014
art journal page, figure and quote, gallery juana

The act of drawing serves to remind us that hands are agents of thought and experiment. Its expressions have the potential to leap across great divides of time and place, but its practical utility is as a manisfestation of the Mind struggling with the meaning of what it encounters and what it wants to explore.
Jonathon Kingdon

Since April, I have been focusing on the brain and learning what I can from cousera lectures and books. I love this quote by Jonathon Kingdon. It not only reinforces the idea of the connection between action and the brain but also touches on how art is my tool for understanding my experience.

So how did this journal page come about? I had laid down a wash of walnut ink on the opposite page and then closed the journal. After the walnut ink dried on both pages, I applied some gesso on the opposite page and closed the book again. I then worked on this actual page with the derivative print and outlined the figure with pen and added the facial features with pencil and acrylics.

The opposite page is inspired by a year in the life of an art journal's prompt to fill our silhouette with things we love. I have loved long distance riding since university and have kept it up sporadically since living overseas. Last year my husband and I purchased some touring bicycles and we've been riding more consistently. There is such a liberating feeling and I return home rejuvenated after a long bike ride. How do you rejuvenate for the day?

art journal page, bicycle
it's a good day to ride

joining sunday sketches and a year in the life of an art journal

Friday, July 11, 2014

birch trees, mixed media, collage art tutorial

birch trees, mixed media art tutorial, gallery juana
birch trees, mixed media art tutorial

I have never used alcohol as a treatment for watercolor and wanted to try it out recently. Here is a step by step tutorial for my collage of trees.

  • watercolor paper
  • alcohol
  • watercolors
  • acrylic painted tissue paper
  • acrylics
  • sandpaper
  • matte medium

Step One

watercolor and alcohol effect, gallery juana
sepia watercolor and alcohol

I washed a layer of sepia watercolor onto the paper and dropped alcohol onto the paper. The watercolor formed rings where the alcohol interrupted its flow. It looked like some alien ships flying in space and then it reminded me of knots on birch trees.

Step Two

painted tissue paper added

I cut the watercolor paper into two 3 x 3 inch squares which would now be the support for my collage. Searching through my stash of painted tissue papers, I found one with a titin Buff-ish color and glued that to my supports. You can see a hint of the rings showing through the tissue paper.

Step Three

art tutorial, gallery juana
sandpapered and added color

Next, I sandpapered some of the tissue paper off to allow the rings on the support to show through more. I added acylics to separate the background from the foreground. Right image above photo shows sandpaper effect only while the left image shows both the sandpaper and acrylic steps.

Step Four

art tutorial, gallery juana
color added to background

I continued to add acylics to separate the background from the foreground. I also painted parts of the trees to bring out the rings and give the trees form. I also added a bit of black pen to highlight the knots and twists in the trees.

Finished Result
birch trees, gallery juana
birch trees, 3 x 3 inches, mixed media collage

joining sunday sketches

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Making Art

theory line drawing figure, gallery juana
figure,  journal page, gallery juana

I am itchin' to get back to figure drawing and fell asleep last night working out some ideas in my head on some new paintings.

sumi portrait and flaubert quote, gallery juana
sumi portrait, Flaubert quote, gallery juana

Art must be down to earth. Or rather, Art is whatever we can make it:
we are not free. Everyone follows his own path, in spite of his own will.
Gustave Flaubert

gratitude journal, you, me, us
gratitude journal, you, me, us, gallery juana

gratitude journal, you, me, us
gratitude journal, you, me, us, gallery juana

Adventure comes in many forms. bike rides, cartwheels, corny jokes, new tastes, a good book. Wishing everyone an adventurous day.

joining sunday sketches

Saturday, June 28, 2014

image transfers and the underside

the diving bell journal page, gallery juana
the diving bell journal page

We must present a picture, show nature as it is,
but it must be a complete picture,
we must paint the underside as well as the surface.

This past week, I decided to try out the gel transfer tutorial from McElroy and Wilson's book, Image Transfer Workshop. I've done image transfers before but it had been awhile. I used a vintage music sheet and a practice linocut print done on copy paper. For the music sheet, I applied several layers of gel medium and let each layer dry over night. I then took off the back layer using the sand paper, water and rubbing stages that the book outlined. What was leftover was a only the inked parts of the music sheet.

The linocut was done differently. I applied gel medium to my journal page and then placed the linocut print (face down) onto the glue. I then used a flat wooden spoon to meld the journal page and linocut print together. Once dried, I then used the sand paper, water and rubbing stages. Go here to see Darlene Olivia McElroy's, image transfer youtube video showing this latter image transfer technique.

the diving bell journal page, galleryjuana
the diving bell journal page

I am really happy with how the image transfers came out, so I know I'll be doing more of these in the coming weeks.

joining sunday sketches

Sunday, June 22, 2014

June Gratitudes

running, gratitudes by gallery juana
running, gratitude

Back in March I started this 3 x 3 inch journal as an exercise to pause and remember the experiences or moments that made me happy in my day.

japanese stewartia, galleryjuana
blooming Japanese Stewartia, gratitude

I had worked my way out of a difficult transition in my life and was in a better place, but found myself still hovering on the pain rather than focusing on my progress and successes. I wanted to get out of that futile loop. My hope in keeping the journal was to redirect my avenues of thought: to acknowledge what I have and recognize how far I've come.

letter, gratitude by gallery juana
letter from my uncle, gratitude

Recently, I learned in my cousera brain class that negative thoughts change our brain chemistry.

Your frontal lobe, particularly your prefrontal cortex, decides what is important according to the amount of attention you pay to something and how you feel about it. Thus, the more you focus on negativity, the more synapses and neurons your brain will create that support your negative thought process.
co-written by Teresa Aubele, Ph.D. and Susan Reynolds

Psychology Today

The research on gratitude by Prof. Robert Emmons

saw a pos­i­tive effect on hours of sleep and on time spent exer­cis­ing, on more opti­mistic expec­ta­tions for the com­ing week, and fewer reported phys­i­cal symp­toms, such as pain.

cat paws, gratitude by gallery juana
neigborhood cat, gratitude

owl, gratitude by gallery juana
owl collage, gratitude

It's hard to believe that almost four months have passed since I started it. I notice I am pausing more often in my day and noting what I like. When the old thoughts or futile stresses come up, I am able to move on more quickly.

wishing everyone a good weekend and blog hopping with Sunday Sketches
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