Sunday, December 13, 2015

female figure sketch

 female figure sketch by juana almaguer
female figure sketch by juana almaguer

The feeling my skin gets is
nothing in me except what shines on the outside,

- excerpt from The Birds by David Posner

Back in November, our power was out for a few days. On the third morning with no power, I woke up around 4 a.m. wanting to draw. I drew by candlelight until just before sunrise when I left the house to watch the day awake.

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Saturday, December 5, 2015

sketching on the train

pen sketches, hand and portrait

Recently, my husband and I made our way to Seattle for our anniversary. I blogged about it over on my photography blog.

While on the train, I did some quick sketches of his hand and a portrait of a stranger. I don't often draw strangers that are around me, but Lynn Cohen's amazing urban sketching has inspired me to try this more.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

puppy happiness and thanksgiving

linocut art puppy gallery juana
puppy I linocut in turquoise by juana almaguer

Happiness is a warm puppy.
Charles M. Schulz

New in my etsy shop:

I drew this puppy many years ago and painted it in a series of colorful, watercolor postcards. Recently, I revisited the drawing and made it into an unlimited edition linocut titled, Puppy I.

There is something about a puppy that means instant smiles and warm hearts.

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving just passed in the U.S.A. and I am thankful for much in my life. Of course, family and friends are at the top of the list. And the list is quite long when I think about it!

I've been doing quick figure and body parts sketches most mornings while I have my coffee, and this hand fit perfectly with my gratitude for the freedom to express myself.

In the coming weeks, I'll be working on a monkey linocut for the year of the monkey and my New Year's cards.

wishing everyone well and joining sunday sketches

Sunday, November 15, 2015

female figure art

gallery juana figure drawing
female figure drawing on page from a building trade manual

As I was thumbing through my old copy of the "building trades blueprint reading" manual, I caught sight of this page with the bones of a building. I knew it would go well with the figure drawing I had just finished. Using pencil and pen, I drew the figure on the book paper and then adhered it to watercolor paper. I used powder pastels, acrylics and gesso for the background.

This is the first in my latest series titled, centered woman.

The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly
- that is what each of us is here for.

Oscar Wilde

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

figure drawing

Woman II, ink figure, 8 x 10, juana almaguer
Woman II, ink figure, 8 x 10, juana almaguer

I love collecting second hand books and old papers. I have a small trove of technical books and vintage typewriter paper that I love to draw on. The above drawing is on a page from a blue print reading how-to book. I drew the figure with sumi ink and added gesso and pastel powders for the background. Actually, Woman II was completed months ago and I finally got it listed in my galleryjuana etsy shop.

figure drawing study on photocopier paper, juana almaguer

I spent most of last week working on the pose above. Each drawing was done on photocopier paper and went from being mostly a torso to now having a head and the start of one arm.

figure drawing study on book paper, juana almaguer
figure drawing study on book paper, juana almaguer

After a great deal of study and many sketches, the architect might wind up with a set of preliminary studies ... from Building trades Blueprint Reading

Before adding the arm, I drew the pose on a page from the Building trades Blueprint Reading book using my fountain pens with de atramentis inks. The quote is actually on the page which I didn't notice at first and love how it is so fitting for this week's progress.

I'm enjoying beautiful Autumn days and will have a blog post up this week over on my photography blog.

Wishing everyone a fruitful week and joining
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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Edgar Allan Poe, linocut

Poe linocut by juana almaaguer

Beauty of whatever kind, in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears.

Above is my latest Poe linocut print. I wanted to do something this year to commemorate Halloween. The result is this portrait linocut.

poe fountain pen drawing

I used my metropolitan pen to do the drawing which was loaded with brown that I made from mixing De Atramentis inks. I drew this portrait on scrap paper. I guess I had been testing out a pen which explains the strange "mmmmm" marks and the writing showing through from the other side of the paper.

edgar allan Poe linocut wip 

I reduced the size of the drawing with the photocopier and transferred my drawing to the linoleum block using carbon paper.

linocut and printing ink

Once it was carved and I liked the test prints, I got ready to do the printing. I printed on lightweight printmaking paper and some pages from a vintage engineering book.

Poe linocut book art by gallery juana

I'm in the mood for reading Poe the rest of October! Do you have any favorite reads for this season?

Poe linocut book art by gallery juana

wishing everyone a good weekend and joining sunday sketches

Saturday, October 3, 2015


crow linocut and collage, 9x12

Did you get to see the full moon eclipse recently? I and my partner went out for a long walk and viewed it for over an hour. I was mesmerized by it's color and beauty.

The next day I came across a facebook post about a pregnant mother who had pinned a safety pin to her blouse to protect her baby.

It reminded me of the story my hispanic mother often told me: She she was pregnant with my sister and she forgot to wear her house keys around her pregnant belly during a full moon eclipse. She looked out to view the lunar eclipse forgetting that she was not wearing her keys to protect her unborn baby. My sister was born with a split upper lip which healed just fine with no trace of it ever being split. My mother was a loving person who did so much for her children. I always felt frustrated that I could not ease her regret felt bad for looking at the lunar eclipse as she believed viewing the eclipse without wearing her keys was the cause. My mother was a loving person who did so much for her children. I always felt frustrated that I could not ease her regret.

I grew up hearing other stories from aunts and uncles ranging from mal de ojo (evil eye) to the infamous la llorona (similar to the boogie man).

I never believed any of these stories yet they fascinated me. I also never thought of myself as being superstitious, but I am. The art tutorial for my hands painting was about my conflict between reality and superstition. One hand reaches for something while the other hand pulls it away.

Despite my knowing my superstitions are baseless, I can't help but follow through on them. I need to wish on that falling star, knock on wood, make a wish when my pendant and clasp meet. It's mostly harmless, and I find I am knocking on wood less often now, but I think I'll always wish on a falling star.

crow linocut with full moon in my etsy shop

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

DIY Art Journal 2016 Calendar

altered book, 2016 calendar, art journal

Back in July, I noticed calendars were already coming out for 2016. I decided I would make my own again this year but with the added space for art journalling.

Altering the Book

Materials Needed:

  • Hardcover Book (I get mine from the local second-hand shops)
  • exacto knife
  • paper for signatures
  • bookbinder's thread for sewing signatures
  • glue (PVA glue for bookbinding is preferred)
  • assorted art supplies for making calendar pages

altered book wip, inside cover

Remove the inner pages by gently cutting the threads that bind the pages to the book's inner spine. To do this you'll open the book as much as possible and cut away at the paper. Be careful not to cut through the cover itself. Above is what remains, after I've removed the book's original signatures.

ItsonlyaDream97 shows this cutting out process in the first couple of minutes in her youtube video.

Making & Attaching the Signatures

altered book, wip, gluing last signature page to cover

Depending on how large your book is, you may need more than 3 holes for your signatures. For a 3 hole signature, please view Alissa Marquess' youtube video.   I used a saddle stitch for binding my pages and used sea lemon's youtube video as my guide.

I used 90lb watercolor paper which will work with a variety of art materials. If you paint very wet, you might need a heavier paper. However, the heavier the paper, the less pages you can have.

After you've made your signatures, there are a few ways you can attach them to the cover. The method I chose glues the signature's page that faces the inside of the cover to the cover.

last page of signature glued to book cover

After you have glued the signature's last page to the inside cover and smoothed out any bubbles, place a sheet of wax paper on top of the newly glued page and place a heavy object on top and allow to dry. Repeat this step for the other side of the inner cover.

Calendar Pages

oblong linocut stamp, 2016 calendar 

For the calendar pages, I carved an oblong, linocut stamp and stamped spaces for the days.

sliver of paper to married signatures

Because I did not sew the 3 signatures as one unit, I glued the last pages of each signature to each other (same method as attaching them to the cover). It's not the most beautiful way to marry the signatures, but while I learn bookbinding techniques, this creative way works for me. To keep the signatures snug, I glue an additional slice of paper to the pages that sandwich the married pages.

To make the pockets for this altered book, I cut off half of one page at an angle and glued that page to the next page in the signature.

I will use this calendar - art journal to write, sketch, draw, jot notes down, and whatever else comes to mind. My gratitudes will also go in this book rather than have a separate gratitude journal.

I had a lot of fun making this altered calendar book and am looking forward to working in it next year.

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

art tutorial, hand and birch trees

touch wood I, 9x12, rice paper on paper by gallery juana

I love rice paper and use it for painting and printing. Touch Wood I and Touch Wood II were done using the process explaned below.

Touch Wood II art tutorial

Materials and tools:

sheet of rice paper larger than your support
watercolor paper
matte medium
watercolor pencil
sand paper
paper towel
acrylic brushes

For this tutorial, I will focus on the birch trees.  The same materials and process can be used to complete the hands.

I love trees and keep a collection of dried leaves and pieces of bark on my art table. For the Touch Wood series, I discovered rice paper adds a perfect element to bringing Birch trees to life.

Rice Paper and Watercolor Paper

The rice paper will be adhered to the watercolor paper. Rice paper comes in different varieties. Some will be thinner or more fibrous than others. One thing to remember is the thinner the rice paper, the more likely it is to tear when wet or overworked. Also, if you’ve painted or collaged on the watercolor paper support first, those layers will show through the rice paper in the beginning of this process.

Layers and Grooves for Bark

I painted a sketch of the hands and trees on the rice paper.  Once the paint was dry on the rice paper, I used matte medium  to adhere the rice paper to the watercolor paper.  At the same time,  I shaped parts of the rice paper to mimic knots in the wood.   After allowing everything to dry, I used gesso and acrylics to add lighter areas and textures in the bark.

touch wood II wip, adding gesso and pencil

To add dark areas, I ran a 5h or 7h pencil sideways throughout the bark to catch the raised areas and then burnished with a paper towel. This allowed the raised layers and some crevices to take on the pencil. Between some of the layers, I lightly sanded the painted areas of the bark to give the paper some tooth.

touch wood II wip

I used watercolor to stain the areas of rice paper that had not been covered with acrylic or gesso. I wiped off the watercolor which left only what had stained the rice paper or sanded areas. This process of adding gesso, acrylic and pencil is repeated along with lightly sanding, if necessary, between layers and burnishing.

The painting was still dark at this point, so I lightened the blue sky background and continued to bring out the shadows and ridges of the hands and trees with more washes of color.  I added leaves by painting dried leaves with acrylics and printing the leaf image onto the painting.

Lastly, using a 6b pencil, I drew the outlines of the trees and burnished here and there to soften the lines. Once completely dry, the varnish was added.

touch wood II,  9 x 12, rice paper on paper, mixed media

read my other art tutorial on using rice paper for birch trees.

Have you used rice paper in your art?

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

flex nib - dip pen drawings and quotes

juana almaguer drawing,matt berry aphorism
dip pen drawing and matt berry aphorism

I love writing and drawing with my flex nib - dip pens and collecting aphorisms. So I was happy when I discovered #flexnibfriday on facebook and pinterest a couple of weeks ago!

For the matt berry aphorism, I used j. herbin myosotis ink and my vintage kuhn flex nib-dip pen. I used De Atramentis patchouli scented ink for the hand with my blue pumpkin flex nib-dip pen. For the box, my lamy pen and a mix of De Atramentis document inks to make orange.

Don't forget to stare at the box for a bit of time in the drawing above:) Did it happen for you? If not, try again and blink after several seconds while continuing to look at the box.

dip pen drawing by juana almaguer
dip pen drawing and quote

follow me on facebook or pinterest for the flexnibfriday updates.

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Saturday, August 8, 2015


collage and drawing by juana almaguer
Balance I, detail of 8 x 10 collage-drawing

It's been awhile since I added any art work to my Etsy shop. I've been entranced with art journalling and mail art.

collage and drawing by juana almaguer
detail of collage, postage stamps, and leaf impression

Last month, I was looking around in my favorite antique shop and found a 1912 bank account book for $5.00. Only a few of the pages were used with records of deposits and balances.

pages from a 1912 bank account book

My love of fountain pens and the handwritten word had me glued to the entries written in the ledger book. I don't usually spend that much for a vintage book, but I had to have this one. How would I use it though?

Dexter Horton and Co bank account book cover
I set the book down and walked around the antique shop while I thumbed through ideas in my head. I finally alighted on one that I was excited about, so I bought the book.

mail art, DNA series

First I worked through my ideas with photocopies of the pages for a mail art series titled, DNA. I am fascinated with the images of DNA and how each sliver has a meaning in and of itself. Then when you put all the slivers together, you get a new meaning.

For the final 8 x 10 collage and drawing, I decided to use my butterfly linocut, postage stamps, and leaf impressions along with an original page from the bank book. Below is the final result.

collage and drawing by juana almaguer
Balance I, collage and drawing, 8x10, juana almaguer

This is the first in the series titled Balance. And I am already working on the second one with my bee linocut in lieu of the butterfly.

wishing everyone a good weekend and joining sunday sketches.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


intaglio, coyote
coyote, speedball water soluble ink on strathmore printmaking paper

I tried my hand at etching into a metal plate this week. I wanted to do a print to commemorate the coyote I saw a couple of months ago. I don't have the drypoint etching tools, so I used my linocutting flat blade. I also don't have the oil-based inks, so I used my linocut block printing inks which are water soluable.

coyote, speedball water soluble ink & De Atramentis document ink on strathmore printmaking paper

The linocut inks were cranky and didn't always print completely even with wet paper, so I added backgrounds by printing with De Atramentis inks.

intaglio, coyote
coyote, speedball water soluble ink & De Atramentis document ink on rice paper

I did many prints. Some of the prints had a too faint image, so I used De Atramentis inks and a dip pen to outline and cross-hatch on the these latter prints.

intaglio, coyote
coyote, speedball water soluble ink & De Atramentis document ink on rice paper

Some prints were done on rice paper and others were done on strathmore 120g/m printing paper. Both types are pretty thin. The rice paper keeps its shape better and picks of the water soluable inks more easily. I know I'll be trying this process again.

The metal plate was sent to me by a mail art friend, and now I'm hooked. I'll be experimenting with substrates from materials I have on hand. I've got plexiglass as an option. Any other suggestions?

Another project I have started is crocheting. I received some beautiful fuchsia yarn from another friend. So stay tuned for updates on my crocheting adventures.

It's been a pretty fun week filled with art and bicycle riding! Wishing everyone a good weekend.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

all that I have to remember you

journal page, document your life
journal page, document your life

For whatever I have done to you, forgive me. 

That is long past and forgotten. 
Recognize your sweet nature.

All that I have to remember you, pictures with words, focal point and ephemera were the July journal prompts and theme for the document your life project.

let it go, journal page
let it go, journal page

Three years ago when I gessoed the pages in this book, I was still grieving the loss of my Mother. The words and sentences that I did not gesso over were messages to myself. Ways to show myself compassion and forgiveness. Reminders to let the pain go and permission to move forward.

journal page with vintage photograph and quotes
journal page with vintage photograph of my mother

See? You do remember.
I taught you dancing, too, and languages and all the music that I knew
and how to love what's beautiful.

It was a slow and deliberate process with the hope of keeping the golden memories that I shared with my Mom.

Working on journal pages in this book now, I realize that I have progressed. The grief has lessened and the golden memories shimmer brighter and stronger.

You will find as you look back upon your life
that the moments that stand out,
the moments when you have really lived
are the moments when you have done things
in a spirit of love.
As memory scans the past,
above and beyond all the transitory pleasures of life,
there leap forward those supreme hours
when you have been enabled to do unnoticed kindnesses
to those round about you,
things too trifling to speak about,
but which you feel have entered into your eternal life.


The quote by Drummond sums up well the kind of person my Mother was. All those unnoticed kindnesses, small at the time, have become eternal and large for me now.

joining sunday sketches and document your life project

Sunday, July 12, 2015

road less travelled journal page

juana almaguer, DeAtramentis Inks line drawing, journal page
DeAtramentis Inks drawing, journal page

Over at the documented life project, the prompt for June 13 was road less travelled. I continue to work in this book that I altered nearly three years ago in which I left certain words visible on the gessoed pages.

On this page spread, the visible sentences were perfect for the travel theme
Departure is a simple act. You put the left foot down and then the right.
For the background, I painted a layer of Daniel Smith duochrome oceanic acrylic over the gessoed page. Using a dip pen and De Atramentis document inks in fuchsia and turquoise, I drew the portrait.

juana almaguer journal pages
road less travelled, journal page soread

For the page on the left side, I used Golden acrylic paint in titan buff for the background and then drew a sailboat in pencil. As I wanted to add a compass, I made my own linocut compass and stamped the image over the sailboat. To finish off the page, I added an excerpt of Gide's quote, "the courage to lose sight of the shore."

I am slowly learning how to use the De Atramentis document inks and really like how they flowed over the acrylic background on the page on the right. Next, I'm going to experiment with using them to mix colors. Do you have any favorite color mixes?

wishing you happy adventures.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

diy modeling paste, the documented life project

The documented life project's art challenge for may 16 was to use modeling paste. Not having some on hand, and at their suggestion, I did a youtube search for diy modeling paste.

The ingredients vary depending on who is doing the tutorial. Some use talc powder while others use baking soda. Some use mod podge while others use elmer's glue.

I used these ingredients: pva glue, acrylic paint and baking soda. I'm pretty happy with the results. Mary Brockway has a great video on mixing up your own modeling paste.

As I made more than I needed for the journal pages, I used it to make some mail art post cards as well. The postcard above began with washes of acrylic paint. Using a dip pen, I wrote out some impromptu thoughts on what I was feeling that day. Over that I used a doily and some diy stencils and stenciled on the modeling paste.

To see more inspiring art and journal pages, visit the links at the bottom of this blog for
sunday sketches and the document your life project

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Philpott Project

altered postcard by Juana Almaguer
The Philpott Project, altered postcard by Juana Almaguer

The theme for this group project called for altering a vintage postcard featuring Lake Philpot. Above is the finished postcard and below is the backside with the story.

On nights when the moon rose in the sky like a pearl, she came to the lake to play her music. Sometimes, if she were lucky, Philpott would appear wearing his bundle of twigs for a tail .

She’d heard the story as a child of how animals get their ears and such. At fairy stone, one nameless animal was offered a pot to fill with a set of ears or horns and one tail. As he couldn’t decide, he filled his pot with cat ears, bunny ears and the horns of a deer. And in his indecision and enthusiasm, he forgot to include a tail. So that is how Philpott got his name and twigs for a tail.

story written and card altered by Juana

 altered card and story written by Juana Almaguer
back side of altered postcard 

After debating whether to paint or collage images onto the postcard, I settled on the latter. So I headed to my local thrift store to scour the magazine section for candidates and came home with several magazines. I cut out images of animals and people in all sizes. As I added each element, a story began to develop in my head, and each helped in turn to build the relationship between image and words. The place names listed on the back of the card (fairy stone and philpot) also provided inspiration for my story.

Below are the wip stages for this altered postcard:

original postcard before alterations

wip 1

wip 2

To lighten the background colors of the grass, water, hills and sky, I sandpapered the postcard and then added washes of watercolor, inks and watercolor pencil.

altered postcard by juana almaguer
finished result of altered postcard by juana almaguer

I really enjoyed working on this project and creating a story to compliment the imagery. Now to pop it in the mail on Monday!

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