The Mixed Media Artist Book

page from The Mixed Media Artist book

Last year I was invited to complete two new art works to be included in Seth Apter's second book, The Mixed-Media Artist, highlighting artists and their creative processes.  His recent book expands on the first book's collection with art works from over 40 artists as well as art tutorials, artist tips and tricks, survey results from the online art community.

I met Seth when he was in the Pacific Northwest last year and then again this year at his workshop. Seth is an amazing artist, with a contagious smile and a big heart, who inspires a wealth of creativity and community.

The Book
30 artists were given prompts to create two new art works.

"The face I show the world" is the prompt I chose for the Self-Portrait art work. For the second artwork, I chose the prompt, "irrational beliefs."  The excerpt page above shows my work in the lower left corner. It's about superstitions and I explain both pieces in more detail in the book.

In the past, I have created journal pages from prompts but never an art work. For me, a journal page is an intimate and experimental way to work out emotions and record what is going on in my life. The prompts give me a goal which I need; otherwise, I'd never complete a journal art page. On the other hand, when I am working on a painting or collage, I start out with a general idea. As that is not always where the art work will end up, I prefer not to be anchored by a theme or prompt.

In the end, starting from and sticking to a prompt was both enlightening and liberating. It forced me to explore my idea thoroughly before I started and to "check in" with myself and my notes throughout the creative process. Like my journal pages, the art works inspired experimentation and working beyond my comfort zones.

female figure wip
female figure, wip

I worked on two self-portrait versions for this project. Above is the one that I didn't submit for the book. It stayed unfinished and with almost a year gone by, I think I am ready to start working on it again.

Why did I not choose this one? I liked how the sumi ink worked for the upper body but not the lower portion. I liked the leaf prints and the hand-stamped circle prints, but these two elements weren't tied together. Everything seemed to work on its own but not together. So I stopped working on that one and started on the second version.

Finding Balance

finding balance by juana almaguer, detail
detail of finding balance

“Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.”

The second version actually started out with a terrible mistake. I lost track of sizes and my sumi ink painting on rice paper was much larger than the paper support. As I layed down my rice paper onto the support, it was at that point that I realized the size difference. As I tried to remove the rice paper painting, predictably ... it tore in several places, beyond repair. I was frustrated but still filled with ideas, so I repositioned the pieces on the support. The painting now looked like a disjointed, contorted figure, but I was hopeful.

The collage-painting has several layers. Below the layers, is the sumi painting which is visible throughout the painting. For the final layer, I drew the female figure in charcoal. In the detail above, you can see the sumi ink painting below the charcoal line drawing of the hand. I chose this painting because I felt it communicated my meaning of the prompt clearly and all the elements worked individually and together.

Thank you Seth for this opportunity to be a part of your recent book, The Mixed-Media Artist!

For more information and inspiration, visit his blog: The Altered Page

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