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


  1. Awesome work Juana, I like them both :)

  2. I really like your peaceful style, beautiful work <3

  3. LOVED seeing the process and progress of this canvas, Juana. Even from the first image at the top, I loved this piece--the softness, and all the layers whispering underneath. It can be so tricky working with so many layers and so many types of medium, to not get "lost"... Although sometimes getting "lost" yields great results... so it's all a gamble, all a great play! I really like how you do get a sense of each layer in this piece, and how each holds its one in the process of the story it tells. And I really like the graphic, almost architectural quality of the couplings diagram. BRILLIANT work! In a few days we travel to the US to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family–so happy! And as the holidays approach I’m making a departure from blogland. No worries though, I’ll still be around… ;o) ((HUGS))

  4. Sheila and Nina, thank you.

    Tracy, so right about the gamble being all great play! Thank you for your encouraging thoughts.

  5. Great work, Juana. I enjoyed your process and hearing more about what inspires you to be creative as well. Hope the rest of your weekend goes well.

  6. Fascinating! I love the layers upon layers in your art!

  7. such a wonderful piece
    i enjoyed reading about how you breathed life into this piece
    very cool!

  8. Enjoyed seeing your process. The layers are beautiful and the finally work is amazing.

  9. Awesome! I like the blending of the organic forms with the technical drawing forms. Happy Belated Sunday Sketches and Blessings!

  10. The development of your artwork inspires me so much! It's wonderful to see the step by step process and the outcome is really fantastic!


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