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Q & A: Where Do You Paint?


Where do you paint?

My favorite place to paint is next to the window in my studio room in the mornings.  I play uplifting music, open the windows, make a nice tea, and spend some quality time with my colors to start my day. My dogs love it, too, and sit at my feet or up on the arm of the sofa to watch me paint.


Sometimes I enjoy going outside to sit on my rose garden bench to paint. I like to watch the world going by and it is always a good way to meet new neighbors. My mom and I are planning to go to the Botanical Garden to paint the next time she comes for a visit. Can’t wait!

Where do you like to paint? Do you ever go to coffee shops or parks or mountain tops to be inspired?


-Emily Lupita

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Painting: Lupita Dreams of World Travel

Travels The World

“Lupita Dreams of World Travel”

Irodori watercolor & Sakura ink on cold press watercolor paper

From the Lupita Dreams watercolor series by Emily Lupita Plum-Guclu

Prints, cards & iphone cases of this painting now available in my Gallery & Artwork Shop or at this direct link:

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Travelogue Thursday: Once You Have Traveled


“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quiestest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” -Pat Conroy

This quote really struck me the first time I read it. I imagine I’ve read it again a hundred times since then. I find it so true that the journey continues in the mind, that the voyage never ends. I know for myself, the travels I’ve taken influence me to such a high degree – on all different levels throughout my day. While cooking I can be reminded of the smell of a noodle house in Japan or out on a walk around my neighborhood I can pause to find myself remembering the view from the top of Mt. Snowdon in Wales.


This is one reason why I like to keep little treasures from my travels in my studio. I have bird whistles from Nicaragua next to my candles on the mantle, a painted wooden mirror frame from Ecuador on the wall behind my paintings desk, and Mexican flower pots in my garden. I keep my drawing pens in a pottery container from Merida and use paints from Japan. I put flowers in a Turkish vase on my dining room table in front of a collection of tiles I bargained for in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.  The purple chair covers are handwoven textiles from Chiapas.


These small pieces I tucked away and carried home with me help fill my everyday life with the colors, textures and memories of the larger world.

What types of special things do you keep in your studio / creative place? What beautiful places do they remind you of?


-Emily Lupita


Emily Lupita

Creative Inspiration

Peony by Juana Maria

5-1 MOM Peony

This beautiful peony painting is by my mother, Juana Maria Plum. It is part of a series she is working on now where she creates flowers on watercolor cards and sends them off in the mail to brighten people’s day. This one arrived and brought so much light into my house!

I love the sturdy stem & leaves contrasted with the freedom of the pink flower, just flowing freely up & outward toward the sky.


-Emily Lupita 

* Prints & cards of this painting are now available in my online Gallery & Artwork Shop at the link above.*

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The Artist Alphabet: B is for Beauty

Post B is for Beauty

In my Lupita artist alphabet, B is for beauty.

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Q & A: What type of paints do you use?

irodori paints

Q & A: What type of paints do you use?

I use a type of watercolor paint called Irodori Antique Japanese Watercolors. They are made in Japan by Holbein.

When I was living in Japan I fell in love with the fantastic contrast of patterns and colors in the traditional Japanese textiles used to make kimonos and yukatas (cotton summer kimonos).  I was looking for a way to paint my own vision of these vivid patterns and came across these watercolors at my local art store in the city of Miyakonojo, Miyazaki, where I was teaching English in an academic high school at the time. I had been using the Holbein watercolor paint set in traditional Western colors for several years at that point and got so excited about this particular Irodori color series as soon as I saw it.

This is the description of the paints on one of my boxes:

“Ancient oriental watercolors are characterized by their delicate hues. Now today’s artist can journey back into time to create with the same timeless palette used by Japanese and Chinese artists 15 centuries ago. Delicate and harmonious, the 48 Irodori colors are created using pure pigment in gum arabic for clean, crisp results that won’t darken or muddy. Highly saturated, they granulate very freely, and are more opaque in the true Asian fashion.”

Sure enough, once I started using this Irodori set in the antique colors, I knew this was the paint for me. That was more than a decade ago and I’m still using the same paints. I’ve had to refill a couple times, but lucky for me Dick Blick Art Supplies carries the series and I can re-order online instead of traveling back to Japan. Although…it would be a wonderful excuse to get to return to the land of the rising sun.

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New Gallery & Artwork Shop


I have a new online gallery…hurray!

Creating it has been a true labor of love for some time now, so I’m delighted to see it this morning fully up and running. There are still several paintings and a few collections I need to add to it, but I’m excited with how it has turned out so far. I especially love how I can group the paintings into different collections, as well as have one collection showing all paintings together.


This gallery also serves as my new artwork shop. I’ve partnered with Fine Art America, the premiere artist support company online, to do all the printing. Because they have such a wide network, orders can be placed & shipped world-wide and products include professional artist prints in a range of paper (like watercolor, rag & velvet), prints on canvas, metal & acrylic, greeting cards and even artwork prints on iphone cases. (I’m especially excited about getting a new iphone case with my artwork on it!)IMG_2212

They also offer a wide range of framing & matting options in a variety of sizes, so you can customize the painting to fit where it will hang. The best thing is they have full customer service for buyers and a money back guarantee on all products. I’m so very grateful for their partnership with all of this amazing support and look forward to the places this new path will take me.

I’d love for you to visit the new gallery & post a comment below.


-Emily Lupita

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Travelogue Thursday: San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Travelogue Thursday August 01 MEXICO

This week as I reflect back on my travels, I am so grateful for a very special journey I took with my mother to her hometown of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. We went there to visit my mother’s sister, my Tia Mago, and her brother, my Tio Lito. It was such a pleasure to witness my mother laughing & talking for hours over good food with her brother & sister. She hadn’t seen them in so many years, but they seemed to just pick up right where they left off. I also got to spend time with my cousins & their families on this journey, meeting many of them for the first time, and really cherish the days we spent together.

I especially love this photo of the three siblings at a candy vendor just as they discover their favorite sweet treat from childhood. “Dad used to make this!” they all three said, pointing to the pile of candy at the same time. “Remember?” And they started to share memories of my grandfather making candy in big copper pots. My Tia Mago placed a piece in my hand and said, “And now you can share this memory, too.” What a beautiful moment.

Not too long after we visited, my Tio Lito passed away, may he rest in peace. My mother told me that when she heard the news of his passing, she was overwhelmed with gratitude that we were able to go and visit, that she had these precious days to remember and photos of us together to treasure. I felt the same way.

This journey to Mexico remains as one of the most heartfelt trips I’ve ever taken. From it I am reminded that travel can give us the greatest gift of all…time together with the people we love.

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New Painting: Aya Sofya Lupita


I have a new painting coming to life on my easel this morning. It is always exciting to see the emergence of a new design. Right now I’m trying to decide the colors to use on the robe and if I should add some sort of stars, flowers or maybe stripes. I’m also debating whether to make the background black or leave it white. Only time will tell, I suppose. I’ll be sure to post the finished painting so you can see how it turned out.

This painting is inspired by my time in Istanbul, Turkey, particularly by the mosaics inside the Hagia Sophia. (Also known as the Aya Sofya.)

Aya Sofya Lupita

Here I am in the Aya Sofya with an enlarged detailed reproduction of one of the mosaics on the walls of this amazing cathedral / mosque / museum. This is truly one of my favorite places…full of light and peaceful wonder.

Here is an excerpt from Lonely Planet with some history of the mosaics:

Lonely Planet review for Aya Sofya

Sophia in Latin, Haghia Sofia in Greek and the Church of the Divine Wisdom in English, this extraordinary building is İstanbul’s most famous monument.

Emperor Justinian had the Aya Sofya built as part of his effort to restore the greatness of the Roman Empire. It was completed in 537 and reigned as the greatest church in Christendom until the Conquest in 1453. Mehmet the Conqueror had it converted into a mosque and so it remained until 1935, when Atatürk proclaimed it a museum.

On entering his great creation for the first time almost 1500 years ago, Justinian exclaimed, ‘Glory to God that I have been judged worthy of such a work. Oh Solomon! I have outdone you!’ Entering the building today and seeing the magnificent domed ceiling soaring heavenward, it is easy to excuse his self-congratulatory tone.

As you walk into the inner narthex, look up to see a brilliant mosaic of Christ as Pantocrator (Ruler of All) above the third and largest door (the Imperial Door). Once through this door the magnificent main dome soars above you. Supported by 40 decorated ribs, it was constructed of special hollow bricks made in Rhodes from a unique light, porous clay; these rest on huge pillars concealed in the interior walls, which creates an impression that the dome hovers unsupported.

The curious elevated kiosk screened from public view is the Sultan’s loge. Ahmet III (r 1703–30) had it built so he could come in, pray and leave again unseen, thus preserving the imperial mystique. The ornate library, on the west wall, was built by Sultan Mahmut I in 1739.

In the side aisle to the northeast of the Imperial Door is the weeping column, with a worn copper facing pierced by a hole. Legend has it that putting one’s finger in the hole can lead to ailments being healed if the finger emerges moist.

The large 19th-century medallions inscribed with gilt Arabic letters are the work of master calligrapher Mustafa İzzet Efendi, and give the names of God (Allah), Mohammed and the early caliphs Ali and Abu Bakr


From the floor of Aya Sofya, 9th-century mosaic portraits of St Ignatius the Younger (c 800), St John Chrysostom (c 400) and St Ignatius Theodorus of Antioch are visible high up at the base of the northern tympanum (semicircle) beneath the dome. A seraph (winged biblical angel) is just to their east. Next to the three saints, but seen only from the upstairs east gallery, is a portrait of Emperor Alexandros. In the apse is a wonderful mosaic of the Madonna and Child; a nearby mosaic depicts the archangel Gabriel.

The upstairs galleries house the most impressive of Aya Sofya’s mosaics and mustn’t be missed. They can be reached via a switchback ramp at the northern end of the inner narthex. The magnificent Deesis Mosaic (The Last Judgement) in the south gallery dates from the early 14th century. Christ is at the centre, with the Virgin Mary on the left and John the Baptist on the right.

At the apse end of the southern gallery is the famous mosaic portrait of Empress Zoe (r 1028–50), who had three husbands and changed this mosaic portrait with each one. The portrait of the third Mr Zoe, Constantine IX Monomachus, survives because he outlived the empress.

To the right of Zoe and Constantine is another mosaic depicting characters with less-saucy histories: in this scene Mary holds the Christ child, centre, with Emperor John (Johannes) Comnenus II (the Good) to the left and Empress Eirene (known for her charitable works) to the right. Their son Alexius, who died soon after this portrait was made, is depicted next to Eirene.

As you leave the museum from the narthex, make sure you turn and look up above the door to see one of the church’s finest late-10th-century mosaics. This shows Constantine the Great, on the right, offering Mary, who holds the Christ child, the city of Constantinople; Emperor Justinian, on the left, is offering her Aya Sofya.

On the opposite side of Aya Sofya Meydanı are the Baths of Lady Hürrem (Haseki Hürrem Hamamı), built as Aya Sofya’s hamam from 1556 to 1557. Designed by Sinan, the hamam was commissioned by Süleyman the Magnificent in the name of his wife Hürrem Sultan, known to history as Roxelana.

Read more:

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Introducing Lupita Portraits: Juanita in a Blue Dress

5-1 Portrait Juanita Blue Dress

Introducing a new series of paintings I’ve named “Lupita Portraits.” These are paintings I’ve been making on 8 x 10 Canson watercolor art board of women with wings, portrait style. This painting is “Juanita in a Blue Dress” and is an homage to my beautiful mother, Juana Maria.

Those of you who haven gotten to know my artwork over the years may be surprised that all the paintings in this Lupita watercolor series have faces and are painted in a slightly different style. I was surprised, too! As an artist I sometimes wonder where the paintings come from – and how it is I can be creating the image, but then also surprised by it. However it happens, a surprise…something new…is very exciting!