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My First Amate Bark Painting

I’ve always loved the Mexican traditional art form of Amate Bark Painting. Whenever my Mom and I would travel to her home country of Mexico, we would make a direct line for the fabulous markets where these gorgeous handmade paintings were sold. We’ve collected quite a few between the two of us. ❤


The scenes are usually of village life, showing weddings, farming, people out shopping, and the amazing natural scenery of Mexico like volcanoes, mountains, cactus plants, and rivers. And, of course, the centerpiece of life – the sun.


It was my Mom who suggested that I try combining the traditional Amate style with my own Lupita painting style. The Amate style is handmade on tree bark, usually with acrylic paints and ink. In this case, my painting is created by me drawing with an Apple Pencil on my iPad using the design program Procreate.  I left the software frame on these close-ups so you could see a bit of how it works and all the many layers of color involved.


Two completely different approaches, but in the end, the same bright colors and feeling of celebration and joy. I learned so much making this first painting as far as technique, color, and how to use the vertical space on the page. I felt more connected to my Mexican family and to my Mom while I painted. I’m so glad I took her advice and tried something completely new.



Emily Lupita

Artist & Author

Emily Lupita Studio


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New Turkish Art Earrings – Free Shipping for Valentine’s Day

New Turkish Art Earrings – Free Shipping for Valentine’s Day

Hurray! I have a fabulous batch of handmade Turkish art earrings ready to go and would love to give my friends & family first pick from this new collection.

Turkish Art Earrings Handmade by Emily Lupita Studio Turkish Art Earrings Handmade by Emily Lupita Studio

I just love the bright colors and beautiful designs of this traditional Turkish artwork.

Turkish Art Earrings Handmade by Emily Lupita Studio Turkish Art Earrings Handmade by Emily Lupita Studio

These earrings are made from gilded art cards I found at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. I then encased the artwork under glass and fashioned it into earrings.

Turkish Art Earrings Handmade by Emily Lupita Studio Turkish Art Earrings Handmade by Emily Lupita Studio

You can see all 15 pairs in this new collection in my online art shop at . Free shipping until Valentine’s Day! 

Sending wishes for a beautiful week,

❤ ~Emily Lupita


All content ©Emily Lupita Studio 2015

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This Week: Updated “About” Page


This Week at Emily Lupita Studio

This week at Emily Lupita Studio I created a few collages to include on my new “About” page here on my blog.


It was a joy putting them together & finding the best way to match my paintings with the photos.



To check out my new “About” page, click here:

Wishing you every happiness,

-Emily Lupita

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New Painting: “Lupita Aya Sofya”


New Painting: “Lupita Aya Sofya”

“Lupita Aya Sofya” has been months in the making and it gives me such joy to see it all finished. This painting features three sets of color combinations, more than my usual two, making it extra bright.

I also added a layer of shimmery gold to each color in the robe & halo, and around the flower petals in the background as well. I love how the gold makes the painting sparkle in the light.

This painting was inspired by the mosaics in the Aya Sofya (Hagia Sophia) in Istanbul, Turkey. For more background on the mosaics, check out my blog post from July 30th.

Aya Sofya 1

“Lupita Aya Sofya”

Irodori watercolor & Sakura ink on Canson watercolor art board

by Emily Lupita Plum-Guclu, 2013

Connect with Emily Lupita

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This Week at Emily Lupita Studio: Fireworks

This week I finished a new painting in my Japanese kimono series. This one is called, “Fireworks.”

2-1 Fireworks Kimono

This painting reminds me of the excitement I felt as a little girl in Iowa watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July each year & also of the amazing fireworks I saw at the summer festivals in my adopted hometown of Miyakonojo, Japan.

6-2 Fireworks Kimono Black Circles

These paintings are part of a book I’m working on titled Long-sleeved Kimono that will feature haiku about Japanese culture along with my Japanese kimono paintings.

6-2-2 Fireworks Kimono Blue Squares


-Emily Lupita

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This Week at Emily Lupita Studio: Girl with a Pearl Earring

IMG_2324 - Version 2This week I went to the High Museum of Art in downtown Atlanta. They had a special event of Friday night jazz & viewing of the fabulous Girl with a Pearl Earring painting by Vermeer. My husband, Alper, and I went with our amazing friends, Diana & Selim, and just had the best time.

The Girl with a Pearl Earring painting was stunning. It has been recently restored and the paint glistened through the centuries. I loved it and could have stayed standing there, face-to-face in front of it all night.


Alper found this cool coloring book in the gift shop and decided I just had to have it. Inside are 52 coloring plates of famous paintings with 10 facts about each painting pointed out on the page so you can learn more about how the master painter created it. It is hard to explain, so I’ve included a page here.


This exhibit inspired me in so many ways. I loved the many paintings, including some by Rembrandt, and how the paint still had its brilliant shine after so many years. It reminded me of the quote, “Art is what endures.”  I feel so grateful to have had the chance to see these masterpieces painted so long ago, enduring the journey through time and space all the way from their original home in Holland to the museum where we stood to gaze at them last night.

Here is the link for more information on the Atlanta High Museum of Art:


-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

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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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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!

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Q & A: Who is the character in your watercolor paintings?

Who is the character in your watercolor paintings?

Her name is Lupita and she is a representation of women & girls across the world who seek out beautiful moments. I have several different collections of Lupita paintings reflecting the many sides of my Lupita character.

The Lupita on a Journey collection is my main collection and is inspired by the Japanese ancestor doll, where the viewer imagines the face of a loved one inside the blank face of the doll.

Japanese doll 1

Other collections include the Lupita Sisters, Lupita Portraits, Lupita Dreams, and the beloved Lupita Monsters, who are full of mischief and often broken-hearted, a compliment to the sweeter Lupita versions.

5-1 Lupita Wings Blue Purple Rainbow

This painting is part of a series I made in the Lupita on a Journey collection of Lupita with wings in different designs and colors. As you can see here, the years I lived in Japan have influenced my artwork a great deal, especially in terms of space and pattern.

[Japanese doll photo taken by Emily Lupita Plum-Guclu at a private home exhibit in Miyakonojo, Japan, 2003]

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Travelogue Thursday: Ecuador

Travelogue Thursday July 25 copy

This Thursday as I think back on my world travels, I am reminded of my adventure in the cloud forests of Ecuador. This pristine natural area is beyond beautiful with its magnificent giant trees and bright pink & purple flowers. On our way to an amazing ecolodge called Bella Vista, I had the opportunity to zip line across the valley of the cloud forest. Our group climbed up the mountain to the first line, where a map showed the course – with a long series of zip lines stretching out zig-zag across the valley. The sign read, “Once you start, you must finish all zip lines to get to the pick up point. NO TURNING BACK!”

Taking the first leap was the most difficult. The first zip line was terrifying. And, if I’d of had a choice, I probably would have stopped there. But the sign told the truth; there was absolutely no turning back. So, onward I went, terrified and wondering how it was I had ended up in this particular place. I mean, how exactly did my body end up in a harness clipped onto a cable stretched above the trees across a massive valley in the cloud forest of Ecuador? It wasn’t until the third or fourth time that I was able to really pause and take in the scenery along the line. As I soared across the valley like a bird I looked all around me and it was truly breathtaking. I’ll never forget the freedom, the lightness, and the liberty of those moments up in the air with the clouds. Every time after that I got braver until on my final time I felt almost like I was meditating, completely calm and at peace in the air. I’m so glad I took that leap. I’m thankful there was no turning back.