"This one is one of the last paintings I created for my most recent series called “Adventure Within” - It was a hard one to resolve and I almost discarded it as a failure, mostly because it became somewhat gloomy in the process. Somehow I just kept going back to it, trying to see it under a different light; one that didn’t declare gray days unworthy... And so while camping under a storm for a long, long time, the notion that “this too is part of what it takes to keep going” came to me. –Although I didn’t know the outcome, a breath of awakening came and with it, the sight of a tiny garden blooming. – Perhaps I could wander here a for while, breathe in the smell of scary thunder and fresh rain, then let them slowly become a garden to rejoice in hope again. – I have called it “A place to wander” [Pieces of journals written in the painting process] "A Place to Wander" is part of the “Adventure Within” original works on paper series."
- Juliana Alonso
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“Within what is physically possible for me, my current work feels like a timestamp that reflects my ever-healing path combined with childhood memories of a horizon drawn in the high altitudes of my Andes mountains. My process honors my worthiness beyond my ability and connects me to my homeland and family; It is an exploration of curiosity and play through uncertainty, expressed by way of abstract mark making mixed with a child-like practice filled with freedom.”
Juliana Alonso is an innovative artist whose digital and physical works aim to have a positive effect on others, especially those experiencing adverse health conditions. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Juliana Alonso, likes to say that she is composed of equal parts sentiment, compassion and goofiness. She began her artmaking by drawing empty pages on her father’s reading books. Trips with him to the art supply store during school vacations where he nurtured her love for art, her native land, and her imagination are some of her most treasured memories.
As she continued to learn and grow, art remained at the roots of her interest and passion. In college, she went on to study Industrial Design which led her to work as a graphic designer. It wasn’t until she moved to the U.S. that she recognized a need for change. Following a strong desire to experience life outside the computer, Juliana pivoted to a more full art career that involves exploring what her hands, watercolor and paper can create.
Additionally, her new perspective as an immigrant made her pursue painting and artmaking to honor the most meaningful moments of her life, culture, and upbringing. Juliana shares, “Growing up around my father's passion for his rural landscapes and imaginative bedtime stories, along with looking for ways to find connection with my roots and most meaningful moments shared with people and places I love after immigrating to the US.” Passionate about combining her love for her Colombian culture with her creativity, Juliana set out to explore where this could lead her.
Juliana’s art became greatly influenced by her loss of motor ability. Previously, Juliana explored meticulous and intricate ink pen etchings and flower preservation landscapes, which took accuracy, planning and physical precision. However, after experiencing the loss of motor ability due to a neurological disorder, she changed creative efforts to be in tune with her body. “Finding new ways of using tools and completely changing my creating rhythm sent me on a path of discovery, experimentation, and more focus on the process of creating for the joy of it,” she shares. “On my watercolor paper, I find my new voice emerging within the constraints of my limitations after having lost my motor ability.”
Juliana’s current style is an exploration of nature and abstraction, curiosity and play through uncertainty, expressed in colorful watercolors and a whimsical practice filled with freedom. This is the result of relearning to move and use tools, limited movement and conserving energy. “I'd like to think my style is evocative of dreamy spaces filled with calm, slow breaths, and surprises that reveal differently for each viewer,” Juliana shares.
Using watercolor pigments and pencils, Juliana makes her physical works using 10-15 layers of paint. Each layer takes 15 to 20 minutes, followed by a rest interval to make sure she is honoring her physical needs. She loves the translucent quality of watercolor, sharing that “it makes me feel that there is always light coming through.” She also feels connected to watercolor because of the way it flows in unpredictable ways, similar to her own movements. “It reflects the way life goes, sometimes it is unexpected circumstances or unwanted outcomes. Sometimes it is intense surprise! Water washes over it all, always leaving a trace, like the passage of time and the trials it takes to keep doing something,” Juliana exclaims.
Juliana also extends this theme of layering into her digital works. Utilizing her surface design training, she makes captivating patterns on her computer using overlapping drawings, illustration tools and scanned paintings. She loves exploring ways of translating her painterly marks into digital brushes and textures. It can take up to one week to create a digital design. She continues to be thankful for her training in design and accessibility to digital tools which has created unique art avenues.
Additionally, she is inspired by memory, imagination, color, and the painting process. Juliana explains, “When my movements became uncoordinated, I let go of using specific references I couldn't depict and spending lots of time in isolation made me dig into my imagination.” This often leads me to abstract mountain landscapes, nature and birds or animals in calm other-worldly spaces or ethereal movements of water and colors mixing in the company of simplified botanical elements in bloom. Adolfo Serra and Sieb Posthuma are treasured influences.
“Much like in a sudden event, the first brush strokes are bold and arbitrary. In acceptance of what is given, I then let each stride lead the next intuitively; pausing to look closer into the shapes to find feelings and life revealing before me, somewhat mirroring the unpredictable ways of life-changing experiences. Slowly, looking inward, each step becomes a possibility to find a sense of direction, a giggle, and deep knowledge of where I have come from. Letting my imagination chase vibrant colors running through water, my hands move however they are able without a plan, and adapting my tools. This is how I experience transformation, work through the griefs of trauma, and find renewed belief; I exist in both the strength, and the innocence of my own spirit, I create for the joy of being.”
Juliana dreams of creating art that contributes to people's wellbeing, especially when someone is facing extended periods of uncertainty and adversity. She shares, “It would offer a key to a garden within each viewer experiencing it; hope and recharging energy grows there, giving them connection to their most uplifting times to continue navigating their experiences in wellness.” She also dreams of having her art in a Cirque du Soleil show, as part of their costumes or scenery, to help tell their whimsical stories! In healing through creativity, Juliana thrives to bring hope and courage to dream and connect with our imagination so we can draw strength and joy through the dark and light seasons of our lives.
When she’s not creating, she enjoys taking care of the plants around her home, watching animated movies, taking strolls, doing puzzles and learning new painting techniques through videos. She also loves to travel, especially to see her family in Colombia, where they go for walks and share their favorite pastries. She currently resides in Houston, Texas with her wonderful husband and cats. ArtLifting looks forward to helping Juliana’s art travel to even more new places, leaving an undeniable mark on each viewer.
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