Tag Archives: gouache

Drawing On My Sister for Inspiration

Anyone who has the courage to change careers or go back to school for further education deserves applause in my book.  My sister not only changed careers and went back to school (George Washington University to be exact), but she graduated with her Doctorate in Psychology today!

To commemorate the occasion, I decided to dust off my jewelry design chops and create a special jewelry piece for her.  I knew I wanted to incorporate 5 diamonds that  were once part of our grandmother’s eternity ring.  Taking inspiration from the initial of my sister’s first name (“M”) was a logical first step, although I also wanted to bring in her love for butterflies into the design.  In the end, the concept not only suggested an “M” and a butterfly, but also a heart.

My rendering…

Butterfly pendant with diamonds copyright Joana Miranda


For the actual manufacturing, I turned to my talented colleague Tim Pinkert at Corner Studio Jewelers in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  He created a series of computer aided designs (CAD) so that we could further iron out the details of the design.

And, here’s the final version we settled upon.

cad butterfly pendant with chain

The pendant was finished in early May and I braved the Diamond District to find just the right chain.  (I’m happy to report that Alex at the Royal Jewelry & Diamond Corp. took care of me very kindly.)

Here is a close-up “selfie” of the pendant.

Marta's pendant finished on model

Today was the big day – my sister’s graduation – and although I couldn’t be there, my mom presented her with the pendant and took these lovely photos.

Marta before her graduation

I think we can all agree that she’s lovely…and that the pendant is the crowning touch.

Marta gets her Doctorate

Congratulations Marta!




Filed under Art, gouache, illustration, Influences, materials, New work, Tool Box

Jo’s Journey – A Somewhat Irreverent Guide to Doing Anything Better

The Art of Listening


Whimsical illustration of girl listening with her hand to her ear, by Joana MirandaI like people; in fact, I’m so interested in them, that when they share something with me,  I can always come up with a sympathetic story of my own to share.  Sometimes, I care so much I go ahead and give them advice, too.

That makes me a great listener, right?

Hmmm…I guess not.  As I’ve come to understand, sympathetic sharing and the giving of advice isn’t listening.  It’s sharing and giving advice – and generally someone who needs “an ear” is NOT looking for either thing.

Whimsical illustration of girl pouting, by Joana MirandaI wish I could say that I’ve come to this understanding on my own and that the journey has been smooth, but that’s just not true.  For as many times as I’ve complained to my husband because a friend or relative didn’t LISTEN to me the way I wanted or needed, he’s let me know that I’ve stepped on his toes by interrupting (why doesn’t he just speak faster then?) or by offering him advice when he, too, just needed to vent (I didn’t know men did that).

All joking aside, I do believe that truly listening is one of the most special gifts you can offer another person.  When I am operating as my best self, I try to listen to others as I would like to be listened to in return.  I try to listen with:




Compassionate understanding

A non-judgmental attitude


The belief that the speaker has the skills necessary to resolve their own issues.

How about you?  How do you listen?

Whimsical illustration of black old-fashioned phone, by Joana Miranda


Filed under Drawing, education, gouache, illustration, Influences, Josephine, motivation, New work, wisdom

Being a Fashionista, Josephine Knew…

how to make a sarong right!

Whimsical illustration "Josephine Wears a Sarong" by Joana Miranda

(Whimsical greeting card available at Joana Miranda Studio at Etsy)



Filed under Art, Drawing, gouache, illustration, Influences, Joana Miranda Studio, Joana Miranda Studio at Etsy, Josephine

Jo’s Journey: A Somewhat Irreverent Guide for Doing Anything Better

Josephine fancies herself a gourmet cook.  I wish I could say the same of myself, but to be honest, my tendency is more towards easy, fool-proof recipes that taste and look great but use a few “cheat” ingredients.

Whimsical Josephine "Chef" illustration by Joana Miranda

This recipe for Tarte Tatin of Pears with Spices – passed down to me long ago by a true gourmet cook –  fits the bill perfectly.  The “cheat” ingredients are puff pastry and vanilla ice-cream.  Beyond peeling 3 pears and splitting a vanilla bean in half, there’s little other prep work.

Whimsical watercolor illustration "Spices" by Joana Miranda


3  – 10 oz firm but ripe Anjou pears (other kinds are ok, as long as the pear is firm)

6 whole cloves

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1/3 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2 star anise

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (1/2 of a 17-1/4 oz package), thawed

vanilla ice cream (keep hidden from your husband if he likes ice-cream as much as mine does!)

Whimsical illustration "Ice Cream" by Joana Miranda

Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit.  Peel pears, cut in half and core.   Pierce rounded side of each pear with one clove.  Melt butter in a a 9 to 10 ” diameter non-stick ovenproof skillet over medium-low heat.  Add sugar and stir until sugar melts and mixture is pale golden, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean and star anise.

Arrange pears in skillet, rounded sides down and stem end pointing towards the center of the skillet.  Cover; cook over medium-low heat until pears are almost tender, about 15 minutes.  Uncover and simmer until syrup is golden, thick and bubbling, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Roll out pastry to 1/8th inch thickness.  Place pastry atop warm pears, tucking in pastry on the edges.  Pierce pastry several times with small sharp knife.  Bake until pastry is brown and slightly puffed, about 30 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes.

Invert tart onto plate.  Serve warm with vanilla ice-cream.

Drool.  Eat.

Whimsical watercolor illustration "Pears" by Joana Miranda


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Filed under education, gouache, illustration, Influences, Josephine

For Better or For Worse – Whimsical Watercolor Illustration by Joana Miranda

Whimsical Watercolor Illustration "For Better or for Worse" by Joana Miranda

(Whimsical print coming soon to Joana Miranda Studio at Etsy)



Filed under Art, Drawing, gouache, illustration, Influences, Joana Miranda Studio, Joana Miranda Studio at Etsy, Josephine, New work, print, Uncategorized

Jo’s Journey: A Somewhat-Irreverent Guide for Doing Anything Better

Chapter 2 – The 4 c’s (or How to Effectively Resolve Conflict)

Josephine might not look like she knows much about conflict resolution; after all, her little canine friend André is her only companion!  But even an easy-going, cheerful and well-adjusted girl like Josephine faces challenges every now and then.

Whimsical illustration of dog chewing on Manolo Blahnik bootie, by Joana Miranda

As a result, she  knows a thing or two about the 4 c’s (and I’m not talking diamonds here!) 

In Josephine’s book the 4 c’s are: 






Compassion means giving the other person the benefit of the doubt.  It means understanding that people have a reason for what they do even if that reason isn’t readily apparent.

Clarity comes as a result of having compassion.

Compromise means having the maturity to see that if you both benefit, you’ll both be happier. (It doesn’t mean giving up on your hopes, dreams and ideals…or your Manolos!)

Communication becomes a lot easier when the other 3 c’s are in place.

Whimsical illustration of Josephine hugging her little dog Andre, by Joana Miranda

‘nough said?


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Filed under Art, education, gouache, illustration, Influences, Josephine, motivation, New work, wisdom

A Toast to Summer – Whimsical Watercolor Illustration by Joana Miranda

In her favorite hat, with a Piña Colada and André by her side, Josephine felt ready to toast the start of summer!

Whimsical watercolor "A Toast to Summer" by Joana Miranda

(Coming soon to Joana Miranda Studio at Etsy)


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Filed under Art, Drawing, gouache, illustration, Influences, Joana Miranda Studio, Joana Miranda Studio at Etsy, Josephine, New work, print