Artwork Paintings & Children’s Book

Growing Wild Plums

A Childhood Off the Grid

by Emily Lupita

Lupita Presents Her Artwork Series “Lupita’s Childhood in Nature”

Summary of the Art Project

Award-winning artist and writer, Emily Lupita grew up in rural Southern Iowa on a sustainable homestead off the grid. Her parents were minimalist naturalists who taught their three children how to live off the land and appreciate the extreme power and beauty of nature. The family lived without running water and without modern conveniences like indoor plumbing or central heat. Often times there would be no electricity. Water came from a well pump and heat from kindling chopped by hand in a wood-burning stove. The homestead sat on a hill in rural Monroe County, down a rock road, down a gravel lane, down a dirt path…far from the modern world surrounding them.

Emily Lupita and her two brothers had a magical childhood filled with the stories and mythology of their Welsh, Mexican, and Cherokee Ancestors. Their parents, the Bardic poet Joseph S. Plum and the Mexican-American artist Juana Maria Gutiérrez, encouraged their children to embrace the wonder and awe of a natural world filled with beauty and miracles. They caught fish with their bare hands in the creeks and streams surrounding the homestead, they did rain dances in the field with the butterflies, and they slept under the stars while listening to the coyotes howl. The children also learned how to live a sustainable lifestyle off the land. They learned how to plant and tend a garden, how to dry, preserve, and can food, how to clean fish and hunt and skin squirrels, and how to gather together around a fire out on the hill at night to keep warm and tell stories.

Emily Lupita will create a series of watercolor paintings in her unique signature style that depict her childhood living off the grid. She will use vibrant colors and interesting mixtures of perspective and space to convey the passion and beauty of this season of her life lived in the natural world. The paintings will be the basis for a children’s book, which Emily will write, that will teach today’s youth about the lifestyle of sustainable natural living.

Emily Lupita believes that educating our youth about the natural environment is an absolute priority, so that they may become passionate guardians and dedicated stewards of our planet. To support this belief, Emily Lupita will donate a copy of the finished children’s book to every elementary school in Monroe County, Iowa. It is the artist’s hope that the paintings and children’s book will inspire young readers and adults alike to become interested in learning more about how they can contribute to the effort to save our planet by reducing waste, living more simply, and respecting the power and beauty of our Mother Earth.

Emily Lupita will paint twenty paintings, size 12×12 inches on 100% cotton rag cold press professional-grade Arches watercolor paper. She uses Japanese ‘Irodori’ watercolor paints and Sakura Japanese black ink. The original watercolor paintings will be professionally matted in white museum grade archival matts and sealed for protection in high-grade plastic archival bags. Due to the size, the fragility of glass panels, and the high cost of framing watercolor paintings, the paintings will not be framed at this time. Instead, Emily Lupita will have 20 large size canvas prints made of the original paintings as these are much more accessible to viewers. Emily Lupita will show these canvases in an art exhibition that is free and open to the public, or any attendance that is a requirement of receiving the grant. The corresponding children’s book will accompany the canvas prints and original paintings, and Emily Lupita will be available to talk with visitors about her project.

A Childhood in Nature

Emily Lupita’s new book is now available for order as a 8.5×8.5-inch softcover in her Art Shop.

Art Gallery

Artist Bio

Emily Lupita is an award-winning artist and poet from rural Southern Iowa. Her unique artwork style is composed of vivid colors and chaotic textures mixed with solid black lines. Emily Lupita has shown her artwork and books at many art shows and festivals in the United States and in Japan. Emily Lupita’s four published art books are: Water and Stone, The Artist’s Alphabet, Wonderful You, and A Childhood in Nature. Emily Lupita is the founder and editor of Emily Lupita Studio Press, a small independent publishing house she created to publish books that express joyful wonder of the world.

Emily Lupita has numerous writing and poetry publications from national journals, including The North American ReviewThe Atlanta Review, and the anthology, Writers Without Borders. Her awards include the Pearl Hogrefe Award for Creative Writing from the English Department at Iowa State University and the Faulker Award for the Poem. She holds a BA from Central College in Pella, Iowa, and an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University, with thesis advisor, Professor Debra Marquart, Iowa Poet Laureate. Emily Lupita has received grants from the BeWildReWild Fund at Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and the Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities at Iowa State University. Emily Lupita writes a blog about her art & writing at


Equipment including professional grade, cold press Arches 100% cotton rag watercolor paper, artist professional grade watercolor brushes, Holbein Japanese ‘Irodori’ watercolor paints, sketch book, and Sakura Japanese black ink will be needed to complete the project. The canvas prints will be ordered and printed from Walgreens, and an artwork display apparatus will be needed to hang the paintings for the exhibition. The artwork /poetry exhibition will be displayed at a communal gathering in Iowa that will be free and open to the public, or any specific attendance that is part of receiving the grant. Gallery and reception expenses are anticipated, as well as travel expenses for Emily Lupita to travel and stay.


Painting Supplies: In-kind donation match from Emily Lupita
Display Arch and Artwork Display Items: In-kind donation match from Emily Lupita
Travel and lodging = In-kind donation match from Emily Lupita
Formatting, Editing, and Publishing of the Children’s Book = In-kind donation match from Emily Lupita
Reception Rental and Gathering Food= In-kind donation match from Emily Lupita
Hiring an Hourly Respite Caregiver: (to care for Emily Lupita’s two disabled sons while she works) = In-kind donation match from Emily Lupita
Emily Lupita: 20 paintings x 10 hours per painting = 20 hours x $25/hour = $5000
Total: $5000