Rarely do I paint. Almost never, really. I would never set out to have one of my first artworks of 2012 be a painting…the odds of me keeping that simple resolution would be so slim that I probably wouldn’t dare make it. Sometimes, though, it just happens, and when it does, why fight it?
A recent novel I’m working on takes place in the tiny historical town of Alma, Wisconsin. It is set in the year 1869 and is the result of my taking on the fabulous NaNoWriMo challenge in the November of 2010. This novel has needed a lot of reworking and in that process, there was much to learn about the history of little Alma. Half the fun of writing historical novels is the research that must be done. Oh, the research! All the hours of searching, thinking, studying, mulling over, considering and deciding! Fun, but yes, it can be exhausting at times.
The novel was a something I poured my heart and soul into. I am, at last, nearing the finish of the editing (I hope!), and I’ve been trying to come up with a unique, eye-catching cover illustration for my story. I’ve got some ideas, have some images I’d like to work from, and decided to start sketching out some ideas. After two little thumbnails of my cover ideas – neither of which I really cared for – I took my reference material to my studio where I could really think and toy with different ideas.
…And in my studio, nothing came to me. I instead looked at an old, homely half-done painting I started ages ago. Just because the nature of the artist is often to procrastinate, I started playing with that ugly painting. When I got that out of my system (and only made that WIP painting worse, by the way), I looked at my Alma reference material again. On a whim, I took out a 5×7 canvas and put some simple black and white acrylic paints on my palette. Just for the fun of it, I started painting this wonderful old photo taken in the year 1870 of Alma. I loved the whimsy of the man in the foreground waving his hat. Isn’t it a charming image?
With this image tacked close by, I picked up a brush, dipped it in water, and loaded up some paint. Two hours later, this is what I had. While I likely won’t be using this for my book cover, it was somewhat inspiring to paint historical Alma anyway. It lacks some detail, and it’s somewhat simple, but I had a great time doing this. There was something so quick and spontaneous about the strict black and white palette, as well as the small size of 5×7. I had such fun with this, and that’s saying a lot for painting in my world. Click on the images if you’d like to see them larger.
-Acrylic on canvas
Inspired by some of the work I’ve seen recently in galleries, I painted around the corners and to the edges of the canvas so that this can hang without a frame and still look finished.
I debated painting the man waving his hat, but that’s what I loved about the photo, so I went with it.
A close-up of the distant buildings of Alma. They were quite small to paint; I actually used a toothpick for the windows and doors. They are very small. 🙂
I hope you like it. Thank you for looking at my painting of this little town which has grown near and dear to my heart. 🙂