08 Jan

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.


-5×7 inches

-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. 🙂


Posted by on January 8, 2012 in All Artwork, Paintings, The Cozy Red Lounge


14 responses to “Alma

  1. KatiesCameraBlog

    January 8, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Wow, Jenna. Amazing. I love this, and the wrap is really interesting too. Good luck with the finishing up of your novel too. How very exciting! 🙂 Again, love this!

    • Jenna

      January 9, 2012 at 9:22 PM

      Thank you so much, Katie! I’m glad you like this. Thank you, I could use the luck…it’s a lot of work trying to get things all tidied up and done with. Thanks again. 🙂

  2. janukke

    January 8, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    Oh Jen, this is an amazing painting! You did catch the expression of that man waving his hat so very well. It´s awesome! And being one of the few people who have read your first draft on the novel I say it is a perfect cover picture too! Hope you´ll enjoy the finishing up of the story!

    Oh, what a fun post! Thank you so much for sharing!



    • Jenna

      January 9, 2012 at 9:26 PM

      Thank you very much, Jana! I’m so happy you like this, and that the man’s expression works. It has been an honor sharing my book with you. I painted another canvas today to go with this one and I believe I have a possible book cover thanks to the work of PhotoShop. Thank you for the encouragement. 🙂 I really appreciate it!

  3. plaidoak

    January 10, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    You should paint more often– I love this!

    • Jenna

      January 10, 2012 at 9:21 PM

      Wow, thank you so much, plaidoak! It means a lot.

  4. Inspired and pretty

    January 10, 2012 at 3:59 PM

    You are so talented Jenna, it’s a beautiful painting ! Oh ! how I understand when you talk about the research for your book, many years ago I did the same kind of research for Montreal, it was so overwhelming ! I once wanted to write a novel but I abandoned the project because when I write I become obsessed with the story. I can’t think of anything else and it is waking me in the middle of the night… I admire writers because I know it takes much time and discipline to write a book. You must be so proud that you’re near the finish, it’s a great achievement ! And don’t get discouraged if publishers reject your book, keep on sending more !

    • Jenna

      January 10, 2012 at 9:36 PM

      Thank you so much, Jocelyne! Yes, research is a lot of work, isn’t it? It’s as if it’s a bottomless pit…the more you learn about the subject of interest, the more you realize you have MORE to learn. 😉 It’s endless, isn’t it? And yet, somehow, it’s one of my favorite parts of writing. How interesting you did all that research for Montreal. I hope you might consider writing that novel yet. What’s wrong with becoming obsessed with the story? I, too, think of it constantly and will sometimes wake up in the night with an idea, and I try to make myself wake up enough to get up and write it down before I forget. It can be tiresome, but I love getting a brainstorm. It does take a lot of work, but it’s a labor of love.

      Thank you so much for the kind comments. I know it could be a long road ahead of me when it comes to trying to publish a book, but I hope it could go well… 🙂

      • Inspired and pretty

        January 11, 2012 at 7:42 PM

        So I’m not alone who become obsessed…That’s good to know ! I thought I was maybe a little strange 🙂

  5. zorgor

    January 12, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    Wow, that is great! And I love the way you did it! “What the heck” rarely turns out so well for me. Usually more like what you said happened with the painting you worked on before this…

    So this is a really good painting, made in an especially good way. 🙂

    • Jenna

      January 13, 2012 at 3:28 PM

      Thank you so much, Zorgor! Rarely do “whims” pan out for me, either. I got lucky this time. 😉 I really appreciate your very kind comments.

  6. Jenna

    January 13, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    Jocelyne, you certainly aren’t alone in that feeling. I don’t think so, anyway. I think it’s common for writers to be a little different and sort of live in a dream world sometimes. 🙂

  7. Jodi

    January 13, 2012 at 5:09 PM

    Your painting is the very mental image I have when I think of Alma! Great work 🙂

    • Jenna

      January 13, 2012 at 8:27 PM

      Hi Jodi. Thank you so much! I’m glad this painting represents this charming little town well. 🙂


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