Sunday, July 31, 2011

Painting a Self Portrait in Oils

A lot of people don't know this, but I paint. Well, comparing my painting to a seasoned artist is like comparing a kids drawing to a Picasso, but I do paint none-the-less. I have painted with watercolor, but I prefer oils.

In any case, I have always loved self-portraits of the Regency and Victorian eras. I wanted to do one of my niece, wearing a Victorian gown, but I didn't have a large canvas on hand so I decided on a head to shoulders shot. Deciding to go with the Flemish style of portraiture, I drew out my figure which resembled my niece (at least at first) and covered the whole canvas in an sheer burnt umber.

I left it sitting there to dry for a few days since the oil had to be thinned and I used seed oil to do that. Then the next step is to outline and shade with burnt umber. Which I did, but I noticed that with color the portrait started to look more like me than my niece. So, I just decided it would be a self-portrait rather than fixing it to look like my niece.

That step of the painting process took two weeks to dry, but everyone who saw it thought it looked like me and thought I had it painted for me. I laughed, because no one ever guessed that I painted it myself. The next step in the Flemish process is the moonlit layer. In this step, you completely cover your umber layer with shades of gray.

The painting appeared completely transformed. I shaded the face severely and the neck area which didn't matter, because I knew in later steps I could brighten it. The shades of gray gave it a creepy feel. I was going to paint color on that layer which was the next step, but there was still burnt umber undertones in some areas. So I decided it called for another moonlit layer and some more shading.

The end product was more realistic and looks so much like me it was like I intended to do a self portrait to start off with. My dilemma is whether I should leave it as is or do the final color layer over it. I am having a hard time deciding, because I love the way it looks and I would hate to ruin it. I am still debating it. What if the color makes it look more realistic, but then again, the gray tones match my decor. Decisions... Decisions...

My favorite youtube video on the Flemish technique is Portrait of Anna by Artpapacom
For more on the Flemish technique visit Explore Drawing and Painting and Oil Painting Techniques

Egyptian Hieroglyphs Project

A few months back, my niece was learning about Egyptian culture in school and I had to help her with a project. She had to write a sentence which included her name in hieroglyphs. So, we decided on something simple like "My name is Jennifer ________." Simple.

The Egyptian alphabet seems simple enough, but in drawing them out, I realized some of these characters are detailed animals... On top of that, I was doing this on papyrus paper which you can buy at any art store. Papyrus is very bumpy because it was made by hand and it is not perfectly square. It isn't the best surface for paint to be used on either.

So I drew it out and went over the lines with black oil paint. It tended to look blotchy in some areas and I second guessed whether I did the right thing using black oil paint. Yet, I forged ahead. Then I painted the animals  in dull colors using my bright colors sparsely to give it an aged appearance. The end result was beautiful!!! I am thinking of doing one for myself, but it is something anyone can do for a little bit of money.

To write your name in Egyption Hieroglyphs go to Hieroglyph Typewriter

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Overboard Short Story Teaser

(FREE short story, coming soon!)

Brenna Maren just graduated high school and is in desperate need of some fun and relaxation. When a group of her closest friends decide to spend their summer sailing to the Florida Keys, Brenna is all in... Until tragedy strikes. When she learns her best friend, Marissa, is lost at sea, she instantly suspects foul play. Now Brenna will do anything to find out who pushed Marissa overboard.

Today I was writing part of my short story, Overboard. I am probably a third of the way through it.

It is actually an idea I conceived when I was in the fifth grade, but I couldn't execute it. I remember typing some of the story on my typewriter and creating a cover, but I never actually finished the story. As a child, I was full of ideas, but hardly saw those ideas through to the end.

This time around, however, my ideas for Overboard are much more fluid. Finding the perfect time to write is a problem, because I have so much going on in my life right now. Yet, finding time is the challenge presented to any writer. I am lucky not to have writers block, but I do have personal barriers that are preventing me from finishing this task. But like so many times in the past, I will overcome and deliver this story to retailers this summer. Hopefully, I will have it done by late August so that I can start editing Lament.

Although I am finding it much more difficult to write, the key points of the story are taking shape, and I can't wait to see them through to the end.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Restraint Reviewed!!!

Books Complete Me blog reviewed Restraint!

Restraint received 4 out of 5 stars, meaning they loved it!!!

"Indie, or self-published books, are doing good in the book world. Madera's book is no different! I enjoyed reading this book, and the best part, the story isn't over. Lament will be published late this year or early next year!" - Books Complete Me Blog

To Read the Entire Review, click the link above.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I updated the look of my blog and added links to my book on the aide panel. I also added links to the sites which carry my work at the bottom of the page.

My life has been chaotic lately and I am finding it hard to squeeze in some alone time for writing. I set a deadline for my newest short story, Overboard, and I would hate not to honor it.

However, tomorrow is another day and I might just push threw the chaos and write some new material. The biggest test for a writer is to create in the midst of ones life going on around them. So, like most others, I struggle daily to find the time to so what I love. Keep you posted.