Who am I?
I'm a 39 year old stay at home mom with five wonderful children and
supportive husband. My whole life so far has been a quest to find myself
and who I really am. I used to draw and paint in the past but life
circumstances have pulled me away from this precious activity and only
recently I found a courage to get back into it. I started drawing again on
December 25, 2009 after 14 years break.

In February 2010 I decided to reach for brushes and oil paints and I
haven't looked back since.   I use primarily the layered approach to oil
painting although I enjoy doing some quick alla prima oil studies as well.  
This website includes all of my oil work from quick alla prima studies to
works in progress to recently finished oil paintings.  Art fills me with joy, I
hope it does the same for you.  Enjoy.
Monika Murray's
Artistic Affairs
My Oil Painting Technique
using classical, layered approach.  I learned the basics of the technique
from Russian Artist Alexei Antonov, who's work I found beautiful and
inspiring.

My paintings have several layers to them.  I first start with the detailed
pencil drawing on a smooth canvas which I primed and sanded several
times before.  After I'm happy with the drawing I make it permanent with
the canvas with some linseed oil, very thin layer and tone the canvas with
olive green imprimatura layer.  I let the imprimatura layer dry for a week

Umber layers

After imprimatura has dried for a week, I begin with first umber layer.  The
first umber layer consists of only burnt umber paint and it's purpose is to
establish detail and overall forms.  I let the layer dry for 4-5 weeks before
proceeding to the second umber layer.  Before each layer I wipe the
canvas with half an onion to increase adhesion and with some linseed
oil.  Every layer except for imprimatura gets to dry for 4-5 weeks.  The
purpose of second umber layer is to establish all the values, improve
detail and bring three dimensional feel to the subject.  Since burnt umber
doesn't change over time umber layers also play an integral part in
archival quality of the painting.

Dead or grisaille layers

After the second umber layer has dried for several weeks I proceed with
the dead layer.  This monochromatic layer should have a little blue/green
tint to it and produce somewhat of moonlight effect.  It prepares the
painting for the color stage and gives painting specific visual effect after
colors are applied.  For example, after the color is applied over white
areas of the dead layer the effect is different than if that color was just
mixed with white and applied all at once.  I usually give two dead layers to
a portrait although for some paintings one dead layer is enough.  

Recently I started experimenting with grisaille layers instead of  dead
layers.  The difference is that grisaille does not have the blue or green tint
to it, it's more gray in color. I have yet to put any color layers on it and when
I do I will decide which I like better grisaille or dead layer.  Oil painting is
all about experimenting, you never know when it will lead you to discovery.

Color layers

Color stage is my favourite part of the painting.  That's when my painting
comes to life.  I apply colors thinly and transparently and put as many
layers as I need to be satisfied.  I don't have any set number of color
layers although most of the time it works out to be 3-4 before I can call it
finished.