I did two tiny (3x4ish) watercolors this week for the Madison County Arts Council in North Carolina. It's run by my friend and banjo teacher Laura Boosinger, who is an amazingly talented musician. They have an after school music program (local mountain music and instruments) for the kids in town, concerts, art shows, and all kinds of neat things. I've painted right in their neighborhood, staying at the Country Workshops woodworking school, and I always go over to Marshall for a banjo lesson too. So, in spite of this mostly being a North Carolina artists' project, Laura was nice enough to include me too. The sales of the tiny paintings will benefit arts organizations across Western North Carolina, and the exhibit will travel around the region.
Above is the French Broad river, as seen in Hot Springs, NC, and below is one of my favorite trees at Country Workshops.
I got my first round of prints photographed yesterday. I haven't been able to do a very good job on them -- they're 14x22", and so way too big to fit on my scanner, as the watercolors do. These are all printed and ready to sell, thankfully in time for the upcoming Pink Palace Crafts Fair.
For the Tower Grove Park print, I couldn't decided whether I liked the brown or white paper, so I'm doing a smaller edition of each. They have such different feels, and I like them both for different reasons. These prints are $125 each.
Shelton Laurel, the name of the area where the woodworking school Country Workshops is, is also $125.
Overton Park was the first print I started in this series. It's the place closest to my home and my heart. I'm there every day I'm in Memphis, walking, drawing, or just sitting and watching the sky. I play my banjo near this tree a lot as well.
And finally the White River at Calico Rock in Arkansas. This series is a group of places that are dear to my heart, my own personal travelogue. The White River, and the Riverview Hotel right on it, is one of our favorite getaways. This print is $140 because it's three colors and requires three separate printings instead of just two.
I'm still working on prints for the Missouri Botanical Garden, Chickasaw Gardens, the French Broad River, and a second one for Tower Grove Park. Watch this space for more finished ones over the next couple of months. I'm trying to have them all finished for my November show at ANF architects.
Not only is there a printmaker next door to us at Country Workshops, but there's a tool maker as well. John Kraus teaches toolmaking at John C. Campbell folk school, Country Workshops, and Penland. He's also a fiddle player, and we play music together when I visit. He always spends a bit of time helping me get my carving tools sharp as well. I've taken a page of notes every time he shows me how, and one of these years I'll master it (he says I'm getting better), but they're always best when John puts his magic touch on them.
This year he told me that the flat blade I was using to outline forms wasn't really the right tool for the job. I need an exacto knife instead, with its sharp edge on both sides. We stopped by to say goodbye on our way out of town, and John pulled out this beautiful tool, made just for me. He carved a handle for an exacto blade out of pearwood and made a copper neck and sheath for the blade. He said the handle would fit well in my hand for what I needed, and he was exactly right. It's a joy to use, and I am grateful for John's friendship and generosity.
The timing was perfect. A sharp blade helps me outline delicate sections so I don't (hopefully) inadvertently cut away bits I need. With trees and other amorphous shapes, I don't take the time to outline, but with fine detail and sharp lines, outlining helps a lot. I'm working on this Tower Grove print of a Victorian pavilion, and I've given the beautiful new tool a good work out this week.
Elmore had a week-long class recently at Country Workshops, a woodworking school in North Carolina. It's a place we go at least once a year (when we're very lucky, we house sit in the fall), and it's a fruitful place for my artwork. I've done many paintings and prints on the farm over the years.
This year I was more focused on the prints I already had in progress, so I didn't paint on site as much as I usually do, but Nancy Darrell and I went out sketching together a couple of mornings. Nancy is a potter turned printmaker, and she's the wonderful friend I got my proof press from earlier this year.
We met halfway down the driveway one morning and stalled out here at this row of trees I've been drawing and painting for years. I never quite capture what I hope to, but I keep trying.
Another morning I went to get my sketching things to paint the pear tree that had been catching my eye all week. It's just outside the open air pavilion where the students at the school (and me, when I'm lucky enough to be there) take their meals.
I also did a sketch of Nancy while we were out together, and I did the two watercolors of the French Broad river that I already posted here. I'm working on the print now, and I'm happy to bring a little more North Carolina landscape into my work here at home.
Regular readers of this blog will know that there are various trees in various places that call my name, and I tend to go back and draw/paint/carve them again and again. One of those is this small tree at the Country Workshops woodworking school, where we're sometimes lucky enough to house-sit. I've done pencil sketches, multiple pastels, an oil painting, and a letterpress block of this one. Today I'm drawing out a bigger print block of it -- again taking advantage of the bigger proof press I now have to work with. Unlike the letterpress print at the bottom of the post, the new one will be three colors.
I'm finally back in the saddle for new blog posts. Sorry to have been gone so long. We were house-sitting at Country Workshops, a small farm and woodworking school in a remote corner of North Carolina. It's so remote, in fact, that broadband isn't offered, and my Weebly site builder won't work on their dial-up. So I just waited to come home again.
I've been working hard all summer on my urban sketches (my show hangs next week!), and it was lovely to have a vacation. I did several small pastels that I plan to paint from this winter, and I did a little printmaking, but mostly I read three books, took naps almost every day, played music with the next-door neighbor, and totally enjoyed hearing my Cardinals win the World Series. We could get the radio signal up there with the Cards broadcasters we love, but there wasn't a tv signal.
The farm is a gorgeous place, and we're lucky enough to either house-sit or go for a class once or twice a year. Elmore is sounding very tempted by the boat-building class next year, and I'll enjoy hanging out to paint. They just got their 2012 schedule up, and I can't recommend the place strongly enough if you're looking to take a wood-working, basket-weaving, or cooking class.