April in Paris and Lessons in Spanish is UP! It's my joint travel paintings show with Elizabeth Alley at Memphis Botanic Garden. The opening is tonight from 5:30-7:30 -- free and open to everyone. Bring your friends and have a glass of wine on us!
It was a long hanging day yesterday. I'm grateful to be working in a smaller format these days. Instead of hauling huge canvases (or, even worse, huge pastels under glass), I could carry my entire show into the building in one trip. Here it is:
The downside is the long layout process for that many pieces. I ran out of time at the end and didn't get a final count, but I think I hung almost 100 watercolors and prints.
I lay them down on the floor first, take a snapshot of the layout on my smart phone (a marvelous tip I got from Elizabeth last time we hung a show together), and stick them on the walls with poster tape. Marvelous stuff.
There were tons of nail holes in the walls, so my arrangements changed a bit as I moved to the wall, trying to hide as many of them as possible.
I worked so late it was pretty dark to get a decent photograph, and the lights weren't adjusted for my show yet (hopefully MBG can make that happen before the opening tonight), but here's how the first wall looks. Overall I'm pleased.
Saturday was the Urban Sketchers' International Sketch Crawl. Urban Sketching groups across the world went out to draw together. The Memphis chapter met up at the Peabody, our grand old downtown hotel. It was a fun and elegant place to draw.
After the duck parade, several of us when across the street to have lunch and keep drawing at the Flying Fish. Tom Pruett let me try his water soluble markers. I keep trying markers and having trouble getting the effects I want. These are made by Tombo, and they were fun to try. I might have to get my own pack. They're neater than watercolors, though I like actual paint better, despite the trouble.
I recently unearthed these two sketches of a dinner I had with Elizabeth Alley. We had fun visiting and drawing over dinner and comparing recent sketching journeys we had taken. It was fun to have dinner with someone else who also enjoys drawing through a meal.
Last year I was lucky enough to get to do watercolor illustrations for the Memphis Magazine City Guide issue. It seems to have been well enough received for the art editor to want to have some more artwork instead of their usual photography. In a neat twist, he's enlisted the Memphis Urban Sketchers to provide illustrations, spreading the love around a bit and adding some interest. I can't wait to see the different artwork he uses. I've submitted a few myself, and it will be interesting to see what makes it to print.
There are certain categories each year (arts, dining, who's who, etc.), and blogs and hospitals are some of the more challenging topics. I decided to offer artwork for those, figuring he might need a little help in those areas.
I stopped on my way home from kayaking this morning to paint Le Bonheur. I love the view of it from right in the middle of Poplar Avenue, but that's not a safe place to paint. This was the best angle I could get from the sidewalk. As an added bonus, I scored some shade as well.
Yesterday my very kind housemate agreed to let me paint him as he did some schoolwork on his laptop. That's always a bit of a risk. You never know how you're going to look in someone else's artwork, and I appreciated his taking it. I've been enjoying doing more figural work, but capturing likenesses us still very hard for me.
Sorry I've been gone from here for a few days. It was crazy busy in Cape May, and the internet access was less than stellar. I'm now home and trying to catch up on everything.
I know a number of artists, many in the Memphis Urban Sketchers group, who are great about keeping personal sketch books. I've mostly painted on watercolor blocks instead, so I can exhibit the work I'm pleased with. However, I'm starting a new chapter in my life this year, and I decided to keep a sketch book of my summer to mark that transition. It's been fun to have it with me on my travels.
I started it in St. Louis a few weeks ago, when I went to the Twelfth Night production in Forest Park (above) and Circus Flora (below).
I also took it to Cape May. I was crazy busy doing watercolors for them most of the week, but the last couple of nights, I took a little time to paint for myself. Below is the view from the porch of my hotel, where I sat out for a bit most evenings to play banjo, relax, and watch the moon rise.
The great thing about a sketch book is that it is NOT intended for exhibition, so an artist is freer to play with materials and styles. I do think I get too tight when almost all of my work is possible show material. I really enjoyed playing with the idea of of doing part of a sketch in color but leaving parts of the drawing in just pencil as well. This isn't a style I'd worked in much in the past, and I had a lot of fun. I hope to keep playing with it.
My last night was up there quite near the full moon, and the moonrise over Victorian homes and power lines caught my eye as I was out for a walk. I put my butt cushion down on the sidewalk, up against a store front, and painted with the light shining out of the shop window to work by.
I'm noticing how much of the sketch book is about the moon. I seem more and more drawn to it each year. Below is a very quick sketch of the moon as I glimpsed it out the window before dawn the night of the super moon. I did the sketch from memory the next morning after I woke up for good and found the image was still dancing in my brain.
It was a sketching sort of day. I met with one group of sketchers first thing (haven't gotten that one scanned in yet) to draw a lovely garden. Then I went straight on to the regular monthly Memphis Urban Sketchers group down at a funky indoor flea market in my neighborhood. It's fun to sit around and sketch with a group, and Judi Munn, a potter I admire and a friend who lives in Arkansas, was here with the potters guild show this weekend and managed to join us for an hour or so. It's fun to draw more people in to the idea of group sketching.
I often use the urban sketcher meetings to try things I don't normally in the course of my regular work. Today I kept playing with waterproof ink and watercolor, and in the second one, I left the foreground black and white, only adding color to the landscape out the window. That was the bit I was really drawn to.
This evening I sketched my third wedding, but I'm rushing to get out of town again (it looks like I'll be gone about every other week for a while), so I haven't scanned any of them in yet. It was neat to get to be a part of such a special occasion, and esp
I've been quiet here lately as I frantically get ready for a month in France. One of my wonderful new sisters set me up to pet sit for three weeks with a friend of hers in Paris, and I'll spend one more week traveling the countryside somewhere. I leave this morning, and I've got copious sketch books packed, along with watercolor and pen and ink. I've never been to France at all, and I'm thrilled to have this chance to see the art there, see the churches and gardens, and make some of my own art as well.
In the meantime, here's a watercolor I did this week at Dixon Gardens with the Memphis Urban Sketchers.
I've been involved in the volunteer organization Park Friends for some years now. It's focused on preserving and maintaining the large park (Memphis' version of Central Park) near my home. Occasionally projects sap my art time for a while (usually fighting some major threat to the park, like the city plan a few years ago to dig up the picnic field for a storm water retention basin), but it's been quieter lately, and helping out always feels like a great cause, since the park is where I walk daily and paint often. It's my closest sanctuary place, and the most important, since I can be there in a lovely three block stroll.
Recently a small group of folks donated a number of new trees to the park. It started as a small-scale project, but a number of factors (a nursery closing and giving us good deals on trees as well as donated work by landscape designer Tom Pellett, also an Urban Sketcher) made the project blossom. We ended up adding 300 new trees to the park and another 100 shrubs. You can see me above helping to plant a bottle brush buckeye with my new nephew Max. Tom is standing just behind us.
Today was the celebration for the new trees, and it was a joy to walk over past many of them to drink a little champagne.
I decided that the best possible way to mark the celebration would be to sketch a tree there in the park, so I did this drawing of an old magnolia I've been admiring and meaning to paint for some time.
I'm looking forward to walking in the park for many years, visiting the new trees, watching them grow, and painting them as they grow into mature and lovely creatures.
I keep mentioning it, but the Memphis Urban Sketchers have changed my life. Several people in there are never without a sketchbook, and I'm trying to emulate that. This is from my tiny one (3x5", I think) that fits in my pretty small purse. I also learned this sketching technique from the Memphis group recently -- just a fountain pen and a water brush for washes. It's a very nifty, streamlined kit to carry around with me, unlike my usual bulky backpack of supplies. And I love being able to pull out a sketchbook wherever I am. Hopefully I can keep this up.