Summertime, and the livin' is easy. Actually, it is -- not too hot yet, even when I've been painting outside. But the last couple of days I've had exceptionally comfortable urban sketching opportunities.
I'm still working on the last of my illustrations for the Memphis Magazine City Guide, and I needed Retirement Living and City Dining. The Parkview is right in my neighborhood (I walk past it every morning), and it's a lovely old building. I non-plussed the lady on the desk when I called to ask permission, but the new director invited me to come for their afternoon concert and paint then. I was actually painting just outside the meeting room (I wanted the main section of the lobby), but I was strategically placed next to the margarita table, and they were kind enough to offer me one too. It was a lovely accompaniment to painting. (And since it was served by a retirement home, it had just the right amount of alcohol in it for me, which is to say, not much.)
Inspired by that experience, I decided that I have been WAY overdue for a Wiles-Smith chocolate soda. Wiles-Smith is the real deal -- a soda fountain drug store that's been operating since 1944. I went early to get just the right place at the counter, and I had a fabulous egg salad sandwich along with my soda. You can see the soda in the foreground of the piece. I sketched it quickly before getting serious about consuming it. Much to the counterman's dismay -- he was worried I wouldn't enjoy it properly if I didn't start right in. But he admitted at the end that I had wasted absolutely none of it. I did have a minor chocolate sauce incident on my page, but I hid it slyly in the shadow of the napkin dispenser on the counter top. One of the hazards of painting on site.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.