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.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.