Last Sunday concert (for now)
Our normal spot in the shade with a view of the band was taken by the time Henry and I got there, so I sat in the way back to give us both shade and had a pretty obstructed view. So no full body sketches of musicians, but I could see bits of them, and I also just did a bunch of rapid sketches of the audience, which has grown each week as word has gotten out. It was an easy, laid back way to enjoy a lovely afternoon.
Eventually both the red dresses and Christian's fancy shirt felt like they deserved a splash of color, so I worked quickly with the water brush in my lap and had a good time. They dedicated "Walk the Dog" to Henry and ended with "Wagon Wheel." All so good.
I've been struggling with the internet company for the last two weeks, so I'm way late being able to post, but here are a couple of compilation sketches from last Sunday's outdoor concert by the Side Street Steppers. I did all of these super vertical in my tiny square sketchbook, opened up to 11x5.5" across the fold. I put them in a couple of overall pages to post more easily. These sketches are all done in one of my new favorite inks, De Atramentis document fog grey (the "document" means it's waterproof) with a fat blue watercolor marker over the top.
I also did a few sketches of the audience.
Walter Anderson, always
I took my first trip since November last week, back to one of my very favorite places. I spent time in the museum, at the water, at Shearwater pottery, and just sitting and enjoying the breeze playing my banjo. It was deeply good.
One fantastic thing I got to do was go sketch in Anderson's cottage again. With my show last year, I've made friends with the museum staff (and enough with the family that they trust me too), so I can borrow the key and sit in the quiet of that space with extra murals and just sketch. It's a huge honor. Above is part of a half finished mural around the window in Anderson's bathroom, facing the wall of cows above his bathtub. It's faint. These colors are more robust than what's there, but I wanted it to be legible as a sketch.
Anderson couldn't always get permission to do murals. Earlier in his life he was living with his inlaws at Oldfields (the current show is all about that house and the work he made there). His father-in-law was emphatic that no painting on the walls was going to happen, so Anderson used large pieces of paper to make "murals." The piece below is one of those, and I was completely charmed. I sat and sketched it in the museum.
This is the second view I did of the cottage. You can see a smaller mural of two birds. I also loved all the shelves with small treasures, bits of driftwood and shells and stones. I have some of all of this in my own window sills at in bowls at my house, as did Georgia O'Keeffe in her New Mexico home. It reminds me of the "nature collection" my sister and I made with my grandmother growing up, but seeing these artists carry that habit throughout their lives makes me feel a deep kinship with both of them.
First Saturdays are my favorite day of the month. It's Urban Sketcher Saturday, and we meet somewhere different each month to sketch and chat and compare pens and materials. This month we were at a nursery with a good crowd. I loved catching up with a ton of cool friends, and then Christina and I ended up (after a general chat about meals on patios) heading to Soulfish for fish tacos on a perfect eat outside kind of day. It was a real pleasure to have a leisurely outing and a long visit and not have to rush home to take care of anything else. A perfect weekend treat.
Several sketcher friends showed up for the outdoor concert by the Side Street Steppers today. We had so much fun drawing them and having a pen and ink convo. I was trying various samples of ink I had ordered. It's all De Atrementis document (waterproof ink). Above is the fog grey, I think my favorite, with a splash of red watercolor. Below is brown (on the left) and urban grey, with a bit more fog in the center. That was testing out a new Kawecko pen, but I liked the broad strokes of the dip pen best.
My last page was Henry sprawled out with a sweet young girl. I did a quick still life this evening to test one more ink, a Diamine Eclipse that's the darker of the two on the right, along with the fog grey I'd been using. I think I really like it. Half grey and half purple.
I started the day with this watercolor. It's done with Diamine golden brown ink, which is my absolute go-to. But after that I couldn't resist the new samples and switched over to just line drawings afterwards. It was such a fun afternoon, and I'm glad they'll be doing it all month.
Rowan Oak again
Henry and I went out to spend the afternoon with my dad yesterday. We had a nice walk and the dogs romped and we had tea, and then the farrier came to do the hooves of the horses. It all happened super fast, so these are not as skillful drawings as I would like, but it was good to get some practice on people anyway. I've drawn a lot fewer people over the last few years. And it's always good to have the reminder of a good day in your sketchbook, even if the drawings themselves aren't ever quite what you hope they would be.
I had so much fun on Sunday! I met friends out at Saddlecreek, which is hosting a Sunday series of concerts throughout May with the Side Street Steppers. Dog on leash were welcome, so I took Henry and my sketching things and listened to live music (a more rare treat these days for me) and had a ball. Christian and Vera are super into fountain pens, so we had a whole pen/ink convo at the break. It was good to sit out with some favorite people in the sunshine and enjoy the show and sketch. I think we’ll have a few more next week, which will be great fun as well.
My friend Meghan got this bit of video of the band.
The talk at Dixon was amazing. I was honored and thrilled that 70 fantastic people showed up, midweek at lunchtime, to hear me talk about my creative life and influences. I make art on my own in my house most of the time, so getting to go out in public and share the things I love and things I've learned was exciting and greatly fun. I had another hour's worth of conversations on my way out, and I loved hearing people's own experiences or what book or artist they might want to look into after hearing my favorites.
After working hard to put that together and spending the entire next day doing checkup and regular screening tests, I was ready for a couple of slow days. Henry and I took walks, went to the farmers market, had second tea, and spent a lot of time quilting or mending on the sofa and watching some British tv. It was lovely. I'm grateful for the pace of my life that lets me push when I have deadlines but also take time off afterwards. Here are a few sketches I did just to get back into art for pure enjoyment.
The top one is neocolor crayon with watercolor, and the bottom tested two new samples of De Atramentis document ink (waterproof and silky) and the four leaf clover in my classic Diamine water soluble ink that moves and melds with my watercolors. The watersoluble comes in a nice range of colors, but it stays really firm and almost harsh when I paint -- kind of like making your own coloring book. I'll try some more sketches with it, but I think I still love the soluble ink best. I've had fun with the crayons too, and I like the added texture, but I miss line in that top one. It's good to branch out and experiment but sometimes it ends up reinforcing your already favorite things.
My museum lecture at Dixon Gallery and Gardens is today, and I'll be talking about my art heroes and all the things I've learned along the way about making an art centered life. They're between exhibits, so they didn't need me to tie into any particular show, as I did when I talked about the history of plein air painting to go with their Barbizon exhibition some years ago. So I'm going to be self indulgent and talk about all my favorite artists and what I've learned from them in a slight gallop through art history.
I'm also going to talk about taking the time to do small projects for yourself, just because you want to. This was one of mine a couple of summers ago -- a series of tiny prints (I think they're 3x5") of my most formative artists. Constable, of COURSE, on the top left, for painting outdoors and non stop and in his own home places. Walter Anderson underneath him for pretty much all the same reasons plus printmaking. Georgia O'Keeffe for charting her own path and claiming the right to live where and how her muse dictated. And Berthe Morisot for just GOING for it, in an age where women didn't much. And also making her own career against the advice of older, established male artists who leaned heavily on her not to exhibit with those ragtag Impressionists. She was remarkable.
The project fizzled there, and I hadn't even gotten a finished print of Constable until this week, but that also is good. Things you do because you want to but don't have to finish if you don't. The Anderson print made it into my show at WAMA, but the others were just because they sounded like fun.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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