Y’all. I logged in to do this blog post and realized that it’s my 1001th blog since I started this blog almost exactly 10 years ago. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to stick with it over the long haul, so this feels worth celebrating. Sometimes I’m more regular than others, but I usually manage at least one a week and try for a couple. When I’m traveling and having a lot of sketches, it will go almost daily for a bit.
This week has been busy with a family wedding (yay!), so I’m working less than usual, but I’m still managing to work a bit on this new print. It’s based on a recent oil painting of a hurricane tree washed up on a beach. Transitory beauty. You can see from the block at the top right that it extends above what I have carved and printed. I needed to get a feel for what was happening below before I could really decide on the sky. I proofed it yesterday and started carving the sky this morning, but the weekend will be some more wedding celebration, so any more work will have to wait till Monday or so. I also managed another small Mr. Darcy sketch. I’m enjoying doing those. He’s always my best muse.
I hope all of you have a great weekend. Go celebrate some small personal achievement and enjoy that happy feeling!
I enjoyed yesterday’s dawn sketch so much that painted my new-to-me Frankoma teapot over breakfast today. I’d been collecting the teacups and other bits at antique malls. They feel so good cupped in your hands. But I hadn’t found a teapot (these pieces were made mid century at a factory in Oklahoma), so I treated myself and ordered a small one, just right for one person, online. It’s fun to sketch new tea things, and I love the colors and lines of these.
This was extra important today because I’m in day two of painting my bedroom, so very long overdue, and it’s a big project solo. I knew I’d be working on that with all the rest of the daylight and wanted to make a little art first. The #AmWriting podcast and Facebook community is big on “morning pages” for writers — something that’s purely yours, to loosen up for the day. I don’t mind having the energy to dive straight into good work, the way I did right after breakfast on that print yesterday (before starting the painting marathon), but I do really enjoy the looseness of an early sketch. I love that podcast for how they think about living a creative life but also handling all the business and marketing necessities that go with that. I’ve learned a lot from them and enjoyed their company in the process.
Ok, back to work. Here’s where I slept last night. The gray is primer. Color today and trim tomorrow is the plan. I hope to be done for the weekend and back to painting I enjoy more, but it’s also satisfying to be making my space somewhere I’ll really enjoy being. And doing it myself.
Living my best life this morning
I’ve had a lot of midlife sleep troubles lately, along with a ton of other women, and it’s made it hard to bound out of bed ready to work (at least, after tea) the way I am used to doing. I’ve been working hard to get more sleep — limiting evening screen time, drinking milk with dinner instead of wine, stopping caffeine after 10am, etc. January usually helps anyway, which is a blessed relief after show and holiday stress and generally bad sleep for a while. I’ve gotten myself on track the last couple of weeks, and it’s felt good. This morning I’m having a great day, and I want to write about it and remind myself to at least shoot for this more often.
Instead of lying in bed too long looking at instagram (I do love to scroll through artists I follow and get ideas for new things to try), I got up quite early. It was still firmly dark, so my kitchen, which is very cheerful in the sunlight, was more dreary. I decided to have breakfast instead by the gas log fire, which was a cosy, warm, and happy way to start the morning. You can just see Mr. Darcy next to my chair in the semi dark.
The dawn was gorgeous as I went out to get my paper, and my iPhone couldn’t capture the colors. I decided to do a quick sketch to start the morning. I’ve been concentrating on prints lately and not sketching much, so this was a very happy way to start the day. I’m going to try to remember to build more sketching in, even when I’m doing good work already. And I was still at my table and working on my print at 7:15 to enjoy the morning light. I got the last tweaks (I think) done on my current print, proofed it, and submitted it to a place where I’m dreaming of having a show. A very good morning indeed. Now off to some different work.
It's been a little crazy around here. I'm working on a series of prints, helping my sister plan her wedding, and trying to get some long needed things done around my house. (I'd ALWAYS rather make art than do house repairs/chores.) So I'm behind on scanning in sketches and getting them up here. Here are three from over the holiday season, done while running around with friends and family, plus, of course, sitting with Mr. Darcy in the evening. I'll try to get some more sketches ready to go soon. I've done some that I really enjoyed recently, but I'm not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good today. Here's what I can manage, and I won't save them until later for more...
Update on this one. I’m still tweaking it, but it’s getting really close. I’ve been working on it most of today. I will admit to taking yesterday’s sunny, 63 degree day and cycling through the park a long time with an enormous grin on my face. In January sometimes you just have to seize those days as they’re handed to you and put work aside for a few hours. Today’s windy cold found me back at my work table.
Also here is last night’s sketch of Mr. Darcy. I’m still enjoying having this toned paper sketch book right on the coffee table where I can grab it easily when I’m reading or watching tv.
New Print Work
Miss Bennet's Christmas
I’ve never known that much about abstract painting, and I’m generally drawn to more figurative work, but I’ve been looking forward to getting enough space from show season and crazy family stuff to get over to Dixon to see this exhibition. It’s a stunning one. I’ve been twice this week and could even be tempted to go back another time before it closes on Sunday. Rothko is my absolute favorite of the abstract painters, but I had fallen deeply for a Helen Frankenthaler painting in Omaha a few months ago, and there’s a less totally stunning but still lovely one in this show. There’s also a gorgeous de Kooning, and I loved the second show of just Dzubas paintings (an artist I wasn’t previously familiar with) collected by a local businessman. It was a stunning retrospective of four decades of his work, and a number of them sang to me. I loved seeing the progression too. My only quibble with the main abstract show was that it was only one painting per artist. I really like being able to see two or three of the same artist, compare them together, get more of a feel for the body of work. Their survey of women artists earlier this year (with many less famous names — I was already somewhat familiar with a number of the abstract painters) was even more disorienting that way. I wanted to see more than just one. It’s almost jarring to move artists with every painting and have no compare and contrast ability. But that’s a small complaint about a stellar show overall.
I went back the second time with every colored pencil I own to try to capture a little of the texture of the Rothko, and the Stamos had also been calling my name. I did one small sketch of each. The de Kooning was too intricate for me to take on that day, and I didn’t have any of the right colors for the Dzubas pieces I liked best. With watercolors I can mix anything, but pencils just are what you have. The last two pieces are both by Dzubas.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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