It's been a darn cold couple of weeks here in Memphis. We had a week of ice. Not snow, just a sheet of ice. I've been managing to walk the dog, but mostly I've been hibernating and waiting for better weather. So here are a few sketches from earlier I forgot to post. Hopefully I'll get going again soon. Nice that I'm at least having a non-busy period to go with my winter sluggishness....
I did a Valentine watercolor commission for the current owners of Mayor Crump's house here in Memphis. For music lovers, this was the Mr. Crump of W.C. Handy's song "Mr. Crump down allow..." You can see the historical marker over to the right. I love our music history here in town, and Andy Cohen had sung the song just the night before at my regular old time jam. (Which becomes slightly less old time when Andy's home from touring and rares back with occasional blues songs.)
I had such fun thinking about those connections that I walked over and painted Boss Crump's statue in Overton Park the next day. I was trying a new marker, and it got a bit muddy, but for the curious, here he is.
Here's a wider view of the statue from several years ago. This corner is a part of my regular walk.
The song was written during an election, and Handy had been asked to write a song for, instead of against, Mr. Crump. After the song came out, Boss asked him about it, and Handy told him he'd gotten a better offer from the opposition. Boss asked him how much he himself had offered Handy and then how much his opponent had, and when he heard the higher figure, he reportedly said, "You did right." And now it's his name that is immortalized in the song, so it worked out well for him in the end.
Here's the statue of W.C. Handy on Beale Street.
I hung a show last Thursday, just before heading out dancing for the weekend with a nice feeling of accomplishment. It's at Memphis Theological Seminary, which very kindly invited me to exhibit some prints there. (Chaplain Tiffany McClung not only offered me this chance but also helped me hang the show, which was absolutely lovely hospitality for a solo artist. Four hands do so much better than two.)
I do art for churches to use in their bulletins as a part of my career, but I don't often show this work. It doesn't really fit with my landscapes and ends up being a bit of a left handed step-child sometimes. I was delighted to have a place to show two different series of prints that hadn't been exhibited before.
The first is my Girlhood/Womanhood series. These prints began as an illustration for a blessing written by Kendra Hotz for the baby girl of friends of hers.
I enjoyed doing the girls, and the series made me think about what it means to be a woman as well. I've done several prints about women, claiming sacred and sexual space, as well as the traditional role of motherhood, as spaces of power for women. I'd like to add to this series as I have time and continue to think about women in the world.
I ended up adding a few tiny monotypes I also had kicking around and orphaned. They're based on family snapshots, and they're 3x5 to 4x6. Putting them up makes me want to do more of these.
My second series of prints in this show (there are two different hallways, upstairs and down, so I was able to have two discrete sets of work) is my Easter psalm series from last year. I have done several different sets of Lenten works, and last year I decided to mark the joyful season and remind us to celebrate the fulness of joy as well as penitence and self denial. It was fun to see them all up on the wall together.
There will be an opening Tuesday evening, March 3rd, and the show hangs until April 8th.
The Memphis Urban Sketchers met at the Cleveland Street Flea Market on Saturday. It's a funny little indoor flea market, right in my neighborhood, that has its own community inside. There are not only booths with regulars manning (or, more often, womaning) them, but a cafe and a barber shop tucked in the back also. One of our urban sketchers works there part-time and made us very welcome, with drinks and snacks laid on. It's an almost overwhelming place visually. I did all three sketches from one chair, near a window, instead of wandering around too much and having too many options.
I was playing with minimal color choices that morning. I liked my sketch above with just the sky colored in. (Watercolor and a Stabilo grey fine liner.) My second one I tried to pick out mostly the blue and yellow in the hat display, but I wasn't happy with the watercolor splashes in that one.
I switched over to Faber Castell markers, also with a Stabilo fine liner, for the last sketch. I've had better luck with them in the streamlined color sketches. Also I've been working a lot in watercolor lately, and I find I lose my touch with the markers if I don't use them regularly. This seemed like a good opportunity to play with them again.
Both this sketch and the scene itself reminded me of a brocante (French for antique/flea market) I sketched in my neighborhood in Paris, so I scanned it in for comparison. It was one of the sketches from that trip I was really happy with.
They did an absolutely beautiful job with the opening and closing song "Science Fiction Double Feature," which I came home still singing and dancing to in my kitchen, which greatly confused my dog.
Ok, I'm a total fan girl, but I just have to say it again. JERRE DYE.
I was drawing quickly with just the light from the stage, light sometimes brighter than at other times, so there are some smudges and whatnot that happened. And drawing people is never my strength at the best of times, but I had fun trying.
I was too pumped to go to bed immediately after I got home, and there was a gorgeous moon rising outside my window, so I did one more page before I went to bed.
I'm also playing with a couple of new materials this week. I have a new pen (above) and I also bought a couple of Derwent's Inktense watercolor pencil to test (below).
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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