Here's the first proof of a print based on the creation of the animals. I'm working on a triptych, if they look right together, or perhaps just a series of three, for my upcoming show at Memphis Theological Seminary. They're based on a series of watercolors I did for MTS worship back last fall.
The sky needs to be lighter and bluer and more gradated, but I'm overall happy with the carving. I started a second proofing round last night. Below you can see the carving underway and also the bottom block proof, with one main gold color but pink rolled in spots for the pig and cow udder. I've also got an Adam and Eve underway, with a moon and sun drawn out but not yet started.
I spent one stellar day in the MFA last week. It started with a harp demonstration in the musical instruments collection. Neat to see the ancient instruments played and the history explained. Of course I sketched. Both the demo and the audience.
Most of the rest of the day I just looked at art. The John Singer Sargent room blew me away. I'd seen small reproductions of the huge portrait of the four sisters, but walking into the room with it in person just blew me away. I stood there with tears in my eyes for a good while. If I'd had more time, I would have sketched more, but I wanted to see my main highlights (Sargent, two Constables, Inness and the Hudson River school, a couple of just lovely Pieter Claesz still lifes) thoroughly and deeply.
I did take a lunch break in the early afternoon and sketched a bit as a palette cleanser. I also wrote down several quotes that really grabbed me from the tags. The presentation in the museum was stellar. Such a pleasant, light, open place to see the art. I loved it. I could spend days there.
I did one more quick sketch at the end because, after illustration Revelation several years ago, I was intrigued by this Medieval madonna who was conflated with the pregnant madonna on the crescent moon in Revelation.
My second assignment for the Memphis News came out in the paper while I was gone (and I'm grateful to FB friends for posting it for me to see). I had seen at the last minute that the Mighty Souls Brass Band, one of my favorite local bands, was going to play at Dixon Gallery and Gardens. It was the perfect chance to enjoy some good weather and give a simultaneous shout out to two of my favorite Memphis institutions.
You can see their story posted online here.
I also did a second sketch while I was out there. This was my warm up, with the watercolor coming afterwards.
I've gotten to several dances while I've been in New England. It's such a hotbed for national bands and callers. I've seen Notorious and Lisa Greenleaf at local dances. Just amazing. These are the people we fly down south once a year for a special weekend. And the people have been incredibly welcoming. I've never walked into a dance hall not knowing a single dancer before. People have asked me to dance right at the start, kept asking me, talked to me at breaks, and truly made me welcome. I've even very grateful.
I got a banjo lesson from Larry Unger and a ride down to the waltz in Connecticut he was playing yesterday. He also let me draw his unbelievable banjo wall. For my lesson I got to play a 1903 White Layde, and then he let me noodle around on his 1870's fretless with gut strings. Both were a joy to play.
The waltz was three hours, so I did sat out a few and did a little sketching. Each half page is one tine's worth of sketching, so about 4 minutes each.
I went to the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum yesterday. It's a lovely place with a gorgeous garden atrium and a fine collection of Sargents, who is one of my favorite painters. I had never seen his watercolors in person before, so that was a treat.
I was sad that both lighting and hanging of pieces precluded you from really seeing some of the art. A beguiling line of tiny Whistlers were way across a room, behind furniture and a rope, and in dim light. You just couldn't see them at all. Some of the Sargents were also high and dimly lit. I understand staying true to the spirit of the founder, but I wish they could improve the lighting a bit.
Also the second floor was completely closed for renovations, and the paintings don't go on alternate view until the day after I leave. So I missed the Dutch collection (what's left of it) among others. But overall it was a lovely place to wander around and see art.
One neat thing was that they have an artist in residence program. There was a really lovely exhibit of the latest one. She had done tiny, text heavy drawings of the musuem, and they fit into various small boxes. Lots of them had a library stamp on them for the date. Brilliant. Nicely in the urban sketcher style. I did a very quick sketch to remind myself of the overall feel.
I got to walk through a pine woods to visit Walden today. I had read a good but of the book on the plane on the way up here to prepare, and it was lovelier than I expected. Much, much bigger. Down south we would call it a decent sized lake instead of a pond. And it has a full beach ringing it. I was delighted to get to walk and watch clear water and pick up a few stones for friends from the water's edge. In Memphis, our water is the Big Muddy. A clear beach was an unexpected treat.
I'm in Lincoln and Concord today, and the history is breathtaking. Everything is so much older than down south. The trees are equally stunning. There's a proliferation of beeches here, and I'm a total sucker for them. And then there's this gorgeous one outside the Lincoln library, which is in itself gorgeous.
The cemeteries look different too. Our ones are replete with Victorian monuments. Here they are lovely-shaped slate headstones with interesting and different relief carvings. I did this one as the front piece for my travel sketchbook.
Here's one of the beeches on the walk back
Also drove into Concord and saw Louisa May Alcott's home.
And a place where both Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne lived and wrote
Did one more very quick sketch of an inn where George Washington slept. Sadly they no longer have banjo music on Wednesday nights.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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