celebrated her new books. It's a great idea. But the one I came home with was for Mary Laura Philpott's book Penguins with People Problems. The book is hilarious, and I loved the poster that went with it, so festive and full of old school letterpress whimsy. It made me dream about one day having a published book of my own to do a letterpress poster for.
I had gone hoping to meet Mary Laura, because she introduced me to my very favorite podcast, #amwriting with Jess and KJ. She was a guest, talking about building a relationship with your favorite book stores even before you have a published book out there to promote, and Parnassus shared the episode on Facebook. I've been listening my way through the back issues ever since. Jessica Lahey and KJ Dell'Antonia are both successful writers sharing how they get their work done, how they pitch and get writing jobs, how they work with editors and agents, and how they make space for creativity and reading in their busy lives. It's been inspirational as I work on Mr. Darcy's Odyssey, but I'm also learning lots about this whole new world of publishing. Plus they're good friends and delightful people and make you feel as if you're sitting at the kitchen table with them talking. I can't recommend it enough.
Mary Laura is also delightful. She happened to be there, and I was glad to get to say thank you face to face. I've been reading her witty book ever since, a page or two at a time, so I can keep it going longer. She was kind to me as an aspiring author and gave me one welcome piece of advice (that I don't HAVE to be on Twitter if I'm already on Facebook and Instagram, even though lots of publisher folks are there as well). That was good to hear from a social media professional.
This turned into a total fan girl post, but all three of these amazing women are well worth going fan girl about. If you're interested in books and writing, please look all of them up. And by all means, stop in Parnassus next time you're in the Nashville area. You won't be sorry.
I like to have special days and memories in my sketch journal, and it was my birthday last week. My friend Melissa Bridgman left these lovely flowers on my doorstep in one of her handmade vases (I love polka dots!), and they were so lovely I had to draw them. I also had cake at Muddy's (my very favorite) with a marvelous friend, and it was fun to have both of those occasions in here. Plus I get to enjoy cake again later without the calories if it's in my sketchbook. I get a great deal of pleasure from dessert sketches. There was a creme brulee in Asheville years ago that lives on my in my memory and my journal because I was so pleased with the sketch.
I made it! Only because I had two different stints in waiting rooms last week. The #oneweek100people challenge could not have been better timed for me. Quite often I'm working at home by myself and see a couple of people, tops. But this particular week I was up and out, and I added in a park trip and a little sketching in the passenger seat one evening to make sure I got my quota, since I was so close. It was fun to have a challenge to mix up my sketching a bit.
I kept them all pretty small and quick, but I did one longer one to celebrate #100. I figured it would be right to end with "my" special person...
There's an Urban Sketchers challenge to draw 100 people in one week this week. In a stroke of good luck, it is also my week to sit for extended periods in waiting rooms twice this week. I'm delighted to have a challenge to make the time pass and feel productive. I've been wanting to practice people more for my illustration work anyway, so I went for it this morning. I managed to make it to 54 in one day. I asked Elizabeth Alley if that was cheating, and she said, no, it's winning! So yay.
I did all of these with my latest favorite pen for sketching (except for my lovely Pelican I'm using for the Mr. Darcy book, which lives on my desk now) -- a Lamy safari pen with smokey gray ink inside. The darker, wider bits are a brush pen with some diluted Sumi ink inside.
I went to see Sarah Ruhl's modern reworking of Eurydice by the New Moon Theater in Memphis. New Moon specializes in difficult plays or plays that don't get put on very often. They did King Lear a few years ago that was one of my all time best theater experiences ever (and I tend to go to a decent amount of theater). I knew the myth -- it was my sister's favorite one growing up, so we heard it a lot, but I didn't know the original play (which now I want to read). The production was visually stunning: a sparse set and exquisite costumes, and these hanging cranes, folded from letters the cast members had written to loved ones they have lost. The letters and cranes moved me even before I heard that back story, and I sat sketching before the production started.
I've continued to think about this play during the week since. The father/daughter interplay wasn't something I remembered from the original myth, and it truly moved me. The father even quotes a Lear and Cordelia scene, which is oddly dear to my father and me. I may have the only dad who thinks reading Lear out loud is ideal father/daughter bonding, but I have totally bought in.
I was also struck by how Eurydice kept asking Orpheus early on, during the courtship scene, what he was thinking about. The answer, to her dismay, was always music. That rang very true. My brain is so very often thinking about art. It's so critical to who I am that I have to work hard to make relationship time. My partner must often feel like that when I am woolgathering and planning a new print or children's book in my head. My intention for this year is to savor all the places I am in and the things I am doing in any given moment. The writing podcast I listen to (#amwriting, which I can't recommend highly enough) was talking about choosing a word for the year. Mine is "savor," even though I haven't done anything like this before. I'm at least still thinking about that, now that we're in March, and I hope I will get better with practice.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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