I have loved the Walter Anderson Museum (WAMA) for years now. Anderson is one of my top art heroes, along with John Constable (for his life and work habits as well as for his gorgeous landscapes), Georgia O’Keefe (for her strong independence and her love of place as well as for her paintings), and a handful of others. Anderson, like both of those others, had a deep and strong connection to the landscape he lived in and an absolute need to share his vision of its loveliness with others through the art he relentlessly made. He is not well known outside the south, where he spent his life living in his boyhood home of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and painting the coast, wildlife, and barrier islands, but I think he’s one of the best artists America has produced, along with Sargent and O’Keefe.
WAMA is a magical place for me. They not only have a massive number of his free standing paintings, but they have his boat, his bicycle, and (most importantly) two different rooms covered in his murals. You can completely immerse yourself in color and form and pattern on all sides. The secret room he painted (solely his until his death, with no one else allowed to see it) brings me to tears every time I stand inside it. I’ve been trying to get down this spring, since it’s now been several years. I cancelled not one but two reservations due to sickness, but the universe gave me a gift this week. I had three pieces accepted into a group show at this museum that I love. The theme is water, which is perfect for me, since I’ve been doing waterscapes since last summer. Two of my oils and the above print will need delivering down next month.
I’ll get a delightful “mini-break” as the Brits say between art drop off and the opening two days later. I had originally planned use to shoot down overnight, and I’m excited to have such a marvelous reason to stay for three nights instead. I’ll immerse myself in the museum, visit Shearwater pottery (the family business Anderson grew up in, which remains in the hands of the current generation), and spend a little time at the beach. Careful readers will remember my glee a few months ago when I found a Shearwater teapot at a local antique mall. It’s gorgeous but also has several cracks. I may get myself a new one for daily use and to mark this special occasion.
The opening is April 18, 6-8pm, if anyone would like to join me for a mini break at a place that will stay with you for a long time.
It finally got warm out here in Washington, and I spent one blissful afternoon in my favorite park wearing a tank top and walking around with my sketchbook. Above is a stone beach I love, the finished sketch plus a process shot with just the fountain pen line drawing. Below is the view in the other direction.
I’ve been making the rounds of the diners out here in Washington. I’m on a semi-vacation — I brought a couple of intricate print blocks, but they’re going slowly. I’m also knitting a good deal, since my best teachers are out here. I’m trying to lock in the techniques for socks to take home with me. So I haven’t had much to show here recently, but I did do a few sketches at various meals. Perks, my new favorite spot, has real teapots, excellent pancakes, kind and funny people, and a great sound track. That’s more than enough to fall in love with.
After a good bit of time deep in oil paints, it’s been fun to dive back into prints again recently. I’ve got several different combinations of moon and/or dance prints that I’m working on. Above is the newest dance print, which is the biggest and most close up attempt at figures I have made to date. I’m overall pretty pleased. There’s a bit more work to be done in the hair, but I think it’s close to finished. I had a background pattern in mind, but I wasn’t sure enough to carve it straight in, and after pulling this proof (this is the second one I’ve pulled in progress to look at), I think I like the figures against the deep, black background.
Below is the second layer of the moon print that I showed the base layer of in the last post. I’m going to do two different prints over the moon, and this is the first one. I’ll have a layer of wood type to finish this off, but I’m also realizing I kind of like it just with the figures. I may do a small edition of each. Also below is a drawing for yet another new print. I’ve been thinking about Genesis and creation a lot for an upcoming project, and this is kind of squeezing in on the edges of that.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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