I've never been a wild night out on the town kind of girl, so date night this week was a series of movie shorts by my friend Mark Jones (local filmmaker who once shot a movie in my house), followed by an impromptu run to the river after getting out of the theater and realizing how great the sky was, followed by hot chocolate at my local coffee shop. A lovely evening. I had fun sketching the sunset. It was almost dark, so I couldn't see color as much as just some bare form. I know largely where the colors are in my kit, so it's fun to come back inside later and see how it's turned out.
Darel Snodgrass at WKNO fm was nice enough to have me on the air again this morning for his daily interview show Checking on the Arts. I was mostly there to talk about next week's Night Vision show at Playhouse on the Square (opening Friday, May 4th from 5:30 to 7:00), but I went in with a whole list of current projects, and we covered all of them. It's fun to go in and get to talk about what I do, when I spend most of my work time by myself in my house (except for my studio helper Mr. Darcy, of course).
And for a little bit of eye candy, here's a recent sketch of my new favorite drink that I haven't posted yet.
It’s National Poetry Month, and Independent Bookstore Day is coming up this Saturday. I’m celebrating both my creating my first poetry broadside. I saw some in Parnassus Books last month, and I’ve been thinking about them ever since. It’s neat to get to create an image or two to go with a poem and print it along with the poem itself. I love having type to be able to do this. As it happened, I was at a poetry reading at Burke’s Books here in Memphis soon after my Parnassus visit, and one of th owners is also a writer and a poet. He asked if I would be interested in trying my hand at broadsides, so it seemed like the stars lined up. I carved and printed the blocks a week or so ago, but then an out of town trip and a show got me busy, so I didn’t manage the type until today. That was a fast and easy printing, compared to two blocks of different colors that were difficult to get proper coverage on. My press was built for type, which is a very small amount of black and a lot of open white space. My blocks are darker and take a lot more pressure. It was pure pleasure printing the type today. They’ll dry a couple of days, and I’ll have them to Burke’s before the weekend celebration.
It's nice to get a two for one. I'd like to do several more, so we'll see how many I can do before I leave my printing press for the next few months.
I'm also, very uncharacteristically, doing a little bit of job printing. I'm not in the business of wedding invitations and the like, since I'd rather make my own art, and I don't have all the spacers, and I'm an incredibly slow type setter. My letterpress fairy godmother gave me some spacers, though, and a couple of dear-to-me folks are getting married, so it seemed the thing to do. It's actually lovely to be involved when I care about the people. Makes it special.
I posted my small watercolor studies for these oils last week, and here are a few of the oils I’ve been working on from those studies and also from reference photos, which is a reasonably new thing for me. I spent years working almost purely outside, or working from studies done on site. I remember my painting prof saying that once you’ve put your time in, you learn how the light works (and how the camera changes it), and you can transition into working more from photos. It still feels a bit like cheating, but I do feel that coming to working from photos in my 40’s, with a couple of decades of on site work under my belt, made a big difference to how I would approach these pieces. I will say that the convenience is lovely, especially since I’m doing nocturnes. It can be fun to paint a bit in the dark and see what you get, but a whole show of inconvenient painting would be a lot. Now that the weather is beginning to get nice, though, I’m also itching to get back out with my watercolors when I have the time. A number of deadlines (seven commissions plus the show to hang in the next few weeks) are looming, but then I’ll get to go out west and paint a bit more whatever I feel like for a while. It’s nice to have that rhythm built into my life at the moment.
Here are a couple of the smallest oils for the show (about 10x13”). Now that I’ve got my “second tea” brewed, I’m going to get back upstairs to the easel and keep working on the new one I started this morning.
I’ve been working away on a series of oils on paper for my May nocturne show, but I realized that I’ve been sharing sketches (and got distracted by the #100people and other sketch projects), so I’m slow sharing them here. I’ll go back and take photos and catch up, but in the meantime, here is yesterday’s small oil of the late, lamented Cleveland Street Flea Market.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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