N.T. Wright on Easter
This is the eighth and final print for the season of Easter. It's been a long time to do a weekly print series, but I learned a lot and especially enjoyed playing with the varied color inking.
I think I've written that I've done several art series for Lent but never for Easter. Lent seemed long enough (six weeks), and eight full weeks of Easter surprised me, but I do believe it's right that a celebration of the Resurrection should outlast the journey to the cross. Last year I read some excerpts of N.T. Wright about the way the church as a whole observes Easter. He is an Anglican bishop, but the observations are applicable to most denominations, I think.
Since his words affected my thinking so deeply, I thought I'd finish the Easter season by quoting a couple of passages here. Thank you for taking this Easter journey with me.
"It's a great step forward that many churches now hold Easter vigils, as the Orthodox church has always done, but in many cases they are still too tame by half. Easter is about the wild delight of God's creative power -- not very Anglican, perhaps, but at least we ought to should Alleluias instead of murmuring them."
"But my biggest problem starts on Easter Monday. I regard it as absurd and unjustifiable that we should spend forty days keeping Lent, pondering what it means, preaching about self-denial, being at least a little gloomy, and then bringing it all to a peak with Holy Week, which in turn climaxes in Maundy Thursday and Good Friday...and then, after a rather odd Holy Saturday, we have a single day of celebration."
"Is it any wonder people find it hard to believe in the resurrection of Jesus if we don't throw our hats in the air? Is it any wonder we find it hard to live the resurrection if we don't do it exuberantly in our liturgies? Is it any wonder the world doesn't take much notice if Easter is celebrated as simply the one-day happy ending tacked on to forty days of fasting and gloom? It's long overdue that we took a hard look at how we keep Easter in church, at home, in our personal lives, right through the system." (All quotes from Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright)
This series of prints has been my attempt to live Easter this spring. For those of you who do not celebrate Easter, thank you for your patience, and I'll be moving on to travel painting quite soon. My family is taking a trip to England in June, and I'm looking forward to painting a country I love.
This is the seventh of the eight week series of Easter prints, done for various churches that subscribe to my artwork and use it in their church bulletins. I based this one on a painting I did at the woodworking school Country Workshops, located on a gorgeous piece of land that is one of my favorite places to paint. You can see the original painting and then the pencil sketch and the trace of it (to transfer to the block with carbon paper) below.
Here are the block and the color print. I had fun mixing the colors on the block with three different rollers, blending as I rolled. I was totally absorbed in the process and didn't think to take photos at the time, but I'll be doing this again. I've learned a number of things from doing this series, but the color inking has been the most fun thing to play with.
The type printed on top was the last step, after the original block
I don't do a tremendous number of people sketches, but for some reason I really love drawing musicians. I'm lucky to both know a number of fine musicians and also to live in a city rich with live music. These sketches are usually in pen and wash, since it's a quick medium that lets me try to capture fleeting moments. I found a whole series of these sketches that I hadn't scanned in when I picked up a sketch book recently, so here they are.
The Mighty Souls Brass Band.
I went back to the Tennessee Brewery last week. The five week temporary beer garden is still going on through June 1, and I love this building. Plus, one of my favorite local bands was playing. Den of Strings is a Django Reinhardt inspired jazz band (one of TWO here in Memphis, and I love them both). Mr. Darcy and I went down to hear music and hang out for the early evening. I love that it's dog friendly. And it was fun to draw the band against that lovely backdrop.
You can see my first sketch of the Brewery as well as a bunch of photos of this exceptional building in my first blog post about the place.
Fifth Psalm of Easter
Five down, three to go. Here's this week's psalm. I think I may do an edition of the block alone, without the text, as well as a small edition of the psalm.
Below are the block halfway carved and the very first proof. I pull a couple of proofs, hone a few things I don't like, and print in color only when I've got it the way I want it.
Once the image is printed, I move on to the text. I took a little wider area picture this week. You can see the metal chase (frame) that I set the type in. I build around it to the edges, like working a jigsaw or piecing a quilt. The final stage is the lock down. The metal strips at the right and bottom with round holes in them are "quoins." There's a "key", a metal tool, that fits into that hole and turns, and as it turns, the quoins expand a bit to make everything snug so that I can pick up the chase and put it in the press without the type falling everywhere. This is after I've printed. I've cleaned up the type, but you can see the roller with the dark red ink on it.
Fourth Psalm of Easter
I'm finding it quite a challenge to have one of these finished every week, so this week I took a moderately easy route and went with a very simple to carve design. Now I'm trying to work ahead a bit before I'm out of town a good bit of next week. Thank heavens for a marvelous house mate.
Portrait of the Artist
As a follow up to the post about Saturday, I ran into Matt Matthews, my photographer and theologian friend, at the Farmers Market. He was down taking pictures while I was painting, and he snapped one of me, just for fun. He also shot the "Eat More Veggies" Whitton Farms truck that I was painting at the time. You can see that photo and his Flickr stream here.
And, just for fun, I pulled up this 2003 photo of me for Throwback Thursday on Facebook. I'm painting in Athens on the Areopagus, looking over to the edge of the Acropolis. It was darn cold and windy up there. I'm grateful that watercolor, unlike the pastel I did for so long, does not require me to haul an easel everywhere. Lap work is also lower profile in high winds. You'll notice I have my backpack hanging from the back of the easel to try to keep it anchored. I think it blew over at least once in the course of this piece. I remember my boyfriend of the time, who was over working in Athens, very kindly blocking the wind so I could finish my drawing. A good man.
Perfect Memphis Day
I started Saturday out at the downtown Memphis Farmers Market, as I always do when I'm in town. Two weeks ago there had been enormous tubs of red tulips that made me yearn for my watercolors, but I hadn't had them with me. This time I took a cooler for purchases and went to sketch as well. And talk to friends. I always see good people down there.
From the market, I walked two blocks to the Tennessee Brewery. A group of local business guys and committed, involved Memphians have opened up this glorious old building for a month's worth of beer garden, food trucks, and live music. I wanted to go sketch, since I wrote my term paper in 11th grade on the architecture and history of this marvelous place.
I happened to catch Taylor Berger and Doug Carpenter, two of the visionaries behind this pop up party, as they were standing at a table. Andy Cates, the third musketeer, showed up just a bit later and seemed ok to have missed being sketched.
I also took advantage of the chance to take some photos there.
They've got food trucks in the courtyard every day (they're open Thursday to Sunday through June 1st, starting at 11am each day). Tacos were on offer on Saturday, and I tried a Crawfish and chorizo one along with a Mexican grapefruit soda. Opera Memphis showed up to do some pop up opera for us while I had lunch. Perfect. And one of my favorite local bands, Den of Strings, is playing Friday evening. AND the whole place is dog friendly. I'm totally taking Mr. Darcy down there next time!
Mr. Darcy did walk over to Overton Square with me after I got home. Sew Memphis was hosting a pop up craft market, and I brought home this gorgeous tea set from Bridgman Pottery. Melissa Bridgman put the show together from her Creative Collective group of small businesses owned by women, and Mary Allison Cates hosted it in her courtyard. She's married to Andy, who is one of the partners in the Brewery Untapped. I feel lucky to know so many creative and committed Memphians.
I finished the day seeing Harvey, which was delightful, at Theater Memphis with my family. My escorts, who shared their back seat with me, were two 10 year old boys. We had a blast. And I did this sketch of the audience before the play started. A perfect day.
Third Week of Easter
I'm taking a break from the instruments this week. I really love in the Psalms how all of creation takes part in praising or lamenting. We humans get to thinking that everything is about us and forget that we didn't even get our own day in Creation --- we shared it with all of the beasts of the earth.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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