We got a marvelous welcome in Enschede. This city had a textile economy that made it a trading partner with Memphis for decades. Memphis helped rebuild her partner after WWII and sent cigar boxes from all the children of Memphis to the children of Enschede stuffed with things they couldn't otherwise get.
My great grandfather helped spearhead that effort, and my family participated in an exchange in 1982. In March, some leaders of the Memphis Heart and Sould festival came to Memphis to find musicians and renew ties. They had a newspaper clipping from 1947 that had a photo of my dad as a boy. The mayor recognized him and called Dad, and he had lunch with the Enschede folks. We decided to come over for the festival and got a warm welcome.
There was a documentary shown the first night about the link between the two cities, and Dad was in it. He was introduced at the reception afterwards and said a few words about his grandfather. I was proud of him and touched by the warmth of everyone who has welcomed us so kindly.
Here's dad being introduced at the reception.
The documentary was marvelous. They had done a huge amount of research and went everywhere in Memphis and its surroundings that I would have recommended for their cotton and blues double focus. I hope we can get it shown on public tv when they get it fully subtitled.
We spent yesterday at the festival and also wandering around the center city a bit. It was Saturday, market day, and I was entranced by the cheese stalls at the market with the big rounds of cheese.
Today we get to go visit our two hostesses who had our family to stay in 1982. It was a special trip, and I'm looking forward to seeing them again.
Van Gogh Museum
I got a cheap student weekend package to Amsterdam when I was an exchange student at the Unversity of York. I spent about all my time in museums, and the one that just floored me was the Van Gogh museum. I haven't been back since, so it was lovely to spend a chunk of the day there yesterday.
I look better in museums when I sketch, even if the finished product isn't that wonderful. I knew I wouldn't do very well sketching from Vincent, but I wanted to try a few to help me remember. I liked the Montmartre view above, since that's where I stay when I go to Paris, and I did a couple of marker sketches of other ones I liked.
This very tall and lovely Odilon Redon painting seemed like it would lend itself to watercolor. I love my tiny Altoid tin watercolor kit and the water brush. I can paint easily standing up in a museum.
I also love that, unlike Memphis (this is one of my biggest complaints about my home city), I can draw in ink, paint, and marker without being hassled. Honestly, people do copies in OIL in major museums. I hate that both museums in Memphis limit you to pencil. I loved being able to work more richly from the paintings.
I finished up copying a Bonnard. I loved the evening light that just glowed.
I am charmed by the Oude Kerk downtown. It's big, quiet, calm space makes me feel as if I've walked into one of those Golden Age Dutch interiors. I was always partial to Saanredam.
I went yesterday and dropped my essential water brush, but I had been there right at closing time, and I was happy for an excuse to go back and sketch more this morning.
The above watercolors were the morning ones. I had started with a marker sketch but not been as happy with it. I added a little watercolor at the end to soften it a bit.
I also love the floor stones and sketched a couple. The one that first caught my eye had both a dog and a tree in it, neither of which I consciously saw until I looked more closely. Obviously, though, my subconscious was on the qui vive.
I didn't sketch it, but Rembrandt's wife Saskia is buried here. It was special to see her stone after loving the portrait of her wading and hitching up her shift that's in the London National Gallery.
Probably the number one reason I've fallen in love with this city is the coffee shop around the corner. They have kind and welcoming people, a charming interior filled with fresh flowers and good light, a garden patio, and freaking amazing food. I've been going twice a day, and I'm already plotting a painting trip here with the understanding that I have to be within about three blocks of this place. Around the corner is perfect.
There is some seriously good hot chocolate there as well. Plus house-made salmon salad. This morning I had a melt with Brie, chorizo, and fresh tomato jam that started with whole tomatoes as I watched. Everything is marvelous.
They also have a charming cat. The best shops and restaurants have four legged greeters. America is so behind the curve on that.
I hit the ground running yesterday sketching wise. I seem to be working very fast and loose, but we're here such a short time that I want to just be able to record a lot of scenes and play with the possibilities.
Sketching really is the way I take in and process and sit with landscapes, old or new.
I was out walking last night and did this last sketch. These guys seem to me to be the Dutch equivalents of the hilarious, Tenniel-like knights atop the Hotel de Ville in Paris.
First Color Proof
I've been off dancing this weekend and am on my way to a week in the Netherlands with my parents, so there will be sketches later. In the meantime, I haven't posted this yet. It's the first color proof of a new print, another one of my favorite tree in my local park.
I've done some more carving and am two days into a second proof. It has to dry overnight between each color. I'll pull the final round of the second proof when I get home and see how it's looking.
Here it is with the original ink and watercolor sketch and all three blocks.
I had such fun at the Tower Grove Park Flower Power luncheon last week! I'd never been, and the only people I knew were the busy staff, but several hosts were on the watch out to welcome lost looking guests, which was kind. The Piper Palm House had centerpieces everywhere, on all the scattered tables, and someone, brilliantly, had bedecked the marble busts of composers.
Art is my vocation but is also occasionally a good social ice breaker. Once I was given my champagne, I realized I could stand around with it awkwardly, or I could sketch a while, keep myself busy, and maybe meet a few people in the process. I chose option two. Sketching occasionally makes a good parlor trick.
Charlie Barnes, the event photographer, noticed what I was doing and took a couple of photos. He also photographed me after the luncheon was over, when I had changed and gone out painting. You can see those photos here.
The ladies at my table continued the kind welcome and made me feel at home. Both women beside me had Tennessee connections, and we had a lovely meal.
I kept sketching after lunch during the program by James Farmer, who was delightful. I felt at home with his Southern accent and family stories. My grandmother from south Georgia sounded a lot like the women he grew up amongst. He had an easy manner and kept everyone laughing, and people were sorry when the talk was over. (Not always the case at these things.)
It was a delightful day in a beautiful setting, and I was so glad for the invitation.
I was in St. Louis last week to attend a luncheon at Tower Grove Park. The photographer shooting the event was Charlie Barnes. Artists are often drawn to talk to each other, and I was sketching at the event because I didn't know anyone, so we ended up talking. He saw me changed and heading out to paint at the end of the luncheon -- I try never to waste an opportunity to paint in Tower Grove -- and Charlie asked if he could shoot some photos of me painting. I was delighted because you can always use a lovely professional photo of what you do professionally, and I was also enjoying talking shop to him about making a living somewhat outside the normal system.
I had spotted a gorgeous copper beech I'd never noticed before on my walk that morning (the park is so rich in beautiful trees), and it was calling my name, so we headed there. It turned out to be a perfect choice.
I'm amazed at Charlie's eye and portrait skills. That top photo especially is perfect to me. Somehow, on just thirty minutes' acquaintance, he managed to capture the magic I feel in what I do and how I see the world around me and the connection I feel with trees. (Dad calls me the Ent Wife.) I don't know how Charlie did that, but I'm deeply grateful to have this record of the joy I feel in my work.
I'm going to be a little scared to get on the scales in the morning. I began and ended my three day trip at Ted Drewes, and I might even have gone on the middle day as well....
I'm behind on my blog, so I'm going to work backwards because this is an easy post to get up tonight before falling into bed. My last night there was lovely. Frozen custard, of course, because I have to make the most of being in town with it (see the above paragraph), and then I went to a coffee shop called the Stone Spiral to hear some music. I only have a couple of facebook friends that are friends of friends whom I haven't met in person, but I've enjoyed greatly knowing Mike Holdinghaus that way. He's another musician and artist and has great reflections on life. I was delighted to get his invitation to come out and hear some songs and finally meet him and his wife Linda in person, along with a number of their talented friends. A couple of dancers I already knew came through as well, so it was an unexpectedly social evening. My original plan had been to paint till the light failed and then fall into bed after a Target/Ted Drewes run. This was much more fun, and I got to sketch musicians in the bargain, which I always love to do.
Mike not only plays great but has the niftiest mandolin I've ever seen. A metal one with a resonator top. I'd only seen guitars like that before.
I'll get the rest of the work scanned in and work backwards through my trip over the next couple of days. Off to cuddle my dog a little and go to bed. Long day.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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