Clouds and gorgeous skies were my favorite thing to capture in pastels and oils back when I was working in them. (Well, besides trees, of course.) I would love to be able to do them justice in watercolor too, so I've been thinking I need to do more cloud studies and just figure this out. I was watching this evening sky recently and couldn't resist reaching for my sketchbook. I'm happy with the top one, less happy with the one below, but it will be a process.
A recent moonrise was also stunning. I'm always drawn to the moon.
My friend Andy Cohen was recently in town for a week or so in the midst of his nine months of annual touring. It was great to have him back home. When he's here, he comes and plays with our regular old time jam, and he always adds extra zing to the proceedings.
I went out to hear him play a set at a benefit and did some sketches of him while he played. I'm still having fun experimenting with the watercolor graphite I got in Paris.
I got to visit an art class this week at Memphis Hebrew Academy. It was delightful to watch the girls' enthusiasm as they leafed through my art journals. I took a bunch of my journals and travel sketchbooks and talked about what keeping these books means for my work and also my happiness. More and more I feel that my job is to spread the good news of keeping a sketch book and show the ease of using a brush pen in daily life. It's a rewarding thing to watch people think, "hey! I can do this!" That also happened recently at a women's retreat. Giving people the tools to express themselves and watching them play is a beautiful compliment to the time I spend at home alone making my own art.
The MHA art teacher Chany Fleischhacker wrote a blog post with more of her lovely photos at http://artbeatofmha.blogspot.com/2016/05/a-visit-from-martha-kelly.html?m=1
I so appreciated the joy in these images.
I got excited about my sketchbook on my trip and have been sketching as I'm out and about at home, even though I'm doing pretty intensive print work in the house. Above is the set for The Country House at Circuit Playhouse this past weekend. I love going to live theater, and we have a great one in Memphis.
I've also recently been at St. Mary's Episcopal (where I went so many weekends with my grandparents growing up) and given a talk at the Artists' Link group on Monday night. It was fun to get to talk about my work with a bunch of artists, and since it was Monday, I took my banjo along to go on to my jam afterwards.
Memphians are still fighting our own city council to save the central area of our huge central park from being paved for yet more parking lot for the adjacent zoo. It breaks my heart. So I went down for the second reading of a resolution to hand the zoo the land. I was pleased to see a large turnout of people who waited patiently for a couple of hours and stayed to both speak and listen to all the other supporters speak as well. I'm so nervous for our park and hoping for the best. Overton Park is my main muse. It's where I walk every day and paint regularly. It's historic. It is needed respite from asphalt and city life. I have been heartsick about this all year.
Andy is one of my longtime friends and is a truly marvelous musician. I am lucky enough to get to play with him at my jam group when he's off the road. Recently he took a week's break from his nine month touring schedule, and I got to visit with him and his wife Larkin, also a wonderful musician.
Andy played a gig while he was home, and I showed up to listen and did some sketches as well. I'm still playing around with the new watercolor graphite I got in Paris and having fun with it.
I did the self portrait because it was good to be back in that space again and also because I was still testing out my new watercolor graphite. Below are a couple of more I did at Zuivre on lunch breaks from more serious painting or museum going.
Since I had been drawing the eclairs and fondant in Paris, I figured I should pay tribute to a lovely dense Dutch cake as well.
I'm back home finally and beginning to scan in sketches from the later part of the trip that I haven't yet posted here. I met my parents in Amsterdam, so I had less solo time for keeping up the blog the last few days of the trip.
I got to hear Rene Miller and Dede Macchabee (I have no idea how to do accent marks on my American keyboard - sorry, y'all) several times while I was in Paris. They sound great together, with Rene's marvelous blues picking and Dede's 1930's kind of sound. They also look great and are fun to sketch, so I did them several times. Above is my favorite one, in a new watercolor graphite I found in my "local" art supply store that I walk past daily in Paris. I had a great time playing with it. I saw it several days earlier, but the Dutch landscape drawing exhibition (previous blog entry) decided me on going back to try it. Their subtle graphite and wash work was completely alluring.
It's a lot of fun. The only thing I don't like is that, since it's graphite, it will press down and rub against the opposite page once you flip over and are drawing on the back of a graphite page. In spite of that, it's quite lovely.
As a minor sidetrack to the blog, here's the sketchbook page where I tested it out the first time. I was quite pleased with the cat sketch on the left.
Back to Rene and Dede.
Here's one in fountain pen and ink wash. A bit cleaner than the graphite but also without the subtler shading.
One more in fountain pen and watercolor. Dede wears the most stylish shoes.
I got in at dinner time last night, slept heavily, and had an art show to go to today. I have no room to complain, since my heroic potter friend Melissa Bridgman did all the work. Our work shows well together, and she wanted to split a booth even though I wouldn't be home yet. So she hauled down all my work, set it up, and manned the booth for the weekend. What a great friend.
I did this sketch this afternoon as I was finally watching the booth so she could go be heroic for someone else. My friend Christian Stanfield of the Side Street Steppers had speakers set up down there for his wind up gramophone dj show, and he ended up with a bee swarm inside one of them. Melissa also happens to be a beekeeper, so she went home to get her gear to try to help. I left them to it after we had the booth packed up and came home still in a jet lag haze. Hopefully I'll be more fully on top of things tomorrow.
The Memphis Urban Sketchers sketched at the fair on Saturday, and I was sorry to miss them. It felt good to do one quick one today.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
Get studio email updates from Mr. Darcy and me.
To subscribe to this blog, by email: