We stopped by Salisbury on the way to Wells today. It's one of my favorite cathedrals, with its tall, graceful spite and cohesive architecture. It also happens that my favorite painter's best friend was bishop there, so John Constable painted it extensively on his visits. I certainly felt that bit of extra pressure as I sat down with my watercolors today, but I couldn't resist trying anyway.
By the time I'd reacquainted myself with the marvelous Medieval stone frieze of Genesis in the chapter house, I didn't have a lot of time left, but I wanted to try my hand at the soaring nave. The architecture is complex, but I tried to keep it extra loose, due to time constraints. I'll have to look at it again tomorrow to see how I really feel about this one.
We arrived in Wells tonight and had dinner in the Ancient Gatehouse hotel, right in the wall of the cathedral close. I can't wait to start painting here tomorrow.
St. Cross Hospital
The family walked through the water meadows to St. Cross today. It's called a hospital, but it's really the Medieval alms house that The Warden is based on. We toured the church, saw the courtyard where the"brothers" live to this day, and then spent a lot of time in the utterly gorgeous garden. I settled in to paint and did two right off, sitting underneath a gorgeous sycamore at the center of the garden.
I loved this topiary hedge. Not sure I completely captured it. Here's a photo.
I wasn't that happy with the next one. I liked the color and pattern, but it feels static. I'm going to blame the jet lag.
I decided to loosen up and do a quick sketch of the sycamore just in my journal.
Marian showed back up at this point, and we went in search of tea. We didn't find any, but one of the brothers found us, told us about living in the States in the 60's for a bit, and very kindly carries us off to your his quarters where the alms men live. Lovely high ceilinged sitting room with a tiny narrow bedroom and kitchen. Such a treat to see and very kind of him.
I went back to do a larger watercolor of the sycamore after while Marian struck off to walk more. (The parents were long gone.)
I sketched a second sycamore in my journal on the way home.
And did two watercolors of a St. Catherine's hill. I've been waiting years to paint the Engliah countryside. I'm delighted to be making a start today.
Probably more of a museum day tomorrow, so I took advantage of the easy afternoon.
We landed at Heathrow and drove straight to Winchester. Our first stop was a sidewalk lunch at the Eclipse Inn from the 17th C. I couldn't resist a quick journal sketch to get warmed up. And it was lovely to sit there with the family and be embarking on a journey together.
Everyone else napped, but I do better if I stay up, so I camped out on a gorgeous day in the cathedral close and did two sketches of the east front.
I love the tree arched avenue leading to the main doors.
A walk in the late evening sunshine, but I was too pooped to paint any more. Bed quite soon.
Off to England
My most excellent father is taking his bride, my sister, and me to England. Given that he's now married to our favorite high school English teacher, who got all three of us hooked on Jane Austen, we're going to do a bit of a tour of JA country -- places she lived, worked, wrote about, and died. I did a similar trip many years ago with my best friend from high school who wrote her master's thesis on JA, and I'm looking forward to revisiting some of the places we went.
I'm also going to go north on my own and paint for a week in Yorkshire. I fell in love with the North York moors when I was an exchange student in college, and I've been trying to get back ever since I started to seriously paint outdoors when I traveled. I can't wait.
Above is the stack of watercolor blocks I bought for the trip, and with luck I'll have to buy one or two more....
Watch this space for updates from the trip. I'll be posting snapshots of my work as I go along.
Tower Grove Park, one of my most favorite parks (and places) had an anniversary picnic on Sunday, and the board of directors put on an art show to go with the food trucks and concerts. What a beautiful idea. I really wanted to go, since I love making art in that park, and it was fun to get to show it right there. Thanks to the park board for letting this Memphis girl crash the St. Louis party.
My friend and fellow artist Bonnie Hopkins was kind enough to ride up with me for the night, help tote stuff, and just keep me company. I was so glad to have her along. And I was also really grateful for seven of my dance friends who made the effort to come out on a Sunday night and support me.
In between visits, I did a small sketch of one of the original composers' busts that circled the 1870's band stand in the park. It's now inside the Piper Palm House, where the exhibition was.
Below are two sketches that were in the show of the Palm House. It was originally a Victorian greenhouse to supply plants for the park, complete with stained glass at the top of the arched windows. Amazing. They have a Sunday brunch inside it each week, and otherwise it can be rented for weddings to support the upkeep of the park. A perfect venue.
More of my Tower Grove watercolors are here, along with a bunch from the Missouri Botanical Gardens as well, both of which were founded in the 1870's by Henry Shaw, one of my heroes.
Karen Jackson and Dan Klarmann were two of the friends who stopped by, and Dan took this of Karen and me talking. I love how it captures the afternoon light and the way the stained glass paints the floor in the afternoons.
At the end of the show, Bonnie and I visited the food trucks and sat outside in a gorgeous evening to hear the last few songs of the jazz band. Perfect. I took a food truck self portrait.
Then we took advantage of the late light and perfect temperature to walk a circle of the park, especially since Bonnie had never been there. Here's a catalpa tree we stopped to visit with as we walked. It's one of my favorites.
The new moon was rising over the bandstand as we circled back to our car.
Finally we joined the rest of St. Louis in treating ourselves to Ted Drewes frozen custard. They talk about it every single night on the baseball radio broadcast, and I always go when I'm in St. Louis. Amazing stuff.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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