The weather was almost picture perfect this weekend, after a slightly stormy start. Sunny with low humidity and a great breeze. Mr. Darcy and I took off for the forest with a sketchbook in hand one afternoon. I sketched the "Elvis urns" in the forest, playing with the varied colors they've weathered to. These huge concrete urns sat on the stage at the Shell when Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee performed at the open air band stand back in the day. They have since migrated to the forest to decay picturesquely.
The clouds were gorgeous, and I'm trying to figure out clouds in watercolor, so I took a little time to paint them as well. I loved sitting and enjoying the breeze in the shade at the edge of the Greensward.
Last night I went to the Shell to hear Rising Appalachia. It's a beautifully restored place, after being derelict for a while, and they put on about 50 free concerts a year. It's also four blocks from my house, which is lovely.
I also spent some non sketching time in the park. It was the Day of Merrymaking festival on Saturday, put on by the Overton Park Conservancy which manages the park. They had an empty slot in their entertainment, and since I'm on the board they asked if I would fill it. I was a bit nervous, since I don't usually perform on a stage with a sound system. (In fact, there's really not a "usually" at all. I usually play at home for my own pleasure.) But I had a total ball, didn't embarrass myself, and now would kind of love to sing songs in public once in a while. It helped that I had the moral support of Mr. Darcy, since I really never go to the park without him.
Even better, Allison sketched me while I was playing! I've been drawing musicians for years now, and I was completely thrilled to have her sketch me while I was, for once, the one playing in public. It's doubly lovely because Allison was at the class I did recently with a 5th and 6th grade art class and got fired up to sketch again when I showed off the ease of the brush pen. I'm so happy to spread this everyday joy, and I'm so grateful to her for coming out to both support and sketch me.
I'm finally getting this phlox print to the full proofing stage. I started it before my trip to Paris, and it's taking a while to get it together, especially since I came home with other prints in my brain. Above is the first full, three layer proof. I missed some tree trunks in the green block that I need to carve out for the brown paper to show through. It also falls off a bit over on the left side, but it's moving close to being finished. This is my favorite spot in the forest in springtime, just magical, and I had to try a print of it.
Here's what the two under layers look like. I tried some different colored papers just to see, but I had planned it for brown, and I definitely like the brown best.
I had another deadline for the Memphis News and wanted to sketch in Overton Square, the newly refurbished entertainment district that had been moribund for decades and is now thriving again. A massive rainstorm had hit in the midafternoon, though, so the patios were still empty in the early evening. This gave me the perfect excuse to catch the first set of Breeze Coyolle (NOLA saxophonist) who plays with my friends Tom Lonardo and Tim Goodwin on drums and bass respectively. I sketched them, enjoyed a lovely hour of music, and then went outside to do my watercolor just before it got too dark. Perfect. (I'll post the watercolor after it's in print.)
Then I went off dancing for the weekend and sketched one of the bands there. The Mean Lids gave an exquisite, totally unplugged concert for us one evening, and I had to reach for my pen.
I did the more formal one above and finished with this second, freer form page below that I like better. It seems to take me a page or so to loosen up sometimes.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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