I came back across the country with my marvelous friend Jill, who came out to help me drive home. We took it pretty quickly, wanting to get home and see my family, and she had stuff to do too. But I did do one sketch in the Badlands, which we got to see briefly at sunset and then again the next day. I've been covered up with printmaking and playing with gouache any time I wasn't doing that, so this was my very first journal sketch since early July, and I realized how much I'd been missing it.
Several years ago I did an Arts and Crafts inspired series of travel prints. Not the big national park places, but places that were my peculiar heart places. I've added a new place this summer, and I decided to add a new print as well. This is smaller than that first lot, t-shirt sized, since the bakery owner here might use it for just that. The idea came together quickly my last week here, and it was fun to have a small, autonomous project just for fun, after the big push of finishing the book illustrations. I printed several by hand yesterday to leave a few here (I'll be traveling back across the country starting tomorrow, so art blogging will be on hiatus for a bit), and I'll print some more when I get home to my press. I may do a second one with the iconic concrete silos that welcome visitors. It would be fun to do them of my favorite nearby parks as well. We'll see if I have the time and oomph for a whole series.
Here is the block in progress plus the first proof, so you can see how I refined it for its final form.
I had such fun today painting blueberrry bushes at the original Cascadian Farm farm stand. I have eaten their cereal for years and was fan girl excited to find out that this place was just up the road from Concrete. It's a lovely place to stop and have an ice cream -- they make their own from their organic berries, and the just-right-tartness of the raspberry chocolate chip is some of the best ice cream I've had in my life. I went to paint today, since the blueberries against the mountain had been calling to me. The sky was perfectly gorgeous, so it was a fun morning. I came home with ice cream too...
I've always lived in Memphis except for college in a smallish Kentucky town that was still considerably bigger than Concrete, WA, where I've been spending several months. I love the small town events more than anything. Today was the 4th of July parade, that lasted maybe five minutes. Highlights were the mayor dressed as Uncle Sam plus the 4-H club with a number of dogs and one goat. I had a ball sketching. There was also a fun acoustic band at the picnic afterwards to give me something to listen to.
I recently saw a couple of exquisite gouache studies posted by someone on the Urban Sketchers site, and I loved them. I have continually struggled in watercolor to depict skies and clouds the way I would like to. Gouache is opaque, and a little bit more like oils, but portable and water based like watercolors. I'm still getting used to it, and the only green I have is quite vivid, but I think this could become a new love for me. Above is my first effort a few days ago, and then I went out early this morning to paint clouds. Now that I have gouache, apparently the clouds disappear for summer here in Washington (as they largely do at home as well), but they made a reappearance this morning, and I was grateful. I definitely need more practice, but here are my early results.
I took a quick trip to the Olympic peninsula to see a rain forest and the Pacific Ocean. It was a stunning place. I didn't have a lot of time for sketching, especially since the rainforest was a national park and wouldn't allow my dog, so I didn't really linger there. It was also dense enough visually that it might have taken me too long to try to focus in on something to paint anyway. But the beach was beautifully open and simple, and I could dive in and paint . First Beach at La Push, and the Native American reservation, thankfully, values the companionship of animals, and I could take Mr. Darcy for walks on their beach and settle in to paint a bit.
I also realized recently (or realized again) that I really do need an emotional connection with a place to really paint it. Not necessarily do a quick sketch for my journal, but to dive in more deeply. First Beach, with its small islands just off the coast, reminded me of the coastline in Greece, where I've spent time in the past, so it was more immediately accessible to me to paint than the rain forest, lovely as it was. I could paint this coastline very happily, I think.
We stayed two nights in Forks because they had a hotel that would take Mr. Darcy. They also had a home cooking restaurant that had bumble berry pie, which was a mix of rhubarb and several berries. That is not something that is available to me in Memphis, and it was delicious. It was certainly worth memorializing in my journal. I alway like to remember good desserts. It was fun to get away and see something new, but it was also good to get back to Concrete and dive into the last phases of the book project.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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