The latest oil painting I've been working on is from a photo I took on a rainy evening dog walk last year. I've kept thinking about it, and now that I'm working with water images, I went back to find it. Below are a couple of photos from along the way. I'll work on this a bit more, but I wanted to let it sit and think about it some before going any further.
Here’s another behind the scenes peek at one of the water themed oils in progress. I took a series of photos downtown at the Greenbelt park back in the spring, and they’ve been continuing to call to me. I was happy to get going on this. I shared some later on photos of this recently, but sometimes it’s fun to see the start.
The first part of my career was heavily invested in soft pastels, which are like chalk. I never really liked the feel of the oil ones. But a friend recent suggested I try them again, so I bought just a couple of random sticks to test out. It’s always good to try things again after a break and see if your younger self might have been wrong. (Hello, tomatoes!) I think I might really like these. They’re immediate and loose and rich, and, unlike soft pastels, I don’t need to carry an easel around. These don’t have to be vertical to drop all the drifting dust. They’re actually a lot like high quality crayons for adults. You end up carrying a little more around on your back, but they work nicely large. I might get a bigger sketch pad and a small set take some to Paris with me next week. It would be fun to work in a very different medium while I’m there. These are a lot looser and more linear than the work I’ve been doing lately. It would be a fun change. They would be great for figure sessions as well I think. I do love having my model right beside me all the time. Yay for Mr. Darcy.
A behind the scenes look at canvas stretching this morning. I got full face licks from Mr. Darcy as I got down in the floor to work. More paintings to come....
I've got so many paintings in my head right now that I'm just pouring them roughly out onto canvas without taking a lot of time to fiddle with the details, though I've spent a couple of days on this one and still have a bit of work to do. It's from a sunset down on Mud Island a few months ago, just before I left town. I've kept thinking about this image and wanting to get back to it. I'm really enjoying the idea of painting water, though it's been harder in this one than previous paintings in this series. You can see at the bottom where I started. The first image is where the painting stands now.
I’ve had an intensive week of painting. It’s been a couple of years since I did oils on canvas. I’ve been painting on my printmaking paper, and I like the texture and immediacy of that, but this week I had a sudden urge to paint larger. I’ve been thinking about several images for a while now, and I just dove in. I bought three 30x40” canvases and took off. None are quite done, but it’s a nicely solid amount of progress.
The first one I started was one of Mr. Darcy in the lake out at the farm. I rode out with my dad after getting home and took several photos as he walked into the lake to get cool. This is a composite of those photos.
I got to go to a great house concert over the weekend. My banjo mentor had seen a group from Johnson City called Bill and the Belles and liked them enough that he arranged for them to play in Memphis when they were passing through on the road. They were marvelous. Old time swing, lots of songs from the teens and twenties, a good dose of Jimmie Rodgers, and a bunch of new songs that sound delightfully old. As usual, I sketched as well as listening. This group is used to artwork too. They're the only band I know that has an original linocut of the group for sale along with the usual cds and stickers. It was as old timey as they are, so of course I came home with it, along with my own sketches.
I got behind on my scanning coming back across the country. Here are some of my last week sketches. I went to the Cascadian Farms roadside stand for my favorite ice cream on my last day. I also realized I hadn't scanned a previous sketch of that place. I've been enjoying the direct watercolor, but I also am still in love with this green ink and pulled it back out for the garden. It's a lovely place to go and sit.
I did more driving and less front seat sketching than I had going across in the spring, but I did stop at a couple of the parks and sketch. Here is Pompey's Pillar, a place with Lewis and Clark history and also a beautiful spot in Montana along the Yellowstone River. I met a neat couple there. It's fun traveling with a dog and a sketchbook -- both are introductions to people you wouldn't otherwise meet.
My other stop with my sketchbook was at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a beautiful place to spend the morning of the 4th of July. We had 9 hours yet to drive after leaving the park, so I only did one sketch, but it was fun to see the moon setting over the rock formations and have a bit of memory of that in my journal.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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