I’ve done a little bit of evening sketching lately. I had so much fun drawing in this outdoor diner. You place your order at a window and eat out under the trees. I’m in love with their chicken pesto sandwich, which is generous with the basil and comes with a side salad. So good. They also had blackberry hard cider. I sketched with my new Diamine Ancient Copper ink. I’m really enjoying it. It’s highly saturated, and could easily be too much, but it really worked for this one. I love the rich warm lines peeking through the watercolor.
Then last night I sketched the new tea set I found. Small with violets, made my Spode. I’ve gotten rid of my own former wedding china and found a very happy recipient for my grandmother’s enormous set, but I kept the very incomplete set of my great grandmother’s that has violets and daisies and matching violet silver. But no teapot. This small one is just right for me to use for breakfast when I want to enjoy all the lovely things instead of just having them in my cabinet. I’m really happy. And then since I was having such fun with stripes, I kept on sketching during the (wildly unfortunate) baseball game. It’s been a tough year to be a Cardinals fan, but sketching makes it better. This ink is also Diamine, and it’s two different shades of purple. The darker shade, Eclipse, is my new favorite writing ink as well.
I went to a fantastic Coastal Landscapes show yesterday at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham. I’ve always loved the arts and crafts era of western landscapes, and this was a great mix of California painters with some up the coast to Washington from the turn of the last century into today. I was delighted to see so many women represented. The first piece is by Mary DeNeale Morgan. It was my absolute favorite for light, tree shapes, color, and brushwork, and I hope to see more of her work in the future. Many of the paintings had super glossy varnish, and it was tricky to get photos without glare, so forgive funny angles and bits of glare.
A block away, right next to my favorite second hand bookstore with an enormous art department (Henderson’s) is a neat little letterpress/stationery store. Jude found a super nifty Kaweko mechanical pencil with a thick tower of graphite, fully retractable, instead of a skinny little lead. I love sketching in pencil but also hate having to remember a sharpener. I was delighted and headed back to the museum for further sketching while he took a longer lunch break and waited for me to surface again. A kind guard offered me a stool, since the benches are never next to the paintings I truly want to sketch.
That was all the sketching I had the time and energy for, but two other favorites from the show were this exquisite woodblock print by Elizabeth Colbourne from 1933 and the large landscape by Euphemia Fortune (VERY bad glare, but the best name ever! She was in a recent Dixon show of American Impressionists). If I were home I would be going back with colored pencils and sketching weekly in this show. It’s delightful.
I’ve been out in Washington State visiting my partner for a while, and I’m taking some vacation time, doing some book work, and doing a bit of sketching. We’ve had smoke off and on, but the Memphis air has been so steadily bad from different Canadian fires that I don’t feel like I’m missing much good air at home. Here it’s worse on bad days, but we also get break. It looks like the South has been pretty steadily blanketed with smoke pollution for the last month. For the first time in my life, which is deeply discouraging.
But I’m taking it one day at a time here, getting out to hike and sketch when I can, and doing a bunch of book work indoors when I can’t. Here’s a round up of some sketches around the Skagit valley.
I got tired of the bad air in Memphis, and I had a couple of really good weekend sales (thank you, friends!), so I decided to take a spur of the moment trip back out west. I’m still making up time a bit from being sick so long over the last year. I spent the first two nights of the trip, one day, in St. Louis and flew from there, bypassing all the connection dangers I’ve seen friends struggle with this summer. I love StL, so it wasn’t a hardship. I sketched in my B&B in the morning, went to the art museum in the afternoon, and saw a few friends. Such a lovely time.
The museum had a mid century Native American art exhibition that really grabbed me. A lot of art from teachers and students at the IAIA school out west. The exquisite small woodcut is by Edna Massey, and the three abstract landscapes are views of New Mexico by Fritz Scholder.
I had SUCH a good day out on Tuesday. I had errands to do, so I put Henry in daycare, but the air felt good and there's always a breeze by the river, so we went down and walked the Greenbelt park at Mud Island before I dropped him off. One of the big cruise boats was docked down there, so I tucked Henry's leash around my shoe and did a quick sketch. He's learning to settle in nicely while I work, which is such a blessing.
I'm trying to get back to more quick sketching in my daily life again, and I'm back to the bent nib fountain pen, a Sailor fude, that's satisfying with a lot of line variation. I've got some waterproof De Atramentis fog grey ink in it, which has a blueish cast. I hit an antique mall and the Goodwill as well as doing my more necessary grocery shopping, and I lucked into an awesome polka dot dress that I sketched that evening from the sofa. That one is in an "urban grey" ink with a dip pen. But first I picked up some fish tacos from Soulfish, sketching from the curbside pickup parking spot, and I caught a quick one of Henry on the couch with me as well. On the days I'm really in a groove doing work in the studio I'm not worried about getting something in the sketchbook too, but I am going to try to get back in a better habit of sketching out and about. All of this was fun yesterday.
I've got three small prints of Henry (there will likely be more to come) ready to go for this weekend's Dog Days Open Studio Sale. Friday 4-8 for cocktail hour shopping and Saturday 12-5. This year we're at 719 Dickinson, a change of venue from years past, but still in the same neighborhood.
These prints are all on 8x10" paper and are $65 each. It's hard for me to be regimented enough to work on standard sized paper. My old press was 14x22, so I ended up with a lot of prints that size. And I'm always drawn to different shapes. But I know it's simple for people to frame if things are standard, so I'm trying to plan at least some of my smaller pieces to be more regular. My new coastal scene is 11x14", so I've managed it four times this summer. Definitely a record!
This last piece is Shoreline II, a smaller, one block version of print that was in my WAMA show last year. It's actually done from a more recent sketch and is a different shape, but it's the same view looking out from the beach at Ocean Springs, and the color scheme is similar. Instead of using different blocks for different colors, though, I wanted to keep it super simple. Repetitive printing is my least favorite part of the whole process. This block uses four colors and five small rollers to blend the colors on the block. The sky goes from pink at the horizon through grey up into the blue. There's enough space between the pink and the black to use a very small roller for the shoreline itself, and then I can put some gentler strokes into the water with that same roller to get the reflections. It's finicky to print but takes only one session instead of three. It's on 11x14" paper and is $150. I'll have these in the museum shop at WAMA once I get down there in September to deliver them and have a visit, but I'll also have some for the Dog Days sale.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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