Once again I'm traveling and away from my scanner. This trip is for my husband, who's been kindly holding down the fort and taking care of the animals while I travel to paint repeatedly this year. I'm giving a small bit back by being his second driver/shuttle bunny on his autumn whitewater trip.
We're in West Virginia for him to run the Gawley River. It's rained quite a bit, but I've done a few watercolors in between rainy days, and I'm also doing a few illustrations for the Call to Worship journal while I'm away. I'll be home to post stuff early in the week. We're pointing the car in that direction when Elmore gets off the river this afternoon. I'm looking forward to getting back to the next round of printmaking.
I got my first round of prints photographed yesterday. I haven't been able to do a very good job on them -- they're 14x22", and so way too big to fit on my scanner, as the watercolors do. These are all printed and ready to sell, thankfully in time for the upcoming Pink Palace Crafts Fair.
For the Tower Grove Park print, I couldn't decided whether I liked the brown or white paper, so I'm doing a smaller edition of each. They have such different feels, and I like them both for different reasons. These prints are $125 each.
Shelton Laurel, the name of the area where the woodworking school Country Workshops is, is also $125.
Overton Park was the first print I started in this series. It's the place closest to my home and my heart. I'm there every day I'm in Memphis, walking, drawing, or just sitting and watching the sky. I play my banjo near this tree a lot as well.
And finally the White River at Calico Rock in Arkansas. This series is a group of places that are dear to my heart, my own personal travelogue. The White River, and the Riverview Hotel right on it, is one of our favorite getaways. This print is $140 because it's three colors and requires three separate printings instead of just two.
I'm still working on prints for the Missouri Botanical Garden, Chickasaw Gardens, the French Broad River, and a second one for Tower Grove Park. Watch this space for more finished ones over the next couple of months. I'm trying to have them all finished for my November show at ANF architects.
Memphis Parent asked me to do another illustration for them, this time for their calendar page. It's fair season in the fall, and I had fun doing all the rides.
Sorry to be so quiet here lately. I spent a week in Cape May working for the Cape Resorts hotel group and doing watercolors of their properties. It was a neat job but a very busy one. I ended up doing 24 watercolors in four and a half days, and I've been scanning in and recovering now that I'm home. I'll post some as soon as I get the OK from them to do so.
In the meantime, I got to spend another afternoon painting in the Missouri Botanical Garden along the way. Above is the rosarian's cottage (what a great job if it came with a house like this to live in!). Below is a tree I love that I didn't at all manage to do justice to. I'm going to have to try again sometime.
Henry Shaw, the founder of the Garden and of Tower Grove Park, had his country estate right here. You can tour his house inside the Garden, and I took the time to do that this visit, now that I've read a book about his life and life's work. It was neat to see his dining room table with garden plans laid out on it. I painted his house from the back with the late afternoon sun on it.
I still marvel at how much one man can do to give great joy to so many people for so long. What a legacy.
It took a good bit longer than I expected to master the new press and pulling multi-colored blocks, but I finally have finished copies of several different prints. The first is Overton Park, the first one I started on. It's my favorite tree in that park and a daily haunt of mine.
Below is the White River in Arkansas. It's one of Elmore's and my favorite getaways. We take the kayaks over, sit on the upstairs porch of the fabulous River View Hotel, and relax. It's lovely, so the White River definitely has to be in this series of my special places.
I've got two more blocks finished and ready to print, but first I'm off to spend a week at Cape May, New Jersey. A hotel group is flying me up to do watercolors of their hotels, so I'm looking forward to a week painting at the beach.
I pulled finished copies of two different prints today and also did my second color proof for this one. I really feel like this series is coming together. There was quite a learning curve for me, getting used to the press and keeping multiple blocks lined up together, but I'm finally at a place where I can begin to print editions.
I think I maybe want a little bit lighter green for this one, since it's such an all-over color, and I need to clean up the edge of the dome a little, but otherwise this one is also ready to go. It's one of the first ones I started, and I had to put it aside a little while to figure out the multiple blocks thing. It's good to get it worked out. Now all I have to do is reclaim the cherry tree one I was having trouble with, and I'm cooking with gas.
I pulled this one again yesterday, trying my brightest paper. I've decided to do two different editions of this, one on the brown and one on the natural. I'm excited to have a print just about ready to pull finish copies. I carved just a little today, to clean up the overlap on the right side, and I'm going to start pulling finished prints (hopefully) tomorrow. I did the green layer for my Overton Park print today, and if they turn out, I'll have two prints completely finished and ready to go.
It's taken a lot longer than I'd thought, but this is all a new process for me. The nice thing is, I'm still completely excited about the series in spite of the setbacks. I'm even dreaming about them at night.
The Center for Southern Folklore has a wonderful free music festival every Labor Day weekend. Elmore and I find it's a festive, easy way to celebrate our anniversary and hear some great local bands. We went down yesterday in time to hear Elmo and the Shades play some blues. The two guys on horns are Memphis institutions, having played on much of the Stax catalog, including hits for Isaac Hayes, Sam and Dave, and Otis Redding. One of the many things I love about my hometown is the amazing music heritage we have every which way you turn.
They did a great set, though I struggled some with the drawing, standing up in a stiff wind and testing out some new markers. I switched over to pencil when we moved inside for our next band.
The gospel group the Sensational Six were singing when we got inside the Folklore Store and (thankfully) found seats. It was fun to watch the old style gospel, and I did a couple of sketches while we listened.
We were really there to hear the Bluff City Backsliders, though. They're one of my two favorite bands in Memphis (which is saying a lot).
The Backsliders do high energy old time blues and jug band music. It's something of a moveable feast in terms of musicians -- you never know exactly who will be there, though they have several core players. Lately they've had an awesome trombone player, who really adds to the mix. He moves too fast for me to get a good sketch of him, though I tried a couple of times.
It was a great evening with even better bands, and I always enjoy a night out on the town with Elmore.
Not only is there a printmaker next door to us at Country Workshops, but there's a tool maker as well. John Kraus teaches toolmaking at John C. Campbell folk school, Country Workshops, and Penland. He's also a fiddle player, and we play music together when I visit. He always spends a bit of time helping me get my carving tools sharp as well. I've taken a page of notes every time he shows me how, and one of these years I'll master it (he says I'm getting better), but they're always best when John puts his magic touch on them.
This year he told me that the flat blade I was using to outline forms wasn't really the right tool for the job. I need an exacto knife instead, with its sharp edge on both sides. We stopped by to say goodbye on our way out of town, and John pulled out this beautiful tool, made just for me. He carved a handle for an exacto blade out of pearwood and made a copper neck and sheath for the blade. He said the handle would fit well in my hand for what I needed, and he was exactly right. It's a joy to use, and I am grateful for John's friendship and generosity.
The timing was perfect. A sharp blade helps me outline delicate sections so I don't (hopefully) inadvertently cut away bits I need. With trees and other amorphous shapes, I don't take the time to outline, but with fine detail and sharp lines, outlining helps a lot. I'm working on this Tower Grove print of a Victorian pavilion, and I've given the beautiful new tool a good work out this week.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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