I had been hearing about Noodler's ink for years on sketching forums. It's a non-water soluble ink, so it won't run when you watercolor with it. A lovely friend just gave me an old fountain pen and a partial bottle of Noodler's to try. I'm having a fun time this week. I shifted from pen to pencil with my watercolor several years ago, but I had fun revisiting fountain pen and watercolor sketches in Paris. That was with ink that would run, and I kind of liked the looseness, but this has a neat, spontaneous, kind of graphic feel to it. I'm going to enjoy playing around with the ink as well as using the lovely pen.
Teapot print in progress
I saw this phrase a while ago (I wish I could take credit for it), and it appealed to me on several levels. This print popped into my head because I love polka dots. After a long serious bout of printmaking doing landscapes for my show at Dixon, I decided to treat myself to a little light hearted work.
I'm still working on the bottom part, and I want to play with colors when I get the block finished, but it's far enough along to show you what I'm up to this week.
It's that time again! I've been putting together the My Memphis 2016 calendar. Due to a crazy busy year, I'm only doing a Memphis one this year. Between my work at Memphis Theological Seminary and my exhibition at Dixon (both places represented in the calendar to celebrate those professional milestones), I'm up to my eyeballs lately, in a joyful and fulfilling kind of way.
I'm going to try to keep it simple and organized this year, so I'm asking people who want one (or more) for sure to pre-order here through my web store (hosted by Square). There's a pick up option for Memphis people only, ones who are willing to drive to midtown or catch me at the Pink Palace Crafts Fair or my home show. Otherwise there's a shipping option. But having everyone buy through the website (unless you get one at the shows or perhaps Burke's, but I will order conservatively, and I sold out last year) will keep all the info in one place and let me finish out the orders as I deliver them. There was too much to keep track of last year with three calendars and facebook orders too. If you want multiples and have shipping questions (don't want to pay more shipping than necessary), then do holler at me. We'll figure out an option for that.
I've gotten looser in my sketches over the last year, so there are some that are more playful than in years past. I've got a number of finished watercolors included, of course, but also some labelled sketches (like the cover) and a couple of sketch compilations, like the one of Memphis musicians. I hope folks will enjoy this celebration of the city I love.
The Memphis Urban Sketchers met at the Memphis Farmers Market yesterday. I am having a crazy busy week, but I decided to take time to go see some of my people, and I was very glad I did. It was fun to catch up with everyone after my trip, and I always enjoy drawing down there.
I did a good bit of printing, calendar work, and board cutting in between, but I also went for the second and third sets of Le Tumulte Noir playing at Huey's tonight. They're an incredibly talented across the board gypsy jazz group, and I even got a little surprise swing dancing when I happened to sit next to a few dancer friends. Such a perfect way to spend an early Sunday evening. They gu
The guys are really fun to sketch and very nice about my doing it.
New prints underway
This is a print of the forest path I walk every morning. I thought I had it ready to print final copies of (I was intending to go with the middle option above), but in my jet lagged state after Paris, I accidentally omitted the green block and ended up with the top left. I realized that the cool green was too jarring, and I liked the warm shades, so I tried it with the dark red leaves at the top right.
They were too dark, so I tried the three below, and I think I'm settling on the left-hand version for subtlety.
Then I decided I should try it in green as well. Facebook friends were lobbying for a series of different seasons. I think they were right, and I'd like to maybe have it as a set of three. Final prints still to come.
Please pardon the blurry cell phone shots. It's been a bit cloudy. This last one I had mostly carved before leaving, and this is my first color proof. I wanted a print of Dixon for my show there.
I usually have a very clear vision of a print in my head before I start, except for the pattern that emerges as I carve the non-figured areas. I have been up in the air on color for this one as well and plan to do more color tests. Not my normal way of working, but it's kind of fun. Stay tuned...
I took it easier in Paris this year. I didn't try to bring home 50 watercolors to mount a show. I hung out with friends, listened to music, did a little shopping, and sat in cafes. I did fast sketches this year -- wanting to have a journal of special times but not spend my whole trip with my nose buried in my sketching supplies. So here is a series of cafe drawings I did across several different neighborhoods. The first is Hotel du Nord, along the canal. A real old-time cafe my hosts took me to my first year here.
Next is a sketch from the cafe right at Marche d'Aligre where my friend Rene Miller often plays on a Saturday morning when the market and brocante are in full swing.
Next is a cafe right next to the Montmartre cemetery. Stopped in there on a cold drizzly day for a hot tea after exploring a bit of the cemetery. It was charming, with lovely woodwork and a tiny spiral staircase up to the W.C. I pass it regularly on my walk home but had never stopped before.
The last is Le Nazir in Abbesses, one of my favorite neighborhoods. Again, Graham and Anais had taken me here for my very first meal in Paris a couple of years ago, and I was happy to revisit it.
Musee D' Orsay
It took several days to get my internet going at home, and the seminary semester started, so I'm working with students and faculty there too, but I finally have some of the trip stuff scanned in.
I spent much of my last day in Paris in the Musee d'Orsay, since I'd had so much fun sketching in the Rijksmuseum. I got there early and had some pretty quiet time with the Van Goghs early before too many people arrived.
This next one is my favorite I did. I'm iffy on people, but it turned out well, and the painting itself was so graphic in nature that it lent itself nicely to copying. With the Van Goghs, I know I won't be able to capture the richness, but looking at a painting long enough and closely enough to copy it helps me learn from it, even if the sketch itself isn't a fair reflection of the original. And sometimes I just love a painting enough to want to spend that time with it, even though I know I can't do it justice.
I took a break from copying on the top floor and did a quick sketch of the view instead. I wish they let you out on the balcony.
I've fallen all over again for Odilon Redon. Dixon had an exhibition of his that I loved many years ago, but I hadn't thought about him too much before doing those copies in Amsterdam. Then at the Orsay they had these enormous panels that just gobsmacked me. The light was dim, so my copy is too vividly yellow, but I had fun doing it. I really love his mystical approach to his subjects. It suits my thinking just now, as I start doing more Biblical art for my year at the seminary. I'd like to bring this creativity and loose beauty to a text people are familiar with and see if I can make them think about it in a new way. I'm a very literal painter (I usually paint quite closely what I see in front of me), so the idea of this freedom is both challenging and beguiling.
I finished by sketching an early Monet that I had drawn just in pencil two years ago. The sycamores always grab me, and there's something about this that I just love. It was fun to try it in color. And revisit a painting that had struck me last time too.
I think this is my favorite sketch I did in the Musee d'Orsay my last day in Paris. My phone died halfway through the trip, and I came home to no Internet, so I can't scan and post sketches yet. I'll get more loaded here as soon as my technical difficulties allow. Since I'm home, a scan would be much nicer than just a cell phone shot. I'm in the cable store now hoping for the best, but that's why I've been quiet lately...
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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