First Presbyterian Church in Holley, NY, commissioned me to do a series of three harvest prints for this fall. The texts were taken from the hymnal, and the preacher Tom Gardner talked me through the fall season of abundance up there, and what would be ripe when.
This is the third and final print. You can see it from the original drawing (above) through the proofing process (below) and in its finished state.
Here are the first two prints in the series:
While I had the ink going, I decided I'd do some printing for the upcoming shows and Christmas season. I spent the afternoon printing all three harvest prints plus three new Paris prints. I filled up my drying rack.
After several hours of printing, on my feet and back and forth between rooms, I decided I'd earned a little back porch banjo-playing time. It's lovely weather here in Memphis for the late fall. It always makes me happy when it's warm enough to sit outside happily.
I went down to the RiverArts Fest downtown this afternoon. It's a great art fair in general, and the music lineup had my favorite band playing. I wandered around, chatted with a Colorado print maker, ran into friends, and heard Jason Freeman play both a headline set of his own and then close the day out with the Bluff City Backsliders, my favorite local band these days.
I often enjoy sketching musicians in general and the Backsliders in particular, but after doing the one above during Jason's own set, and the one of him below during the start of the Backsliders, I realized that today I'd much rather just stand up and dance and immerse myself in the music out under a gorgeous sky. So I did that. Perfect.
I had a studio assistant tonight. My nephew Max was here for the evening. First he did his own painting while I carved more on the Henry IV statue block I've been working on.
Then he rolled ink and pulled the proof press roller across to print my first look at this one. I still have a ways to go in the sky, but it's coming along.
I did forget about kids and clothes, though. His grandmother is going to have to wash his school pants tonight. Sorry, Pat!
I was working on a print today from Ile de la Cite (my third Paris print for the December show at Memphis Botanic Gardens), when I noticed on Facebook that Rene Miller is in Atlanta right now. Rene is one of the two musicians who befriended me in Paris, and they played on Ile de la Cite most Saturdays. I spent a number of very happy weekend hours sitting on various sidewalks and listening to him play the blues, accompanied by the excellent Stephen Harrison on bass.
Rene is in Atlanta for three weeks visiting his family, and happily I'm already heading down there during that time for a dance weekend. If I go a day early, I can catch him playing in a blues club down there. We talked on the phone today, and it was great to get a visit. I'm excited just to see him and catch up. I've missed both the guys, and I've been listening to Rene's cd in my truck for the last month, singing along and remembering Paris.
Here's a street video of Rene and Stephen doing my very favorite song of theirs -- an old time jazz tune called "Arkansas." They were kind enough to play it for me each week.
In other news today, it's the two month anniversary of Mr. Darcy coming into my life. That's my housemate Neil in the background. I'm really lucky to have them both around.
I mostly took a day off yesterday. I drew a bit on a new print, but mostly I went to church, walked my dog in the park, had lunch with my folks, and spent a Sunday afternoon at Huey's, our local burger joint.
That used to be a regular thing for me. My favorite ever blues player and her band would be there once a month or so, and it was a standing date for a bunch of my friends to meet there. But Di Anne Price died early this year, and I've missed that time, as well as just missing her a lot.
This week Den of Strings played, and they were marvelous. It's a brand new band made up of longtime great musicians. Heather Trussell plays violin (she also plays with the symphony, the Klezmer orchestra, occasionally with the Bluff City Backsliders, and many other projects), her husband Sam Shoup plays upright bass (he's played with many great groups over the years, but I'd never heard him play on an upright before), and Joe Restivo, jazz guitarist extraordinaire, does his thing.
It was extraordinary. I hope they play often. I've missed my Sundays.
Saturday was the Urban Sketchers' International Sketch Crawl. Urban Sketching groups across the world went out to draw together. The Memphis chapter met up at the Peabody, our grand old downtown hotel. It was a fun and elegant place to draw.
After the duck parade, several of us when across the street to have lunch and keep drawing at the Flying Fish. Tom Pruett let me try his water soluble markers. I keep trying markers and having trouble getting the effects I want. These are made by Tombo, and they were fun to try. I might have to get my own pack. They're neater than watercolors, though I like actual paint better, despite the trouble.
The PBS show Tennessee Crossroads came to my house to film me yesterday. They said someone emailed them about me a couple of years ago, and they called out of the blue not long ago. A lovely surprise!
It was fun to sit down and talk about what I do. Mostly I just do things by instinct, more or less, and having to verbalize both my calling and my work methods is always an interesting exercise.
It was also fun just to show what I do. I had up close supervision:
After using the proof press to pull a big print, I also cranked up the 1909 Chandler and Price. It's a natural rock star. I love that it's a treadle instead of motor operated.
Mr. Darcy had fun hanging out with the guys and watching the proceedings. He should make the final cut.
They told me it will likely air around March, but they'll give me a heads up ahead of time, so I'll spread the word.
I've been out of town. Again. I'm finally home to really settle in and finish several prints in progress.
I spent a lot of the afternoon carving the one above, my second Paris print, so I could go ahead and proof it. It's hard to really tell what it looks like until I ink it, but once I ink it, I lose all my drawing lines. Printmaking is an exercise in patience.
I'm largely pleased (despite the extra fuzzy newsprint proof). I'll fix a few things and get a better look soon.
I also did a little more carving and another proof on my Notre Dame print. It's just about ready to print for real.
And I proofed the second Elmwood print, which I had gotten to the refining stage ages ago before all my travels. It will be good to have it fully finished.
I got in town last night just long enough to take a sunset walk before dinner. I'm here again doing illustrations for the Cape Resorts group, which own Congress Hall Hotel, the Virginia, and others.
I was greeted in the lobby by a poster for their fall harvest festival featuring one of my watercolors. And they've really got my work everywhere now -- brochures, calendars, their Concierge magazine, and their website. It feels great to see it so widely used.
On a purely personal comfort note, they've put me in my nicest room yet. It's a lovely hotel, and the perks of this job are highly enjoyable.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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