I don't want to add to the glorification of busyness because I am a moderation kind of girl, and I do build in good life breaks like sister lunches, girlfriend teas, and daily long forest walks with Mr. Darcy. But I had not taken a whole Day Off since the first weekend of October (which in itself was nice enough to carry me through the month by itself), and I did greatly enjoy myself yesterday. Truly, I'm not great at taking a whole day off unless I'm off dancing somewhere. I tend to draw a lot even on vacation, but that's the fun part of being an artist. I've been doing a lot more of the nuts and bolts work lately, though, and a day off sounded good.
So yesterday I treated myself to a massage to celebrate the end of the show. I got myself a Muddy's cupcake for lunch to celebrate National Chocolate Day. I took a long walk and a snuggly nap with Mr. Darcy.
And then I had a two hour design committee meeting for Overton Park. Sigh. So I sketched. Because what else are you going to do in a two hour design committee meeting? (Even though it was good, and I was glad to be there to have some input.)
My very kind brother Alpha helped me deliver my show to Dixon this morning. It was exciting to see all the pieces all dressed up and ready to go out on the town. It was even more exciting to pull up behind a huge Rodin statue to unload my work. I continue to be thrilled at this opportunity to have an exhibition in a museum, the kind of museum that has huge traveling shows by Rodin come through.
I got a sneak peek at part of the Southern Impressionism show in the main gallery, and I can't wait to see the whole thing. The museum reopens Sunday, November 1, after its summer of renovation, and my exhibition will be a part of that.
The official reception for my show will be Thursday, November 19 from 6-8, with my old friends the Tom Lonardo Trio playing jazz. I can't wait. I'll also do a gallery talk on Wednesday, November 11 at lunch time, talking about my art hero John Constable, how he shaped my art and subject matter and work habits. I'll also talk about the process of making multi-color prints with multiple blocks. It's a slightly arcane process for most of us, but great fun.
The weather is utterly beautiful for late October, so Mr. Darcy and I had lunch on the back porch and also took a sketching walk in the forest late this afternoon. I've been loving the graffiti addition to the trail marker in the Old Forest, and this week it seemed topical for me. I decided to go sketch it.
It's funny. I had just had a discussion with a friend about work/life balance and keeping a distinct line between work and leisure, since I work at home. It gets blurry immediately, though, because in the midst of all my framing and show work, what I've wanted to do for fun for an hour is get out and sketch. It's nice to have a vocation.
Then in my art journal group online, this interview with Liz Steel appeared. "How do you unwind? Having a cup of tea and sketching it. That’s why I don’t have any work/play balance. The act of sketching helps me unwind because it gives me processing time."
It's nice to know I'm not alone, at any rate.
Mostly this week I've been framing for Dixon. I'm getting close. Ten out of eleven are in frames, though I still have the biggest one left, and I have to get brown paper and wires on all of them. Work is due Monday, though, so I've got time without killing myself, which is nice. It's been a full work week, though.
I took my adorable teapot by my friend Melissa Bridgman (who will join me for my Holiday Open Studio Sale in December) plus a white cup and saucer to Memphis Theological Seminary yesterday to set up a still life for my art journal group.
I wanted them to easily see values (on the simple, white forms), and I also wanted to practice making grays with French ultramarine blue and burnt umber. That's one of my favorite things about watercolor -- that lovely gray that can be pushed from warm to cool and have a spectrum of colors in it. I also mentioned squinting to see value more clearly, getting rid of detail and color (an art class trick that doesn't necessarily trickle out to the wider world), and using one rich color to go with a mostly monochromatic sketch, like the blue above.
It took me a while to get going. My first sketch (below) didn't make me as happy as the second one, but that's also how things work when you're creating. Some of it isn't as exciting as other bits that happen how you want them to. It's just part of the deal.
My week has mostly been prep for my Dixon exhibition. Work is due a week from tomorrow, so I've been working on getting final prints and framing. But I took a break to join the Memphis Urban Sketchers at the historic Elmwood Cemetery, one of my favorite places to go sketch. Because we were outside, Mr. Darcy could join me, which is always a treat, and it was fun to catch up with my friends after my recent travels.
After sketching a remnant of us went to lunch. The group kindly agreed to eat outside on the patio so Mr. Darcy and I could join them. We ate at Tart, and they immediately brought out a bowl of water for Mr. D, which won me over. And the beet/goat cheese salad was lovely.
I am continuing to celebrate Inktober (and my lovely new pen) with some very simple line drawings. I've been crazy busy and exhausted with the Pink Palace Crafts Fair (which went BEAUTIFULLY! Thanks to all of you who came out to support and hug me and say a few words) and getting ready for the Dixon exhibition. So a quick line sketch of Mr. Darcy on the sofa in the evening is just what the doctor ordered. It's lovely to do something creative in the midst of the show prep and printing.
Today I did two rounds of printing and filled my print rack, worked with my art journal group at Memphis Theological, and picked up framing supplies. By 5pm, it was gorgeous outside, and I decided to treat myself to a sketch outing in the forest. I started with another simple line sketch.
As I was drawing, Mr. Darcy settled firmly on my foot, and I couldn't resist sketching him as well. That's twice in two days sketching him on my feet. I'll be glad for that come winter.
So this happened today. I went to Dixon to have a final meeting before my exhibition, and Laura Gray told me there was a banner of one of my prints out on the corner of Park and Southern. The plants have eaten my name a bit, but it is a total thrill to see my work blown up and out on a museum banner. A career moment for me.
It's funny, because this morning on my walk I noticed a spotlight of a sunbeam picking out one tiny sapling in the Old Forest. I took a photo and posted it on fb. It felt like such an encouraging image that we all get a spotlight at some point in our life. This afternoon when I saw the banner, I flashed back to that spotlight, feeling like it had been an omen. I just read The Alchemist last week, and it talks about being open to and aware of the omens in your life. It feels superstitious to me to wait around on them for decision making, but a wise man of my acquaintance today said, when I told him of my feeling about an omen, "A lovely thought. It's good to cultivate a sense of wonder wherever you go." I love that idea of being open to wonder around me. And, as E.M. Forster said, "Only connect."
A lovely day.
I just finished the St. Francis print that has been in my head a good while now. I managed it in time for the Blessing of the Pets at Memphis Theological Seminary, and I was glad for them to use it in the worship.
It's a very personal print. My housemate Neil is representing St. Francis. He also does a rocking Jesus in his bathrobe, patient man. That's my beloved Mr. Darcy, of course, receiving the blessing. My sister's donkey Crispin and one of her llamas is represented (the llamas were off campus last time I was there, so this is more of a nod to her having them than her particular llama, since I couldn't sketch and photograph it. The cat is Mikey, once of the best cats I've ever known, who now lives with my ex but is still in my heart. And the baby owl was the reason for this print. A friend of Neil's rescued it and brought it to visit one day. I photographed and sketched it, and a friend of mine suggested that instead of Jesus, Neil would look great as Francis with the owl on his shoulder. So the print was born.
It's on 14x22" paper, and I've just put it up in my online store at https://squareup.com/market/martha-kelly-art. I also printed several just after getting home to my printing press so I could have them at the Pink Palace Crafts Fair in Memphis this weekend. They should be dry enough to package tonight. I'll be out there in the demonstration area showing printmaking the next three days. 10-6 Friday and Saturday, and 10-5 on Sunday.
There was a noticeable trend last year in my art fb circles of people doing ink drawings for "Inktober." This year I was given a lovely new/old fountain pen just at the end of September. I've been using more pencil than pen with my watercolors recently, except for my quick sketches from Paris this past summer, so I'm enjoying playing around with the pen and waterproof ink as a new-again thing for me.
Here are a bunch of sketches from my recent time at Country Workshops, a woodworking school on a beautiful farm in North Carolina. It's one of my favorite places to paint. Above is Big Boy in my lap, one of my very favorite cats.
Below are the cows I kept drawing. Both those scenes are looking out the window from the work table I use when I'm there.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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