This last print I left finished but hadn't actually printed. I'm trying it on different colored paper this week, and I've got a range from white to fawn, light blue, warm gray, and brown. I quite like all of them for different reasons, and I figure others might too. This one is available now. $90, and the paper is 13.25x14". Holler if you'd like one for a holiday present. I'll get it up in my store soon.
I printed in the morning, sketched in the afternoon, and ordered a hard copy proof of P is for Possum just before dinner, for a rare art trifecta today. I’d been waiting for the chance to order a proof since I uploaded my files on Saturday. I’m using Ingram Spark to self publish. Ingram is a wide reaching company that supplies books to libraries and book stores, and I wanted to support them instead of Amazon for self publishing. They also offer a hardback option, which Amazon doesn’t, but I’d heard nightmare stories about getting the formatting right for them. I did a bunch of research last week, and I was thrilled to get the email today that everything checked out. First try. It’s the small things.
Now that the book is turned in, I’ve been working on printing the blocks I carved this summer while I was away. Today’s theme was green (sounds like Sesame Street!), so I proofed two different blocks and also did layer two of the French Broad River print from several years ago. I’d printed the blue layer before my trip and then gotten sidetracked. Today, since I had green ink mixed and going, I picked the thread back up. Tomorrow I’ll get to proof on top of these gradated color layers with the much more intricately carved key blocks and see what things look like. Seeing it all together for the first time always feels like Christmas.
This afternoon I took my walk with the sketching backpack along and stopped in the Old Forest to sketch. I’ve been pondering more forest prints, and sketching helps me look deeply and think more clearly. We’ll see if anything comes of this, but it felt lovely to take the time to do it.
I've been running a little crazy since I got home, dealing with mail and other things that had been piling up, seeing people I've been missing, and trying hard to get the book published in time for the holidays. I had a whole plan that failed on me, and I'm regrouping. So I haven't sketched much, but I have done a couple. Above is the Shelby Farms dog park, at the east end of the park. I hadn't been there before (further into the park than I've ventured on my bike, and my dog isn't a dog park kind of guy). But it was just around the corner from the vet where I had to leave him several hours, so I took a walk with my sketchbook and did a bit of exploring. If I had a more social dog, it would be a wonderful resource to have available. I see why people drive out from midtown.
I'm also back at my local farmers market with joy. It was lively to have tomatoes, broccoli, fresh flowers, and bread (though that didn't make it in the sketch). I really like the rhythms of Saturday mornings at home, though there certainly things I'm missing about out west as well.
I've been working on P is for Possum non stop this week. My brain hurts from learning about Library of Congress numbers (mine came today!), ISBNs, bar codes, and hardest of all, the formatting needed to actually publish it. Yesterday I reworked every page to the specs at Ingram (margins, space left in the gutter, different color system, etc.) and reworked the cover.
Today I assembled the interior of the book into one file, lettered and did decorations for the spine, if it's big enough to take something (fingers crossed), and ordered the cover template. I've got to letter the LOC number and add it to my publishing info page, but I'm going to wait till tomorrow to assemble the cover (inside and out) into the template. Then hopefully I'll be able to upload it and order a hard copy to make sure all the margins and whatnot are right. When I get that in hand, I'll finalize pricing. I'm reluctant to do that before I see what it actually looks like, though I know I should be taking pre-orders by now. Next time around I'll know a lot more what I'm doing and what I'm getting. I'm a total newbie. My brain hurts, but it's also really exciting.
Burke's Books, Memphis's 145 year old bookstore, is going to carry P is for Possum, and I'm so excited. I know them well enough to ask in advance, and Cheryl, the co-owner, has been really helpful as I finalize the details. Once I have a hard copy in hand, I'll be asking around a at other places too. Burke's has carried my calendars, given me a signing/print sale night for them, and even got in my Book of Common Worship despite it's not being available through their regular suppliers. They are fantastic, and I'm delighted that my first original book will have a home with them. I'm hoping other places that feature Memphis made things will also want to carry it, but Burke's has my heart. I've been cycling down there all year for curbside pick up of books to tide me through this crazy year.
I wrote my last blog post feeling a little bad about how little sketching I'd done on the trip home, and then I realized I'd forgotten two more sketches. Both of these were the last night at Longbranch State Park in Missouri. I really love that place and would like to go there and spend a coupe of days painting sometime. I'm working on a print from a sketch I did there in July. So here are the two more.
I was more tired on the way home than heading across in July, but I still did a modest amount of sketching on the way home. I'd been looking at the night skies all summer and thinking of painting one, so I took the chance coming across before I got home to the city light pollution. As always, I sketched a good dessert to help me remember the joy of it. I'm also still really enjoying sketching Alice. The last day I was playing banjo in Missouri, and a deer came to watch. Apparently banjos aren't that common. I grabbed the sketchbook next to me and did a very quick gesture of it. The ears were adorable. It wasn't a lot of sketching, but it felt nice to do a few small, happy things in the middle of six days' worth of driving.
I had a bit of a mad scramble my last week in Washington, and I got behind scanning and posting photos. I did manage to walk around to this apple tree I'd been eyeing and wanting to paint for several weeks, and I had a good time doing a paint first, lines later sketch. I also did a couple of early Inktober sketches, though I certainly haven't managed anything approaching every day this year. I haven't been drawing people much, and I was pretty happy with the one of Jude reading under the tree. He went down with me for Mr. Darcy's last vet appointment before leaving, and there's always a bit of sitting around. I just tonight scanned in the sketches from the actual trip home, and I'll get those up next. I'm deep in printmaking at the moment, now that I'm home with my press, so it felt nice to spend time with sketches today, even if it was just scanning instead of drawing.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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