It's FINALLY sunny again! I've got a stack of commissions (houses and other places) to do before Christmas, and it's been socked in, rainy, and a little sleety lately. Not good painting weather. Today was cold (by my standards -- lower 40's), but sunny, so I bundled up and did a couple of paintings. The top one is from a few days ago (the interior made it easier with the weather) -- it's 5x7", a small card for a birthday commission.
One of today's paintings is below. The other is a little larger and doesn't fit on my scanner, so I'll post it later. This house is in the Central Gardens area of Memphis, where the biggest, oldest, loveliest houses are (except for Annesdale-Snowdon, the next door neighborhood, which I think is even older). So far I've painted houses only in my own neighborhood, 20's and quite nice but nothing quite as grand as Central Gardens. I've got several commissions over there, so it will be fun to branch out over the next few days.
I'm off to bed now, but it had been so long since I had some urban sketches to share that I wanted to get these up.
It's been cloudy and raining pretty steadily here, so I haven't been able to get out and paint. The rest of the week looks better, which is good because I have a stack of Christmas commissions to do.
In the meantime, I printed the invitation to Elmore's and my open house (it was time to get this done, anyway!). It's the most type-setting I've done, and I'm happy to report that the process is getting easier. I also got to play with several new fonts I haven't printed before. It's a little like Christmas to see how they come out the first time.
Now I've got to get our home gallery hung and the house clean. It's good to have occasional deadlines for things like that.
I'm hand pulling Advent prints this week, and I'm also playing with my newest fonts of wooden type while I have ink on the rollers. I haven't slotted them into the letterpress yet, just pulled by hand while I'm rolling away with my other stuff. (The press takes a lot of clean-up, so it makes sense to save it for a more serious day's work.) Because of that, these are have a few spots that are less well printed than is ideal, but I mostly wanted to see what they look like. I'm thinking of doing myself an "urban sketcher" t-shirt. If any other urban sketchers out there want in, let me know.
Here's a second font possibility. I don't have an "A" with this one, so I used a "V" upside down instead. I've decided I really like condensed type (the tall, skinny stuff) and hope I can find some more somewhere.
It's amazing how Advent creeps up on me each year, and it's especially exacerbated this time with my show just the week before. It's my favorite church season (gorgeous hymns, apocalyptic theology, the emphasis on Isaiah), and I try to do something special each year besides my normal line drawings. This year I'm doing a series of block prints paired with some vintage letterpress type. Above (echoing "Prepare the way of the LORD") is week one. I've carved but haven't printed "Repent" for week two. Week three will be my "Peace" image that I've already got note-cards of, and I'm still designing "Comfort" for week four. Nothing like being on top of things.
Anyway, I got this one done Monday to scan in Tuesday and get to my subscribing churches. Tomorrow I'll print "Repent". I've got John the Baptist whispering in my ear this week.
Yesterday it was too cloudy for plein air, so I concentrated on printmaking. I'm working on a series of blocks for Advent for bulletin covers. I have several new churches who are subscribing to my weekly drawings based on the lectionary, but I like to do blocks for Advent each year. It's my favorite church season. I'll post them when I'm finished.
In the meantime, I pulled this proof as well. I mostly carved this block on our farm retreat (it's based on a tulip poplar there), and I wanted to make sure it was ready to go now that I'm home with the letterpress. I'm going to make note-cards out of it (I think in color), but it's also the perfect size for a bookplate. I can add type at top and bottom for "Ex Libris" (or "from the library of", depending on preference) and then add a name at the bottom. I need to get serious about finding some gummed paper for bookplates. It would be very fun to do some.
I spent a lovely Saturday morning at Dixon for the second day in a row. They open the gardens up at 8 am, and entry is free on Saturday mornings. Strangely, no one else came while I was there,at least not over at the far side, so I had a peaceful morning with some lovely formal gardens all to myself. I did two pastels while listening to my morning NPR shows, and then headed inside to see the Brian Selznik exhibit.
It's a good show, lots of lovely pencil drawings, and my book club had strongly enjoyed his novel-(half)-in-pictures.
I topped off the morning with a stop by the farmers market on the way home. A good day at work.
Getting home from my weekend and getting ready for the opening took up much of my week, but we've had two lovely, lovely days since the opening for me to celebrate by getting back out to work. I get antsy when I don't paint for several days, so it was pure joy to go out with my pastel kit the last two days.
I'm looking ahead to winter and thinking that I should store up some studies to paint from during the coldest weather. Hopefully we'll also have some decent days for me to go urban sketch as well. But pastels give me much richer color and value information, so I'm going to concentrate on them for a little while. I want to stockpile enough to keep me busy over the winter. These two are from yesterday, my first day back to work. (Or at least back to the fun part of being an artist, which is making the art.)
Well, I've spent a largely lovely November week meeting four deadlines instead of painting. It's definitely been a week for the business side of being an artist instead of the fun part, but the calendars are being printed, the invitations are in the mail, and 72 urban sketches are now up and on view at Playhouse on the Square. The opening will be this Thursday, the 17th, from 5-7.
Next week I hope to celebrate by getting back to some painting and printmaking, but this weekend I'm going to celebrate by dancing with my sisters. Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!
The Brooks Museum here in Memphis is having an exhibit they're calling "Armed + Dangerous." It's weaponry through the centuries. The museum shop has been carrying my letterpress cards and asked if I could come up with a card or three for this exhibit, since they don't have any official postcards for it. With my show coming too, this is the first one I've managed (their show also goes up this week), but once I get my own show hung, I hope to do at least one more to complement it.
Sadly, my letterpress type so far does not seem to include a "+", so here's the back of the card:
My "e" also seems to be doing something funky here, but I think I got that fixed. (The one I scanned is an early throw-away for spacing -- the real ones are still drying on the racks.)
I had a couple of requests for a calendar of my Memphis sketches, and it sounded like a great idea. I've spent more time this week than I dreamed of visiting printers, laying out the months, and rescanning hi-res for the pictures, but it will be great fun to have. I'm trying to figure out how many to order on Monday or Tuesday, so please let me know if you'd like one for sure. The pre-order price is $16.
Here are the twelve watercolors that will be in the calendar:
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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