I had a big printing day yesterday. I hit a personal best with about 1000 cards printed on a heavy, turn-of-the-last-century, treadle operated press. It’s good exercise for me, and I ended up with 600 postcard invitations for my upcoming Open Studio Sale (December 1st and 2nd), plus a bunch of new note cards for the sales. I based this owl on a baby rescued barred owl I got to meet a few years ago on his way to a wildlife rescue group. He was adorable.
Here’s a video of the press running. I love the majestic way it orbits and works so quietly. It’s such a pleasure to use.
After the SCBWI (kidlit group) conference in Nashville back in September, I got seriously back to work on the Mr. Darcy picture book. I've changed it a lot. It's no longer his Odyssey across the country but the story of his getting a home as a rescue dog. I also got excited about board books and created a counting book based on a walk we had this past summer where we saw one deer, two snails, etc.
The protocol for submitting a children's book is to make dummy books (handsewn with many rough sketches and a few color pieces to show what finished art would look like) and send them off in the mail. Art editors don't want a fully finished book because they'd like to collaborate a little and feel as though there is space to make changes. I took a moonshot today and submitted both dummies to Candlewick, my dream press. They were at the conference, so I was allowed to do that (as an attendee) without first finding an agent.
Above is an out take, one of the rough sketches in pencil and water soluble graphite. Below are the two dummy books about to get packed up to go. Fingers crossed. This is a whole new, highly competitive world, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I'm pleased to announce my holiday shows this coming season. I always have my own Open Studio, which will be with Melissa Bridgman again. I love spending the weekend with her and her gorgeous pottery. (Something always stays with me when she leaves. I'll be back at Tsunami again for their nicely curated, one day, manageable sized sale that I love. And this year, for the first time, I'll be joining MAC for five weeks at Crosstown Concourse. I've never done such a long show before, and I'll be curious to see how it goes with my stock. I'm excited to do a show at Crosstown, though, and it's a neat group, so here's to new things!
Even though I'm primarily a painter/printmaker, I listen to a lot of writing podcasts. They translate well into a verbal medium, deal with creativity, and teach me some the publishing industry as I'm working on my Mr. Darcy picture book. There's a bit of talk about "morning pages," the early morning writing you do for yourself, not part of your regular work, just to loosen up in the mornings. This week I've been doing the sketcher version of that, drawing my morning tea.
It's been a week of some drawing, but mostly fiddly computer work, as I scan in drawings and text and assemble them in photoshop as pages for my book. I've wanted to have some bit of actual creative, painterly fun in the midst of it, so this has been a good way to start my mornings lately. I'm always trying to balance the journal/blog/social media/printing and packaging time I spend against painting or carving time, so this may not be a good fit for me daily. Often I wake up with a painting just dying to push its way out, and all I want to do is dive in. Doing a daily anything can be constrictive for me creatively. But I do enjoy these meditative sketches, so I'm leaving a paint box out on the counter at my breakfast spot for now (one of many advantages to living by myself), and I'll see if I can be more mindful about sketching instead of just looking at a screen when I am having some down time at meals.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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