I’m having a letterpress weekend this long holiday weekend, working on getting cards ready for the coming holiday sales. I’m quite happy with this one, so I’ve been printing it in black (letting the ink fade as I go) and silver (below). I’m still struggling to get the bird how I want it, so I’ve mostly held off on it so far. When I get to the red, I’ll do it and the trees both. It’s possible that I just don’t like how the bird printed in the silver, which is always runnier than my other inks. The color tests came out well, though I can’t quite decide how much “noise” to leave in the background behind the bird. At the bottom is a quickie video of my view when I’m running the press.
I’m back in the Pacific Northwest for a short couple of weeks. I had been super busy at home and hadn’t had time to sketch lately, so it’s been lovely to jump back into a little hiking and cycling with a side of sketching.
My partner was digging around on YouTube and found this video of me talking about My Own Places, the landscape exhibition I had at Dixon Gallery and Gardens in 2015. They invited me as a current landscape artist to do a solo show as a complement to their Southern Impressionism exhibit. It was the highlight of my career so far, and it was fun to revisit talking about the way I paint and carve prints and how those two media differ from each other. And how keeping a sketchbook has radically broadened the work that I do.
We had one nice weather day left yesterday. Really half a one. I took my show down this week, and I’ve been doing a ton of paperwork and the business side of working for myself, so I decided to go rogue with my bicycle yesterday. I have a milk crate on the back of it that will carry a nice amount of art gear, so I packed my sketching things, a lunch, and my current book and cycled out the Greenline to Shelby Farms park. I sat on a bench in the sun by my favorite small lake, which I had to myself except for a flock of ducks on it and a herd of buffalo behind me. I saw two great herons, ate my lunch and read, did this sketch, ran through the visitors’ center with a great gift shop (as well as other necessities) and cycled home. It was sprinkling most of the ride, but not badly enough to be unpleasant. The round trip was 25 miles, and it’s the first time I’ve done it on my own, which felt great. I really enjoy that protected bike path, almost completely out of traffic. It was a perfect day before I get on the run again. I’m grateful to be able to take a flexible day with the weather and just go when it’s nice and work other times to make up for it.
I pretty much spent the day on Broad Avenue on Saturday. It’s one of Memphis’s newer art districts, and they were having an art walk/festival. The Memphis Urban Sketchers met up at 10 at City and State, the coffee shop at the far end, and beautifully, my visiting sister went with me. One of her college friends is one of my sketching friends, and we had a ball. It was coldish to start, so we hung out at City and State a good bit. Above is a sketch I had done there a couple of weeks ago but not posted. Below are the people studies I did while we were all hanging out talking.
I was working in gray fountain pen and watercolor. I enthusiastically put down a bunch of wet paint in my regular art journal (5x5”), so I switched over to the 8” square one after and did a larger more connected spread. Elizabeth was wearing stripes, which are always such fun to draw. Vicki and Nancy were sitting with her, and I caught Nancy with a brush in her mouth as she worked.
All of this was accompanied by chai. Very civilized sketching. Afterwards a group of us walked all up and down the street, checking out the shops and art shows. The last three bought fantastic bowls of paella and sat out in the sunshine eating and visiting. It was an excellent day.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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