I actually took a little time off around the holiday from my regular work this year, but I spent a lot of Thanksgiving itself in the forest. We've had a lovely run of warm, sunny thanksgivings, and it's become a tradition for me. My usual family do isn't often on the day, due to scheduling conflicts for other folks, and this year, of course, it was a thoroughly quiet day with Mr. Darcy and me eating by the fire.
I've been doing book work and prints and having trouble getting myself into sketching lately, so I decided to mix things up and try some watercolor pencils. I always want to like them and then don't, but the Inktense (made near the Lake District in England, by Derwent) have a lovely strong color and depth. Local museums won't let me sketch with my water brush and colors the way I can in Europe, and I've been wanting a color medium I can use in museums too. These are fun. They mix line and wash, and I like the colors. I still like fountain pen and watercolor best, but it's good to play. The first one is two colors of green pencil plus water soluble graphite. Then I added pen to the last one of the four, just to see how that was too.
I knew I would enjoy taking art trips in Alice (named after Alice Steinbach the author of Without Reservations: Travels of an Independent Woman), but I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy making art about Alice herself. I did a number of sketches of her over the summer and fall, and this is the print I came home to make. I’m excited about it. I’m going to print 40 of this daytime version, and then I want to cut away the curves in the sky an do a nighttime version with moon and stars up there instead. It’s fun to get two prints for the same complex block, even though I’ll carve a second but very simple background one.
The greens migrated some as I kept mixing and hand rolling each block. I like having some options, but I think I’ll push the second batch more towards the light one in the middle.
I’ve been updating my online store lately, and I just put this prints up. I’m shipping off prints to various kind folks this week, and P is for Possum will be coming in soon (fingers crossed!) It’s also there and available for preorder. https://martha-kelly-art.square.site/
I've been loving the forest sketching lately with all the autumn colors and swirly vines, but it's a little socked in. Walking home from the forest the other day, I saw this sky and had to stop and paint a big wide open sweep. Such fun.
Bard Cole of WKNO, our local PBS station, has done a series of nature videos this summer and fall. We both walk daily in the same park and forest, and several of the shorts feature the Old Forest. I was thrilled he asked me to do one with him, and we took advantage of a lovely day on Monday to go walking, sketching, and talking. Bard has a beautiful way with a camera, and if I had worn a better shirt, it would have been a thoroughly beautiful occasion. Sadly I didn't really consider sitting hunched over to draw. It looked ok standing up, so I walked out wearing it, but that's pretty true to life. I don't often think too hard about what I'm wearing, and I certainly don't pay much attention to anything else when I'm painting. Berthe Morisot's mother worried about her not getting a husband because of the fierce face she made when she painted. It's hard to make art and look presentable at the same time.
The sketch itself isn't my best. Bard did a slow circular crawl around me as I worked, and I ended up overworking it a bit while we talked. It's hard not to be self conscious about sketching on camera. But I loved the conversation we had, and I'm so grateful to get the chance to talk about the place that continues to be the very heart of my work. Watch the rest of the shorts here. I love the one about the birder. Bard's camera work is exquisite.
It's been a kind of stressful week for the country, but the weather was flat out glorious yesterday, and I spent the whole day outside painting. It felt marvelous. I did two journal spreads for myself, one large and one small, and I did two commissions. My house portraits often get a little tight, but this was for a fellow artist, and I let myself play more than usual. I had been loosening up in the forest, and I intentionally went straight on over. Unusually for me, I did the paint first and added the lines after, something I'm trying more of lately to get more motion in my pieces. Houses are easy to get too tight and precise about. I was pleased with the results, and (beautifully) so was she. I love doing paintings for friends. I haven't got permission to share the other one yet (sometimes they're surprise gifts), but I'll post it when I can.
I'm really taking advantage of being home with the printing press, and I'm also trying to get some proofs pushed toward final prints ahead of the holiday season. So I did more color proofs of the line of trees, as well as doing a batch of green under blocks. I'll do more colors and add the top layer in the next week or so. I also reprinted an old favorite. I hadn't printed many of these to begin with. It's part of my art deco travel series, but it's in North Carolina, so my Memphis audience doesn't have as many connections to this place. I've always really liked it, though, and a friend requested I do more. It's a grand idea. This one is four colors and three printings (the two greens are blended on the block), and it takes a bit, but I did a stack of them this week, so I'll have some available.
I also ordered a second proof of P is for Possum in the premium color. I wasn't happy with the standard one I got, but the cover had fantastic color, so I'm hoping that will be what comes in the interior as well with the premium printing. I'm excited about the book, but I want to get it right before I send it out into the world. Soon though!
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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