I did my last gallery tour at Dixon today, and a number of friends showed up for it. As well as some people I didn't know at all but who wanted to hear about my work. Both were lovely.
I got there early to film a snippit for their YouTube channel (which I am waiting nervously to see how awful it might look), and I spent the time in between sketching the gallery with my show in it. This has been a pivotal moment in my career and my most exciting show, and I wanted to memorialize it in my sketch journal. And really just drink in and celebrate the moment. I feel so lucky to have had this chance to show with such a wonderful museum that influenced my development as an artist.
I have likely said this before, but it's the glass cases with my sketchbooks inside that really get me about this show. So very museum-y. Gives me goosebumps.
I'm going to be sad to see it come down. It's been a thrilling ride this fall. But I am also looking forward to the quiet long blocks of time in January to get back to fully making art again after all the show and holiday busyness dies down. I've got a new print underway that I'll post here soon. It feels good.
Here is the original sketch I worked from.
It was such fun to have Melissa and her beautiful pottery in my studio gallery for the weekend. She's great company, and our work looks good together. I enjoyed meeting her friends and introducing her to mine. I'm grateful for everyone who came out and who spread the info on facebook. I do think both fb and the visibility of my current Dixon show made it a great weekend for both of us. I have so enjoyed working for myself, doing smaller work, and being able to throw my own shows instead of relying on galleries. Facebook and Square (which lets independent operators accept credit cards and a doable rate) have both been power-to-the-people developments over recent years. Much like the music industry, it is now possible to cut out the middle man and still have an art career. I love doing smaller, more affordable prints instead of all large gallery paintings. And I'm grateful to everyone who comes out to shows, comments, or spreads the word on fb. You all let me do what I love for a living, and I could not be more lucky.
I decided to celebrate (and take advantage of the cleaning I did) and have a party last night as well. Sadly, my regular jam group is losing our mandolin player to Louisiana, so we gave him a send off party last night. I love having friends, music, and dancing in my house. Two of the three over the last few days is not bad at all, and I'm hoping to add in a little dancing soon as well.
Melissa Bridgman of Bridgman Pottery is teaming up with me again this year for my holiday sale. We'll be open this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12 and 13, from 12-5 both days at 1780 Autumn Ave. in Midtown Memphis. I love her work and use her bowl for breakfast and her tea things throughout the day. We'll both have small present priced work as well as our bigger things. I'll have all the prints from my current Dixon show available as well as my new dance and musician prints I've been playing with since. And we were both baking last night for the show. Banana bread, tea cakes, and cookies. Drop in and say hi!
We've got tea time covered.
Melissa has some Memphis map platters, and I've been playing with printing on tee shirts. Sizes and colors are limited, since I'm using shirts I find in thrift stores. It's a bit of a treasure hunt. This isn't what I want to do in bulk, but I thought I'd try a few as a special holiday show option.
After my Thanksgiving post, I went back to the forest to paint for the afternoon. It was an utterly gorgeous day, so I took my sit-on-the-ground camp chair and my journal as well as a couple of sketchbooks and spent the whole afternoon in the forest. It's been raining ever since, so I've been doing the non-photogenic indoor work of pulling prints and cleaning the house for my Open Studio Sale (Dec. 12-13, 12-5 both days).
It was largely a lovely afternoon, but there were a few bad minutes in the middle of it. I have known for years that going out into the world and settling on the ground with your things spread around you opens you up to whatever the universe chooses to send you that day. 99% of the time, it's wonderful. I've been brought cushions, invited in for tea, given a lap-full of tangerines, given art made my other people who loved to see what I was doing too, and I've met marvelous people on three continents. Occasionally it's a little dicey. You can't just walk away quickly from someone who's harassing a woman alone, as happens occasionally, when you've got your easel set up.
On Thanksgiving it was a dog issue. Mr. Darcy and I were well off the pedestrian road through the forest, painting out of the way, and he was settled at my side. A woman walking three large dogs drifted too close to us. Mr. D is more protective when I'm sitting and was growling, but I had him sitting right beside me. Then the three dogs swarmed him, towing their owner along with them, and I basically had a dog fight going on in my lap. I couldn't get Mr. D away because I was pinned on the ground (if I'd been up and walking it would have been ok), and it took the woman at least five tries to pull them off of us. Mr. D got a number of scratches, none bad, and I have a huge bruise turning purple on my shin, but we were very lucky. It could have been much uglier.
It was definitely a day I was grateful for the mentally balancing act of sketching. I had a half finished sketch (on now-bent paper, but still) to finish, and I'd gotten myself back to a better place by the time I was done. I stayed out, went deeper into the woods to get away from the holiday/Saturday dog owners who tend to be more incompetent handling their dogs than the daily park users, and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon. But it was one of those occasional reminders that making art can be a dicey enterprise.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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