Memphis gets slammed (usually by those living here) for not having mountains or beaches or "natural beauty", but I think the carpers are missing out. What we have is the biggest, most magnificent river in North America, and it is a wilderness adventure of its own. I've been lucky that Elmore has introduced me to the world of kayaking. It's a intimate and powerful way to explore the world.
Monday (since Elmore and I work for ourselves, we usually work through weekends and then take small trips when the weather is right) my dad drove us up to Drummonds, TN, about 36 miles north of Memphis, and dropped us at the boat ramp there. A friend had told us about Dean Island, and we decided to camp there instead of the more usual stop by Shelby Forest Park. It was stunning. I'm a huge fan of Walter Anderson, the coastal Mississippi painter who made numerous trips to paint on Horn Island. I now understand the draw. I can't wait to get back to Dean Island.
It was absolutely pristine, peaceful, and remote (except for occasional barges). The sandy beaches with twisted driftwood reminded me just a little of my friend Matt Matthew's stunning southwest photography, but with our river and greenery mixed in. We got there in that golden, late afternoon light, and I wanted to just paint for days.
I started with some sketchbook pages (this blog entry), but I finally switched over to doing just one painting per page. I so admire artists like Elizabeth Alley who come up with these sketchbooks that are works of art in themselves, but I find that I invariably wish I had such-and-such a drawing on a separate sheet so it could go in a show or be otherwise independent. Here are my three sketchbook pages before I switched over to doing one-to-a-sheet watercolors, which I'll post soon.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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