I'm doing a lot of getting-ready-for-shows work, but I managed to take a little time and work on my Will you?/Won't you? signpost self portrait. It's almost finished.
I also printed the invitations for the upcoming studio sale today on my treadle operated Chandler and Price. It's always great fun to run the big press.
Plus I had a deadline for the Memphis Daily News today for my monthly sketch feature, so I headed down to the Woodruff-Fontaine House to sketch it all decked out for Christmas. They're having an open house this Friday evening, so it seemed like a good moment to feature them.
publicly invited Mr. Darcy in a facebook post to come in for the interview as well. He's got three rescues of his own and knows that Mr. Darcy is my constant art companion. So we both went in this morning to the studio.
What I realized today (aside from what a southern accent I have, which hits me annually as I do this interview for my big show of the year) is that my brain really closes one book artistically and moves straight into something else. I came home from Paris and spent a good bit of time painting and making prints from the landscape watercolors that I did there, but in the two weeks since the show got on the walls, I've completely shifted over to this new series I'm doing, and that's what was in my brain to talk about. Fortunately the first one of the self portraits was in the show, so it was a legit topic of conversation. And talking about the trip and my art process gave me things to say that weren't "Hey, I did this specific piece that you can't see because it's radio!"
So here's the interview, about 15 minutes, for anyone who's curious.
Big River Crossing
I sketched the Hanrahan bridge from the Arkansas side for the Memphis Daily News this week. The new pedestrian crossing is a great addition to Memphis (though the trains come by so close to you that I don't think I can take my usual four-legged walking buddy, since he's still nervous around even skateboards). They're working on trails on the Arkansas side so people can extend their walks and bike rides a bit as well.
Above is the watercolor I did for the paper. I took a photo of it halfway through, with just the fountain pen line work and sky. If I'd been doing it for myself, I think I would have stopped there. I tried again, quickly, in my journal once I was done, but I think I got the sky too dark for it to balance well. I've been enjoying drawing with a fountain pen again, though. I'd kind of forgotten to for a while and have fallen in love with it again this fall.
Here's my monthly sketch feature for the Memphis Daily News. I went out and sketched at the Levitt Shell, which hosts 50 free concerts a year in a 1920's bandstand four blocks from my house. It's a lovely thing, with some great family history for me. My great grandparents were active in the Gilbert and Sullivan light opera group (The MOAT) that was the original reason for the shell being built. My great grandmother would take an annual trip to NYC to shop for costumes. I love that I can still go hear music here, though the overhead jet flight patterns sadly make unmiked live theater no longer viable.
While I was sketching, two boys came up to watch, ask questions, and eventually ask to draw with me. They also wanted me to draw their sneakers, which I did, but I also did a quick sketch in my journal to remember, since I gave them the bigger sketch. The kid who wanted to full on paint (I always have an extra brush) was super careful with my watercolor kit. I showed him how the different colors have different mixing areas, and he did great not making a mess in my palette. I loved seeing him so excited about making art.
I got to go do an illustration of the Redbirds game for the Memphis News, which won't be published till next week, so I can't show it. My editor gave me the press pass, though, and said I could also go up to the press level and sketch from there. So after I did my main illustration, I decided to enjoy myself by doing a little sketchbook work from the press box. So exciting to be up there watching the announcer work. Plus they had cookies. And a great view.
Daily News feature
These have been published now (see the feature on the Memphis Daily News site here), so I can post the watercolors. My monthly sketch feature for the Daily News was the Calvary Waffle Shop. I got to eat peppermint ice cream and call it work. So utterly delightful.
Mighty Souls in the Memphis News
My second assignment for the Memphis News came out in the paper while I was gone (and I'm grateful to FB friends for posting it for me to see). I had seen at the last minute that the Mighty Souls Brass Band, one of my favorite local bands, was going to play at Dixon Gallery and Gardens. It was the perfect chance to enjoy some good weather and give a simultaneous shout out to two of my favorite Memphis institutions.
You can see their story posted online here.
I also did a second sketch while I was out there. This was my warm up, with the watercolor coming afterwards.
I'm starting a new adventure with this new year, and I'm really excited about it. There are several urban sketchers around the country who have regular sketch features in their local papers. They go out and draw interesting things happening in their communities, and it's like a column or other regular feature in the paper. I pitched this to Eric Barnes, who owns the weekly business paper The Daily News here in Memphis, and he was kindly receptive. With the holidays over, I met with the editorial team yesterday.
They already have a weekly spot for community happenings that is usually anchored by a photograph. They're going to use my work in that space once a month and also commission me to do occasional covers for the paper, which I am utterly thrilled about.
I have loved my landscape illustration work for Cape May (and occasionally Memphis Magazine) and have been wondering how to expand that piece of my career, so I am delighted to be starting the new year with a new opportunity.
I did a little scouting of locations downtown after the meeting and treated myself to sweet potato pancakes at Memphis's iconic diner The Arcade as a celebration. I sketched, of course.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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