The Stanley Brothers had a classic album called Saturday night and Sunday morning of hard living songs and then gospel songs. Here's my take on the same phrase.
I'm doing better with Inktober than I can remember. I missed one day so far, but overall I'm sketching daily, and it feels great. Above is black document ink from DeAtramentis with watercolor on top. Below is more traditional Inktober with just black ink and maybe an ink wash.
Today Henry and I delivered new prints to Elmwood ahead of their big do this weekend. Kim nicely wanted to have some on hand to sell. So we celebrated meeting that deadline with a walk through the cemetery and some sketching. These are two different sketches on the facing pages, but they harmonized really nicely into one composite landscape.
Then I was starving, so we went to Casablanca for lunch on their dog friendly deck. Lunch is my favorite there because they have the best black tea in town (lots of spices and honey plus ginger brewed in), but I can't have it at dinnertime that close to bed. I had half a shwarma platter and a lot of celebratory tea, and I'll add some broccoli tomorrow and have another fantastic meal tomorrow. Leftovers are the bomb for a single woman who doesn't much like to cook.
I've got a new, fun fountain pen. It's a Majohn bent nib, so the line variation goes from thin to thick. Because of the thick lines, bent nib pens can run out of ink quickly, but this one has a huge well for ink, and it's clear plastic, so I can see when I'm running low. It's short and fat and super fun to use. Christina was given one by our friend Beth, and I got to try it at lunch with Christina soon after. She has Diamine Aurora Borealis in hers, so those first green/blue sketches are with her pen. I put Diamine Ancient Copper in mine, which is the new fun color I've been having a great time with. The first one I got kept sticking, but knowing that two others were flowing great, I did a return, and my new one is beautiful. I may have to get a second one to have a couple of different colors. Nicely they're just under $20, so a quite reasonable impulse purchase for something that feeds my work.
Depending on your point of view, I either got a new toy or invested in my work last week. I love making art on paper with paint or carving, but the text part of making a book is painstaking if I write by hand and scan in, cleaning up lines of text and trying to keep them in the correct area around the images and in a ballpark of the same size. So this week I got an iPad Pro and Apple pencil. Being able to write directly on the book page without the smudges and dirt a scanner can add in is a huge pleasure. I’m still getting used to the iPad version of photoshop and the feel of the pencil itself, but I’m feeling encouraged. I’ve got a couple of different book projects in mind, and I think this will be a huge help.
I’ll lose that variation of ink that a real pen gives you, but I’ll regain the energy and creativity of wrapping text around the images and playing directly with the spaces instead of trying to replicate that on a separate page. I’m still working to figure out sizes and keep my writing neater with the pencil, but I’m very happy with the early progress.
I had SUCH a good day out on Tuesday. I had errands to do, so I put Henry in daycare, but the air felt good and there's always a breeze by the river, so we went down and walked the Greenbelt park at Mud Island before I dropped him off. One of the big cruise boats was docked down there, so I tucked Henry's leash around my shoe and did a quick sketch. He's learning to settle in nicely while I work, which is such a blessing.
I'm trying to get back to more quick sketching in my daily life again, and I'm back to the bent nib fountain pen, a Sailor fude, that's satisfying with a lot of line variation. I've got some waterproof De Atramentis fog grey ink in it, which has a blueish cast. I hit an antique mall and the Goodwill as well as doing my more necessary grocery shopping, and I lucked into an awesome polka dot dress that I sketched that evening from the sofa. That one is in an "urban grey" ink with a dip pen. But first I picked up some fish tacos from Soulfish, sketching from the curbside pickup parking spot, and I caught a quick one of Henry on the couch with me as well. On the days I'm really in a groove doing work in the studio I'm not worried about getting something in the sketchbook too, but I am going to try to get back in a better habit of sketching out and about. All of this was fun yesterday.
I've got three small prints of Henry (there will likely be more to come) ready to go for this weekend's Dog Days Open Studio Sale. Friday 4-8 for cocktail hour shopping and Saturday 12-5. This year we're at 719 Dickinson, a change of venue from years past, but still in the same neighborhood.
These prints are all on 8x10" paper and are $65 each. It's hard for me to be regimented enough to work on standard sized paper. My old press was 14x22, so I ended up with a lot of prints that size. And I'm always drawn to different shapes. But I know it's simple for people to frame if things are standard, so I'm trying to plan at least some of my smaller pieces to be more regular. My new coastal scene is 11x14", so I've managed it four times this summer. Definitely a record!
This last piece is Shoreline II, a smaller, one block version of print that was in my WAMA show last year. It's actually done from a more recent sketch and is a different shape, but it's the same view looking out from the beach at Ocean Springs, and the color scheme is similar. Instead of using different blocks for different colors, though, I wanted to keep it super simple. Repetitive printing is my least favorite part of the whole process. This block uses four colors and five small rollers to blend the colors on the block. The sky goes from pink at the horizon through grey up into the blue. There's enough space between the pink and the black to use a very small roller for the shoreline itself, and then I can put some gentler strokes into the water with that same roller to get the reflections. It's finicky to print but takes only one session instead of three. It's on 11x14" paper and is $150. I'll have these in the museum shop at WAMA once I get down there in September to deliver them and have a visit, but I'll also have some for the Dog Days sale.
One of my big projects this year was the Oxford American graphic essay Memoir of a House. It's still on the new stands in the Summer issue, but once the Fall issue comes out, I'll be free to publish it as well. I'm expanding it just a little and making it into a book, which I plan to have out before Christmas. I'm adding in maybe a dozen more watercolors to go with the 30 that were in OA, with a few more tidbits about the history. One bit I'm adding is more of how I use my front room. It's always a gallery, but it has been known to double as a dance hall or a space for house concerts. The inimitable Joe Newberry played his songs and told his stories with Mr. Darcy lying at his feet, and I wanted a sketch of that moment for the book. I've also been known to have swing parties with a live band, as part of the local contra dance weekend we used to put on in town. It's been fun to revisit and expand this project a bit.
Our normal spot in the shade with a view of the band was taken by the time Henry and I got there, so I sat in the way back to give us both shade and had a pretty obstructed view. So no full body sketches of musicians, but I could see bits of them, and I also just did a bunch of rapid sketches of the audience, which has grown each week as word has gotten out. It was an easy, laid back way to enjoy a lovely afternoon.
Eventually both the red dresses and Christian's fancy shirt felt like they deserved a splash of color, so I worked quickly with the water brush in my lap and had a good time. They dedicated "Walk the Dog" to Henry and ended with "Wagon Wheel." All so good.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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