In spite of starting it with tea and toast at 4am (menopause sleep loss always ramps up for me in the fall), I had a great day. I took Henry to daycare and went out to WKNO to record a radio interview about the Sunday party at Elmwood. Darel brought the new banjo that he MADE HIMSELF in for me to see and let me play it. It plays incredibly beautifully. I am so impressed with his wide ranging talents. After a big Costco run, since I was out east anyway, I treated myself to a Gulf coast scallops tortuga and a mango drink at Los Tortugas. I did a super quick sketch while waiting for my pick up order. I ate it at Shelby Farms and also got some grocery shopping in and a short nap before bringing Henry home. A good day.
Also here is one recent sketch of Henry. He's the best.
I've lost a little steam on Inktober because I FINISHED MY BOOK and formatted and submitted all the files and am now waiting on a proof before I order a stack of them. But here are several I did along the way, and I'm trying to get back to it and finish strong now that the book is done.
I've been taking my sketchbook to the dog park, and sometimes I just visit with friends, but sometimes I manage a sketch. One woman brought her supper in and managed (barely) to eat on the picnic table with all the dogs checking in to see what was going on. In a similar portable food vein, I did a small nocturne of a food truck under the moon at a recent outdoor performance of The Tempest. So fun. Both of those are in black ink with my new bent nib fude pen. Below is a dip pen with Diamine spring green ink and lots of watercolor on top.
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.
I've been lucky enough to meet up with my friend Christina for a series of sketching meals over the last month. I love getting out with a friend or two, enjoying some food, comparing sketching materials, and drawing together. You're not ignoring your dinner companion if she is also sketching. It's companionable and full of joy for me. We met up at Cafe Eclectic on 901 day (September 1st mirrors the Memphis area code, for those of you out of town, and we have a bit of a civic celebration that goes on.) I had fun with the red umbrellas and then sketched Christina in graphite with my newish graphite Kaweko mechanical pencil I got out west that has a huge, juicy, fat column of graphite in it.
I sketched at the Slider Inn with a dip pen and the Ancient Copper ink by Diamine I've been really enjoying lately. I didn't have the mental energy for watercolor that night, but it was fun to record the evening and play with line.
Finally was lunch at Boscos after the Memphis Urban Sketchers meetup. The same dip pen with a warm purple ink, but we lingered longer and I enjoyed adding the watercolor.
I wrote in my last post that I like the shape and impact of my bigger summer sketchbook, but I also find it deters me from picking it up sometimes, just because it feels like a big commitment to cover that larger real estate. So I started a new smaller 5.5" sketchbook too. It's by Handbook, and I really like the size, the landscape shape when it's opened out, and the pocket at the back for tickets and other ephemera.
A facebook memory came up of one of my tiny oils on this plate by Melissa Bridgman. It had a dark background and a different feel, but it made me think about cherries and her pottery and what a satisfying combination that is. So a good first sketch for a new sketchbook. Below is the oil that made me want to revisit the subject. Beautifully it now hangs in Melissa's kitchen.
I stopped in St. Louis on my way home and spent a couple of days seeing friends, resting up, and doing a little sketching. I started the morning in Tower Grove Park with a field of small sunflowers, painted daisies and a strawberry rhubarb tart, and (of course) Ted Drewes. My favorite stop and such a funky, old time place to draw.
First Saturdays are my favorite day of the month. It's Urban Sketcher Saturday, and we meet somewhere different each month to sketch and chat and compare pens and materials. This month we were at a nursery with a good crowd. I loved catching up with a ton of cool friends, and then Christina and I ended up (after a general chat about meals on patios) heading to Soulfish for fish tacos on a perfect eat outside kind of day. It was a real pleasure to have a leisurely outing and a long visit and not have to rush home to take care of anything else. A perfect weekend treat.
The talk at Dixon was amazing. I was honored and thrilled that 70 fantastic people showed up, midweek at lunchtime, to hear me talk about my creative life and influences. I make art on my own in my house most of the time, so getting to go out in public and share the things I love and things I've learned was exciting and greatly fun. I had another hour's worth of conversations on my way out, and I loved hearing people's own experiences or what book or artist they might want to look into after hearing my favorites.
After working hard to put that together and spending the entire next day doing checkup and regular screening tests, I was ready for a couple of slow days. Henry and I took walks, went to the farmers market, had second tea, and spent a lot of time quilting or mending on the sofa and watching some British tv. It was lovely. I'm grateful for the pace of my life that lets me push when I have deadlines but also take time off afterwards. Here are a few sketches I did just to get back into art for pure enjoyment.
The top one is neocolor crayon with watercolor, and the bottom tested two new samples of De Atramentis document ink (waterproof and silky) and the four leaf clover in my classic Diamine water soluble ink that moves and melds with my watercolors. The watersoluble comes in a nice range of colors, but it stays really firm and almost harsh when I paint -- kind of like making your own coloring book. I'll try some more sketches with it, but I think I still love the soluble ink best. I've had fun with the crayons too, and I like the added texture, but I miss line in that top one. It's good to branch out and experiment but sometimes it ends up reinforcing your already favorite things.
I'm still working pretty hard on the graphic essay, but I did a few sketches while waiting for the copy edits to come back. One of my favorite treats is a chocolate croissant from Lucy J's, so I drew out the enjoyment by sketching it. I also took a little time with the wildflowers in the Old Forest. The watercolor crayons overall were a little too candy bright for them, but it was fun to sit and sketch in the woods.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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