My deadline for the last two years happened yesterday when I dropped off art at WAMA. I was delighted to see this sign waiting by the gallery slated for my show. It was huge just to unload the car and see the work here.
I celebrated by going down to the water, wading and sketching on the beach, and having a little actual gulf coast king cake. I always try the Memphis versions and am always disappointed. Driving down here this time of year is a big treat. Here are a few images from yesterday.
I’m having a slow morning today and will go to the museum later to help lay out the graphic essay for the small secondary show.
Y'all, WAMA has made a gorgeous website for my exhibition! I couldn't be more pleased. Above is a screenshot of the top of it, but to navigate the images and read all the text about the show and see photos of me working, click here. They are doing a beautiful job on every aspect of this show, and I can't wait to see it hanging in their space. I deliver art on Feb. 28th, and I have 20 of 21 prints framed.
I'm partway through mounting all the pieces (20 watercolors plus text bits) for the separate graphic essay about Mr. Darcy that will hang in a separate space. It's their first time hanging just mounted art instead of framed, their first graphic essay, and their first time hanging in a salon style (a more informal, collage style grouping). I'm so grateful they're trusting me to do this new thing for them. Mattie Codling, the curator, had asked me if I wanted to write a bit of story about Mr. Darcy to go with his print in the show, knowing what a large part of my art making he had been to me. I told her I would love to and that I also had this graphic essay about his last couple of months called Daffodil Season. It doesn't go with the formal print exhibition, but she found a separate space for it in the museum and is diving into this new thing. I have so appreciated her enthusiasm and support in the two years preparing for this show. It will be special to honor Mr. Darcy in this way, and I think anyone who loves and loses a beloved companion will resonate with it. Anderson had a number of animals he spent time with and painted and called familiars, so it's appropriate for his museum to honor these muses.
I took advantage of another medium nice day and sketched again in the forest. Just a quick one with walnut ink and the dip pen plus watercolor. I enjoyed the dancing shape of this log. Mostly I'm framing just now, but I'm trying to seize the decent days in the cold part of winter to draw a little outside on my walk.
I ran down to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to meet with the curator at Walter Anderson Museum of Art to make the final selection for my solo show there next year. This is a career moment for me, and I'm ridiculously excited. It was wonderful to get to lay out all the prints I've been working on for the last two years in the space where my work will be hanging next year.
It was also really wonderful to get away from the deadlines that have been crowding me so hard lately, and to breathe, walk, and sketch again. I hadn't been drawing for myself in more than a week, and it felt so good to dive in. I walked down to the beach for sunset, after checking in at the museum and putting my stuff in my room. I was just in time for sunset, and it was glorious. I did two very quick sketches in the half dark, and after dinner I drew my teapot and the shells I had picked up and a lovely tangerine (?) that was a present from some landscaping workers I had passed on my way to the beach. Really kind.
I also drew (and ate) a lot of good food. I have a friend who says "Always get the pink drink", by which she means to celebrate an occasion with something special. After my meeting the next morning to lay out all the art and finalize the show, I treated myself to a grown up lunch. I sat out on the front porch of Maison de Lu, under the live oaks that line Washington Street, and had a flat out delicious lunch, including a celebratory mango margarita. And then celebratory (and ridiculously good) white chocolate bread pudding. I'm going to have to walk a LOT this coming week to get my equilibrium back.
There was also a French patisserie four blocks from the cottage, which was seriously dangerous. I tended to take an early walk, buy breakfast, take it back to my small balcony, make tea, and enjoy it all.
The weather could not have been more perfect for sitting outside and drinking in all the goodness of the coast. I sat out with my banjo a lot, which I also haven't had time to do much lately. I have several more commissions due soon and some final paperwork for WAMA, but the break was wonderful, and I'm planning to be able to give myself some time off around Christmas. I've done a decent job of that the last couple of years after several of scrambling so hard right up until the day that I couldn't enjoy the family time as much as I wanted to. It feels good to be able to see some time off coming.
I don't do a lot of this. I have been known to sketch an occasional wedding, but I haven't wanted to get more fully into that business because it's mentally exhausting, and you generally have to book a year out, which my traveling life style simply doesn't allow for. However, when my church's new pastor said that the gift he wanted from the committee was for me to live sketch his ordination (they knew he liked my work and offered him several options within that framework), I was delighted. I've been hesitant about large live events, and we're still streaming church as well as having it in person, so for the first time ever, I could work at my art desk with a huge table next to me with the space to let sketch after sketch dry instead of trying to fit myself and my work into a pew somewhere. I was tied to the video and couldn't see the "offstage" stuff, but the offset was a LOT more freedom and range of movement to sketch and discard quickly instead of awkwardly balancing in my lap and having no drying areas. I'm still limbered up for dip pen and ink from Inktober, so a lot of the really rapid ones are ink. I feel like I did a better job of being nimble within the service than I ever have before. I wanted to be able to include all of David's special people who were invited to participate in the service. I haven't even counted, but I had a table full of sketches when I was done, and I think they might make a nice scrapbook for him.
I'm still scanning in work, but here's a preview of what I did.
My last Inktober sketch ended up on a double page mash up from a couple of different sessions. It started as a sketch of Gideon, but I didn't even get his head finished before he left the couch. I miss Mr. Darcy curled up for two hours letting me sketch him as much as I wanted, but all dogs are going to be different. Gideon is a little less cut out for muse work, at least at this young age. So I moved on to the room, and then I added my morning tea service. I decided my crazy-fancy, brass teapot from a street market in Paris would be just right in walnut ink, as well as having a nicely celebratory feel for the end of this run. I got out my great grandmother's violets and daisies china for the same reason. Also because it's nice to just use and enjoy the "good stuff" once in a while if we're going to house it at all. I love my pottery best, but it's fun to mix things up, and this china is truly lovely. k
It's a good weekend for catching up with friends. There was cake and sketching yesterday on the back porch, one of the best kinds of parties. Muddy's had grasshopper cake for the first time in ages, and it's my favorite. Today will be pizza and more friends. I'm so grateful for my village.
I am continuing to enjoy sketching my tea things and Gideon. These were done outside with much more moving around and stick chasing. He's excellent entertainment if a somewhat wiggly muse. I'm still doing as much on the back porch as I can while the weather is good. I spent one whole day out there mailing out calendars, and on the days when I have indoor work, meals on the porch give Gideon time to poke around and have a good time at intervals.
Today was gorgeous, and I noticed while walking Gideon that there were pumpkins decorating the Higbee memorial at the park. I took a longer walk for myself (he can only go so far at a time, or at least, is only allowed to with his heart condition), and I took my sketching things over with me. In keeping with Inktober, I used walnut ink and Inktense pencils with only a bit of watercolor on top. At dinner I sketched a tiny flower in one of my smallest cream pitchers, found at a street market in Paris years ago. That kept me outside a little longer for Gideon to play. Now, however, I've painted and mailed calendars and sketched and done some business and scanned these in, so I'm going to collapse into the sofa with my book for the rest of the evening.
I had a ton of printing and scanning to do to turn preliminary images into WAMA for the show next year. I took a few days off Inktober, but mostly I have really enjoyed the reminder to sketch regularly and play with my dip pen and walnut ink (and a red marker for the pot). I'm also getting into a rhythm of having my materials next to my place at the island where I can sketch Gideon. I always used to draw Mr. Darcy on the couch, where he would settle in with me, but Gideon isn't as snuggly and prefers to be on his own on the floor. So this is where I get a good view of him when he's calm and sketchable.
I also sketched my new enamel pot yesterday. After the deadline I've really enjoyed a few quiet days -- doing a little painting for my own pleasure, visits with friends, and cooking a pot of spaghetti gravy yesterday. My old soup pot was aluminum, and I've been looking at a replacement. This isn't one of the fancy brand name enamel ones, but it's a gorgeous cherry red and gets the job done. I was delighted to find it at Target last week.
Below is a sketch from a meeting about saving the Greensward. Again. I can't believe we're in round 43 of this. We met outside at the gorgeous old Memphis Heritage building, and I sketched it waiting for everyone to show up. I'd biked over and left extra time, not knowing exactly how long that would take. A sketchbook is always a good companion.
It's been an exciting week around here. I worked on a graphic essay about the zoo's land grab for Overton Park's Greensward, the one huge, escape-from-the-city meadow, several years ago. Then the zoo and city backed off, despite the council having handed them several acres of it, and plan to raze about 85 trees and raise the parking lot up level with the meadow so everyone is staring at car bumpers instead of trees and sky. Then, in an underhanded Friday 5pm news dump, they announced they're going ahead with construction anyway. So I updated this essay and sent it off to a couple of publications. They're both in the same publishing family and BOTH decided to use it. I was delighted. You can read the full essay at Memphis Magazine or the Memphis Flyer (our weekly paper).
I'm sad for the reason but delighted to see this essay in print. It was the first graphic essay I had worked on, and I really love the story telling mix of paint and text.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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