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.
I'm still keeping the dip pen and walnut ink by my breakfast place and tending to sketch a bit as I linger over my tea. It's been a long week with a lot of printing, so this has been the only creative work I've been doing (as opposed to the more production end of things). I'm grateful to Inktober for giving me the nudge to both mix things up with ink a little and to keep sketching regularly. I'm enjoying both dog sketches and still lifes, two of my regular go-to subjects. But Gideon makes a cameo even in the last piece, digging and snuffling over at the far right edge of the page.
I'm feeling more confident drawing his body lately, but the face is still super hit or miss. I was happy with the top right one and much less so with the bottom in almost the same position. He's easier for me in profile for some reason, but I'll keep playing and get better as I go along.
I've had trouble getting my head around sketching Gideon. I'm used to dogs with short hair and clean lines, and he's fuzzy all over. I'm still struggling with his face, but I'm getting better at his body. Inktober is giving me a good excuse to sketch him regularly. He tends to lie on the floor beside his food bowl more than anywhere else, and when I'm sitting at my regular meal spot at my kitchen island, I can look down on him from there. So I've been keeping a bottle of walnut ink and a dip pen at my place to be able to sketch him when he's staying at least halfway still. It's challenging but fun, and since I'm in the middle of an absolute ton of rote printing (with the creative carving part all done), it's been nice to grab bits of creative time in the middle of the day as a break.
Mr. Darcy slept about 20 hours a day for much of his life with me. He'd hang out quietly and let me sketch him often. Gideon is 7 months old and in much more constant motion. He's also solid yellow, so he's a challenge on several different fronts. He finally slept a little while I was still downstairs the other night, and I did a fairly full Inktense pencil sketch of him. Previously I'd only managed the briefest of pen sketches as he moved around.
He's fantastic entertainment. He makes me laugh a ton and is adorable, so very good for facebook snaps. I'll just have to get more practiced at the sketching end of things.
I got to Devils Tower, finally busted out of the smoke, and sat outside with a baseball game on the (streamed) radio to keep me company and PAINTED. The previous post was the first batch of these, and here are the rest. They're a mix of my smaller and larger sketchbooks, both of which are square and open out into a landscape format if you go across the page or give you two side by side squares. All of these went across the center crease to be landscape format. The sky was changeable and gorgeous. I also really liked the moment where the golden light raked across the side of the tower (top image).
The final Devils Tower sketch was from inside the camper the next morning in a light rain. I painted it just in time to get half the monument, and it completely disappeared except for the very bottom of the base almost immediately afterwards.
The pink moon rising is the one small sketch I did the next night at Lake Vermillion in South Dakota. It was a long driving day, so I took a walk, talked a while to a lovely solo camper who lives nearby and was giving herself a quiet weekend, and only did this small sketch of a gorgeous moon rising about the treeline behind my camper and away from the lake. It's neat to be able to sit on my sofa, turn on the small reading light, and draw the almost darkness out the window while still seeing what I'm doing on the page.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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