I've been doing a little sketching alongside some work I can't show yet. It's been sunny the last few days, so Henry and I went to the park, walked a little in the forest, and snagged a picnic table for a quick sketch with clouds.
Melissa Bridgman brought me one of her gorgeous, tiny bud vases a few days ago with some gorgeous, tiny daffs in it. I did a still life this morning with my favorite farmers market chocolate croissant (from Lucy J's, for those of you in Memphis. So good) that is my favorite weekend treat. Celebrate the small things. And drawing it makes me slow down and savor it more.
Dog park clouds
Now that it's warmer again, I'm trying to carry my sketchbook to the dog park more often. I found a new small bag with several zippered pockets at a thrift store recently, so I can store drawing things in there in a secure manner for the occasionally boisterous milieu of the dog park. It's nice to have something that can grab and go easily. This is done with the watercolor crayons again and some paint on top.
I'm still struggling with my energy, so an invitation to sit in Overton Park in the sunshine and sketch a few blocks from my house is a wonderful thing. My friend Christina and I chose a picnic table and compared materials and caught up and enjoyed the afternoon. Henry did great tethered to the table and was rewarded with a trip to the dog park before we headed home. He might be growing up a bit. I'm grateful for art and for friends willing to meet me where I am (both physically and metaphorically) these days.
I've been playing with the neocolor II watercolor crayons at home in a limited way, but it was fun to spread out a full paint set and try them bigger (the top one) with more paint added. I did the drawings in crayon and painted on top. I like the thickness and texture they add.
Art supplies are my very favorite form of retail therapy because then they get me sketching again, which is always a shot of happiness. One of my favorite sketching artists, Suhita Shirodkar, has posted about using watercolor crayons, and I spotted them yesterday at our fantastic Memphis art supply store, the Art Center. They're called Caron D'Ache Neocolor II, and I picked up about five assorted colors to test out. I did a quick sketch with the green and the periwinkle ones and added a little more dark purple and gray in watercolor over the top. I really love the texture and the ease, and I think I'll pick up a few more colors. They'd be great to have for quick sketches at the dog park or other out in the world places where I don't want to get my whole watercolor kit out.
A friend gave me an amaryllis before Christmas, and the last bloom only just faded. I loved having steady blooms on the side table by the sofa where I'm spending so much time right now. I was in Fresh Market pondering some cut flowers as a treat to myself and then spotted this tiny pot of hyacinths with buds only just beginning to bloom. I'm not sure how long it will last, but it felt like a perfect way to usher in early spring.
There's been very little going on around here lately besides a little necessary cooking, a little sketching or carving in my lap on the couch, and trips to the dog park. I'm grateful for Henry to be able to get the exercise he needs when I'm still not up to much walking. As the weather gets nicer again, I want to do more sketching at the dog park (see below for this morning's sketch), and anyone who reads this blog at all knows I really love to sketch cake.
This cake is one a friend's mother used to make for me when I went to visit during my college days. No one had baked a cake specifically for me since my own mother died, so it always meant a lot. It's a sour cream/chocolate chip coffee cake that was my Christmas morning staple for the years I used to host a family breakfast here. I still like to revisit it periodically, and this week was one of those times.
I love sweets, and I love sketching them. It's fun to remember a really lovely treat later every time I open my sketchbook. Also the drawing of it increases the anticipation and enjoyment. Unlike a lot of meals, most desserts aren't hot, so they won't get cold and less appetizing if you take time to draw them. Ice cream is the super transient exception to this stability of drawing rule, so I rarely draw ice cream. But other treats are well worth celebrating. The caramel cake is from my come-have-cake-on-the-front-porch neighbors (even though we were inside this week with the wintry weather), so I'll remember the visit as well as the cake. They so kindly left me a second slice for the next day, so I didn't take time out of our visit to draw, even though I love drawing food with fellow sketchers when we get together and all draw at once.
Here are a random batch of sketches from about a week ago. I've had a super slow week, doing print and commission work in my lap on the sofa, so no really recent sketches. But I had a ball meeting a friend at this gorgeous Tudor revival for an estate sale and drawing a house we wouldn't otherwise have had access to.
Next was a misty morning at Shelby Farms with a pair of great blue herons flying overhead. After several passes, one sat in the top of a tiny tree and posed for me. Henry was patient while I got my sketching things out. He's learning to be an art dog as we go along. He would always rather walk, but he's getting more used to the stops.
Finally another graphite sketch of Henry from one of our sofa sitting sessions.
Saturday was our first Saturday of the month meeting of Memphis Urban Sketchers. I love having an artist meetup on my calendar, making art, talking art, and connecting in person with friends. We met at the pyramid yesterday. I wandered around the inside of the Bass Pro shop for a bit, but the fake cypress swamp, weird lighting, and all the dead, stuff animals just weren't doing it for me. Outside with the viaducts was equally visually overwhelming, but more what I wanted to sketch. I got lost toward the right hand side, not paying attention to which columns were in front of or behind which bits of road, but then it drizzled for a few minutes, and my ink ran a bit, and it all softened up. You can see some of the raindrops if you look. I reacted to the crazy complex scene by keeping my palette very limited. I love the blue green of the overpasses, so I concentrated on that, with a bit of blue gray to go along with it. It was fun.
I'm trying to draw more as I'm at the dog park, and I'm recognizing that for me, that urge is weather dependent. When the sun is out, I'm all excited about it. When it's gray and chilly, I stand around with my hands in my pockets and just laugh at the dogs. Both are good for getting me out to notice nature and stop looking at screens for a while. So here's the one recent sketch I've done, celebrating a sunny morning we had recently.
All Henry, all the time
Soon after getting Henry I was excited to have a dog hanging out on the sofa with me again, and I wanted to take full advantage of his modeling opportunities. So I bought a 7x10" multi media spiral bound sketchbook, nothing fancy but pages thick enough to take a little water. I have a big, fat, graphite crayon that I love to play with, and it's water soluble, so you get a lovely depth when you brush water over it. With a water brush (almost a pen, but with a brush and a reservoir of water inside), it's a quick, not at all messy, easy to grab way to sketch, so I've got those three things (and, of course, some other sketching stuff too) within easy reach on my coffee table. I've filled up half a sketchbook at this point, and I woke up early today and scanned a bunch in. You can see from the shadows that the paper has buckled a little with the added water, so it's not totally flat on the scanner, but I didn't fiddle with these to get that all smoothed out. I just wanted to be able to share the progression. Here is the first batch of my favorites (plus one watercolor), starting from early September.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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