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.
It's Inktober, and I've never been good at those daily challenges and have never done a full month of anything every day. I have enough work that is due for various occasions without making sketching homework. But this morning I went walking at Crosstown, and I decided to take an "Inktober break" in my day. The month gave me that mental nudge to take a break and sketch, and I realized that it I frame Inktober (or any challenge) for myself as permission to sketch (and a reminder that I'm happier when I do it) instead of homework, then that challenge framework is a total plus for me. It helps that I have a fun new pen and am also enjoying rediscovering the joy of line plus wash, using a brush pen with a dark grey ink to add tone.
Henry is turning into a great art dog and settled happily while I sketched from the 5th floor or so (I lose track of which level is which if I'm going up and down the stairs for exercise). Afterwards, and here's the down side of going to walk at Crosstown, I decided to treat myself to an iced chai. The pollution in the air is better than it has been, so I also treated myself to sitting outside without a mask for a while to sketch and drink my chai. It was a perfect fall day with a breeze and no humidity, but still warm enough to bask a little.
I used that same invitation mindset to sketch at 2am the other morning when I couldn't sleep and got back up for mint tea and toast (my pavlovian craving when I'm awake through the dark hours of the night). Henry had come downstairs with me and curled up on the couch looking adorable.
I always am drawn back to Elmwood to sketch. My public art celebration there will be Sunday, November 19 from 3-5 --- band, snacks, fun! I can't show the columbaria carvings yet online, but as I start thinking about a new Memphis alphabet book, you'd better believe that E is for Elmwood, and I was out on a recent, beautiful day doing some sketches. I replaced the Ancient Copper ink in my new pen with a waterproof black ink by DeAtrementis, thinking ahead to the new book. My last two have been done primarily in Diamine Golden Brown. I think the new book will have a wider array of sketching materials, and black may pull all of them together best. Plus I do really love working with line and tone. The grey is a brush pen with warm black ink, and it feels good to get back to this kind of sketching.
Henry and I have been wandering around and doing some sketches and enjoying Inktober. Last night was an outdoor performance of Macbeth by the Tennessee Shakespeare Company. I mostly just enjoyed and watched, but I did do one early sketch as they were getting going. I'm also just sketching Henry a ton. A black and white dog is MADE for Inktober.
Memphis Urban Sketchers had our monthly meeting at the downtown farmers market. My regular one is in midtown, but it worked great to be at this one with the big metal canopy on a rainy day. There's a lot of architectural intricacy to that canopy, and I had only moderate energy for that, so I did quick sketches and just an impression of the building. It was perfect, though, to settle in with a couple of good art friends, catch up, and have a chocolate croissant (thank you, Christina!). I'm not much for meetings, but going out and actually drawing with people is so fun. Christina brought me a new green watercolor, and she tried one of my Lamy foutain pens. It was a great morning.
I got lucky enough to see another owl up close. I'd been out early one morning and gone to the forest to see if I could spot one without any luck. When I got almost back to my house, though, I heard a whole group of birds kicking up a ruckus. One of the best pieces of life advice I've gotten is to listen for the birds going ballistic somewhere and then try to spot the owl they're fussing at. This time, unlike often when they're super high, she was sitting on a decently low branch in the alley just across from my house. Sometimes what you're looking for is at home all along.
She sat and watched Gideon and me for 7 or 8 minutes. Just watched, occasionally twisting her head in odd but lovely ways to watch other things and then looking back at us. I took a chance, put Gideon in the house, grabbed my sketchbook, and she was still there when I got back. So I spent another 10 minutes sketching her. The first two are a water soluble graphite crayon, and the second two are a fat felt tip pen and some lighter ink wash. I'm getting really close on my finishing my big commission, and I may have to do a print of this owl afterwards. I enjoyed doing the series of birds for my show at WAMA, and as much as I love owls, I think an addition to that series is needed.
I've been working hard on my first public commission and not sketching much, but here are a few bits of happiness from the past week that I wanted to make sure I recorded.
This morning I saw two owls before sunrise (we're walking super early to beat the heat just now). They were calling to me and flew, one after the other, directly over my head to a new perch. It was magical. I did my best to hold the shapes in my mind so that I could put them in my sketchbook when I got back home to breakfast.
And on Saturday I listened to live music for the first time in a good while. It reminded me that I need to get out and find some more outdoor music on a more regular basis. Some of my favorite guys had their wedding gig cancelled due to Covid, so they decided to do a last minute concert on a porch. They put the word out on fb about an hour early, and I grabbed a chair and my sketchbook and boogied on over. It was delightful. I realized how VERY out of practice I am drawing figures now that I don't go out to shows or theater for the moment. I made poor Doug look like a muppet in the bottom sketch (and honestly Willy too), but I had so much fun drawing musicians with their instruments again. And seeing friends out at a show. It was a small but lovely group of folks. I was so glad for the chance to hang out, listen to some fantastic musicians do what they do best, catch up with a few friends, and enjoy the evening.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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