I’m excited to be refocusing on my prints in January after the bustle of holiday commissions. My show at WAMA will hang one year from now, and I’m glad to have something happy and positive to work towards through this dark winter. I’m hoping there can be a party to celebrate by then, since it will be a huge moment in my career. This one is moving slowly. I’d set it aside back in the summer, unsure how I felt about it. I’ve been thinning it out and balancing it while working SLOWLY on the trees, and today I wanted to see where I was with it, even though there are still trees to go. I have sunshine on my east facing work table in the mornings to help me see the delicate edges and bits of cutting. In the afternoons (for winter warmth, anyway), I take a walk. I took a couple of days of pure vacation, then I started easing back into sorting through prints and getting my head back in this work, but I’m still giving myself some time off in the afternoon to recover from December. Afternoons are also good for printing, since I don’t need the super bright light. So this is what January will look like for me, and I could do a lot worse.
I knew I would enjoy taking art trips in Alice (named after Alice Steinbach the author of Without Reservations: Travels of an Independent Woman), but I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy making art about Alice herself. I did a number of sketches of her over the summer and fall, and this is the print I came home to make. I’m excited about it. I’m going to print 40 of this daytime version, and then I want to cut away the curves in the sky an do a nighttime version with moon and stars up there instead. It’s fun to get two prints for the same complex block, even though I’ll carve a second but very simple background one.
The greens migrated some as I kept mixing and hand rolling each block. I like having some options, but I think I’ll push the second batch more towards the light one in the middle.
I’ve been updating my online store lately, and I just put this prints up. I’m shipping off prints to various kind folks this week, and P is for Possum will be coming in soon (fingers crossed!) It’s also there and available for preorder. https://martha-kelly-art.square.site/
I had a bit of a mad scramble my last week in Washington, and I got behind scanning and posting photos. I did manage to walk around to this apple tree I'd been eyeing and wanting to paint for several weeks, and I had a good time doing a paint first, lines later sketch. I also did a couple of early Inktober sketches, though I certainly haven't managed anything approaching every day this year. I haven't been drawing people much, and I was pretty happy with the one of Jude reading under the tree. He went down with me for Mr. Darcy's last vet appointment before leaving, and there's always a bit of sitting around. I just tonight scanned in the sketches from the actual trip home, and I'll get those up next. I'm deep in printmaking at the moment, now that I'm home with my press, so it felt nice to spend time with sketches today, even if it was just scanning instead of drawing.
My knitting group of four or five out here has been meeting outdoors, which has been a great joy. I love sitting with friends, even across a small distance. Last night we were at Sylvia's and Michelle's. They have an amazing garden (I'd been thinking about this bean trellis ever since we were there the first time) plus ducks, a horse, Angora goats, chickens, and dogs. I'd been wanting to sketch, and Michelle kindly invited any of us to show up early if we chose. I got an extra visit with her, did two full page spreads, and then settled down to the evening party. It was marvelous.
I've been trapped indoors for a solid week now, and we're hoping for relief tomorrow. I took a quick walk with a mask on and snapped a photo of the orange sun, but it was too awful to stay outside and sketch. The bottom smokey view is from my indoor work table window, though, and the blueberries are from life, done sitting at the kitchen table. I really love the berry stands out here. Such joy.
I've mostly been ignoring my smaller sketchbook lately and working in the "Quarantine Journal" sized one instead, but here are a couple of recent(ish) sketches from my daily walking path. I'm catching up on my scanning this week as I also finish the images for the book.
In big news yesterday, I bought a batch of ISBN numbers and registered the first one for P is for Possum. When I was working on the Mr. Darcy book(s), I really wanted the legitimacy and reach of a professional publisher, but my writing chops weren't strong enough, and that's a hard world to break into. For this book, which is so very local in scope, very specific to Memphis's Old Forest, it made sense to me to do this like my calendar and have it printed to sell locally. I also have no shows at all this year (though some lovely folks have sent commissions my way), thanks to the pandemic, and I really wanted something ready for the holiday season.
The other upside is being able to control the printings as I need or want, instead of that decision being in the hands of someone else. It's a lot like the legitimacy of a gallery giving you extra exposure, but you also lose control and autonomy by buying into that system. I may try for both publishing and commercial galleries again at some point when they make sense for my career, but I have to say that registering my own book yesterday felt both exciting and powerful. It's fun to give birth to something you've created purely on your own terms. I'll be registering with the Library of Congress as well, which will allow it to be bought by libraries, and I'm considering other platforms after the print version comes out in November. There's a big learning curve, but it's also exciting for a lifelong book nerd like me to be a small part of all this.
I've been doing a lot of book work lately, as I wrote in my last post. It's satisfying to get it to a finished place, but I haven't been MAKING art lately nearly as much. I'm also taking much more time taking care of my muse and studio helper Mr. Darcy. He's doing well, but it's been a little up and down. So there have been days off and naps and things like that. But we had a lovely outdoor visit with friends over the holiday weekend, and the friends brought flowers. I try to always draw flowers that are gifts since then they give me joy for much longer. I love flipping a sketchbook open and seeing a small birthday bouquet or vase of tulips from art visitors. So today I just made time to draw these gorgeous dahlias. What a thoughtful gift.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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