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.
It's been a tough week with various large griefs around here and among people I care about. I've been carving on my new block, the 18x24" one, while watching some escapist BBC mysteries, but it's big enough to be going very slowly, so there's nothing really to share yet. I'm grateful for that meditative work, and I'm grateful for sketching, where I can turn bits of daily life into color and pattern and be-here-nowness. I'm also grateful that this was the week when strawberry rhubarb pie showed up at the local grocery. Rhubarb doesn't grow in Memphis, and that's a treat I really look forward to coming out here. It hasn't been available, and then yesterday it was. Baked goods, stones with strong life lines, walks in great beauty, and tea have all been balms this week. So there they are for my journal this weekend.
I had a lovely day going from Montana to Idaho. I had less mileage to go than any other day, so I decided to take a lovely looking two lane highway that followed the Clark Fork river a good way. It took a lot longer, and I was tired when I got there, but it was a truly lovely day. I sketched once along the way (top left, next to Mr. Darcy), and here are a couple of photos as well.
I pulled a first proof of this one today. Almost always I get a block pretty fully done, then comes the proof, and then I tweak it. But sometimes, when I’m in uncharted waters, I want to do a test of a small area with a pattern and see how that is reading before doing the entire surface. So that’s what this is. There’s a lot of that dark area still to carve. You can see my original sketch next to it, though in that particular one, I didn’t fill in all the dark middle. Just enough to give me clarity on the tree trunk placement. So I’m carrying a lot of this one in my head and winging it at the moment. Watch this space for updates. I’m overall pleased with how it’s going, though the trees at the top are a little too defined at the moment. I’ll have to dull them down a bit if I can.
I’m also including a couple of close ups. Because it wasn’t a serious proof, it’s on newsprint, and I didn’t work hard to get that rich, velvety coverage that I prefer for finished pieces. It will be a lot darker as I get further into it. This is a super behind the scenes peek.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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