I've enjoyed the few illustration jobs I've gotten to do so far, so I've been more consciously approaching people about the possibility of doing more such work. Very happily for me, the art editor of Memphis Magazine has asked me to do urban sketches to introduce each section in their annual City Guide edition. Usually they have lovely, glossy photos, and I'm so honored they wanted my artwork this year.
I've got a long trip coming up, so I'm working hard to get all of them turned in before I leave. Above is the one I did for the Newcomer's Guide section. We just drove in from Arkansas last week, and I loved the view of the Lone Star tower (sadly, soon to be torn down) with its "Memphis" guitar sign and the Convention Center behind it. However, there are certain views an artist (at least one who works on site) just cannot paint. The view from the interstate bridge over the Mississippi River falls firmly into that category. This was as close as I could get. I painted from the pedestrian bridge to Mud Island. You can still see the bridge and the exit signs for downtown, and I do like the addition of the Pyramid.
Below is one of today's paintings. "Volunteering" is another section of the City Guide, and MIFA is my favorite organization in Memphis. They do meals on wheels, emergency services and housing, senior ombudsmen, a handyman program, and other services too multitudinous to count, for a city that needs as much help as it can get. I set up this morning in the parking lot to get the meals volunteers loading coolers into their cars.
I was recently asked to illustrate a short story for April's issue of Memphis Parent (free on news stands right now!). It was my first illustration job since doing ten block prints based on the book of Revelation for the Presbyterian Church, USA, and needless to say, it was a much different process.
I love working from a text, though, and trying to suit my work to the author's intent, and I thoroughly enjoyed doing this job. I'm hoping to be able to break into some more illustration work. The watercolor sketches I'm doing seem like a good medium for both children's books and place sketches for magazines or newspapers. The Seattle Times actually has an urban sketcher on staff. How cool is that?
The above image of the story shows the double page spread all put together, but it isn't very legible. If you want to really read the story, try this PDF instead.
I've had two articles written about me over the last few months. It's always lovely to get a little publicity when you work for yourself and don't have an advertising budget. The first article was in Fix Magazine, and the second in the Commercial Appeal. I realized I had posted them on the "About" page of my site but hadn't put them on the blog. At the end of a week of bad sketching weather, which I've spent doing finishing touches on big indoor work that I can't get good photos of myself, it seemed like a good time to add them here.
I was pleased that Emily Keplinger's article talked about the Memphis Urban Sketchers as well as just me. Urban sketching is still a new term, and it's great to raise its visibility outside art circles. I was also pleased for our local group's next outing to get a plug.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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