My last day of the trip was Missouri and Arkansas. I stayed at a different park in Missouri than the one I love (full after the last minute delay due to smoke), so I slanted down the state through the Ozarks. The stand out highlight of the trip was a small antique store in Knob Noster, MO, (that name!) that had a commercial kitchen attached and homemade PIE. A brilliant combination. I didn't buy anything permanent, but I did get a strawberry rhubarb pie with some of the best crust I've ever had.
It was a great easing into home, since I've come back to a fantastic exhibition of Wayne Thiebaud's prints and paintings at Dixon. I've been looking forward to this show for months. I went the first week with an artist friend and had such fun comparing our ideas about the work. Yesterday I went back to spend more time with specific pieces I love and do a little sketching. I plan to go at least once a week while it's here. I'm fascinated with how he uses hatching to define spaces instead of outlining all the time (the meringue below, or the man with the paper's shorts. Exquisite.)
One thing I thought about over the summer is how to take the slow down of the last few months back into my home life. Sadly fall is going to be less busy than I'd hoped, given the resurgence of the virus, but I still want to be intentional about giving myself permission to take days off without feeling guilty. I love working in my house and having studio space available right here, but it can be hard to take time off when work is in the next room hovering over your consciousness. Potter Melissa Bridgman, who works harder than about anyone I know, gives herself a weekday sabbath, since weekends get so crazy. I love that, and I plan to implement that for myself. I'd like to use it to do more regular museum visiting, since that really feeds me. Yesterday I took my first weekday off. I went to Dixon to sketch, had a leisurely lunch on the back porch with my journal, banjo, and the Thiebaud catalog, and visited a friend in her yard in the afternoon. It was marvelous. I've got time before WAMA to get my prints in order for the show, and I'm going to enjoy the lead up instead of stressing about it.
This seems like the year to do a calendar again. Last year I did P is for Possum instead, and I love having a book. The book grew out of sketches I did to keep myself sane and happy as the world turned on a dime last spring. I needed bright colors and small daily joys to cheer me up. I had a ball with those sketches, and a calendar seems like the perfect way to share that ongoing joy in the small things with everyone else. I hope it brings joy and reminds folks of the daily good things that we can control for ourselves (unlike so much of the world outside).
You can preorder calendars in my online store. They'll print and mail out in September. Choose "local pickup" if you'd like to pick up in person in midtown Memphis, but otherwise please choose the shipping option.
I'm slow getting these scanned in (it's been a somewhat eventful summer), so here is a report on one lovely day taking the ferry out to Friday Harbor in the San Juan islands back in the middle of July. Jude's cousin Liz, an artist and photographer and all around delightful person, was visiting, so it was the three of us. I sketched on the ferry the way I did several years ago. I've been doing passenger seat sketches this summer, and the ferry is about the best version of that -- not as fast flashing past everything, but a kaleidoscope of a changing view. Such fun.
There were many more people in the way of the view in July than there had been in September, but it was still fun. I think my favorite ferry sketch was this simple one done only with green ink in a brush pen.
This hand painted thistle stoneware was our everyday set when I was a kid. My mom graduated from the University of Edinburgh and loved all things Scotland, especially if they had thistles. My dad has some of it out at the family farm, but I haven't had any pieces. My favorite antique store here is run by an Englishwoman who also likes tea properly presented (teapot, cup and saucer, pretty small spoon). She had this cream and sugar set in her shop, and I was delighted. We always just had mugs growing up, never tea cups. I asked if there were any teacups also, and she kindly rummaged around at home and found a couple on a shelf she wasn't using and let me have my pick. It's been so special to use these this summer and think of Mom and flash back to really happy childhood times before she got sick. Such a gift. I did a sketch page to remember. I also found this teapot in Eastern Washington as I was driving across. It perfectly takes my new tea infuser, so I've used it a lot this summer.
I've been doing more landscapes than anything else lately (which are always the primary draw for me), but I've done a handful of smaller scale, daily life sketches lately, and I really enjoy them as well. Here's a round up from the last month, since they haven't been fitting thematically into the posts I've made lately. I always enjoy opening sketchbooks back up later and remembering a favorite luncheon, a date at an ice cream parlor, or an especially yummy dessert.
Or even a medical check up...
And my very favorite -- Belgian torte from a dessert shop I had tried two years ago up in Bellingham on a day out up there. I was delighted that the place had made it through the pandemic. The torte was at least as good as I had remembered.
I'm late getting things scanned in, but I had a really wonderful time sketching on my cross country trip last month. I'm going to put them up on the blog in chronological order. My first night was in Long Branch State Park, Missouri. It's always my favorite stop, and I got the spot I like with the tiny lake beach, but it was cold and rainy, so I didn't linger as long at the lake as I normally do. I sat inside and sketched the peonies that I'd brought with me because they were too lovely to leave. You can just see the lake out the back door window in the distance.
The next evening was Lake Vermillion in South Dakota. I played with my intense pencils again. I wasn't thrilled with the results, but I do now remember sitting and looking at the sunset across the blue lake and also seeing Alice's shadow (my camper van) with the sun behind us while I was having breakfast and tea the next morning. Even if sketches don't always turn out as hoped, looking at anything long enough to sketch it is an exercise in both memory and mindfulness, and almost always a pleasure.
I drove 2600 miles across the country since I last posted. I've been working hard on my WAMA show to give myself some space to take time off this summer. My beau lives in Washington State, so I left my house in capable hands for the summer and have come to see him and enjoy the mountain landscape for a while. I'm not ready to get on an airplane yet, so trips are harder and also longer to make the driving worthwhile.
It was a long but beautiful drive, and I'll get going scanning in my trip sketches soon, but I've been giving myself some time to sleep and recover and enjoy. Here's the first sketch I did after getting here. Jude had some flowers waiting for me, and I always love sketching flower gifts to make them last longer.
I did one quick green ink sketch at Rockport State Park as well. I love the Vanilla leaf wildflowers that are sculptural on the forest floor the way the mayapples are sculptural in the forests at home. I"m heading out to one of my favorite sketching sites today, so I figure I'll get back in the groove of things soon, but for now I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful month as much as I am.
A very kind friend wrote me two different times (I was out of town the first one) to offer me peonies. I adore them and had wanted to paint some. Maybe next year I can plant some of my own, but this year, thanks to Kerrie, I got to paint these lovely things. I'm so lucky in my friends.
I had a really good day yesterday. I'm two and a little bit weeks after vaccination, and I'm starting to ease out in small ways. My best friend has been coming over and perching in a chair outside to chat all along, but we had given up our regular tea ritual. Yesterday we shared a teapot and cream pitcher and she brought me flowers from her garden. We still sat outside and distanced, but it felt lovely to have tea together again. I didn't sketch the outside set up -- I went in and had lunch and headed out to the farm to see my folks instead. It was a lovely day, and the buttercups were blooming. I had intended to sketch for a print, but the trees I needed weren't leafed in yet. So I just had a great visit with more loved people and sketched buttercups for fun. After supper I got Jill's flowers and the tea things and did a little sketching on my counter to mark the day's happiness. I'm going to get to see my sister soon as well, and all of this feels hopeful and lovely after the year we've had. I'm definitely on the cautious end of things, but I'm so grateful for small steps back toward the people I love.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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