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.
I'm chasing my tail at the moment shipping books and doing commissions for Christmas, but I did do a sketch the other evening sitting by the fireplace. I've got out some of my Grandmother's madonnas for the season, tucked in amongst the family photos over the fireplace, and Mr. Darcy was on the rug in front of me, so I did a double sketch. It was peaceful and happy. I'm grateful that people want art for Christmas, and I will also celebrate getting back to doing a bit more sketching for myself and prints for my WAMA show once we get past the holidays.
I've been running a little crazy since I got home, dealing with mail and other things that had been piling up, seeing people I've been missing, and trying hard to get the book published in time for the holidays. I had a whole plan that failed on me, and I'm regrouping. So I haven't sketched much, but I have done a couple. Above is the Shelby Farms dog park, at the east end of the park. I hadn't been there before (further into the park than I've ventured on my bike, and my dog isn't a dog park kind of guy). But it was just around the corner from the vet where I had to leave him several hours, so I took a walk with my sketchbook and did a bit of exploring. If I had a more social dog, it would be a wonderful resource to have available. I see why people drive out from midtown.
I'm also back at my local farmers market with joy. It was lively to have tomatoes, broccoli, fresh flowers, and bread (though that didn't make it in the sketch). I really like the rhythms of Saturday mornings at home, though there certainly things I'm missing about out west as well.
I’ve been balancing work, vet care, and vacation out here. With P is for Possum finally finished, scanned in, and at the printers for a proof, I’m leaning more towards vacation (and preparations to head home, which is a bit of an undertaking). So I celebrated a couple of lovely small things in my latest journal page — an enormous tomato gift from a friend plus a second breakfast. I did that a couple of times this past week, having berries and tea when I got up but then joining Jude in an egg a bit later. It’s nice to be cooked for sometimes.
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.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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