I’ve done a little bit of evening sketching lately. I had so much fun drawing in this outdoor diner. You place your order at a window and eat out under the trees. I’m in love with their chicken pesto sandwich, which is generous with the basil and comes with a side salad. So good. They also had blackberry hard cider. I sketched with my new Diamine Ancient Copper ink. I’m really enjoying it. It’s highly saturated, and could easily be too much, but it really worked for this one. I love the rich warm lines peeking through the watercolor.
Then last night I sketched the new tea set I found. Small with violets, made my Spode. I’ve gotten rid of my own former wedding china and found a very happy recipient for my grandmother’s enormous set, but I kept the very incomplete set of my great grandmother’s that has violets and daisies and matching violet silver. But no teapot. This small one is just right for me to use for breakfast when I want to enjoy all the lovely things instead of just having them in my cabinet. I’m really happy. And then since I was having such fun with stripes, I kept on sketching during the (wildly unfortunate) baseball game. It’s been a tough year to be a Cardinals fan, but sketching makes it better. This ink is also Diamine, and it’s two different shades of purple. The darker shade, Eclipse, is my new favorite writing ink as well.
I’ve been out in Washington State visiting my partner for a while, and I’m taking some vacation time, doing some book work, and doing a bit of sketching. We’ve had smoke off and on, but the Memphis air has been so steadily bad from different Canadian fires that I don’t feel like I’m missing much good air at home. Here it’s worse on bad days, but we also get break. It looks like the South has been pretty steadily blanketed with smoke pollution for the last month. For the first time in my life, which is deeply discouraging.
But I’m taking it one day at a time here, getting out to hike and sketch when I can, and doing a bunch of book work indoors when I can’t. Here’s a round up of some sketches around the Skagit valley.
I got tired of the bad air in Memphis, and I had a couple of really good weekend sales (thank you, friends!), so I decided to take a spur of the moment trip back out west. I’m still making up time a bit from being sick so long over the last year. I spent the first two nights of the trip, one day, in St. Louis and flew from there, bypassing all the connection dangers I’ve seen friends struggle with this summer. I love StL, so it wasn’t a hardship. I sketched in my B&B in the morning, went to the art museum in the afternoon, and saw a few friends. Such a lovely time.
The museum had a mid century Native American art exhibition that really grabbed me. A lot of art from teachers and students at the IAIA school out west. The exquisite small woodcut is by Edna Massey, and the three abstract landscapes are views of New Mexico by Fritz Scholder.
I've got three small prints of Henry (there will likely be more to come) ready to go for this weekend's Dog Days Open Studio Sale. Friday 4-8 for cocktail hour shopping and Saturday 12-5. This year we're at 719 Dickinson, a change of venue from years past, but still in the same neighborhood.
These prints are all on 8x10" paper and are $65 each. It's hard for me to be regimented enough to work on standard sized paper. My old press was 14x22, so I ended up with a lot of prints that size. And I'm always drawn to different shapes. But I know it's simple for people to frame if things are standard, so I'm trying to plan at least some of my smaller pieces to be more regular. My new coastal scene is 11x14", so I've managed it four times this summer. Definitely a record!
This last piece is Shoreline II, a smaller, one block version of print that was in my WAMA show last year. It's actually done from a more recent sketch and is a different shape, but it's the same view looking out from the beach at Ocean Springs, and the color scheme is similar. Instead of using different blocks for different colors, though, I wanted to keep it super simple. Repetitive printing is my least favorite part of the whole process. This block uses four colors and five small rollers to blend the colors on the block. The sky goes from pink at the horizon through grey up into the blue. There's enough space between the pink and the black to use a very small roller for the shoreline itself, and then I can put some gentler strokes into the water with that same roller to get the reflections. It's finicky to print but takes only one session instead of three. It's on 11x14" paper and is $150. I'll have these in the museum shop at WAMA once I get down there in September to deliver them and have a visit, but I'll also have some for the Dog Days sale.
I've been working the last couple of months on a memoir about a life changing trip to Greece that followed my divorce in 2003. I wrote the first draft while I was out west, knowing I would need to come home to my journals for more detail, but wanting to get an overall framework in place. I dug out various journals from that year and was delighted to discover more sketches and photos from my trip than I had remembered doing. Sometimes your past self leaves a surprise present for the future. Today after doing some prose work I scanned in the drawings and some of my photos as well. This book, if it ever gets that far, won't be a graphic book with every sentence corresponding to a drawing or two, but it will be illustrated. It's fun to play with a whole new kind of project for me, but I'm also enjoying revisiting these super quick pencil sketches I did on the fly around Athens. Mostly ruins (Parthenon and the Temple of Olympian Zeus) but also a quick one of my neighborhood market in the Athens suburb of Aghia Paraskevi.
I stopped in St. Louis on my way home and spent a couple of days seeing friends, resting up, and doing a little sketching. I started the morning in Tower Grove Park with a field of small sunflowers, painted daisies and a strawberry rhubarb tart, and (of course) Ted Drewes. My favorite stop and such a funky, old time place to draw.
I’m in Washington State for a few weeks and away from my scanner. I’m mostly giving myself vacation time, but I’ll post snapshots of my sketches here instead of the cleaner scans I do at home.
First up were the welcome flowers, including some amazing stargazer lilies. (I love that name!) A couple of days later we went to the youth symphony to see Jude’s granddaughter play violin. I always love the juxtaposition of bodies with instruments, so I had fun sketching through the concert. I used my big, fat, water-soluble graphite crayon with a water brush over the top of it for quick, dense shadows. Loose and fun.
I took my first trip since November last week, back to one of my very favorite places. I spent time in the museum, at the water, at Shearwater pottery, and just sitting and enjoying the breeze playing my banjo. It was deeply good.
One fantastic thing I got to do was go sketch in Anderson's cottage again. With my show last year, I've made friends with the museum staff (and enough with the family that they trust me too), so I can borrow the key and sit in the quiet of that space with extra murals and just sketch. It's a huge honor. Above is part of a half finished mural around the window in Anderson's bathroom, facing the wall of cows above his bathtub. It's faint. These colors are more robust than what's there, but I wanted it to be legible as a sketch.
Anderson couldn't always get permission to do murals. Earlier in his life he was living with his inlaws at Oldfields (the current show is all about that house and the work he made there). His father-in-law was emphatic that no painting on the walls was going to happen, so Anderson used large pieces of paper to make "murals." The piece below is one of those, and I was completely charmed. I sat and sketched it in the museum.
This is the second view I did of the cottage. You can see a smaller mural of two birds. I also loved all the shelves with small treasures, bits of driftwood and shells and stones. I have some of all of this in my own window sills at in bowls at my house, as did Georgia O'Keeffe in her New Mexico home. It reminds me of the "nature collection" my sister and I made with my grandmother growing up, but seeing these artists carry that habit throughout their lives makes me feel a deep kinship with both of them.
I took a cool day trip from Memphis down to the blues town of Clarksdale yesterday. It's very sketchable, and I could definitely spend more time there. I did my Inktober sketch at the edge of a cotton field on the way down and just one sketch of the Greyhound station there, but it would be fun to go back and do more for sure. Scroll down for some photos of the town.
I've been visiting some of my very favorite spots lately, and Inktober has given me an added nudge to sketch while I was making the rounds. I took some art to the Dixon sale (it's ALWAYS an honor to get to hang work on their walls), and I sketched both the Rodin out front and my favorite statue Circe. The next day I was having chai at Cafe Eclectic on the deck on a lovely day and took time to do a quick sketch there too.
Finally I did a flying trip to St. Louis and Tower Grove Park. I'd hoped to go for the whole weekend, but the wheels fell off the bus last week, so I ended up driving up Sunday morning, walking through the lovely Shaw Art Fair, and that evening doing a small book/music/art event with my friend Amanda Doyle, who has just written a huge, gorgeous book about the history of Tower Grove.
Monday I drove home, but I took a walk and did a couple of quick sketches in the park before I left. I'm dying to get back up there and do more work in the park, but my month of October is pretty spoken for, so we'll have to see how the later fall goes weather-wise.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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