I knew I would enjoy taking art trips in Alice (named after Alice Steinbach the author of Without Reservations: Travels of an Independent Woman), but I didn’t know how much I’d enjoy making art about Alice herself. I did a number of sketches of her over the summer and fall, and this is the print I came home to make. I’m excited about it. I’m going to print 40 of this daytime version, and then I want to cut away the curves in the sky an do a nighttime version with moon and stars up there instead. It’s fun to get two prints for the same complex block, even though I’ll carve a second but very simple background one.
The greens migrated some as I kept mixing and hand rolling each block. I like having some options, but I think I’ll push the second batch more towards the light one in the middle.
I’ve been updating my online store lately, and I just put this prints up. I’m shipping off prints to various kind folks this week, and P is for Possum will be coming in soon (fingers crossed!) It’s also there and available for preorder. https://martha-kelly-art.square.site/
I'm really taking advantage of being home with the printing press, and I'm also trying to get some proofs pushed toward final prints ahead of the holiday season. So I did more color proofs of the line of trees, as well as doing a batch of green under blocks. I'll do more colors and add the top layer in the next week or so. I also reprinted an old favorite. I hadn't printed many of these to begin with. It's part of my art deco travel series, but it's in North Carolina, so my Memphis audience doesn't have as many connections to this place. I've always really liked it, though, and a friend requested I do more. It's a grand idea. This one is four colors and three printings (the two greens are blended on the block), and it takes a bit, but I did a stack of them this week, so I'll have some available.
I also ordered a second proof of P is for Possum in the premium color. I wasn't happy with the standard one I got, but the cover had fantastic color, so I'm hoping that will be what comes in the interior as well with the premium printing. I'm excited about the book, but I want to get it right before I send it out into the world. Soon though!
This last print I left finished but hadn't actually printed. I'm trying it on different colored paper this week, and I've got a range from white to fawn, light blue, warm gray, and brown. I quite like all of them for different reasons, and I figure others might too. This one is available now. $90, and the paper is 13.25x14". Holler if you'd like one for a holiday present. I'll get it up in my store soon.
I wrote my last blog post feeling a little bad about how little sketching I'd done on the trip home, and then I realized I'd forgotten two more sketches. Both of these were the last night at Longbranch State Park in Missouri. I really love that place and would like to go there and spend a coupe of days painting sometime. I'm working on a print from a sketch I did there in July. So here are the two more.
I was more tired on the way home than heading across in July, but I still did a modest amount of sketching on the way home. I'd been looking at the night skies all summer and thinking of painting one, so I took the chance coming across before I got home to the city light pollution. As always, I sketched a good dessert to help me remember the joy of it. I'm also still really enjoying sketching Alice. The last day I was playing banjo in Missouri, and a deer came to watch. Apparently banjos aren't that common. I grabbed the sketchbook next to me and did a very quick gesture of it. The ears were adorable. It wasn't a lot of sketching, but it felt nice to do a few small, happy things in the middle of six days' worth of driving.
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.
I've been trapped indoors for a solid week now, and we're hoping for relief tomorrow. I took a quick walk with a mask on and snapped a photo of the orange sun, but it was too awful to stay outside and sketch. The bottom smokey view is from my indoor work table window, though, and the blueberries are from life, done sitting at the kitchen table. I really love the berry stands out here. Such joy.
I've mostly been ignoring my smaller sketchbook lately and working in the "Quarantine Journal" sized one instead, but here are a couple of recent(ish) sketches from my daily walking path. I'm catching up on my scanning this week as I also finish the images for the book.
In big news yesterday, I bought a batch of ISBN numbers and registered the first one for P is for Possum. When I was working on the Mr. Darcy book(s), I really wanted the legitimacy and reach of a professional publisher, but my writing chops weren't strong enough, and that's a hard world to break into. For this book, which is so very local in scope, very specific to Memphis's Old Forest, it made sense to me to do this like my calendar and have it printed to sell locally. I also have no shows at all this year (though some lovely folks have sent commissions my way), thanks to the pandemic, and I really wanted something ready for the holiday season.
The other upside is being able to control the printings as I need or want, instead of that decision being in the hands of someone else. It's a lot like the legitimacy of a gallery giving you extra exposure, but you also lose control and autonomy by buying into that system. I may try for both publishing and commercial galleries again at some point when they make sense for my career, but I have to say that registering my own book yesterday felt both exciting and powerful. It's fun to give birth to something you've created purely on your own terms. I'll be registering with the Library of Congress as well, which will allow it to be bought by libraries, and I'm considering other platforms after the print version comes out in November. There's a big learning curve, but it's also exciting for a lifelong book nerd like me to be a small part of all this.
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.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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