I have been mostly down a rabbit hole all week working on the museum catalog for my show at WAMA, but I did take breaks to go to the park (a dog is excellent for reminding you), and I took my sketchbook over several times as well when the sun was out. It's good to sit outside and sketch in the middle of winter when the weather allows. I've been using the Inktense pencils again lately and really enjoying the texture. The skies are all pure paint.
I picked up frames and the first round of glass. I'm going to frame along the way and try to do it in stages, letting me do a little creative work as I go too. It's good to keep the juices flowing. If I spend several weeks doing only show prep, I really miss drawing or painting by the time I'm done. I'm starting a little earlier and trying to pace myself. The last minute catalog was an unexpected time drain, but I'm really excited about how it's coming out, and I'll love having one to mark this show.
I’ve been working on the show this past week instead of making a lot of art from scratch (getting final copies of prints, putting together a catalog, gathering framing supplies), but I took a day off yesterday. It was chilly in the morning, so I cooked up a farmers market stew for the week, but the sun came out after lunch. I decided to head to the park and enjoy the nice weather. I took my Inktense pencils along with my paint set. I’ve been forgetting to use them lately, and it was fun to get them back out. I did one piece in the heart of the forest and another of the sky over the Greensward as I headed home. It felt so good to sit in the sun and sketch for a little while.
I also scanned in a couple of others from New Years Eve. It was another glorious day that day, so I took Gideon out to the farm and then had dinner on my screened in porch that evening. I had fun sketching both occasions to celebrate the end of one year and usher in a new one right.
I started the year out right, doing a tiny oil (8x10") of the morning sky at the Greensward on New Year's morning. And then I read and knitted and sat on the back porch. It was a lovely day. The warm weather (right up until ice started falling from the sky today) has made the holiday week especially nice. I've spent lots of time on the back porch, including a lovely new year's eve dinner.
Today has been the less fun part of being a freelance artist. Lately my emails to the people who have actively signed up wanting them have been getting caught in the junk folders of a lot of folks, including in my own gmail address. I send a test to see before sending the group. There are all kinds of words that can trigger a spam filter, but I'm super careful in my wording. I finally asked the fantastic #AmWriting facebook group (that's a great podcast by three writers who are living a creative life but also navigating all the business end of things that not many of us were trained for), and they said a free email can also flag that filter. So I spent the morning going through Weebly (my website), GoDaddy (my domain), Google (partnering with Weebly to offer an email address from my own domain), and MailChimp (to verify all this) and finally sent out an email that didn't snag in my own gmail account junk folder. Whew. I haven't felt like I needed a site specific email before, but now it seems I do. I will enjoy sending out emails more if they actually get to where they're going. It has felt recently like an exercise in frustration, unlike this blog which I really enjoy. So here's to a new year and sending out occasional fun emails that (may) actually make it through! If you're not on the list and would like to be, you can sign up for the studio updates right here:
I ran down to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, to meet with the curator at Walter Anderson Museum of Art to make the final selection for my solo show there next year. This is a career moment for me, and I'm ridiculously excited. It was wonderful to get to lay out all the prints I've been working on for the last two years in the space where my work will be hanging next year.
It was also really wonderful to get away from the deadlines that have been crowding me so hard lately, and to breathe, walk, and sketch again. I hadn't been drawing for myself in more than a week, and it felt so good to dive in. I walked down to the beach for sunset, after checking in at the museum and putting my stuff in my room. I was just in time for sunset, and it was glorious. I did two very quick sketches in the half dark, and after dinner I drew my teapot and the shells I had picked up and a lovely tangerine (?) that was a present from some landscaping workers I had passed on my way to the beach. Really kind.
I also drew (and ate) a lot of good food. I have a friend who says "Always get the pink drink", by which she means to celebrate an occasion with something special. After my meeting the next morning to lay out all the art and finalize the show, I treated myself to a grown up lunch. I sat out on the front porch of Maison de Lu, under the live oaks that line Washington Street, and had a flat out delicious lunch, including a celebratory mango margarita. And then celebratory (and ridiculously good) white chocolate bread pudding. I'm going to have to walk a LOT this coming week to get my equilibrium back.
There was also a French patisserie four blocks from the cottage, which was seriously dangerous. I tended to take an early walk, buy breakfast, take it back to my small balcony, make tea, and enjoy it all.
The weather could not have been more perfect for sitting outside and drinking in all the goodness of the coast. I sat out with my banjo a lot, which I also haven't had time to do much lately. I have several more commissions due soon and some final paperwork for WAMA, but the break was wonderful, and I'm planning to be able to give myself some time off around Christmas. I've done a decent job of that the last couple of years after several of scrambling so hard right up until the day that I couldn't enjoy the family time as much as I wanted to. It feels good to be able to see some time off coming.
I don't do a lot of this. I have been known to sketch an occasional wedding, but I haven't wanted to get more fully into that business because it's mentally exhausting, and you generally have to book a year out, which my traveling life style simply doesn't allow for. However, when my church's new pastor said that the gift he wanted from the committee was for me to live sketch his ordination (they knew he liked my work and offered him several options within that framework), I was delighted. I've been hesitant about large live events, and we're still streaming church as well as having it in person, so for the first time ever, I could work at my art desk with a huge table next to me with the space to let sketch after sketch dry instead of trying to fit myself and my work into a pew somewhere. I was tied to the video and couldn't see the "offstage" stuff, but the offset was a LOT more freedom and range of movement to sketch and discard quickly instead of awkwardly balancing in my lap and having no drying areas. I'm still limbered up for dip pen and ink from Inktober, so a lot of the really rapid ones are ink. I feel like I did a better job of being nimble within the service than I ever have before. I wanted to be able to include all of David's special people who were invited to participate in the service. I haven't even counted, but I had a table full of sketches when I was done, and I think they might make a nice scrapbook for him.
I'm still scanning in work, but here's a preview of what I did.
My last Inktober sketch ended up on a double page mash up from a couple of different sessions. It started as a sketch of Gideon, but I didn't even get his head finished before he left the couch. I miss Mr. Darcy curled up for two hours letting me sketch him as much as I wanted, but all dogs are going to be different. Gideon is a little less cut out for muse work, at least at this young age. So I moved on to the room, and then I added my morning tea service. I decided my crazy-fancy, brass teapot from a street market in Paris would be just right in walnut ink, as well as having a nicely celebratory feel for the end of this run. I got out my great grandmother's violets and daisies china for the same reason. Also because it's nice to just use and enjoy the "good stuff" once in a while if we're going to house it at all. I love my pottery best, but it's fun to mix things up, and this china is truly lovely. k
It's a good weekend for catching up with friends. There was cake and sketching yesterday on the back porch, one of the best kinds of parties. Muddy's had grasshopper cake for the first time in ages, and it's my favorite. Today will be pizza and more friends. I'm so grateful for my village.
I am continuing to enjoy sketching my tea things and Gideon. These were done outside with much more moving around and stick chasing. He's excellent entertainment if a somewhat wiggly muse. I'm still doing as much on the back porch as I can while the weather is good. I spent one whole day out there mailing out calendars, and on the days when I have indoor work, meals on the porch give Gideon time to poke around and have a good time at intervals.
Today was gorgeous, and I noticed while walking Gideon that there were pumpkins decorating the Higbee memorial at the park. I took a longer walk for myself (he can only go so far at a time, or at least, is only allowed to with his heart condition), and I took my sketching things over with me. In keeping with Inktober, I used walnut ink and Inktense pencils with only a bit of watercolor on top. At dinner I sketched a tiny flower in one of my smallest cream pitchers, found at a street market in Paris years ago. That kept me outside a little longer for Gideon to play. Now, however, I've painted and mailed calendars and sketched and done some business and scanned these in, so I'm going to collapse into the sofa with my book for the rest of the evening.
I have a time honored tradition of finishing up a deadline/show/business stuff push and wanting to treat myself by doing the creative work I can’t do while I’m doing the business-y stuff. So this week I’m doing small, immediate gratification paintings after doing all the rote printing/scanning/deadline stuff (one round, anyway) for my WAMA show. It feels great to do small pieces with fat paint and just play. I’ve been mining my sketchbooks for images I’d like to play with in a different medium. I love the bright washiness of the watercolors, but it’s been fun to translate them onto small canvases. I’ve had trouble with this in the past trying to make them too big. I often lose the energy of a piece trying to size it up too hard, but these are 8x8” or 9x12”, and I’ve been challenging myself to use brushes a little too big except for the details, and I’m having a really good time.
They’ll be a good fit for my November show of waterscapes at Eclectic Eye. I have a bunch of large paintings for that, and it’s always good to have some smaller sizes too, but mostly I’m doing these because it feels like joy. Which is why I do what I do in the first place. And I’m so grateful for all of that.
I’ll probably do a bit more work on both of these as the base layers dry, which allows me to glaze on top or scumble light colors without them getting dirty in the darker paint. But today I’m easing out early and looking forward to reconnecting with old friends for the first time since I was gone all summer. All of that feels good after the push of last week.
I had a ton of printing and scanning to do to turn preliminary images into WAMA for the show next year. I took a few days off Inktober, but mostly I have really enjoyed the reminder to sketch regularly and play with my dip pen and walnut ink (and a red marker for the pot). I'm also getting into a rhythm of having my materials next to my place at the island where I can sketch Gideon. I always used to draw Mr. Darcy on the couch, where he would settle in with me, but Gideon isn't as snuggly and prefers to be on his own on the floor. So this is where I get a good view of him when he's calm and sketchable.
I also sketched my new enamel pot yesterday. After the deadline I've really enjoyed a few quiet days -- doing a little painting for my own pleasure, visits with friends, and cooking a pot of spaghetti gravy yesterday. My old soup pot was aluminum, and I've been looking at a replacement. This isn't one of the fancy brand name enamel ones, but it's a gorgeous cherry red and gets the job done. I was delighted to find it at Target last week.
Below is a sketch from a meeting about saving the Greensward. Again. I can't believe we're in round 43 of this. We met outside at the gorgeous old Memphis Heritage building, and I sketched it waiting for everyone to show up. I'd biked over and left extra time, not knowing exactly how long that would take. A sketchbook is always a good companion.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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