I got the end campsite at Farragut State Park in Idaho, down in a nest of trees a little further away than usual from other campers. It's the same campground where I did the sketch for my "Explore" print of Alice (the camper van) under tall trees last year. It was gorgeous to sit out there, and again, I sketched the next morning before taking off. The light in the forest next to me really caught my eye. Of course, the sun went away as I started sketching and only came back out when I was done, but I'd seen enough to capture the feel of the place, if not the exact patterns.
It was a 2600 mile trip solo in 6 days, so I didn't take a lot of time off, but I did want to sketch every day to give myself a mental break and enjoy the places I was driving through. I sketched one morning at a scenic pullover in South Dakota and did the same the next day in Wyoming. These are my two favorite sketches of the trip, and it's no real surprise to me that they are the fresh, morning ones before I got tired.
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 have an insane amount of stuff to do this week, but I celebrated finishing my last commission by stopping at Dixon on my way home to see the American Impressionists exhibition one more time before it closes. I also wanted to sketch this lovely Boudin from our permanent collection. It’s not always on view, and I love having it out. I’m way out of practice for this and didn’t leave enough room on the left (I always get larger as I go), and pencil is not my best medium, but it was so good to spend some time looking deeply at this one. I’m celebrating vaccines by making time for some important things I haven’t been able to do lately. Like getting a couple of waltzes and a good visit with my sister yesterday. Means so much. I have missed dancing for that jolt of joy in my life. Art is deeply satisfying and necessary and how I interact with almost all the world, but dancing is JOY. I’m so grateful to be easing back with a vaccinated partner or two even if it will be a while before we fill a gym with sweaty, smiling people.
I also met a fantastic dog and got to love on him a bit, thanks to his person and my friend Charley. I am still deeply missing Mr. Darcy, and it's going to be a very long summer travel season before I'm able to get another dog. The longest I've gone in my adult life without a dog companion. So some dog love along the way means a great deal.
Marian’s greeter cat is adorable, easy going, and a perfect ambassador for his species. He makes even inveterate dog lovers fall for him. Someday it would be fun to try a book about him too, but for now I’m just having fun sketching him as he hangs out with us on the front porch.
Another post vaccination celebration is visiting my sister and her husband. We hung out on the porch, petted cats, and caught up. It’s so good to see my people. And with a big list of commissions and other appointments lately, it felt great to sketch just for me and because I want to. I’ve missed feeling I have time to do this.
Marian took an evening ride, and later the moon rose over a white horse. He was moving too fast for me to get what I’d hoped for, and it was dark for painting, but it was fun to try to capture the beauty of that time.
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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