Saturday was our regular meeting for the Memphis Urban Sketchers. Elizabeth had decided to convene us downtown near the Memphis in May festivities, which is also near my regular Saturday morning destination of the farmers market. I'm an early bird and like to get to the market pretty early to get my pick of things. I was also concerned about parking once downtown got hopping, so I put a cooler in the car, hit the market about 8:30, and then headed for our meeting spot at Beale near the Orpheum.
I've got a commission on my list for the Orpheum theater, Memphis's old Vaudeville theater that now houses Broadway shows and the opera and whatnot, so I set up to paint it while waiting for the 11:00 meeting time to roll around. It's a pretty complicated building with lots of architectural grace notes, so it took about the full two hours, a bit longer than my usual watercolor time. I'm pretty pleased with the outcome, though, and I was also pleased to find some shade to paint in (not always possible when I need a certain view).
It was quite hot on Saturday. A couple of our group had had the foresight to scout out a good location ahead of time. Four of us ended up at a table with an umbrella on the upstairs deck of Alfred's, overlooking the main strip of Beale Street. It was lovely to sit in a comfortable chair with wait service and good spinach dip (since the 11-1:00 time frame is right through my lunch hour) and paint in comfort and companionship. I enjoy getting out with other artists, seeing what they are drawn to in the same scene, and swapping ideas. It's a lovely break from working alone at home so much of the time. We had several new and talented folks join us for the first time, and I love how the group continues to grow and attract new people. I'm often out of town for the meetings, but I love to be there when I'm home.
I was pretty worn out both my architectural concentration and almost five hours out in the heat by the time we were done. Elmore had finally turned on our a/c at home, and I happily did some sitting down printmaking indoors for the rest of the afternoon.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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