I put Henry in daycare today and did a twofer on local museums. I needed one really quiet day after getting in my final draft for the graphic essay, but then I was wanting to get out and see some great art, and we have wonderful shows up in Memphis right now.
The first was Harmonia Rosales at Brooks. Her show plays off of a lot of "Old Master" paintings and reimagines them to include heroines and mythologies rooted in West Africa. It is magic. I love painters with a strong sense of art history, and her cracking open those tropes to make room for the rest of the world is infectious and beautiful. She uses the gold of the Medieval icons and pairs it with the exuberant abundance of the Baroque, and she has a strong series of visual motifs that are meaningful and personal to her as a painter. It's a remarkable show.
I ran to the grocery and home for a sit down/have tea kind of lunch, and a bit after I went to Dixon. I love their show of American paintings. I've been three times now and have more pieces I want to go sketch, but today I worked from a huge landscape by Thomas Hill. I used watercolor crayons and inktense pencils since it's only dry media in the local museums. (I added paint to the Rosales copy when I got home while it was fresh -- I wanted that real golden feel to it.). That's limiting on colors and especially on skies, but it's so instructive to look at a painting long enough to replicate it and figure out how the artist made certain effects work.
The rain was holding off, and my favorite statue Ceres was surrounded by yellow daffodils and red tulips, so I did one more quick sketch before leaving. I love the graphic essay project, and it's wonderful to have someone want to publish you, but it's also fun to go make art purely for the joy of it on a day off. A perfect break.
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Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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