My friend John Reed is a poet in Memphis, and there is a documentary being made about him and his work. For part of the project, artists have been invited to create works based on his poems. I have been enjoying painting from other poetry and jumped at the chance to be included in this project. I've always loved John's poetry. Plus the Mr. Darcy blog has me enjoying mixing text and images again and working in foutain pen and watercolor together.
I knew exactly which poem I wanted to paint from, and I made a trip down to the coast on a sunny day to visit an overlook where I could see the coastline laid out beneath me. I did two journal sketches (below) on site and then came back and used them to create the triptych. Each panel is 6x8", since I work in modest sizes in watercolor, but the three together hold a nice space.
Here's what it looked like laid out on my work table.
And here is John's award winning poem, which he was kind enough to say I could share here.
The Cartographer's Proposal
I've set their names on maps, but never found
the things themselves. Vainly, I sought escape
in Mystic, Concord, Providence, New Hope--
a gazetteer of irresistible lands
each marking a potential journey's end.
Always a stranger, I never learned the ropes
and wasted time exploring tourist traps,
missing what I'd come so far to find.
But look: a place explorers have passed over
and mentioned only in this arcane chart,
pristine and fraught with possibility.
No human plan's imposed on plain or river,
but mail addressed to Mercy, Healing Heart,
will reach us there, if you will come with me.
John Richard Reed
River Styx 97
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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