I did a whole show of river paintings some years ago and largely haven't revisited it since. But the river is where you can truly see the sky in Memphis, and skies are fun in oils, and a photographer visiting Memphis got me back down there to sketch. I started this oil this morning, and it will get some cloud work and a second layer after this layer dries.
I'm planning to do a few small river oils for the self portrait show. The show is a wide definition of self portraiture with still lifes and dog/banjo paintings as well as ones of me. The show began as a "woman alone in a large world" series, but it took a turn along the way. Jude Dippold wrote a poem about the first self portrait I did, against the large window in Paris, and I'd like to use several of his poems about me as one lens to see myself in this show. He's also written two with the Mississippi River in them, and I think a few river paintings would complement them nicely. Here is one poem I plan to include in the show.
The last light of a winter's afternoon
glimmers on the hills
above the Skagit.
I hold to that amber glow
with thoughts of blankets
warmed through the night
and the promise
of the sun circling back
over the Mississippi
Below is the journal sketching working from that I did while we were down at the river last week. I can never catch the sunset the way it looks, but I was pleased with the sketch as a thing in itself after the fact.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
Get occasional studio email updates.