Dixon asked me to come up with some thoughts about my upcoming exhibition that they can use for the newsletter. Here is what I came up with. (Above are color proofs of the print I created for the exhibition poster. That was way fun to do.)
"My work and work habits both are highly influenced by John Constable, my favorite artist. I took the title of my show, "My Own Places," from his letter to a friend in which he writes, "I should paint my own places best; painting is with me but another word for feeling, and I associate 'my careless boyhood' with all that lies on the banks of the Stour; those scenes made me a painter, and I am grateful." Constable did not follow his generation on the grand tour to paint Italy. He painted the river he grew up next to, his village church, his home, his best friend's home at Salisbury, and later Hampstead Heath just outside his door.
Similarly I spent the first dozen years of my career painting the landscape in and around Memphis. I could easily say that my family's farm and Overton Park made me a painter. Constable was also one of the first painters to do finished paintings on site instead of just studies, and his practices influenced the Impressionists. He also did hundreds of small studies of clouds and plants on site to inform his studio work. All of my work starts with an onsite sketch or watercolor. Any print I create grows out of work I created sitting in that place, recording that moment in time and what drew me to the scene.
A summer in Greece in 2003 gave me the gift of painting beautiful and exotic places, and I have enjoyed painting on my travels in the years since. But I was delighted to be invited to create a show of current Southern landscapes to complement the exhibition of Southern Impressionists that Dixon will bring to town this fall. It's a beautiful opportunity to refocus on the scenes that made me a painter and which continue to delight and enrich my work. In the tradition of Constable, the places in the this show are my "heart places." Overton Park, where I walk daily; my family farm; a farm in North Carolina that have visited and painted through the years; and Dixon itself. Growing up in Memphis I have been amazed and schooled by the exhibitions here while I simultaneously kept painting the lovely gardens. Dixon has helped make me the artist I am, and I could not be more honored to create a show of my home landscapes to hang in the place that has inspired me over the course of my life."
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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