I had an utterly gorgeous day today. It was 70 degrees here in Memphis. Cloudy and windy, but beautifully warm, so Mr. Darcy and I headed for the forest right after lunch and stayed till just after sunset. We sketched a good bit but also sat and watched birds and just drank in the beauty of the forest. I figured a day like that at the end of November was not to be wasted.
I've got a new project I'm really excited about.I even dreamed about it last night. I've been reading more graphic novels and travelogues, and it recently occurred to me that what I would most like to do a graphic book about is trees. People and plots are both hard for me. Trees would be perfect. And there are several lovely photography books on trees, but I don't know offhand of an illustrated one.
So I've started a dedicated sketch book just for trees, to see what happens on the page. Of course, my tree book may not be immediately discernible from my regular sketchbooks, but I'm being a little more intentional about it and playing with layouts across the page.
When I saw the Hokusai exhibit in Paris this fall, he had made a huge series of books that he called Manga. I had no idea the word was so old. In his time the word meant "diverse drawings," and he used these manga to show art students how to draw a myriad of things. There are collections of drawings of mountains from all distances and angles, of people in all forms of activities, of animals, and the list goes on. So I'm starting a tree manga.
I would really love to publish a graphic book someday. My graphic travelogues of North Carolina and then of Paris this fall were my first steps toward experimenting with the genre, and this is another. We'll see it goes.
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Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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