I'm trying another narrative self portrait like the one in Paris against the window of stars. This feels a bit like my Edward Hopper series -- woman alone in a large world.
This piece is based on a sign in the Old Forest where I walk daily. I've loved it for a couple of years. It seems to ask me regularly whether I will or won't step courageously out into the world and open myself up and take risks. I've done that again this fall, with not wonderful results so far, so I'm trying to remind myself to stay open. On the upside, this art is also a staying open to something new, and I'm excited about trying a new direction. So perhaps the results are mixed. And closed off is not how I want to live permanently (though I needed to be there for a while to heal last year), so I keep walking past and thinking about this sign.
I sketched it a few weeks ago and again more recently.
Then Peter Ceren posted this photo of it shining in a patch of sunlight, and I knew I had to go ahead and paint it for real. You can see more of his stunning photos of the forest we both walk daily in on his public facebook page The Old Forest.
First I typeset a couple of letterpress signs for my house, using the pointing hands I got in Paris last year. Sometimes it's good for me to have reminders in my work space. I printed the same image on the gessoed paper I'm using for this painting. I can paint over them if I decide I want to, but at the moment I'm liking the idea of combining letterpress with paint and also having a little bit more oddity and symbolism in this piece. I've been looking at Odilon Redon again and won't go as far out as he did, but the symbolism and surrealism are really appealing to me at the moment. I like that it's subtle but also there. I'll see if I keep feeling that way as I get further into the painting.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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