I was very excited about getting to see Devils Tower. Seeing it from a distance while driving was amazing - it's so tall! We camped right beside it, just to the east of it, so we had an amazing view. It was hard to look away from it but when I did I felt like I could sense its presence, sort of like how I can feel where the Mississippi River is at all times when I'm anywhere in Memphis.
We got there in the late afternoon and camped one night, and all I could think about while we were there was sketching it. I even woke up in the tent in the middle of the night thinking about sketching it the next day.
I drew the one on the left in the dark, and drew the other one the next morning in the light of day.
If you follow me on Instagram (@elizabethalley), you might know that at home in Memphis I often sketch and paint a building called the Clark Tower, and because I sketch and paint it so much, a friend declared it "my Devils Tower," as in the thing I'm obsessed with like the character in Close Encounters of the Third Kind who sculpted Devils Tower out of mashed potatoes. Anyway, all of that was an extra bit of excitement for being able to see it in person, but also caused me a moment of hesitation due to the expectations of sketching The Actual Devils Tower. But, I was happy to find that I didn't sketch it nine times out of a sense of obligation, but because I wanted to explore it. I could have sketched how the shadows changed on it all. day. long.
After we left, I kept thinking about how if I'd had more time I would have done a more involved sketch. But I later figured out that by doing nine quick-ish sketches I probably learned more and enjoyed myself more than I would have with fewer sketches that took more time. I'll tell you more about that lesson later.
My husband and I have been keeping to quarantine since mid-March and were going a little stir crazy, so we planned a trip in October that would result in maximum change of scenery with minimum interaction with others. We camped, stayed in cabins, and carried around our own food. We also went to grocery stores and stopped at gas stations and stayed in a few chain hotels. But we did everything we could to minimize interaction with others and ensure that we weren't spreading the virus around the country. We've been back for several weeks with no signs or symptoms of illness and we had a break that we were both extremely grateful for.
Here are sketches from the first leg our the trip:
First stop: camping in Knob Noster State Park in Missouri. The park was surprisingly close to a major road. At night we could hear the wind in the trees, the rustling of animals, and the swoosh of big trucks nearby. But it was a lovely spot full of pin oaks and other giant trees starting to turn colors. We went on a hike and saw deer, we listened to the wind through the trees, and we saw the milky way at night.
I have so many new sketches to share, but I'm sharing this again with the following words to make sure that any of you reading my blog or my social media know who it is you are following. You may ask what politics has to do with sketching, and as a response I will share this quote by Frederick Franck, "Art is neither a profession or a hobby. Art is a way of being." I make art because it is my way of being, and I cannot separate it from any other part of myself.
Now, none of my people won/didn't win my state, but I stand by these choices because I made them for the kind of world that I want to see and that I want for others. I believe strongly in and will defend and align myself with supporters of: Black lives (Black Lives Matter), trans lives and rights, gay marriage and all LGBTQIA rights, women's rights, reproductive rights, the rights of undocumented Americans (no human is illegal), science, climate justice and environmental protections... and there's more that I am forgetting – so much healthcare debt or limited/no access to decent healthcare, student loan debt, generational poverty, family separation, extrajudicial killing and police violence, sentencing based on racism and patriarchy, voter suppression, rolling back of climate change initiatives, oh yeah and uncontrolled spread of a deadly virus that has killed almost 240,000 Americans.
We show the world who we are through our words, actions, and choices. I have and will continue to say and do thoughtless things and make not-smart choices because I'm human. But I think a lot about the words I use and the actions and choices that I make, and I strive for empathy and compassion (neither of these comes easily to me), and I incorporate lessons I've learned from the people in my life.
Anyway, that's who I am and who I will continue to be. Thanks for reading.
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