Painting with the Tigers on Plein Air Friday

Next to the Tigers, Plein Air Watercolor, 14″ x 9.5″

Bright and early this morning I was at Epcot laying the ground work for a watercolor sketching workshop  I will be teaching next week for artists and designers at Walt Disney Imagineering.  Got the demo spot scoped out with plenty of room for folks to gather around and honed in on other locations for everyone to sketch.

Getting ready to do the details

A few weeks ago I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Asia trek painting near the bridge between the 2 tiger exhibits.  While I’m painting I love watching the early morning routines of the animal keepers and I end up learning a lot about the animals I’m painting near.

Back up the hill after finishing some morning business

While I was working, there was a male tiger on the exhibit to my right and a female on the exhibit to the left.  They are currently separated until they get used to each other and the younger female is ready for mating.  They have to keep the shutters closed on the male’s side because if he sees her through the glass across the promenade, he will go crazy! (This is what the keepers have told me.)  As it was, he can smell her and had some guttural sexy calls, that morning, which felt like he was carrying on right behind me! Nothing like loud Tiger snorts and groans to keep you awake in the morning.  She, the female, couldn’t be bothered in the least! 

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Featured Article in The Winter Garden Magazine

www.KimMinichiello.comIt’s been a busy few weeks, I shipped off 13 paintings to The Waterworks Museum of Art for “WAM Presents WAM.”  I will be part of a five women show that includes my Women Artists Mentors (WAM) group.  Members are Helen K. Beacham from Summerville, SC, Maria Bennett Hock from Cary, NC, Debra Kierce from Ashburn, VA, and Carrie Waller who is currently living in Tokyo, Japan.  The show opens with an opening reception on Sunday, March 12 and closes on April 15.  Maria and Debra will be there at the closing reception to give a  presentation which includes painting demonstrations.  It’s going to be a great show!  I’m thrilled and honored to be part of this exhibition. 

This week I’m getting ready for the Windermere Art Affair, the only out door show I do each year, it’s this weekend March 4 & 5 from 11:00 am -5:00 pm.

Recently, I was thrilled to get a copy of the February issue of The Winter Garden Magazine, who did a featured article on me!  I am honored!  Thanks to the Winter Garden Art Association for recommending me for the article and the editors at the magazine for putting together such a lovely layout! 

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I’ve Stuffed…

Some of the Letters Going Out to All the FWS Signature Members

I was a little under the weather today so I didn’t go out plein air painting.  I thought I would share one of the things I have been up to the last couple of weeks.  Have you ever entered a show with a society, art guild, or art center and won an award?  Do you know where that award gift of money or merchandise came from?  It comes from generous members of the group as well as those individuals that love and are so kind to support the arts, as well as sponsors, businesses or companies that do the same.  

My responsibility this year being Second Vice President of the Florida Watercolor Society is to graciously ask many of our over 1000 membership to consider donating for an award for our annual exhibition, that is part of our convention every fall.  Last year we had over $24, 000 in cash and merchandise that was presented to 21 artists as part of our award program for our exhibition.  Many of the awards are in honor of members that have passed  our founded FWS.  One award The Healing Arts Award is a purchase award, whose painting is then donated to a local hospital.  

Last week I stuffed, labeled and stamped 285 letters to just our Signature members to donate to awards and next week letters will go out to all our past presidents, and merchants who also generously donate their time to make FWS such a stellar organization as well as put on a fantastic convention with workshops, and trade show for members and non members every year.  

Next task after letters go out, is to collect items for our raffle and silent auction.  With such a large member ship we usually have a great collection of art supplies, DVD’s, and non art related items that are raffled or auctioned during our convention.    

If you are interested in learning more about FWS or donating you can visit the web site here.  If you cleaned out your studio to get ready for the new year and have art supplies you no longer need.  Contact me and send them my way! 

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Plein Air Friday, Back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

“Peaceful Morning,” Watercolor, 11″ x 14″

Asia Area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

 I went back to the spot I was at last week in the Africa area.  I had very limited time today, I didn’t completely finish.  I will put it up in the studio and analyze whether I will finish it or not.  Some I’m compelled to bring to completion and others I essentially see as a painting exercise.  As I mentioned in the last post, I tried a new paper I didn’t care for so part of me doesn’t want to spend any more time on this one.   It is at that point where I feel like I may have overworked it.  I will look at with fresh eyes another day. 

www.KimMinichiello.comI’m posting a painting I did finish in the Asia area.  I  also wanted to share a link to the Urban Sketchers Blog.  Last week there was a meet up of different chapters all over the world to record anything related to the Chinese New Year, the year of the Rooster.  Noga Grossman the head administrator for our Orlando Chapter suggested the idea as well as documenting what other artists did on the worldwide Urban Sketchers blog.  If you would like to see the post you can click here.  One of my paintings of the Temple of Heaven in the China Pavilion at Epcot was featured!  There are other sketches from  Lisbon, Yokohama, Seattle, Orlando, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Beijing, Dallas/Ft. Worth, O’ahu, and Canberra, in the article.

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Plein Air Friday

Tori Gate, 14 x 11, Watercolor

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since my Favorite Things, Top Ten series over the holidays.  Where did January go? This morning I painted in the Africa area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I have painted a few times in the Asia area and this is the first in Africa.  I lost my bearings and didn’t realize after I started that about an hour and half into the painting, drawing then block in, I wold have the sun right on my paper and in my face with no umbrella.  Oh well, I will try and go back next week to finish it before the sun crests the building I was in front of.  

On an interesting side note, the past 2 Fridays I have tried a new paper, Windsor Newton Cold Press.  I painted at Epcot last week, this Tori Gate painting, and struggled with the paper drying too fast because it was chilly and windy.  Today, no wind and in the sun, it took forever for the first wash to dry so I could move on!  Just goes to show you different papers behave differently then when you add the elements on top of it, that’s a whole other story,  Something, my fellow oil painters don’t have to worry about. Unless you are painting in freezing conditions and the paint gets stiff. Painting in freezing conditions, not my cup of tea.  Won’t be worrying about that! 

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My Favorite Things Top Ten, Bonus: My Favorite Cocktail, The Spritz

Venetian Spritzs, Campari Spritz on the left & the Aperol Spritz on the right

When I was in Venice last spring with my WAM Women Artists Mentors Group.  I kept noticing at every cafe, whether it be lunch or apertivo hour, people were enjoying this neon orange cocktail!  I had to find out what all the fuss was about.  I had traveled in Italy many times before but these drinks had never been on my radar.  It is the The Spritz.  

KimMinichiello.comThe Spritz of today has its roots in the Hapsburg occupied Northern Italy.  In the nineteenth century,  Austrian soldiers would add a “spritz” or a  spray of water to the regions wine to make it more palatable to them.  They were used to Riesling and not the drier wines of Italy.  It has gone through some other incarnations but basically The Spritz of today is three parts Prosecco, two parts bitter liquer, and one part sparkling water.  It is traditionally made with Aperol or Campari as the bitter liquer.  I like the Aperol Spritz.  It’s garnished with an orange slice and sometimes in Italy a skewer with a green olive is added.  

KimMinichiello.comIt’s a cocktail I usually make at home, since many restaurants or bars don’t stock Aperol nor do they get the proportions right.  I had one once where the bar tender added plain water to Aperol and called it a Spritz; I don’t think so! You can see in Italy they use a variety of different glasses to serve a Spritz.

A recently issued book of Spritz, with a lot of nice recipes for different varieties

I find it to be super refreshing and a nice way to end the day when the golden hour strikes and it’s apertivo time!  

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  Hope you enjoyed “My Favorite Things Top Ten,” plus the bonus. Cin Cin! 

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My Favorite Things Top Ten, Number 1: Escoda Perla Brushes

My latest plein air painting “Peaceful Morning,” Watercolor, 14″ x 10″ done at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on my Friday Morning Paint Sessions with a few Walt Disney Imagineers using Escoda Perla Brushes

Over the years I have tried a number of brushes, and I have amassed quite a collection. I use different brushes for different purposes,  sometimes the task calls for a synthetic brush and sometimes, a natural hair brush.  I go over all these nuances in the workshops I teach.    

I have a number of Escoda brushes from their  various lines, The Barroco, The Prado and The Versatil.  My favorite is the Perla.  Iain Stewart turned me on to this one.  My go to is the number 14.  It has the perfect snap, and point and holds the right amount of water for me.  I really don’t need any other size, with the point on this I can get really fine lines.  However, when I was at the Florida Watercolor Society Convention & Trade Show, this last fall, I spotted a travel brush set of Perlas.  

www.KimMinichiello.comIt was a treat yourself moment, I got them because at times I don’t want to drag my whole plein air kit, but just put a few things in my purse, or tote bag. They even came with a handy leather case!  So I have Perlas in more sizes to use, sketching, plein air painting and in the studio!  If you are interested in getting some Escoda Perla Brushes, Dick Blick carries them on line.  Unfortunately, I have never seen them sold in any retail art stores I have been to.  If you have been good this year maybe Santa will put one or two in your stocking! 

KimMinichiello.comStay tuned my next post will be a Favorite Things Bonus, just in time for the holidays! 

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Favorite Things Top Ten, Number 2: Twinrocker Paper

Assisi Guardian, Watercolor, 24″ x 22,” on Twinrocker Paper, currently in the Kansas Watercolor Society’s National Exhibition at the Mark Arts Center in Wichita, Kansas, Juror, Dean Mitchell

I grew up in a small town in northern Indiana, called Logansport.   Unbeknownst to me not more than 30 miles away was a small factory making handmade papers for stationary and watercolor.  I drove by it many times on my way to Purdue University, where I went to college when I would drive home for a “home fix” and to have my mom make my favorite meals.  She is an excellent cook, and I’m proud to say I have inherited her skills!  

www.KimMinichiello.comWhen I started painting in watercolor I visited an Indiana artists at his home gallery and studio, Terry Armstrong.  He was showing me some of his latest work and I loved the paper he was working on.  It was Twinrocker.  Then he sat me straight up when he told me it’s made in Indiana, in Brookston!  Thirty two miles and thirty-eight minutes from where I grew up!  What are the chances of that? I always go and stock up on paper when I visit my mom. I blogged about one of my visits to Twinrocker, here

You can order a sample pack to try it!

I love this paper for a variety of reasons.  It’s the only handmade made paper made entirely in the United States and I like supporting this business!  I love the weight of the paper, the texture, and the type and amount of sizing on it.  My preference is for the rough texture, but I have also used the cold press.  I can’t explain it but the paint flows differently on it than other papers I use.  It’s slightly more expensive but totally worth it for me! 

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Favorite Things Top Ten: Number 3 , The Tube Wringer

www.KimMinichiello.comI’ve always been very frugal.  I hate to waste anything!  Whether it be bottle, tube or jar I’m going to get the last drop out of it.  Paint can be expensive and I don’t want to waste any of it.  I think that’s why I also love watercolor among other reasons,  I don’t waste any paint! After I’ve squirted it on my palette,  if it dries up, I re-wet it and use it, instead of throwing it away like you have to do oils.  To insure I get every once out of the tube I use a tube wringer.  You just clamp it at the bottom, twist the handle and it forces all the paint to the top of the tube.  Once there is nothing left to squeeze, I cut the top off and scoop out the rest with a brush.

I cut the end of the tube and dig the rest out!

I told my husband he needed one for his oils and he thought I was nuts, until I got him one and he loves it too.  It’s the simple things!

Here is the link if you would like to get one or two. 🙂  A few of the on line art stores also sell them you can add it to your order if you are getting some art supplies. 

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Favorite Things Top Ten: Number 4, Watercolor Sketchbooks

Sketches of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, Cassis in Provence, South of France, Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, and the Japanese bridge in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World

Many don’t realize I paint mostly in watercolor because of watercolor sketching.  My primary medium was oils.  On trips to Paris, and when I lived there working for Walt Disney Imagineering, I found the world of “Carnet de Voyage,” sketchbook of your travels.  Even before Urban Sketching became so popular, many publishers in Europe published the watercolor sketch journals of artists. There were dedicated sections in book stores for these!  I even saw a great show one year at the La Poste Museum in Paris, displaying artists sketchbooks.  I was bitten by the bug.  I had to do this!  The very first sketchbook I got was made by Savoir Faire and it has inside Indian Khadi paper.  I like the rough surface and the deckled edges of the paper.  These are the green and blue books shown below. Sadly, they stopped making them and I bought as many as  I could find a few years ago.  However, there is a nice substitute that I have had students get for my watercolor sketching workshop. Sam Flax here in Orlando carries them and the covers are brown.  You could google “Khadi paper watercolor sketch book,” to find other options.

Shown are the Savoir Faire, Khadi Paper books in 2 sizes and on the bottom the Stillman & Birn, Alpha Series, 8″ x 10″

Since this turned into a habit and obsession over the years,  I have used a variety of books and I like all of them, Hand Book, Stillman & Birn Alpha Series, and Moleskin Watercolor Books.

This is a handmade one with a soft leather cover my husband bought for me in Rome.  I love it because it’s small and very light weight and fits easily in my purse. The sketch shows a view of the fortress in Salzburg, Austria from the Mirabell Gardens.

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