John Singer Sargent Watercolors at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston

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From 1902 to 1911 John Singer Sargent painted a significant collection of watercolor paintings traveling to varied destinations with friends and family painting plein air.   He was getting tired of the rigors of his large commissioned portrait work and he saw these travels as a chance to get away and paint purely for himself and for the enjoyment of painting. He did paint oils on these journeys, however, his medium of choice was watercolor. He never intended to sell or exhibit these works.  However, Edward Darley Boit, kept convincing him otherwise, he finally relented under the condition that they not be sold piece meal and he would prefer that the whole collection be purchased by an Eastern Museum or collector.  Boit and Sargent had a long friendship and it is Sargent’s portrait of his daughters, The Daughters of Edward Darly Boit, at the MFA Boston, that was one of his major triumphs.  Boit, an accomplished watercolorist as well, had the idea for a combined showing of both of their works, and in 1909 the show opened at the Knoedler & Company Gallery in New York.

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Villa di Marlia, Lucca: A Fountain

The Brooklyn Museum wasted no time to purchase the entire collection from the exhibit. The Boston Museum of Fine Art was a day late and a dollar short when they realized all the paintings had been purchased by Brooklyn.  They put dibs on all of the paintings he would create three years after for the second exhibition site unseen.  Therefore, these two institutions own the largest collection of his watercolor works and they organized an exhibition that started at the Brooklyn Museum last summer and is currently in Boston until January 20, 2014.

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A Tramp

Living and traveling in Europe for a number of years, I have had the fortunate opportunity to see some amazing painting exhibitions.  This one ranks up there as one of the best.  The show was extremely well curated with works grouped by the different regions where he traveled and painted, Venice, the Middle East, the Swiss Alps, Italy, Portugal and Greece, with a combination of landscapes and intimate portraits of friends, family and people of these regions. Landscapes tended to be more intimate and focused on less traditional view points and more on details instead of broad sweeping vistas.

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Simplon Pass: Crags

He had complete command of this medium but one gets the sense that he his painting in watercolor like one would in oils with broad sweeping brush stokes, in a loose quick style, still preserving the whites of the paper for highlights, or using wax as one would masking fluid to preserve areas of lighter color before laying down darker washes. He also utilized quite al lot of gauche or body color mixing it with the transparent watercolor, and even laying it on in a think impasto style for highlights and texture. I also love the fact that most all of the works have visible pencil lines that you could study and see his drawing underneath and sometimes on top of the paint. His draftsmanship was more evident in the architectural works of Venice.

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White Ships

I saw the exhibit twice on two consecutive days. The first day taking it all in, studying the paintings up close to analyze his various techniques. The second day I studied them more at a distance and was amazed at the glow, luminosity, how truly Impressionistic they were with his loose washes and painterly style.

Kim Minichiello

The Cashmere Shawl 

Robert Genn, of the Painters Keys, once wrote a letter about the Stendahl Syndrome.  Link to his article here.  It is the condition of being extremely overwhelmed by the beauty of art or nature.  I can honestly say I felt it at this exhibition.  I had a hard time walking out the exit, and feel honored and grateful to have experienced this master’s work in watercolor.

 

P.S. On a sad note… Robert Genn who is such an inspiration to many artists with his Twice Weekly Letters, and founder of the Painter’s Keys web site.  Sent a letter out last week titled “The Bomb.”  He revealed he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Even revealing this news, he is uplifting and inspirational.  My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

Watercolor Sketching at the Musee Zadkine, Paris

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper in the Zadkine Garden

One thing about living in Paris, versus just visiting, is you have so much time to explore the city and discover little hidden gems, that you would probably never take the time to see if you were on vacation.  One of those is the Musee Zadkine in the 6th arrondissement.  This is another location a few of us from the sketch group visited one fall day.

M. Zadkine Sketch

Quick Pen and Ink Sketches of Zadkine Sulptures

It is dedicated to the work of Russian sculpture Ossip Zadkine.  It was his former home and studio and was willed to the city of Paris by his wife. It now has over 300 sculptures and various other works and a number of contemporary art exhibits each year.

Watercolor Plein Air Painting in Mount Dora, Florida

www.kimminichiello.comLast weekend my husband and I made a date to go plein air painting.  It’s nice to have a spouse who is also an artist! 🙂  We went to a quant little town near us called Mount Dora.  It was a popular winter retreat in the late 1800’s.  Since it’s on a beautiful lake, people would visit for hunting, fishing, and boating.  When the train depot was built in the early 1900’s, it became even more popular.  Today, it is a quaint little town, with lots of antique shops, restaurants, a wonderful art center and a few galleries and artist studios.

www.kimminichiello.comInstead of painting in my sketch book, I decided to break out the easel and go for a larger painting.  We painted for a little over 2 hours, and had to call it quits because it was just getting too hot!  It still hasn’t really cooled off here yet!   I will tweak this one a bit in the studio, finishing the train car and adjusting values  before I call it finished.

 

When Life Gets In the Way, Keep Painting

www.kimminichiello.comWe have been undergoing a small renovation project on our house, part of which involves my studio. A project that started in June and should only have taken three weeks, for one shenanigan or another, has taken the better part of four months! Thank  goodness it’s not the kitchen!  As for my studio, it has been a bit chaotic, but I’m staying positive and I’m still painting!  New wood laminate flooring was installed last week. While some carpentry and painting work is being completed, I set up my painting table and easel in the middle of the room and I’m painting while keeping the carpenter company. I’m really looking forward to reorganizing my space and unpacking all of my art books which have been in boxes since May. I feel  so fortunate to have such a nice roomy, well-lit studio to work in!
P.S.  You can see a sneak peek of the progress of my current painting on the easel. 🙂

Chinese Puppets were Waiting in the Wings

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 Waiting in the Wings, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 17″ x 13″ , 43 cm x 33 cm

This painting Waiting in the Wings was inspired by my jaunts to Cat Street Market off of Hollywood Road, near Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong.  A few of the vendors there sell Chinese Opera marionette puppets. Like the embroidered slippers, I was immediately attracted to them for the variety of color, pattern and personality!

I was happy with this painting when I did it.  After recently getting it out and living with it a while again.  I decided to do some tweaking.  I felt the background was too much the same value as the rest of the painting and wanted to make the puppets stand out more.  I also played around with more value changes on the puppets themselves as well as  some lost and found edges.  With a stencil I created a slight vertical striation very subtly in the background to represent the puppet strings without being to literal.

 

www.kimminichielloWaiting in the Wings before tweaking

 I’m happy with the tweaks.  A painting I thought was finished has a new lease on life!  The title has become even more appropriate. 🙂

Watercolor Sketching at the Musee Bourdelle, Paris

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

It’s finally happened!  There is a slight crispness in the air.  The temperature has been dropping into the 60’s at night. Instead of highs in the 90’s, today it will be in the 80’s!

Here is another sketch from a fall sketch outing to the Musee Bourdelle.  This charming museum, tucked away in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, was the home and studio of sculpture Antoine Bourdelle.  It gives you the sense of what an artist’s atelier actually looked and felt like in the late 19th century.  In the late 1920’s he started to turn his studio into and actual museum and today the museum houses more than 500 of works of sculpture, paintings, and pastels.

Bourdelle was one of the pioneers of 20th century monumental sculpture and was commissioned for works worldwide, including the United States; Washington D.C., Honolulu, Texas, Minnesota, California and Ohio.  In 1893 he joined  August Rodin as an assistant and became a popular teacher.

This sketch done sitting in the garden, is the second of the day, and is quicker and looser and than the first one I did.  When we arrived to tour the museum we had a beautiful, cool, sunny fall day but a few hours later while sketching in the garden the typical gray skies of Paris took over.  C’est la vie.

Watercolor Sketch: Paris, Luxembourg Gardens

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

Even though the weather really isn’t feeling quite fall like yet here in Florida,  I’m starting to get into an autumnal spirit.  I’ve decorated for Halloween and baked a few batches of muffins the last couple of weeks.

I thought I would post today a watercolor sketch I did while living in Paris.  This one was done one October morning of the small cafe in the Luxembourg Gardens.  I had gone out with a sketching group and was bundled up in a coat, hat and scarf it was so cold.  If I had been on my own, I may not have persisted with this one!   It was nice to  warm up with a nice coffee in the cafe across the street after painting, and admire each other’s sketches.  I nice way to spend a beautiful, but cold fall day!

Success at An Affair of the Art, 2013 for Ryman Arts

I’m happy to pass on the news that two of my paintings were sold and went to good homes at An Affair of the Art, 2013 to benefit Ryman Arts.  It feels wonderful to sell your work, then it makes it even more special when you know some of the proceeds are going to a great cause such as this.  Thank you to all who dedicated their time and art to put on this event.  Hopefully, see you next year!

Watercolor Sketch: Sai Kung, Hong Kong New Territories

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

Some watercolor sketches, even though they are sketches I spend a bit more time on.  Others when you don’t have the time, are what I call quick and dirty!  Not that this sketch is dirty, I guess it’s just one, of many, of those expressions from my midwestern upbringing.

This one was done on a sketch outing with my friend Gladys.  We drove up to Sai Kung which is a peninsula surrounded by the South China Sea  north of Hong Kong Island in the New Territories.  We had painted at another location and then drove over to the Hong Kong Diving Club and decided to paint there.  This one was done in 15-20 minutes.  These quickies are good to do just to get an essence of the place without focusing too much on the details.