Watercolor Sketch Chartres Cathedral


Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

Spring is my favorite time of year in France.  I thought I would share a sketch I did in the Spring of my last year living in Paris, on a visit to Chartres.  We had just finished the day site seeing at the Cathedral and sat in the little park just behind it during the magic hour time of the day when the light is golden.  This is the back side of the Cathedral, done with ink pen and watercolor.  A wonderful moment frozen in time.

Chartres Cathedral is on the Unesco World Heritage List.  It is a perfect example of French Gothic Architecture.  Construction started in 1145 and continued  over a 26 year period after the fire of 1194.  It is in an unbelievable state of preservation with the majority of the original stained glass windows intact and only a few minor changes architecturally since the early 13th century.



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New Work Paris Passy Gate



Paris Passy Gate, Watercolor on Handmade Paper, 22″ x 19″ , 56 cm x 48 cm

I’m happy to post that Paris Passy Gate, c’est fini!  If you have been following my blog or Facebook pages I have been documenting the work in progress on this painting.  The last post I had all the block in completed and needed to analyze the painting for value and add details.  I hope you can see what a difference value makes!  There is a saying among artists and no one I’ve talked to seems to know the origination of the quote.  “Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work.”  This is so true.  You can paint something in a completely different color scheme than what the original subject is, and it will work if the values are correct.

My goal for this painting was to experiment with getting a lot of texture from the pigments and work with a grayed palette.  I’m very happy with the outcome.  I’m always nostalgic for Paris especially in the spring time, and wanted to capture a place in the area where I lived which is also down the street from the apartment of a very dear friend I met while living there.  When we met she was 90 years old but seemed like she was in her 70’s.  We met by chance in a cafe and she started speaking with me in English because she had been married to an American man whom she met in Paris on V-day after WW II.  From the day we met we got together almost every week for lunch and we are still friends and speak on the phone often.  I thought of our special friendship a lot while working on this painting.

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Watercolor Sketching in the Parc de Bagatelle, Paris


Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

A little gem in the Bois de Boulogne is Parc de Bagatelle.  I was determined to go on a lovely spring day with my sketchbook right after we moved to Paris and thought I would brave the bus system for the first time.  For those who have never visited the Bois (forest), it is HUGE and some areas can be a bit dodgy, which I won’t get into in this post!  Needles to say because it is so big there are many lovely areas to explore and families flock there on the weekends to commune with nature.  One of the most popular ares in the Bois  is the Parc de Bagatelle. It was created in 1775 and is one of four botanical gardens in Paris.

One of the most popular features of the Parc is the rose garden, boasting over 10,000 bushes from 1,200 different species.  In the spring the peonies and the iris garden are just as spectacular.

I got off the bus at what I thought was the closest stop only to realize after I’d walked more than a mile, I still had a long way to go!  My option at that point was to turn back and try to get back on the bus and hope to get closer or keep on walking, which I did.

I finally made it to the entrance near the Chateau and parked my self on a bench near a gorgeous row of peonies and did this sketch.  The Chateau was built by the  brother in law of Marie Antoinette.  She wagered that he couldn’t built it in three months and he won the bet! From start to finish it took 64 days.

When  I sketch architecture I like to combine watercolor with a permanent ink pen.  I had gotten a set of sepia color Pitt pens which I tried out on this one.  I like the brown tone to the pen which doesn’t seem as harsh as the black.

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Birth of Impressionism and the Musee Marmottan Monet in Paris

www.kimminichiello.comImpression:Sunrise, Oil in Canvas, Claude Monet, 1872, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

Ahhhh April in Paris!  What a better month to hold an art exhibition. On this day exactly one hundred and forty years ago was an exhibition that changed the art world forever.

On April 15, 1874 a small group of artists put together a small independent art show to buck the establishment of academic painters and salons.  This exhibition led by artists Claude Monet featured other works by, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro and Berthe Morisot.  They called themselves the Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptures, etc.

It wasn’t until  french art critique Louis Leroy entitled his nasty, scathing critique in a french newspaper, “Exhibition of Impressionists”  for which one particular painting by Claude Monet inspired this title, that the group would eventually be coined the “Impressionists.”   It was his, Impression: Sunrise.

When I lived in Paris I was so fortunate to see this painting many times as well as other works by Monet, Renoir and Morisot at the Musée Mormottan Monet, which is in the 16th arrondissement only a few blocks from where I lived.  Originally a hunting lodge on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne, it is a gem of a museum.  It has been bequeathed with many beautiful works of art over the years, most notably in 1966, Michel Monet’s collection of works inherited from his father.

What I love about Monet’s  collection here is there are works that seem to be works in progress and those that were  done during his later years when he was afflicted with cataracts.  With these one can get a sense of his painting process. And the color palette from the cataract years is much warmer with golds and yellows,  not typically Monet but are gorgeous.

It wasn’t until the third exhibition by these plus other independent artists that they gave in and officially called them selves “Impressionists.”

Today on the birthday of this major art movement I wanted to pay homage to the “Artists Independent” who later became known as “Impressionists,”  the painting that coined the term, and the Museum where it currently residues!

A side note, Impression: Sunrise was stolen from the Musée Marmottan Monet in 1985, recovered in 1990 and has been back on display since 1991.

These are the artists that participated in the first Impressionist Exhibition:

• Zacharie Astruc

• Antoine-Ferdinand Attendu

• Édouard Béliard

• Eugène Boudin

• Félix Braquemond

• Édouard Brandon

• Pierre-Isidore Bureau

• Adolphe-Félix Cals

• Paul Cézanne

• Gustave Colin

• Louis Debras

• Edgar Degas

• Jean-Baptiste Armand Guillaumin

• Louis LaTouche

• Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic

• Stanislas Lepine

• Jean-Baptiste-Léopold Levert

• Alfred Meyer

• Auguste De Molins

• Claude Monet

• Mademoiselle Berthe Morisot

• Mulot-Durivage

• Joseph DeNittis

• Auguste-Louis-Marie Ottin

• Léon-Auguste Ottin

• Camille Pissarro

• Pierre-Auguste Renoir

• Stanislas-Henri Rouart

• Léopold Robert


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Work in Progress: Paris Passy Gate Now the Magic Happens

www.kimminichiello.comWork in Progress, Paris Passy Gate Watercolor

The block in for this painting Paris Passy Gate is complete and now I’ll move onto the next phase, pushing and pulling value and adding the details.  I’m very happy with the initial washes and the texture I was after to convey the patina on this bronze gate.  But over all the values are pretty mid-tone.  I want to darken areas and lighten areas.  That is what I mean by push and pull.  I will pull lights out and forward and push darks back.  The details I’ll add will be more emphasis on shadows and elements of the design that come after an initial wash.  I really love this part of painting, it’s when the magic happens and it starts to come to life!



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Work in Progress: Paris Passy Gate



Work in Progress, Paris Passy Gate, Watercolor

I am always fascinated with details, behind the scenes and the logistics of doing certain things.  I think that’s one of the reasons why I became a designer.  In the past I have shown some work in progress photos of a painting after I had completed it.  This time, I thought I would share them while I was actually doing it!  It’s great for me to actually see the progression too.  When you see the image on the computer monitor, it can be more obvious what tweaks or modifications need to happen!  I hope those that are following my blog are enjoying this step by step process.

This phase of the painting I call the “block in” phase.  I have not gone over very much of this a second time to make adjustments.  Watercolor artists paint with this medium in so many different ways, wet on dry paper, wet on moist paper, wet on wet paper, glazing, etc.  That’s what makes it so exciting to work with.

I like to try to get everything the way I want it the first time, however nine times out of ten that never happens!  Therefore when everything is blocked in, I go on to the next phase. That’s when all the magic happens.   Stay tuned!

If you enjoy following my works in progress, you might consider liking my Facebook page or sending me a friend request.  I tend to do a lot more posting as things happen there.

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Work in Progress Paris Passy Gate and Do You Work on More Than One Painting at a Time?

www.kimminichiello.comWork in Progress, Paris Passy Gate, Watercolor

The opening for the “Orange Blossom Special” Aril Exhibition at the Winter Garden Art Association was last night and there was a great turn out, wonderful art, crowd, and music!  If you live in the area, stop by and see the show, and see what this great new facility in our community has to offer!

Today I thought I would share some progress on Paris Passy Gate.  I had started this painting after I had designed the Coral Reef Menu commission for Epcot, while the design was being approved and before the actual paintings for the menus were done.  I’m usually a monogamous painter focusing on one at a time.  However, this may be the first time I put one aside for a while after completing two other paintings.  I tend to get in a groove on one painting and really know the palette of color I’ve worked out and the painting techniques I’m using on a particular piece.  Then I don’t over think it too much and just let the intuition kick in.

On this one, with some considerable time apart,  I had to get to know it again. In this case, I am so thankful I made some color notes and swatches.  So I could go right back to the palette I started with.  It sure saved a lot of time.

I may not be making any sense.  Artist friends if you would like to comment please feel free.  Can you easily work on more than one painting at a time, or are you dedicated to one until it’s finished?  Although that’s not to say that, sometimes when I think a piece is finished,  a few day, weeks or months may go by and I decide it’s not and tweak it some more.

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Star Struck is Framed Without Glass

www.kimminichiello.comStar Struck, Watercolor, 12 x 12, 30.5 cm x 30.5 cm, Mounted on Board and Sealed

Last year while I was attending the annual exhibition of the Women Painters of the Southeast.  I visited a gallery where there was a watercolor artist who had mounted her paintings on board and sealed them.  Therefore, there was no glass, mat board or frame.  They were displayed just as an oil would be, painted on a gallery canvas.  I mentioned to the gallery owner how intrigued I was by this since I also painted in watercolor.  She mentioned that many collectors and galleries don’t value or maybe I should say don’t think there is as much value in works behind glass, and many galleries decline works that are. This piece of news was a bit shocking to me.  Really?  One more struggle to overcome for watercolor artists!

I don’t agree with this philosophy so I won’t be mounting all my paintings from now on, but I was still intrigued  and wanted to try it.  After doing some research I came across a video done by artist Birgit O’Connor.  My new work Star Struck I thought would be the perfect candidate to give this process a try.  Essentially, it involves mounting your painting to an Ampersand Clay Board, with a soft gel medium and sealing with and archival varnish with ultra violet light protection.



I like that you can hang on the wall or place on a table or shelf.

I was pleased with the results.   I would like to experiment a bit more as to the final finish on the surface of the painting.  The Golden Archival UVL Sealer comes in gloss, satin and matte.  I am am also curious about the Renaissance wax that Julie Ford Oliver has recently tried, thinking that would give a nice sheen to the surface as well.


As I experiment a bit more I will be sharing the results, going into a bit more detail on the processes that have worked for me. Any artists materials I use,  I am very conscientious  of the archival factor.  I have been assured by all the specifications that  the materials I use for my paintings,  paper, paints, mat boards, etc., are archival.  The materials used for this process, board, soft gel medium and spray sealers also claim to be such.  I know there are a few out there that won’t feel this is adequate protection for a watercolor painting.  But, only time will tell!   At least with the sealer you are also getting UVL protection.

 This painting will be available at the Winter Garden Art Association’s April Exhibition, 127 SoBo (South Boyd), Winter Garden, Florida.


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