Visit to Twinrocker Watercolor Paper Factory

www.kimminichiello.comIt’s amazing in life how some things come full circle.  I was recently back home again in Indiana, (pun intended), and was so excited to make a trip to Twinrocker Paper in Brookston, Indiana.  Brookston is about a half hour drive from where I grew up, and I passed the turn off to go there every time I made a trip home from Purdue during my college days.  Little did I know that years later I would become a watercolor artist and fall in love with the watercolor paper they make!

www.kimminichiello.comA couple of years ago my mom and I visited the studio of Terry Armstrong, an Indiana artist who lives in Warsaw.  He told us about Twinrocker, which he uses for his work.   The next day we drove to Brookston, and bought some watercolor paper.  If you buy $100 worth they offer free shipping!  I had never heard of this amazing company until Terry had mentioned it,  and couldn’t believe all these years I was so close and had never been there!  I took a chance that I would like it, invested in $100 worth and had it sent to me here in Florida.

Sales Room at Twinrocker Paper

Once I started using it was I ever glad I took the chance.  I have experimented with it and used it the last couple of years and if I prefer a certain look for a painting, I use Twinrocker. My painting Mayan Gate was done on the Twinrocker cold press and has been juried into four shows, two of them were International Exhibitions.

Mayan Gate Watercolor on Twinrocker Paper, Cold Press

Since Kathryn and Howard Clark founded Twinrocker in 1971 they have been making handmade paper in the European tradition, for stationary, book arts and watercolor.  Kathryn has since  retired, and now  Travis Becker is  the current owner and master paper maker. He started working with the Clarks when he was 19. I highly encourage you to visit their web site to read the fascinating history behind how the Clarks started making paper.

Travis Becker, Owner Twinrocker Paper & Master Papermaker

On my visit I met with Travis and he showed me around a bit.  This is a small facility with 4 employees:  Gail is the Office Manager, Fran, Customer Service,  Travis, Owner & Master Papermaker, and Gerald, Papermaker.   Travis and Gerald make all the paper molded and finished, entirely by hand using pre consumer waste cotton from United States manufacturers.

Gerald molding envelopes.

Vat of Pulp

The day I was there Gerald was molding envelopes and Travis was going through a stack of watercolor paper about 6 inches high that had been molded and  run through the press.  Each sheet was layered between felt and after its run through the press it is removed from the felt, inspected for imperfections and stacked to dry before it can be gelatin sized.

www.kimminichiello.comTravis inspecting each sheet and removing any imperfections.

Each watercolor sheet is then gelatin sized by hand. Once they have a large quaintly of paper made they will spend a day or two doing nothing but sizing.   The sheet goes through the sizing, maintained at a constant temperature, one at a time, and then Gerald and Travis rub each sheet, both sides, by hand, to smooth out the sizing and remove air bubbles. This is critical if there are any air pockets where the sizing isn’t adhered to the  paper it will show once paint is put to paper.  I was in awe of this whole process.  I am so appreciative that there are still craftsman like Travis and Gerald that are producing a product like this that is more than special.

www.kimminichiello.comTwinrocker Press

Every time I start a painting on Twinrocker I feel a reverence toward it before I put brush to paper.  I feel even more so now after visiting and seeing how much care and attention is put into each sheet.  What boggles my mind in addition to the process and care of production, is the science that goes into creating the different weights and surface textures.  They offer hot press, cold press, and rough surfaces, and different weights or more accurately for them thicknesses.  Since the paper is handmade it can vary slightly in thickness from sheet to sheet.  Therefore they don’t describe their paper in weight like the other watercolor paper companies, but by the thickness per sheet measured by a micro meter, to arrive at a thousands of an inch thickness and is assigned a letter code.  All of this is described on their web site.  HA which stands for heavy art weight (HA) is roughly a 250lb./460g/m2 paper.

Pulp Prep Room

Twinrocker has been available by two major retailers, but Travis told me starting next year they will only be selling paper through their web site. The reason being,  It hasn’t been fair to Twinrocker to give the retailers a big discount, they have done little or no marketing or promotion for them, in exchange for the discount,  and then sell the paper cheaper per sheet than what Twinrocker sells it for directly from their site, essentially undercutting Twinrocker on price.

Because it is handmade, it is more expensive than some papers.  It retails at $14 per sheet.  This is only $2 more retail  than a sheet of 300 lb Arches, which I use as well, but in my opinion is so worth it.  If you paint in watercolor, I encourage you to try this paper!  It has been mostly by word of mouth that this watercolor paper has endured in the market place since 1971.  Not only will you be painting on one of the most beautiful papers made today, you will be supporting, a small independent company, with just 4 employees, two of them master craftsmen that are carrying on a tradition that could become a lost art if they weren’t doing it.  And to top it all off, it’s entirely made in the USA!  No other watercolor paper on the market today has that distinction!

Paris Passy Gate, Watercolor on Twinrocker Rough

I want to thank Travis for taking the time to show me around and it’s my privilege to spread the word about Twinrocker. This is some what self serving,  I love this paper so much I want them to be successful and keep making it!


Gate of Reverence, Watercolor on Twinrocker Cold Press

A Side Note:  Recently at the Florida Watercolor society convention, I came across  a new paper on the market, Fluid 100 which claims to be made in the USA.  However, I was told by the representative at the show selling the paper, that it is actually made in Europe but finished in the USA.  Because the last step of production is in the United Sates, they can put made in the USA on the product.  However, it’s not entirely true.

The World of Watercolor Competition

Was thrilled to get the catalogue of the Art of Watercolor Magazine’s World of Watercolor Competition Catalogue.  Congratulations to the twenty seven artists who made it all the way to the exhibition, in Narbonne, France.  There were over a thousand entries from eighty two different countries.

So honored to be included in the catalogue with so many talented artists from around the world!


Bold & Dynamic Workshop at the 127 SoBo Gallery

Kim Minichiello
Last Thursday and Friday I taught a watercolor workshop at the Winter Garden Art Association’s 127 SoBo Gallery and  had blast!  I had a small intimate group and they couldn’t have been nicer.  It was such a joy to spend the two days with them!

www.kimminichiello.comI covered my 5 step painting process, starting off the first day with a slide presentation discussing the importance of  design and composition and how I go about planning a painting.  I discussed the difference and nuances of the many materials available for watercolor, papers, paints, brushes, and various accessories, plus tips I’ve learned over the years.

www.kimminichiello.comI had them start exercises drawing and painting pears to get them used to how I mix color on my palette and the viscosity of the paint and water to get lots of bold color onto the paper, as well as the techniques of painting wet into wet, wet onto dry paper and the combination of the two. More variety mixed on the palette leads to more variety and excitement on the paper.  This lead into the second day, painting the bromeliad, covering value, tones, warm vs. cool, and the final phase of analyzing and adjusting your painting to push and pull values and defining form for a more three-dimensional appearance.

I can’t thank my students enough for making the experience so much fun, everyone had a great time and based on all of the kind compliments received, I will continue to offer more workshops in the future, so stay tuned!

A not so happy note at the end of the day for one of my students…. She was so excited after the workshop she spent more time at home that evening continuing to work on her painting.  Her dog really liked her painting too,  the taste that is!  This is what she woke up to the next morning.  He literally “ate her homework!”  I guess she will get even more practice painting another one!  I was looking sooooo good too!



Odd Man Out Accepted to The Kansas Watercolor Society National Exhibition

www.KimMinichiello.comOdd Man Out, Watercolor, 20.5″ x 40″ , 52 cm x 101.5 cm, $4200

My painting Odd Man Out has been selected for the 2014 Kansas Watercolor Society’s National Exhibition at The Wichita Center For The Arts.  I’m so honored to be in this show. Thank you to juror Thomas Schaller, whose work I greatly admire, for choosing this piece.

I have such a connection to this painting inspired by a plein air sketch I did on Peel Street in Hong Kong.  Some of my happiest moments were sketching, painting and exploring that city and for me it’s even more poignant that this piece was chosen for this show with all the political unrest that’s happening in Hong Kong right now.

For all my artists friends out there who enter competitive shows, DON’T GIVE UP! The selection process for any show can be very selective and can be greatly influenced by the taste of the judge.  This painting has been rejected from two regional shows, only to be accepted into this national show!  A painting isn’t bad, or you are not a terrible artist because a work is declined for a show.  I look at it as a golden opportunity for it to be available somewhere else.  If this painting had been juried into a current regional show, I would not have been able to enter it for the Kansas show!

Bold & Dynamic Watercolor Workshop, October 16 & 17

www.kimminichiello.comStar Struck, Watercolor Mounted on Cradled Board, 12″ x 12,” $550

The last few weeks I have been preparing for a workshop I will be teaching at the 127 SoBo Gallery in Winter Garden, Florida, with the Winter Garden Art Association.  There are still spots available!  It is open to artists of all levels.  I will be discussing how I approach my paintings focusing on strong design, composition, and the bold use of color. We will be doing a number of painting exercises, to get the feel of different ways to paint in watercolor, and I will discuss the nuances of different brushes, papers and pigments. I will demonstrate my painting Star Struck which students will paint in the workshop.  For more detailed information please click here.

This is a 2 day workshop October 16 & 17 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.   The Historic Downtown  Winter Garden is so lovely and if you are not from the area and would like to stay over, there is a quaint older historic hotel, The Historic Edgewater Hotel, right near the workshop venue! In its hey day Winter Garden was major travel destination by train for recreational activities on Lake Apopka as well as having a booming citrus industry.  At one point it was the largest shipping point in the world for citrus.  Now it’s home to a city that is preserving and honoring it’s heritage, a number of well-known restaurants, a theatre with live productions throughout the year and now, an active art gallery!

Please email me if you would like more information on the workshop.




Good News

It’s been a busy few weeks.  Where on earth did September go!  I’m finally feeling a bit caught up from having been gone in September moving my daughter back to college and attending the Florida Watercolor Society convention.  I was not able to attend the “An Affair of the Art,” Disney Ryman Show out in Los Angeles, as it was going on the same time as the convention.  However, my husband who was out there on business was able to go!  He sent me  photo updates throughout  the evening and I was so happy to learn that “Balinese Lotus,” sold!

Balinese Lotus, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 14″ x 14″ , 35.5 cm x 35.5 cm



I also had a painting Do You do Voodoo in the current exhibition, “The Edge of Night, ” at the 127 SoBo Gallery and it sold at the opening reception last Thursday!

 Do You Do Voodoo, Watercolor Mounted on Board, Sealed and Framed, 6″ x 6,” framed size 12″ x 12,” $200 framed


I hope everyone is having a nice fall season.  We finally got some cool weather here in Florida last Sunday, so I have a bit of a pep in my step!