Plein Air Painting at Epcot, Morocco

www.kimminichiello.comThere is a group of artists that goes out every Friday to paint at Epcot and I’m joining them to make it a “painting practice” similar to a yoga practice.  Just like yoga, it clears the mind and you feel great after you do it! I’m really enjoying it because it reminds me of watercolor sketching on my travels, and since we are painting the countries in World Showcase at Epcot, it especially feels that way!   This was my third time and already I can feel an improvement in drawing, painting and time management.

(I have posted a number or my watercolor travel sketches you can see by clicking here.  You can scroll through and look at a number of older posts.)

These sessions I’m painting a bit more in detail than what I normally do in my watercolor sketch book but I’m trying to stay loose and spontaneous as I do while sketching.  It’s hard not to get too caught  up in the details.

Kim Minichiello

Work in Progress

I feel the key has been for me to take time with the drawing, site measuring and getting the proportions accurate.  There is nothing more frustrating than to put a really loose drawing down, start to paint then realizing there is something way off, which is what happened to me a few weeks ago.  I spent about an hour on this drawing, block in.  Knowing I was going to paint, I wasn’t too detailed with the pencil work. I’m drawing with a mechanical pencil and painting on a  9 x 12 Arches Watercolor Block.

The last couple of times I stayed for two hours, this time three.  One hour dedicated to drawing and two for painting.  Having more time for the painting allowed me to get closer to a finished painting, but I still feel I have a few areas and values I would like to tweak.

www.kimminichiello.comI’m also being more conscious of composition and editing out details, not wanting to paint an area just because it’s there if I feel it won’t work in the painting.  You can see from the view that I edited out the white building on the left.  I didn’t want a big white block on one side of the painting.

If you paint plein air or sketch in watercolor, I wold love for you to make comments and share any tips!

Shipping Artwork FedEx

Odd Man Out, Watercolor, 20.5″ x 40″, 52cm x 101.5cm, currently at the Kansas Watercolor Society National Exhibition, Wichita Center for the Arts.

I recently shipped this painting to Wichita and have shipped several paintings with FedEx since I last posted several articles on shipping artwork: Shipping Artwork FedEx Ground vs. UPS, Declared Value for Shipping Artwork: What Does This Mean & What Do I Need to Know?, and Shipping Large Paintings: What I’ve Learned.

I wanted to add another tip that has seemed to work for me so far with the issue of the declared value and return labels.  All the shows I have been in require that you include a return shipping label with your artwork so that it can be sent back to you if it does not sell.  If you ship FedEx Ground service and you select the “return label” option to create the return label.  FedEx will only let you put a declared value of $1000 on the return.  Therefore, what do you do if your painting is worth more than $1000?  Here is how I have gotten around this issue, which has worked so far.

Do not choose the “return label” option, but save all of your data in the address book for the shipment going to the gallery or show, and then create a new label reversing the addresses.  FedEx will make you choose a shipping date for the return, which will usually always be sooner than the show will be over.  I choose the last date possible.  The reality is the return won’t go into the system until the label is scanned by the driver at pick up.  So the date you put filling out the label is a moot point.  By creating this second label as opposed to indicating you want a return label on the one you create to get the work to the show, lets you put the same declared value on the painting, you had when you sent it there, instead of the FedEx default value of $1000.

If my painting is valued at less than $1000 then I go ahead and choose the return label option.  I hope this helps fellow artists. If you are new to sending your work off to various locations learning all the ins and outs of shipping can be a bit daunting!

Artists that Inspire: Mark Strickland

Kim Minichiello_Mark StricklandMark and I in His Studio

When I was recently out in the Los Angeles area I had to the chance to see one of my dear friends, artist Mark Strickland.  Mark is the second person responsible for me becoming a painter, the first is my husband through his love and support.  We first met Mark in the 90’s when he was teaching at The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA.  My husband is a graduate of Art Center and we wanted to get back into painting and enrolled in Mark’s evening class, painting oils from life.   I also took life drawing with Mark.  I had never met an instructor who had his class draw the nude model with a bottle of ink and a crow quill pen!  It was a fantastic experience.  Those years studying  painting at Art Center,  we became good friends with Mark and his wife.

The Studio of Mark Strickland

I see Mark not only as an artist but a conduit or channel, if you will, of portraying the human condition.  His inspiration comes from those that have not had an easy time of life: cancer survivors, homeless people, and war veterans.  His work is not meant to be gentle but conveys struggle, and deep emotion.

Mark has exhibited internationally and has had the lifetime opportunity to be a part of two extraordinary  art installations.  In 2008 his work was featured in an exhibit “Children of Dachau,” commemorating the children who died at the  Dachau concentration camp, in Flossenberg, Germany.  And recently he was part of an event at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, commemorating “Kristallnacht,” also referred to as the Night of the Broken Glass,  with music by movie and television composer Misha Segal.   You can click here to see a video of highlights from this event.

The Studio of Mark Strickland

To learn more about Mark and his work you can visit his web site here and preview his book, The Art of Mark Strickland.  There is also a nice interview of Mark done by Spirit Show Network, here.


Plein Air Painting at Epcot

www.KimMinichiello.comLast Friday I painted with the Walt Disney Imagineers again from one of the bridges overlooking the lake and a view of the Japan Pavilion at Epcot.  I am loving my en Plein Air Pro Easel the more I use it.  It is so easy to set up and I find it very comfortable to work on.  We had a bit of a cloudy over cast day and at one point it started to drizzle a bit, but not enough to pack up.

I thought I would show  bit of a progression.  It took about 2 hours to draw and paint.  I got it to a point I feel I can finish it in the studio.  I’m working on an Arches Watercolor Block and a palette of various colors I’m experimenting with to determine a good plein air palette with the number of wells I have.

www.kimminichiello.comDrawing and Sky Block- In

Working in Some of the Foliage

Starting on the Pavilion and the Tori Gate

Stopping Point after 2 Hours



Plein Air Painting, Winter Garden Florida & A Review of the En Plein Air Pro Easel

My Set Up for Plein Air Watercolor

The day after Thanksgiving my husband and I had planned to go plein air painting.  Little did we know when we woke up it was 43 degrees.  That may seem like peanuts to  a lot of you but for those of us who have lived in Florida for so long, it seemed a bit chilly.  We decide to buck up and bundle up.  Once we got out there it was very pleasant, either that or we were so focused we didn’t notice the cold!

 Using the palette/tray on the easel with the cover on to do the drawing.

I have had a number of people ask me about this set up I’m using.  After consulting a number of watercolor artist friends and doing a lot of research I settled on the En Plein Air Pro Easel. This is the Advanced Series Watercolor Easel. My husband got this for me for my birthday this year and I have been using it mostly for life drawing, sketching the model then adding some watercolor.  For this I just bull clip my paper mounted to a piece of gator board to the top portion, paper support of the easel.

www.kimminchiello.comPainting with the palette that comes with the easel, cover off and slid under the palette.

The easel comes with a tripod to mount the paper support at the top, a palette with a slide off cover, a collapsible water bucket, and a case for the tripod and duffel bag to put it all in.  I won’t go in to too much detail here, you can check it all out on their website.  The stool is not included.  Instead of hand carrying everything in the duffel bag. I use my market cart with wheels that I drug all over Paris.

It’s all fairly light and sets up in seconds.  You can just get a version with a tray that fits on the tripod and not the palette.  I thought I would get the palette first and try it.  I can always order just  the tray later and use it with my lighter weight sketching palette, to lighten things up. I also use the palette with the lid on as a tray, and set my other John Pike Palette on it for life drawing.

What I love about this palette is it has a large mixing area. The water bucket snaps on at the top under the palette and is in a very convenient location.  I especially like that the cover slides off the top and then can slide under to give me a little extra room in the front for my brushes.  The paper support also has a slide out brush holder, but I prefer to keep brushes on the tray.  With the tripod legs extended out from just the bottom, it’s the perfect height for me to sit with my legs under the palette tray.  I can also extend them out fully to stand.

There is also a tilt adjustment for the paper support, for those that like to work more horizontally. I was using a watercolor black and didn’t even need to clip it on to the paper support, I just sat it on the lip and it stayed put.  I’m very picky when it comes to equipment.  It has to feel right for me or I get frustrated.  So far I am very happy with this easel! En plein air pro also makes a version for oil painters as well.   I also paint in oils and can purchase accessories to turn this set up I already have into an oil painting easel too.


We had a good couple of hours and I feel like I got a good start on this one, so I will probably finish it in the studio!


French Quarter Gate

French Quarter Gate, Watercolor Mounted on Board and Sealed, 6″ x 6″, 15 cm x 15 cm, Framed Size 12″ x 12″, 31cm x 31cm

$200 including frame

It’s been a while since I’ve posted!  I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.  It seems impossible that it is the holiday season!  Where is the time going?

Prior to Thanksgiving I spent some time in the Los Angeles area.  I used to live in Pasadena, California,  prior to moving to Florida.  It was great visiting friends and exploring my old stomping grounds. I’ll be posting and sharing some of my adventures out there in the next few weeks.

Since my return I painted this new piece inspired by my trip to New Orleans last spring.  This will be in the current show, “A Gift of Art,” at the 127 SoBo Gallery, Winter Garden Art Association the month of December.  (Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing.)  The opening reception is this Thursday, Dec. 4, from 5:30-8:00. If you are in the area hope to see you there!