Venice Bound

Kim Minichiello

Across the Lagoon, Watercolor, 5″ x 7″

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It’s getting close!  I’ve been planning a trip to Venice for almost a year now.  When I was invited to join a group of artists that mentor each other in our art businesses,  I had no idea it would lead to such a bonding friendship with them all and a retreat in Venice, Italy!

WAM: Women Artists Mentors are meeting face to face all of us together in one place in Venice, Italy next week.  If you would like to follow our adventures, you can like my Facebook page here, and our WAM page here.  I’ve only met Helen Beacham in person, so I am thrilled to meet the three dimensional versions of Carrie Waller, Maria Bennett Hock, and Debra Kierce, since I’ve only spent time with them two dimensionally on the computer! We are piggybacking on the tail end of a workshop Helen has been teaching this week.

Upon our return we are going to be guests on Linda Fisler’s Art Chat Podcast, on May 18.  Linda has done a great podcast for a few years interviewing many artists.  She also started the Artist Mentors Online program with Kevin Macpherson, a while back.   Some of Linda’s recent guest artists, include Tony Pro, Jean Pederson, Susan Lyon, Joseph McGurl and so many others!  The interview will be recorded if you can’t listen live and will be available at Linda’s site in the  Art Chat Library section after the air date.  I’m really excited for the opportunity to chat with Linda when we get back.


Canaletto, The Bucentaur Returning to the Molo on Ascension Day, after the Ceremony of Wedding the Adriatic, a section of entire work

In the spirit of Venice I thought I would share some of Canaletto’s work.  A painter from the 16th century he was famous for his urban landscapes of Venice.  I saw an outstanding show of his work last summer in Aix en Provence at the Caumont Centre D’Art.  I had only seen a few paintings here and there in various museums but to see a collection of his work in this grand scale was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  What I love about his work is the historical significance of getting a feel for Venice in the 1700’s when it was the playground of all the aristocrats of Europe.  Canaletto also traveled to Britain and documented London and the English countryside during the reign of George III who was a patron and avid collector of his work.


Canaletto, The Bucentaur Returning to the Molo on Ascension Day, after the Ceremony of Wedding the Adriatic, a section of entire work

The Bucentaur was the Doge’s state barge, a floating palace propelled by 42 oars, used for official events. It was used every year on Ascension Day to take the Doge out to the Adriatic Sea to perform a wedding ceremony marrying the sea to Venice. Quite the spectacle!

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Kim Minichiello

Limited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.

Watercolor Sketching Workshop: The Love of the Sketch

Sketching Equipment

I had a great time teaching my watercolor sketching workshop recently.  I was telling my students how I got into the practice of sketching in watercolor which later led to watercolor being my primary media as a painter.  Years ago I came upon the book, Sara Midda’s South of France Sketchbook.  I loved how she captured the quintessential elements of the South of France in sketches with watercolor.  I then started collecting almost every book like it I could find.  I have books by architects and artists who have sketched, Italy, France, China and other countries.  This is way before the Urban Sketching movement.  A lot of my books came from France where the practice of travel sketching is known as “Carnet de Voyage,” a travel sketchbook.  There were even dedicated sections in the bookstores in Paris to these type of books. When I lived there and went to these shops,  I was like a kid in a candy store.

A little lesson in color mixing before heading out to sketch.

For me, getting really comfortable painting in watercolor is due to starting watercolor travel sketchbooks.  When I moved to Honk Kong I met artist Lorette Roberts, who has done a whole series of books capturing various areas on Hong Kong with watercolor sketches.  I have every single one and love them.  Lorette and I still keep in touch through Facebook.  She was a big inspiration for me to start and maintain a sketching practice.

IMG_5767 copy

Some of my students sketching at Plant Street Market, Winter Garden, FL

As I told my students, if you have the slightest interest in learning to paint with watercolor start a sketchbook!!!  You don’t have to only do it when you travel.  You can start with simple things or just do it in your own backyard. You will then  be far more comfortable doing it when you do travel.  For me it took the intimidation out of  creating a “painting.”  It’s only a sketch and it’s only for me.  I can choose to share with others or not.

Start a book and don’t worry if some of the sketches suck or you think are failures.  It doesn’t matter!  What does matter is that you enjoy doing it and by doing it on a regular basis you can’t help but get better!  Iain Stewart, is another artist friend who sketches a lot in Watercolor. He  has a philosophy that I love.  He says never tear out a page from your sketchbook!  Whether its a “fail” or a “keeper,” leave it in the book.  Once you fill the book it’s a great way to look back on your progression and how much you improved, because you will. 🙂  Plus, especially if you do them while you travel, they will become your most treasured possessions.  No photo can take the place of a sketch.  Looking at it will take you right back there.

It was approaching 90 degrees one afternoon, we sketched inside from life.

If you are intimidated by going out on your own, ask some friends, or start a group.  While in Hong Kong, I met a local artists and she and I would set a date to go out at least once a week somewhere.  What is wonderful now is when I look at those sketches I have fond memories of the time we spent together!

Some of the biggest takeaways my students have expressed to me are, learning about perspective to sketch architecture, learning how to break a scene down into simple shapes and compose  it how you like, and learning to use the pencil as a measuring stick and proportion while  drawing so that what you want to express fits on the page.

If you are curious to start a sketching practice, what is your biggest fear or reason for not doing so?  If you do have a practice, what do you love the most about it?  Please leave a comment I would love to hear from you!  If you are curious to see my watercolor travel sketches you can click here.

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Kim MinichielloLimited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.


Daniel Smith Dot Cards & Just Because It Has the Same Name Doesn’t Mean It’s the Same Color

IMG_5722DS Dot Card 2The Daniel Smith 238 Dot Color Chart for their Extra Fine Watercolors

One thing I touch on in my workshops is that not all pigments are created equal.  My palette consists of paints from a variety of manufacturers because over the years I have determined which shade or tone I like of that paritiluar color from a specific manufacturer.  Just because it has the same name doesn’t mean its the exact same color.

In the recent “Watercolor for Beginners Workshop” I taught. I had the students only work with a limited palette of 5 colors.  Two blues, Cobalt and Ultramarine, one red, Permanent Rose, one yellow, New Gamboge and Quinacridone Burnt Orange or Burnt Sienna.  I feel for beginners too many colors can be overwhelming and they learned to mix everything they needed from these 5 colors.

Something interesting evolved with the yellow, New Gamboge, which is a  warm yellow.  My preferred New Gamboge is a Windsor Newton.  However I had a tube from Danial Smith which I had never tried before.  When I swatched them both out, the Daniel Smith New Gamboge was a bit warmer and more orange in tone.  Nothing wrong with that, it’s all a matter of preference.

Students that purchased paint, mostly bought Windsor and Newton’s New Gamboge.  Researching it further not all manufacturers are offering “New Gamboge,”  American Journey from Cheap Joe’s has a “Gamboge Hue.”  Therefore,  that’s why my students probably bought the Windsor Newton because it had the exact same name of what I had asked them to bring.

Kim MinichielloOlder Windsor Newton packaging on left and new packaging on the right.

Here is where it gets interesting.  Windsor & Newton changed their  packaging a while ago and the tubes are now silver instead of with the white paper label.  I had a older big tube (37ml) of New Gamboge with the white label.  Students bought new silver tubes.  When I saw them squirt some out on their palette I couldn’t believe it was the same color as the Windsor & Newton I had,  and it wasn’t.  It was more mustard in appearance and when swatched out it was like a cross between New Gamboge and Quinacridone Gold.  It just was not the same color I had intended them to work with! So even though it is from the same manufacturer it can be a different color!

Kim Minichiello

It may be hard to tell the color differences from this photo, these are the different New Gamboge samples.

I had ordered a tube of Windsor Newton’s New Gamboge before the workshop to replace the tube I had used up and when it came I sent it right back,  It just didn’t seem right for my palette.  I feel the Daniel Smith New Gamboge,  is a bit too orange and not the warm yellow I need.  Now I’m on a mission to find a new warm yellow.

A couple of weeks ago I bit the bullet and finally ordered a set of the Daniel Smith Dot Cards, which I have wanted to do for a long time!  Four cards total have a dot of paint of every paint they have in their line.  Just wet with a brush and you have an   actual sample!!!! I wish every manufacturer did this! How great is it to need a color and  know exactly what you are going to get!  I have a few Daniel Smith colors in my palette.  I have purchased quite a few and those I’ve liked have stayed and I use often and others I use occasionally, but still love them for different purposes.   Now there is no spending money and hoping that I like what I get, at least with Daniel Smith.

So now back to needing to find a new New Gamboge. Comparing the Windsor & Newton New Gamboge, the old formula that I like, to the samples on my Daniel Smith Dot cards, I feel that their Hansa Yellow Deep will be a good substitute! Problem solved.

The cards are $25 plus shipping.  I feel it’s money well spent. You get dots of all 238 colors in their line.   It was so much fun to wet them all to see what color was going to emerge,  you could also sense the behavior of the paint, did it move fast or take a while to get the pigment going. I can guess the value range right away for each color, saw some new colors I would like to try, saw some I thought I was interested in but maybe not after getting the dot card, which will save me money in the long run.  And if I’m looking for a new color for a particular painting or want to try something new, I’ll be more inclined to look at my dot cards, and perhaps order Daniel Smith. Lastly, they are just so cool to look at!  Really, the only paint manufacturer out there where you can actually truly sample a color without buying a whole tube of paint!

You go Danial Smith! Why didn’t I order these sooner?

Kim MinichielloLimited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.