About Kim Minichiello

My love of travel and living in Paris, France and Hong Kong, China have truly been and influence on my work. Painting in watercolor and oils, I draw inspiration from the amazing cultures and people I have had the pleasure of experiencing and living among.

Italy on My Mind

Kim Minichiello

Assisi Guardian, Watercolor on handmade paper, 24″ x 22″


I’m still on a high from my recent trip to Venice.  I got a little caught up last week and will share some photos and experiences on a future post.  In the mean time, I’m posting  a new painting inspired on a former trip to Italy.

This piece was inspired by a trip to Assisi, Italy.  Guarding the Basilica Santa Chiara, is a  beautiful terra cotta lion statue.  Chiara or Clare in english was a friend of St. Francis and the founder of the convent and order of the Poor Clares.  I knew the day I visited, I would eventually do a painting of the lion statue that was so intriguing to me.  I’m not sure of  the exact significance of the lion here, but to me it symbolizes the essence and spirit of St. Francis and his great love of animals and our duty to protect our earth’s creatures and environment.  In addition, I feel it’s important to protect ancient customs and art forms.  The background in this painting, replicating a stitched pattern, pays homage to the ancient Italian needlework tradition of Assisi Embroidery.

Where is your favorite place to visit in Italy?  Have you seen this Lion in Assisi?

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Tuscan Olives small fileLimited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.

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Venice Bound

Kim Minichiello

Across the Lagoon, Watercolor, 5″ x 7″

To purchase a Limited Edition Giclée Print click here, $25.00 plus shipping.

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.

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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.


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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.

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Homemade Transfer Paper

www.kimminichiello.comI taught a “Watercolor for Beginners” workshop last week and I thought it might be nice to provide homemade transfer paper for my students to use.  I have heard about the positive virtues of the homemade stuff, especially from fellow WAM (Women Artists Mentors) member, Carrie Waller.  I thought I know what to do, but when things went awry I messaged her on our mentor’s group private Facebook page and she set me straight.  Such is the beauty of a mentor group, having instant help and support whenever you need it!

I don’t always condone the use of transfer paper for every painting.  I paint plein air and from life and draw my image directly on the paper sometime.  When I’ve taken and composed a photo that already has a good composition and design elements or I have manipulated a photo in Photoshop for design and composition, I use it as a shortcut to get my image on the watercolor paper.  This works great for smaller paintings and can be a bit trickier for larger one.  Essentially you need your image (a photo or drawing) to be the same size as your finished painting to trace over it with the transfer paper in the middle graphite side down between your image and the watercolor paper.  This will be a huge timesaver in the workshop so students can get their image on the watercolor paper quickly and will have more time for painting.

What are the positive virtues of homemade transfer paper as opposed to the one you buy in a role that comes in a box the size of plastic wrap or foil?

It’s less waxy and doesn’t leave any other unnecessary wax or residue on the watercolor paper.

It’s economical!  One homemade sheet can be used over and over again. The other stuff can me used more than once but eventually it gets spent and you have to toss it.

If you work large and need a specific size you can make it any size you want!

A con is it can be a messy process but one I felt was worth it.

So here is how you make it…….


  • Tracing Paper
  • 6B graphite stick
  • Jar of powdered graphite (this isn’t absolutely necessary but allowed me to cover the paper quicker)
  • Cotton Pads
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Old cotton rag or wash cloth

IMG_5488IMG_5489 Coat your transfer paper as heavy as you can with the graphite stick.  Use elbow grease your arm will get sore but it’s good exercise. 🙂

IMG_5490IMG_5491To fill in any gaps use a little of the powdered graphite and with a cotton pad rub it all over the paper.  The goal is to not see any white of the tracing paper.

IMG_5485When it’s fully covered, take the rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad, not doused just lightly coated a bit more than damp (blot on a paper towel first if you need to) and with light circular motion rub it over the graphite coated side.You will start to see the graphite melt, if you will, into the paper.  Don’t rub too hard or you may take all the graphite off.

IMG_5487Final step after the alcohol burnish with a dry cotton rag or wash cloth.

That’s it! You will notice it rolls itself up into a tight little roll.  When you use it unroll it and place it graphite side down on your watercolor paper and then the printed image or drawing you want to transfer on top and trace with a pencil using a medium to heavy pressure. A regular pencil works best not mechanical pencils. Check that you have the right pressure early so you don’t trace the whole image and realize you were too light handed.

Would love for you to leave a comment if you found this helpful!

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First Place at Windermere Art Affair and Are Your Ready to Do an Art Fair?

www.kimminichiello.comI haven’t done an art fair in over seventeen years.  In a former art life, the one where I made hand dyed, painted and block printed children’s wear, I used to do 8 shows a year in the Los Angeles area.  From past experience I know how much work they can be!  When the organizer of the “Windermere Art Affair” asked if I would participate in the first annual event this last weekend,  I couldn’t say no.  I love my community so much, so I got the tent out, dusted it off, and borrowed wall panels from a dear artist friend who was so kind to let me use them.  I was thrilled to win first place for overall body of work at the show!  There were some great artists there in a variety of media.

I’ve been preparing for this event for a few months.   I thought I would share my process a bit in case you are considering venturing into art fair territory.  First you must ask yourself do I have the inventory to create a nice display on the three walls of the booth?  Knowing a typical booth is 10 feet by 10 feet, and how much and how big your best work is you can make an assessment.  Notice I said best work,  I wanted to put my best foot forward and display what I felt represented who I am as a painter now. I know one of the goals is to get some sales, if you have older work that you would like to move and perhaps offer at a lower rate than that’s great!  But, personally I wouldn’t show it if it doesn’t hold up to your other work.  Your gut will tell you if it does!  Also consider your audience where the fair is bing held and anticipate what they may be drawn to subject wise and if you are inspired to do new work, add that to your repertoire.

Once I realized I had enough original work for the booth, I started inventorying my giclée prints and note cards. I made more cards, and had more prints run, to offer some lesser price items for sale along with the higher priced originals. I also had to consider how I was going to display the prints and cards.  I then laid out and designed the booth display, and made a list of all the equipment I would need to set up the booth and display everything. I purchased things along the way I new I would need I didn’t have on hand. As I thought of something in the 3 month span I had to prep for the show, I would write it down on an ongoing list of stuff to pack.  This way your not trying to think of everything you need a few days or the day before the show.

www.kimminichiello.comImagine your self making a sale, how are you going to record it,  charge tax, accept credit cards, make change and package the purchases.  Figure all this out in advance so you have time to get a Square or PayPal swipe for credit cards  and do a trial run with the software.  You don’t want to make your customers wait while you try and figure it all out! Make sure your devices are charged and you have an extra back up battery and you have no problem with internet connectivity.  Plan an area in the  booth where you are going to conduct the sales out of the way of others who may be browsing.

If you aren’t a seasoned art fair exhibitor, mock up your set up before the show.  Make sure you have everything you need tent, walls,  signage, and weights to weigh down the tent in case of wind.  I’m not kidding about the weights don’t take any chances.  I heard a recent story from a friend who attended and art fair recently that a strong wind carried an artists entire tent and work into a nearby stream and they watched it float away! Plan for in-climate weather if necessary and your art is protected from wind and rain.

Make sure all your gear and your art fit in your vehicle if you have a loving spouse, (luckily I have one of those!) or a friend take a second vehicle if it doesn’t fit in one.  Survey the area if you can ahead of time and get all the information from the fair organizers on set up and tear down. It can be very chaotic at set up and tear down, the more prepared you are the less stressed you will be and the smoother it all will go.

Don’t forget promotional materials, business cards, brochures, information on workshops if you teach them, a guest book to collect email addressed for your newsletter if you do one  and last but not least, if you have the space some fresh flowers are really nice! Thanks to my husband for suggestion that one!  Organize all your packing materials during set up and stow them away so that everything is ready and it’s where you need it for tear down.  Also bring a tool box  and duct tape, you would be surprised how that will come in handy!

Click here to see a video link of my booth set up.

If this was at all helpful please leave a comment and let me know and if you are a seasoned art fair exhibiter I  would love for you to share some helpful tips!

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Where Did January Go and Some New Toys


www.kimminichiello.comHelen and I at dinner, in Savannah with flat head WAM members, Debra Kierce, Carrie Waller and Maria Bennet Hock.

Where on earth did January go?  I’m taking some time to slow down a bit!  Aside from the cold I’m fighting right now it has been all good!

I took part in Leslie Satea’s, 30 in 30 Painting challenge. Although due to some travel I kind of petered out a bit towards the end.  My goal was to not do 30 paintings but to paint every day on some work I need to finish. Which I was happy to say I did, and made progress on a larger painting.

One weekend was spent in Ocala where I was officially appointed Third Vice President of the Florida Watercolor Society.  Let me just say I’m beyond thrilled to be a part of this fabulous group.  I consider many FWS members as some of my dearest friends and I love the chance to spend time with them in person!  This is going to be about a six year commitment being on the board!  There will be lots to do planning each of the annual conventions from now until 2021! My task this year to to line up all of the demo artists that will be doing demonstrations and presentations at this years convention, as well as work on the social media, mainly the Face Book Page for FWS.

www.kimminichiello.comThe Evacutaion at the Jepson Center

The following weekend I headed to Savannah to meet my fellow WAM Member Helen Beacham in person!  After meeting in cyberspace for almost a year and a half now, we got to spend some time together enjoying each other’s company.  We spent the day at the Jepson Center to see the Monet and the American Impressionists Exhibition on it’s last weekend. Just as we finished the show the fire alarm sounded and we had to evacuate the building!  Many people were swept out before getting a chance to get their coats! It was that same weekend the blizzard had struck Virginia and Savannah was getting the rain and some really cold temperatures from the storm.   I snuck in the coat room and got ours before we bolted out. We found out later it was a sprinkler system malfunction. Lets hope it wasn’t in one of the galleries!


Of course while in Savannah I got to  spend time with my daughter, who goes to SCAD (The Savannah College of Art and Design)!  She took me to a used art store, where all the SCAD students take supplies and get money for them or shop for supplies at a discount.  Here I am pawing through the watercolor paint bins.  I scored quite a bit for a $1 to $2 a tube!

www.kimminichiello.comSome New Toys

I go to life drawing one evening a week and can’t tell you how much I feel I have improved.  Figures are not my forté so I feel like if  I can get a few decent drawings from the evening, I’m doing pretty good.  Since art stores abound in Savannah, two Blick stores and the SCAD book store Ex Libres,  I got a few goodies for life drawing as well.


  • Going to try out the Derwent Grahitint Pencels, tinted graphite pencils, which are water soluble.
  • The tin is water soluble graphite that I use like water color and draw the figure with the brush.  This is my second tin of this stuff, I love it!
  • Also trying from top to bottom some Derwent Ink Intense pencils in various colors also water soluble.
  • At the bottom my favorite life drawing tool, the Stabilo Aquarellable Pencil # 8046.

Are you seeing a trend here?  I like to sketch then come in after and get value variations  and washes by melting the pancil lines with a brush and water.

Can’t wait to try the new stuff out!  What do you like to sketch with? Feel free to leave a comment!


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Japan Plein Air


Japanese Pagoda, Watercolor, 10″ x 14,” Plein Air

Another plein air at the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, done mostly on site and another half hour in the studio adding the last few details.   This one is on Twinrocker paper. I use Twinrocker  a lot in the studio and have just started to use it more painting plein air.  Love it for that purpose too!  I love how this paper is sized and how the color seems to float more on the top instead of sinking in right away.  It also lifts very will too.

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Germany Plein Air


“Germany View,” Watercolor,  Plein Air, 12.25″ x 7.75″

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Here is a small plein air painting of part of the Germany Pavilion at Epcot.  This one was done in two sessions. I had most of it done on the first day and then returned to lay in the background trees and add the details. I like to plein air paint in my sketchbook ( Stillman & Birn Alpha Series)  but lately I have been doing a few on paper taped to a board.  I ordered a sample pack of a variety of watercolor papers from different manufacturers to try them out.  I normally paint on Arches or Twinrocker. This one was done from an Arches watercolor block, 140 lb. I will be trying out some of the other papers in future paintings and let you know how I like them.

I added a new page to my website, “Sketches & Plein Air,” you can click here to check it out! Let me know what you think.

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China Plein Air

Kim Minichiello

China, Watercolor on Handmade Paper, 10″ x 14″

This plein air painting was done at the China Pavilion at Epcot.  I had all but the last few details done on site and then finished it in the studio.  The challenge on this one was all the colorful ornamentation and details on the structure.  Therefore, this was a great exercise in indication and not getting caught up on details.  The paper on this one is one of my favorites, Twinrocker.

The day I painted this I was getting hungry I always keep a protein bar or some nuts in my bag for just such an occasion.  I had a bowl of almonds with me that day and as soon as I took the lid off of them, I had a buddy!  He was not shy in the least, as you can tell by these photos.  IMG_4692




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


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