Maiko Misedashi

Maiko Misedashi, Watercolor, 24″ x 24″

I have a deep affinity with Japanese culture which I really can’t explain.  I’ve had  a self imposed study for many  years on their food, customs, design, textile arts, horticulture, you name it.  So when I finally had a chance to visit Japan, especially Kyoto, the old capital, on two separate occasions, it was a dream come true.  I have had the idea for this painting floating in my head for a few years, and finally executed it.  On one trip to Japan during cherry blossom season, we came upon a number of  maiko, apprentice geiko, as geisha are known in Kyoto. The maiko in the painting was surrounded by lots of fanfare and was accompanied by her male dresser.  Maiko must by assisted by a person, usually male, to help them layer their formal dress of kimono and tie the heavy and cumbersome obi. The obi is tied differently for the Maiko, leaving a long tail of the two ends down the back.  For the geiko the obi is tucked in and doesn’t hang loose.    A Misedashi is a ceremony when a  girl who aspires to be a geiko becomes a maiko, an apprentice geiko.  It is the official beginning of her career.

I wanted to integrate in the design my love of the textiles of Japan and pay homage to the art of ukiyo-e or wood block prints whIch I also adore.  I used to  do textile work for years  and used some of those former techniques I used to do on fabrics in the background.  Ukiyo-e literally translates as “pictures of the floating world” which describes the lifestyle and culture in the Edo-period of Japan when the prints were produced by artists such as Hokusai. The fish, or Japanese carp, in the design makes reference to the “floating world” depicted in this ancient art form, which also inspired many of the impressionist artists, like Monet and Van Gogh in the late 19th century.  Monet collected ukiyo-e and Van Gogh was inspired by them as well and integrated elements from them in some of his work.

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Painting with the Tigers on Plein Air Friday

Next to the Tigers, Plein Air Watercolor, 14″ x 9.5″

Bright and early this morning I was at Epcot laying the ground work for a watercolor sketching workshop  I will be teaching next week for artists and designers at Walt Disney Imagineering.  Got the demo spot scoped out with plenty of room for folks to gather around and honed in on other locations for everyone to sketch.

Getting ready to do the details

A few weeks ago I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Asia trek painting near the bridge between the 2 tiger exhibits.  While I’m painting I love watching the early morning routines of the animal keepers and I end up learning a lot about the animals I’m painting near.

Back up the hill after finishing some morning business

While I was working, there was a male tiger on the exhibit to my right and a female on the exhibit to the left.  They are currently separated until they get used to each other and the younger female is ready for mating.  They have to keep the shutters closed on the male’s side because if he sees her through the glass across the promenade, he will go crazy! (This is what the keepers have told me.)  As it was, he can smell her and had some guttural sexy calls, that morning, which felt like he was carrying on right behind me! Nothing like loud Tiger snorts and groans to keep you awake in the morning.  She, the female, couldn’t be bothered in the least! 

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Plein Air Friday, Back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

“Peaceful Morning,” Watercolor, 11″ x 14″

Asia Area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

 I went back to the spot I was at last week in the Africa area.  I had very limited time today, I didn’t completely finish.  I will put it up in the studio and analyze whether I will finish it or not.  Some I’m compelled to bring to completion and others I essentially see as a painting exercise.  As I mentioned in the last post, I tried a new paper I didn’t care for so part of me doesn’t want to spend any more time on this one.   It is at that point where I feel like I may have overworked it.  I will look at with fresh eyes another day. 

www.KimMinichiello.comI’m posting a painting I did finish in the Asia area.  I  also wanted to share a link to the Urban Sketchers Blog.  Last week there was a meet up of different chapters all over the world to record anything related to the Chinese New Year, the year of the Rooster.  Noga Grossman the head administrator for our Orlando Chapter suggested the idea as well as documenting what other artists did on the worldwide Urban Sketchers blog.  If you would like to see the post you can click here.  One of my paintings of the Temple of Heaven in the China Pavilion at Epcot was featured!  There are other sketches from  Lisbon, Yokohama, Seattle, Orlando, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Beijing, Dallas/Ft. Worth, O’ahu, and Canberra, in the article.

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Plein Air Friday, Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This was the start from last Friday

The group I have been painting with at Epcot on Fridays has now moved to Animal Kingdom.  We are so psyched!  I was on the design team for this park and have loved it from day one.  We traveled to many places in Asia during the concept and design phase and spending time in the Asia area of Animal Kingdom brings back so many great memories.

This is where I finished today.  I’ll tweak and punch up the values in the studio.

One of my favorite things about plein air painting is the ambiance surrounding you. At the location today, I thought I would share with you some of my surroundings.  Just behind where I was painting was the home of the White Cheeked Gibbons.  One of the females just had a baby, and here is a video of her with her mom and a few of the males.  The female is a brown color and the males are dark.  The baby’s name is Harper named after Harper Lee.

Every morning around 8:00 they start this ritual where they screech, or sing if you will,  to mark their territory.  It is an unbelievable sound and the first time you hear it you think they are electronic sirens or alarms!  Here is a  sound snippet of their songs!  Stick with it they really get going about half way through this one minute audio.


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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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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




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Japan Pagoda Plein Air

Japan Pagoda, Watercolor, 11″ x 15″, on Handmade Paper

The last few months I have been sticking to my every Friday morning plein air sketching and painting practice.  I just got back from today’s session, got a good start,  and this is the painting I did last Friday.  I say sketching and painting because I have this thing in my head that says if I’m working in my sketchbook it’s a sketch but if I’m working on paper it’s a painting.  Even though while I’m working on paper I try to psyche myself into thinking I’m only doing a sketch which makes me paint a bit looser and be less fussy. I’m also not using my easel lately and painting on a foam board or my sketchbook on my lap.   I’m still trying to balance the two concepts in my brain.  Crazy!

If you live in the central Florida area, I will be teaching a Watercolor Sketching in Plein Air Workshop in Winter Garden, Nov. 14 & 15.  For more information click here.

#watercolor #epcot #japanpavilion #pagoda

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


A Loose Watercolor Sketch

Japan_Epcot coprt

Watercolor Sketch in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook

This was my sketch from last week.  You never know when you work outside what you will encounter: can’t find shade where you want to sketch, bugs, crowds, people wanting to chit chat right when you have started to  lay a critical wash down, vehicles pulling up and blocking your view,  and landscaping maintenance, just to name a few.  The latter was what I encountered the day this sketch was done, hedge trimmers, cherry pickers beeping, pressure washing, etc.  You get the idea.  That’s why this one was quick and loose!  Share your stories in the comments of the craziest things you have run across while painting or sketching outside.


A Couple Watercolor Sketches and some Workshops

Watercolor Sketch, in a 9 x 11 Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

I have been starting up again my once a week plein air watercolor sketch outing.  My goal is to user a larger sketchbook and get quicker with the drawing and looser with the painting.  I’m using a 9″ x 11″ Stillman & Birn, Alpha Series sketchbook.  I am really liking this painting surface.  A few of my other books have hand-made khadi paper which I also like, but I’m loving how the color is popping off the page with this smoother paper!   The Alapha Series paper is thinner than their Beta Series paper.  The advantage to that is you get more paper in the book and I’m able to watercolor sketch on both sides of the sheet with no bleed through.  That’s how nice this paper is.  It’s a little more like a hot press surface than a cold press paper, if you were to compare it to watercolor paper, but not as smooth and slick as some hot press papers are.

Watercolor Sketch, in a 9 x 11 Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

The main reason watercolor is my preferred medium at the moment is for my love of sketching in watercolor.  Once I did this for a number of  years I had the desire to try my hand at larger works!  My sketchbooks are like my little children, complete treasures.  I love looking through them to remind me of the memories of the places I have traveled.

If you are interested in sketching in watercolor, documenting your travels or your daily life, I will be teaching a “Sketching in Watercolor: Plein Air” Workshop” at the Winter Garden Art Association.  One this fall, November 14 & 15 and one this spring, April 11 & 12.  For complete details and more information you can visit my website here.  And to register  for the fall class you can do that here.  Leave me a comment or send me an email if you would like to register for the spring class.

My complete workshop schedule for spring 2016 is on my web site here.

#urbansketcher #watercolorsketching #watercolorworkshop

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

Day 4 of the Facebook Three Paintings in Five Days Challenge

Odd Man Out, Watercolor, 20.5″ x 40″, 52 cm x 101.5 cm

Painting is framed and available for purchase, please contact me.

DAY 4 of the Three Paintings in Five Days Facebook Challenge…More Asian inspired works from my time traveling there. “Odd Man Out.” was recently judged by an artist I greatly admire, Thomas Schaller, for the Kansas Watercolor Society Exhibition. Thank you Thomas! It evolved from a plein air sketch I did on Peel Street in Hong Kong. I love this painting because it takes me right back to the memory of doing the sketch.  I did a blog post about it here.

 www.kimminichiello.comLotus Nocturne, Watercolor, 39″ x 18.5″, 47 cm x 99 cm

Painting is framed and available for purchase, please contact me.

I adore the Lotus plant which I saw all over Thailand, Japan, and China. “Lotus Nocturne” is a self-reflective painting for me. From a previous post here, you can read about the symbology of this beautiful plant.

 www.kimminichiello.comKyoto Tanuki,  Watercolor, 8″ x 10″, 20 cm x 25.5 cm

Painting is framed and available for purchase, please contact me.

I had to paint the “Kyoto Tanuki” seen all over Japan because he is so darn cute and mischievous. You can read about the symbology of the Tanuki on from a previous post here.

www.kimminichiello.comLimited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.