Work in Progress of Odd Man Out

Kim MinichielloOriginal Plein Air Watercolor  Sketch, Peel Street Hong Kong

Today I thought I would share some work in progress photos of my painting Odd Man Out.  I developed this large painting from a watercolor sketch I did plein air on Peel Street in Hong Kong, and photos that I took the day I did the sketch.  I took the photo after I did the watercolor sketch and the lighting had changed dramatically. The  hot  noon-day sun was shining through the lanterns onto the sign for the shop, popping the color and making the lanterns glow, as well as creating some interesting lighting on the sign.

In the larger painting, 40” x 20.5,”  I wanted to capture the light hitting the lanterns making them glow.  I wanted to represent the washed out feeling of the sign behind, with the bright sunlight shining on it, which made the lanterns stand out more.   All of this was juxtaposed against the cool gray concrete textural facade of the actual building, creating a play of warm against cool.  Most all facades in the market streets of Hong Kong have the ubiquitous wires, tarps, pipes, grunge, and a variety of elements kluged together, for displays,  to hold up awnings and signs, etc.  I wanted to include some of those elements in the painting as well.


The sketch shows two lanterns with faces. But, I had the idea for the title of the painting, Odd Man Out,  which made sense to use only one “face lantern.”  Then after painting the Chinese Goddess figure, in the lowest purple lantern in the composition, I thought it would be fun to have the lantern with the face gazing down at her.  Also, putting it where it had been in the sketch would have been too much contrast, and would have called too much attention to the very bottom of the painting.  I  also took some liberties with the placement and colors of the lanterns to make the composition more interesting.  I don’t work directly from the photograph but use it as a guide.  Photos don’t always present us with the best design for a painting.  Plus, a major enjoyment for me while I paint is to recall the place and the memories of being there.  If I’m so focused on a photograph, I tend to miss that opportunity.

The completed painting on the easel gives you an idea of the scale.  I really enjoy working larger in watercolor! www.kimminichiello.comOdd Man Out, Watercolor, 40″ x 20.5″

Limited Edition Prints & Note cards available here.

20% of all sales this month go toward the relief effort for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

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Watercolor Sketch Angkor Thom, Cambodia

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor on Handmade Paper

I’m sharing today another watercolor sketch from my trip to Siem Reap Cambodia.  This is one of the gates to Angkor Thom.  It was established in the late 12th century and is one of the last most captivating capital cities of the Khmer Empire.  It encompasses approximately 6 square miles (9 square km) and is in the Bayon Style.  This style most distinctive feature are the large stone faces that that surround the main towers of the temples and gates.  Aside from Angkor Wat, it is one of the most popular sites to visit.  Looking at the series of bas reliefs at the outer wall, depicting daily life and historical events, gives you a sense of what this kingdom must have been like.  It’s a very peaceful and humbling experience.

On our trip we must have visited a dozen temples or former cities.  What is amazing about visiting these archeological wonders is that you are essentially exploring ruins, climbing among the fallen stones that were once walls and statues, dodging trees that have taken over and become part of the architecture.  If you time your visits just right, you may be among only a handful of people there and you feel like you have the place to yourself.

When I travel, along with doing watercolor sketches I sometimes keep a written journal, which I happened to do on this trip!  The times I don’t I really regret it later.  Many memories are lost and forgotten if they aren’t written down.  So I thought I would also share my journal entries from our day at Angkor Thom.

Kim MinichielloAngkor Thom

We had driven through this area yesterday so we had had a preview of what we were to see.  This complex is so big and spread out you have to drive to the particular areas to see them. Built by King Jayavarman VII (Donald Trump), it was really like a city said to have supported a population of one million people in the surrounding region. First we stopped before the South gate to walk along the road lined with giant statues of 54 gods on one side and 54 demons on the other.  These statues have fully restored heads unlike one of the other gates into Angkor Thom where the heads have been pillaged, also noticeable were bullet holes nicks on many of them.  The gate is quite impressive, about 20 meters high decorated with stone elephant trunks and topped by a 4 faced Buddha.  Many people were taking elephant rides along the road into Angkor Thom.  We just took the van.


The Bayon is a temple with very steep flights of stairs, with a collection of 54 towers decorated with 216 Buddha faces.  Every where you looked was a huge face frontal view or in profile.  We wondered through corridors happening upon face after face as well as beautiful relief carvings of everyday life of the average Cambodian, and smiling apsaras.    The morning light was providing nice highlights and contrasts on the facial features.  It was quite crowded at the top and there was a group of native Cambodians dressed in Khmer traditional costume.  You could pay to have your picture taken with them.


In it’s heyday this would have been the most spectacular of Angkhor’s temples.  It marked the center of the city of Angkor Thom, built in the 11th century.  This was the center of restoration efforts by a French organization before the civil war broke out.  The temple had been disassembled piece by piece and each stone numbered. Then during the civil war, the Khmer Rouge destroyed all the documentation. Therefore, there is no way to know how to put it back together.  It is one giant jigsaw puzzle.  The area around the foundation of the temple looks like a huge graveyard for stones with stones spread out all over the grounds and each have a white number painted on them still.

 Limited Edition Prints & Note cards available here.

20% of all sales this month go toward the relief effort for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Congratulations to Julie S for winning a print from my Thank You to all my Supporters and Subscribers Giveaway!

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Watercolor Sketch Angkor Wat in Cambodia

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

I haven’t posted a watercolor sketch for a while, so today I thought I would share one that I did  that has special meaning to me.  For years Cambodia and  specifically Angkor Wat was on my husband’s and my  bucket list of places to see.  When we knew we were going to live in Hong Kong,  we knew our wish would more than likely come to fruition!  Since it can be rather hot there, we thought a trip over the Christmas holiday would be perfect time to go.

I can’t explain my affinity for Asian and Southeast Asian cultures.  I have always been drawn to the textiles, the food, and the culture.  Visiting Cambodia was an amazing experience for me.  Angkor in the provence Siem Reap, is one of the most important archeological sites in Southeast Asia, and is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.  The area stretches nearly 250 square miles (400 km squared)  and consists of the ruins of temples that were the different capitals of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 15th centuries.

 Kim Minichiello

Between Cambodia being colonized by the French in the 1860’s when some french explorers would export artifacts from these temples back to Europe,  and the takeover of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970’s which led to the devastating Cambodian Genocide, the temples have withstood the years of abuse, and neglect and are still marvels to see.   Restoration work started in the 80’s and 90’s and many organizations have come on board to protect and restore these important sites.

On a side note…

I am donating 20% of  the sales on my web site’s print shop to the relief effort for the Typhoon in the Philippines this month! There are a number of prints and note cards to choose from.  And if you subscribe to my email list on my site, you would be eligible to win a giclée of you choice.  Drawing is Sunday, December 8!

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Peel Street Lanterns, Hong Kong or Odd Man Out

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

I have finished this new large painting, 20.5” x 40”,  I have been working on  inspired by the  lanterns outside a funerary shop on Peel Street in Hong Kong.  I posted a few months ago the sketch that I did, plein air, sitting in the alley across from the shop. I have always wanted to do the lanterns in a large painting.  I really enjoyed working on this. It brought back so many  memories of the day I sat  in the alley doing the sketch listening to the Chinese opera music coming from the shop I was  in front of, and smelling all the exotic smells from the food being prepared in the neighboring dai pai dongs and the incense from the shops.

I wanted to convey in the larger painting  the delicate,  colorful, light struck lanterns floating in the gentle breeze juxtaposed against the cool, textural concrete building, they were hanging in front of.  I used some textural techniques in watercolor to imply the rough, dingy facade of the Hong Kong architecture. The bright yellow sign is typical for many shops in Hong Kong and I love how the shape and value of it, being washed out by the bright sunlight, adds another level of interest to the painting.  Do you like how the Odd Man Out,  has eyes on the Chinese goddess on the lantern below him?  🙂

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Amahs in Hong Kong & Relief Effort for Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

Kim Minichiello

 This is a view of just a tiny portion of Hong Kong where I lived.  Imagine there is likely an amah in each apartment in these towers.

There are things you don’t know about places in the world until you visit or live there.  One such thing is how important an amah is to some citizens in Hong Kong.  When we knew we were moving to Hong Kong, I had a few people ask me if I was going to get an amah while we were there.  I had no idea what they were talking about.  It wasn’t until we were looking for apartments some furnished and some not, that in every one there was a very small room, and a separate small bathroom for live in amahs.

An amah is a live in domestic helper whose duties involve everything for taking care of a household and beyond:  cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, taking care of children, taking children to school, and even washing cars and carrying golf cubs.  You name it they do it.  Many become permanent members of the family and are with them for years.  In some families, they are loved like family members and in some are treated more like employees.  I didn’t have an amah while living in Hong Kong but got to know a few of them in my building and while shopping in our local market.

Sunday is their only day off and Hong Kong transforms itself on this day when all the amahs meet each other in parks, and line the sidewalks of major streets with blankets. They visit, have picnics, sing, dance, play cards and enjoy themselves.  It literally feels like a crowd lining up for a major parade.  The noise in the air is so intriguing with a mix of their native language, music and laughter.

The majority of the amahs in Hong Kong are women from the Philippines.  Many leave their own families, including their children,  behind  to be cared for by family members in order to earn more money in Hong Kong to support them.  With the recent devastation of Typhoon Haiyan, many still don’t know if family members are still alive or safe.


www.kimminichiello.comHong Kong Happy Hour, Limited Edition Print Available on My Web Site

I would like to invite you to help in any way that you can support the relief effort for those in the Philippines!  I will be donating a portion of the proceeds for all sales of prints and note cards on my web site for this relief effort through the Red Cross for the rest of this month and December.  You can visit my print shop on my web site by clicking here.  You can also make donations directly to the Red Cross relief effort by clicking here.

Thank you for your interest in my work and your support!

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Artists on Fire Exhibition, 127 SoBo, Winter Garden Florida

www.kimminichiello.comChinese Puppets are Waiting in the Wings, Watercolor on Archival Paper

I am very excited that my local community of Winter Garden Florida is establishing an art  association in the old fire station in historic downtown Winter Garden.  This painting, Waiting in the Wings, will be on exhibit and for sale in their inaugural exhibition, “Artists on Fire,”  which will run from November 7-November 30.  Opening reception will be Thursday, November 7, tonight,  from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The address is 127 South Boyd, or now referred to as 127 SoBo. The sale of all the art will go toward, this wonderful new, non- profit art organization that is going to be such an asset to local artists and the community!    Hope to see you there!!

This is huge for artists on the west side of Orlando.  Most art centers, life drawing opportunities, classes, galleries, and art happenings are  downtown or on the east side of town.   I hope to do workshops, participate in shows,  and volunteer for a wide variety of art events.   If you are a local artist please support this wonderful new venture in downtown Winter Garden!

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Chinese Puppets were Waiting in the Wings

 Waiting in the Wings, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 17″ x 13″ , 43 cm x 33 cm

This painting Waiting in the Wings was inspired by my jaunts to Cat Street Market off of Hollywood Road, near Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong.  A few of the vendors there sell Chinese Opera marionette puppets. Like the embroidered slippers, I was immediately attracted to them for the variety of color, pattern and personality!

I was happy with this painting when I did it.  After recently getting it out and living with it a while again.  I decided to do some tweaking.  I felt the background was too much the same value as the rest of the painting and wanted to make the puppets stand out more.  I also played around with more value changes on the puppets themselves as well as  some lost and found edges.  With a stencil I created a slight vertical striation very subtly in the background to represent the puppet strings without being to literal.


www.kimminichielloWaiting in the Wings before tweaking

 I’m happy with the tweaks.  A painting I thought was finished has a new lease on life!  The title has become even more appropriate. 🙂

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Watercolor Sketch: Sai Kung, Hong Kong New Territories


Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

Some watercolor sketches, even though they are sketches I spend a bit more time on.  Others when you don’t have the time, are what I call quick and dirty!  Not that this sketch is dirty, I guess it’s just one, of many, of those expressions from my midwestern upbringing.

This one was done on a sketch outing with my friend Gladys.  We drove up to Sai Kung which is a peninsula surrounded by the South China Sea  north of Hong Kong Island in the New Territories.  We had painted at another location and then drove over to the Hong Kong Diving Club and decided to paint there.  This one was done in 15-20 minutes.  These quickies are good to do just to get an essence of the place without focusing too much on the details.

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Watercolor Sketch: Aberdeen Floating Village, Jumbo Restaurant & Sampans

 Watercolor on Handmade Paper

My watercolor sketch travelogue continues in Hong Kong with one from a floating platform next to the Jumbo restaurant in the Aberdeen Harbor.  I was very fortunate to make friends with a few artists while living there.  My friend Gladys and I would try to go out once a week to sketch.  The day we scheduled to go was a gloomy day in December but we went for it anyway.  We headed down to the Aberdeen marina and took a sampan over to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.

Kim Minichiello

Our Sampan Driver

This was an experience in itself just crossing the harbor.  Like many things in Hong Kong there are a number of ways to go about doing something.  Lining the harbor are private sampans for which we had many offers of taking us over for 50 -100 hundred Hong Kong dollars, or as Gladys would say, honkies.  She is a local. :-).   This equates to about $6-$12 US dollars. These are nice if you want a 30 minute tour of the harbor, but we just wanted a one way jaunt to the Jumbo.   If you are a tourist, you may think this is the only way to go.  However, I had the advantage of being with Gladys, who knew a way around this!  If you know where to look there is a public sampan you can take to the other side for around .25 cents US!  What was even more amazing you can scan your Octopus Card, Hong Kong’s, public transportation card, for the fare.  A mix of modern technology with the old world.

Kim Minichiello

Boat dwellings in Aberdeen Harbor

The Aberdeen Harbor and the Aberdeen Floating Village has been and still is home to Hong Kong’s boat dwellers, descendants of which were said to have arrived in Hong Kong around the 7th-9th century.  If you would like to immerse yourself in a traditional Hong Kong experience this is a great place to visit.

Kim Minichiello

Jumbo Floating Restaurant

Another popular attraction which was our destination was the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.  Established in 1976, it is one of the renowned tourist attractions in Hong Kong.  In the  lobby is a photo gallery of the who’s who of the many people who have visited over the years:  Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, and William Holden during the filming of “Love Is  a Many- Splendored Thing,”  and the “World of Suzie Wong,” to name a few.

Kim Minichiello

Sightseeing Sampan

Gladys and I settled our selves on a service platform behind the restaurant to paint boats in the harbor.  It was actually great to sketch on a grayer day. A great exercise in mixing grayed color.   It started to lightly drizzle so we cut the day short and headed over to the Aberdeen Marina Club, in a sampan of course,  for some hot Jasmine tea, and an incredible Dim Sum lunch!  A perfect sketch day with a great friend!

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Watercolor Sketch: The Bank of China Building in Hong Kong & Feng Shui

Watercolor Sketch on Hand Made Paper

In Hong Kong, I loved just up the hill from the Hong Kong Zoological Gardens and Botanical gardens.  Both just a 5-10 minute walk from my apartment building.    Living in one of the most populated and bustling cities on earth, I was amazed at how many opportunities there were to connect with and be in natural environments.  I walked through and enjoyed these gardens often, as did many locals and expats. I had my watercolor kit with me one day and decided to do a sketch of the Bank of China building.  One, because it was designed by architect I.M. Pei who also did the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris and I like his work. Two, because it is such an iconic building in the city.

Bank of China building

The Bank of China Building designed by I.M. Pei, image via wikipedia

There was some controversy surrounding this building, at the time it was built.  It is the only major building in the city to have bypassed the normal practice in Hong Kong of consulting with feng shui masters on it’s design prior to construction.  According to feng shui principles it’s triangles, sharp angular features, and many “x” shapes have negative symbolism.

HSBC Building

The HSBC building designed by Norman Foster, image via Wikimedia Commons

When another iconic building in the Hong Kong landscape was built, the HSBC bank building, designed by famed British architect Norman Foster, metal rods were installed on the top pointing directly at the Bank of China building to protect it, by deflecting the negative energy right back to Bank of China.  Take that Bank of China!  Hmmm, that sounds like a good idea.  I’d like to have something like that to deflect negative energy.


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