Armin Hansen at the Pasadena Museum of California Art


photo credit PMCA

When I go to Los Angeles I always spend a bit of time in Pasadena, where I used to live while working for Walt Disney Imagineering.  A new addition to Pasadena since I lived there is the Pasadena Museum of California Art.  A couple of years ago  I saw an Edgar Payne show there which was jaw dropping and I’ll have to say the recent show there on Armin Hanson is just as amazing.

Armin Hansen (1886-1957) is an artists that was really never in my radar, but after seeing the show I want to delve into a study of his work more.  Born in San Francisco he studied with Carlos Grethe at the Stuttgart Royal Academy and also at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.  After studying in Germany he taught at University of California, Berkley and later moved to Monterey and was a founder of the Carmel Art Association.

photo credit Fine Art Connoisseur

He eventually became known for his marine scenes and became a deck hand on a number of commercial fishing vessels, portraying the fisherman’s life on land and at sea.  One can sense he earned the camaraderie and trust of the fisherman and there are a number of paintings that just wouldn’t be possible to pull off unless he was on the ships and part of the crew.

photo credit Fine Art Connoisseur

photo credit Fine Art Connoisseur

What I found most amazing was his draftsmanship, color sense and brushwork.  The show features a number of paintings he did of rodeo life, a  few still life paintings  that feature table settings after meals were consumed and one of his painting area in his studio.  The majority are marine scenes, sail boats, fishing boats, and fisherman at work.   There are oil paintings with rich color and juicy brush work. To me they resembled the color palettes from the works of German Expressionists, not surprising since he studied in Germany. There are marine scenes with a fantastic tonalist quality in hues of green and blue.   There are also a few watercolors and many prints and etchings.

I was so intrigued with this show and his work I visited the exhibition twice.  The second time really studying and savoring paintings I was drawn to.  I highly recommend this show if you live or are visiting southern California, but hurry the show ends May 31!

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




#arminhansen #PMCA #edgarpayne


Books That Inspire: Alla Prima by Richard Schmid

[amazon text=Amazon&template=my favourites&asin=0966211715 ][amazon text=Amazon&template=my favourites&asin=]Alla PrimaI’ve been sticking with my new year’s goal to spend some time reading art books every morning.  So far I have read quite a few so I thought I would start sharing and recommending a few.  One book that most artists have on their shelf is Richard Schmid’s Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting.  I have had this one for while but had never read it cover to cover until recently.  There is an expanded edition of this book out now, Alla Prima II, which I hear is full of a lot of new material, but this post is about the older one.

Many watercolor artists may not have this book since Richard is primarily a very well-known oil painter, but honestly if you are a painter no matter what media, you will get  a lot out of this book.  It’s not a how to book per say  even though there are plenty of color plates and some work in progress photos.  However, it’s a very detailed description of how Richard paints and what he thinks about during his painting process.  All things every artist should consider to achieve their best work.  An extra added bonus is, his wit and charm comes through on the pages!

Chapters are titled:  Good Ideas and Free Advice, Direct Painting, Starting, Drawing, Values, Edges, Color and Light, Composition, Technique and The Magic.  There is so much information here it will be hard to grasp on the first read.  This will be one you will want to refer to and read again.

Richard Schmid Color ChartOne of the biggest  take away exercises from the book are his color charts.  Many artists have done them and given their thoughts.  Just Google “Richard Schmid Color Charts,” and you will get a few hits.  He has taken every color in his palette and mixed it with every other color in the palette and charted it out.  Once you compete this exercise you will know your palette  inside and out and you will  have to use as reference the color families and harmonies for each color.  Richard’s teacher and mentor Bill Mosby made him do the color charts early in his career and he says, “ The charts took only two weeks to complete and when I finished I knew more about my paint a than I had ever thought possible. It was an astonishing- imagine being taken into the kitchen of a great chef and shown everything he could do with flavors-that was what it was like for me!”

I have seen him in a video show his charts done on what appears to be foam core, and he describes how he has taken them out plein air painting.  Holding them up to the scene he is about to paint, he can identify which color family fits the scene and know exactly which colors to use and mix on his palette.

The exercise does seem tedious and may take a while to do. However,  you would really learn your palette and not only what colors you will get when all of them are mixed with each other but what they will do when mixed with white as well if you are an oil or acrylic painter.

If you have a set palette be it watercolor, oil or acrylic you could do the exercise to make your own chart of the colors you typically use and you wouldn’t have to follow Richard’s exact palette. I’m very intrigued by this and hope to do it in the future.  This would be a great exercise to do if you feel you were experiencing artist’s block.  I can’t help but think mixing all that juicy color wouldn’t get one inspired to paint!

#richardschmid #allaprima

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

Books About and by Mary Whyte

One of my goals for the new year was to get back to reading more books. I have found myself the past year  being more self absorbed with reading on the computer, iPad, and checking Facebook which has taken away too much  time I would normally spend reading books from my library, specifically my art books.   How did I let that happen?

Starting with the new year I have been spending a little time in the morning and during breakfast reading my art books.  Since I received the lovely book, More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte, by Martha R. Severens, for Christmas. I started there.  After, I felt compelled to read again Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor by Mary Whyte.  I have skimmed and read this one several times since it is chock full of so much good information.

www.kimminichiello.comI don’t know of anyone who paints in watercolor and is familiar with Mary Whyte who doesn’t admire her work.  More Than a Likeness is a beautiful coffee table book that features many of Mary’s paintings from her early years, commissions, oils and many of the paintings one might be most familiar with from her “Working South” series and the paintings of life on St. Johns Island.  This is not a technique book but a lovely narrative of how Mary became the artist she is today.  It reads in chronological order from her early years as a student, how she started her art career,  to how she was inspired to paint the Gullah women on St. Johns Island, South Carolina,  to the years she spent traveling the United States to capture people that are working in dying industries in the South.


Demo Page from Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor

 Written by Martha Severens, an art historian who served as the curator of the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina, the book captures the essence of who Mary is as a person and how her experiences have influenced her work.

Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor, is a more of a technique book written by Mary.  Even if you don’t paint figures or portraits, I highly recommend this book.  What you would learn you could apply to anything you would paint in watercolor.  The chapters are broken down to:

  • Getting Started
  • Materials & Tools
  • Techniques
  • Drawing
  • Values
  • Edges
  • Color & Light
  • Backgrounds
  • Life as an Artist

I have put this book on my recommend reading list for my workshop students.  Her chapters on design and composition, value, edges, color and background are important aspects to the whole painting process  that many fail to consider when they start out painting regardless of the medium one would work with.  Especially if you paint in watercolor, I feel you would find both of these wonderful books inspiring!

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

Books that Inspire: The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel



I have been trying to finish this book before the movie comes out, on Feb. 7, which I can’t wait to see.   I thought I would post about it now in case anyone who is a fast reader is so inclined to do the same!

This amazing book chronicles the lives of the heroes of World War II whose mission it was to preserve the art and cultural heritage of Europe.  Many in the academic  art and museum community had caught wind of Hitlers grand plan to pillage many of the museums and historical sites throughout the European continent.   Being rejected after applying to the art academy in Vienna by a panel of art experts he believed to be Jewish  always had a devastating  effect on him.  When he came into power he had grand visions of being Emperor of Europe making Berlin his Rome and his home town of Linz Austria his Florence. His dream was to create a monumental art complex along the river in Linz.  This development would include a giant mausoleum to house his tomb, symphony halls, opera houses, libraries and cinemas, and above all an art museum.    All to vindicate his rejection to art school.  The architectural renderings alone were 20 feet long and the model for this grand plan took up an entire room.  With all of this in the works, the plan  was set forth during the war,  to amass the largest art collection in the world to fill his museum.

As early as 1941 in the United States directors of all the major museums were meeting to contemplate if they needed to protect treasures here at home and the logistics of doing so. They were concerned about attacks on American soil and the Nazis robbing museums across the country.   Thus a division of the Army was established, small that it was, to protect historical and culturally relevant sites from being bombed, salvaging anything they could from those that were, and going on the biggest treasure hunt in history to find works that  the Nazi’s had already hidden.

This book is just another reminder of the heroic efforts of the brave men and women who fought for the freedoms for humanity and to preserve it’s cultural legacy.

Books that Inspire: The Greater Journey Americans in Paris, by David McCullough

Kim Minichiello

I love history and travel and feel the two go hand in hand.  I really enjoy reading about the history of places I have lived or visited, especially Paris.  David McCullough’s The Greater Journey Americans in Paris, not only gives us a feeling of what Paris was like between 1830 and 1900, but tells various stories of the many Americans who in the early 1830’s braved the rough seas on sailing ships to live in a country whose language and culture they knew nothing about, with ambitions to learn and excel in their field of work, and in some cases profoundly impact American history itself.

Many traveled to further their medial careers, since Paris was considered at that time the most advanced in medicine in the entire world.  He tells the story of Elizabeth Maxwell, the first female physician in the United States, and Oliver Wendell Holmes and his colleagues who had a lasting effect on how medicine was practiced upon their return home.

He tells of writers, James Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mark Twain, and the influence their visits to Paris had on their work.

Bust of Edwin Wallace Stoughton, Marble,  1874 by Augustus Saint-Gauden, Ringling Museum of American Art

He covers extensively the artist’s journey of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, born to a French father and Irish mother, who immigrated to the United States at 6 months old.  He was trained at the École des Beaux-Arts, and is probably best known for, among many of his sculptures, a monument to Civil War Admiral David Farragut, in New York’s Madison Square and his Diane created as a weathervane for the second Madison Square Garden Building in New York City. We learn of Samuel F.B. Morse’s journey and his ambitious works, of painting vistas of the Louvre Museum.   In the late 1800’s we became familiar with the journeys of John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt.

Probably the most mind boggling is the heroic account of American ambassador Elihu Washburne, who remained at his post during the Franco-Prussian War, the Siege of Paris and the horrific Commune.  His accounts of the suffering of the people of Paris in this moment of history are haunting.

David McCullough is a treasure. His extensive research and propensity to weave together historical accounts in the manner of a storyteller makes this work a joy to read.  I hope it’s on your Christmas list! 🙂


Books that Inspire: Brain Storm, Unleashing Your Creative Self, by Don Hahn



When I was at Walt Disney Imagineering during the design phase of Disneyland Paris there was one morning a week, I believe it was Monday if my memory serves me, that we had the “Monday Morning Breakfast Meeting.”  Any WDI peeps that are reading this can correct me if it fell on another day of the week.:-)  One of the creative directors, Peggy Van Pelt, organized these meetings as well as many other artistic and creative programs for the artists and designers at WDI.  The meetings were on a variety of topics. Guest lecturers gave an hour presentation on what Peggy thought Imagineers would find interesting.  Plus, there was free breakfast from the WDI cafeteria!

One meeting that sticks out in my mind was the one where we went across the street to the animation theatre to see Don Hahn, the producer of Lion King, present Lion King during it’s design phase.  Since animation is a different division than Imagineering  within the Walt Disney Company, we heard rumblings about this new movie they were working on and we wanted to find out more.   Don is a very funny and engaging speaker as well as author.  I never will forget, starting his presentation, he showed a clip of the opening sequence; first the African chant, then the gorgeous animation of the African savanna, Elton John singing the intro and then that last loud drum beat at the end.  We were all sitting there dumbfounded with our jaws dropped to the floor and  goosebumps on our arms.  The room was a buzz with excitement.  This was going to be good!!

Don went on to produce Beauty and the Beast, and the Hunchback of Notre Dame.  His other credits include, The Disneynature films Earth, Oceans, and African Cats and the short The Little Match Girl, which earned him his second Oscar Nomination.  Beauty and the Beast was his first, which was the first animated film nominated for and Oscar.    He has also authored a number of books.

I just recently read his latest book, Brain Storm, Unleashing Your Creative  Self.  Don is such a witty writer, this is one of those books that can be so funny you will find yourself literally laughing out loud!  However at the same time,  it is very thought-provoking about the creative self and the creative process.  Don pulls experiences from his own life from boy hood to today, siting  personal examples to explain aspects of being a creative person.  There are stories recalling  sneaking a colander in his room, when he was little, in his pajama pants to create the night sky on the ceiling in his bedroom with a flash light to many tales on what it was like  working on his many Disney projects.  The main point I took away from the book was inspiring creativity in your daily life, whatever that creative endeavor is that drives you.

“When you focus on the journey and not the arrival, then your art becomes more like a treasured artifact of the creative process.  A painting, a poem, a sketch or a piece of music that you’ve written becomes a record of your life – a souvenir of the creative process, just as much as the photos are an artifact of your unforgettable travels abroad.”   -Don Hahn from Brainstorm Unleashing Your Creative Self.