Plein Air Friday, Japan Yakitori House

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Khadi Paper, 18 x 9, Japan Pavilion, Epcot

I went out plein air painting this friday and last,  in the community of Windermere, where I  live and got a couple of good starts.  I will finish them on site or in the studio.  Why didn’t I finish on site?  Last week it was still pretty hot and as the sun shifted onto me, with sweat dripping on my work,  it was time to call it quits.  Today, I brought the umbrella, and had a great shady peaceful spot, until about a dozen kids that are home schooled came to the adjacent park for recess!  It became super hard to focus.  Oh well, they were having a great time!

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My set up today with the umbrella

The top photo is one I did earlier this summer when the Flower & Garden Festival was on at Epcot.  Every year, local residents loan their gorgeous bonsai, for the festival.  Some are more than twenty years old!  I always enjoy seeing them every year!

As Third Vice President for the Florida Watercolor Society, I will be at the annual convention all next week.  However, I still get to paint plein air one day.  I will be doing a one day plein air workshop with Steve Rogers!  I can’t wait!   I am also the Social Media Chair for FWS. If you would like to see what goes on at the annual convention like the FWS Facebook page here.

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Plein Air Friday, “Japan Cascade”

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Japan Cascade, Watercolor Sketch in Khadi Paper Sketchbook, 18 x 9

Staying inside today while hurricane Hermine passes through Florida. The west coast and panhandle are getting it way worse than we are in central Florida.  Everybody be safe!  I thought I would post a plein air sketch I did earlier this summer at Epcot.  This one is in the Japan Pavilion.  I loved painting all the different color temperatures in the rocks.  Plus, I also really like doing long vertical formats in my sketchbook.

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Plein Air Friday: “End of The Line”

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“End of The Line,” watercolor done plein air, 8″ x 12″

$350, matted

Since I try weather permitting,  to paint every Friday morning,  most of the time with the folks at Walt Disney Imagineering at Epcot. I thought why not start a new series on my blog where I post the paintings and sketches! I have been pretty good about posting them on Facebook if you want to follow me there.   This one was done in downtown historic Winter Garden, Florida.  It was done in two sessions.  It has been really hot here and I didn’t have the drive or focus to finish it in one go.

 

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Watercolor Sketching Workshop: The Love of the Sketch

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Japan Plein Air

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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

Epcot_Germany

“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

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Watercolor Sketching Workshop in Winter Garden Florida

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The Old Water Tower, in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook

The more I teach the more I realize I love to teach!  We had a glorious weekend with the arrival of some cooler weather, which only lasted the weekend by the way, it’s hot again!  I can’t remember since moving to Florida seventeen years ago it ever being this hot this late in November!  I digress…. I had three lovely ladies join me for a weekend of sketching and they were great!  Sketching in the morning and afternoon is tiring and they were real troopers and really enjoyed it.

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Sketching the Red Caboose and Train Station

I’m hearing from students in all of my workshops that I cover many topics that most instructors  don’t discuss and they are so happy to discover and learn about!  There were quite a few light bulb moments in this workshop, which I was thrilled about!  I love that I can help others move forward with their painting/sketching practice and that I’m providing them with many take aways.

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The Crooked Can Brewery, in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook

In this watercolor sketching workshop since we were sketching in Downtown Historic Winter Garden and focusing mostly on architecture, I covered  different perspective views, horizon lines, vanishing points, one and two point perspective and proportions.  Proportions are key, it took me a while when I first started sketching to figure out how to measure and make sure what I wanted to sketch fit on the page!  How many of you have started sketching something only to run out of room on your paper?

An added bonus for me is that while I’m explaining all of this to others I can’t help but grow and improve myself!

#watercolorsketching #workshop #historicwintergarden #florida #stillmanandbirn #crookedcanbrewery #wintergardenartassociation

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Japan Pagoda Plein Air

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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

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A Couple Watercolor Sketches and some Workshops

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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.

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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

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