My Favorite Things Top Ten, Bonus: My Favorite Cocktail, The Spritz

Venetian Spritzs, Campari Spritz on the left & the Aperol Spritz on the right

When I was in Venice last spring with my WAM Women Artists Mentors Group.  I kept noticing at every cafe, whether it be lunch or apertivo hour, people were enjoying this neon orange cocktail!  I had to find out what all the fuss was about.  I had traveled in Italy many times before but these drinks had never been on my radar.  It is the The Spritz.  

KimMinichiello.comThe Spritz of today has its roots in the Hapsburg occupied Northern Italy.  In the nineteenth century,  Austrian soldiers would add a “spritz” or a  spray of water to the regions wine to make it more palatable to them.  They were used to Riesling and not the drier wines of Italy.  It has gone through some other incarnations but basically The Spritz of today is three parts Prosecco, two parts bitter liquer, and one part sparkling water.  It is traditionally made with Aperol or Campari as the bitter liquer.  I like the Aperol Spritz.  It’s garnished with an orange slice and sometimes in Italy a skewer with a green olive is added.  

KimMinichiello.comIt’s a cocktail I usually make at home, since many restaurants or bars don’t stock Aperol nor do they get the proportions right.  I had one once where the bar tender added plain water to Aperol and called it a Spritz; I don’t think so! You can see in Italy they use a variety of different glasses to serve a Spritz.

A recently issued book of Spritz, with a lot of nice recipes for different varieties

I find it to be super refreshing and a nice way to end the day when the golden hour strikes and it’s apertivo time!  

I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  Hope you enjoyed “My Favorite Things Top Ten,” plus the bonus. Cin Cin! 

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Favorite Things Top Ten: Number 4, Watercolor Sketchbooks

Sketches of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, Cassis in Provence, South of France, Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, and the Japanese bridge in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World

Many don’t realize I paint mostly in watercolor because of watercolor sketching.  My primary medium was oils.  On trips to Paris, and when I lived there working for Walt Disney Imagineering, I found the world of “Carnet de Voyage,” sketchbook of your travels.  Even before Urban Sketching became so popular, many publishers in Europe published the watercolor sketch journals of artists. There were dedicated sections in book stores for these!  I even saw a great show one year at the La Poste Museum in Paris, displaying artists sketchbooks.  I was bitten by the bug.  I had to do this!  The very first sketchbook I got was made by Savoir Faire and it has inside Indian Khadi paper.  I like the rough surface and the deckled edges of the paper.  These are the green and blue books shown below. Sadly, they stopped making them and I bought as many as  I could find a few years ago.  However, there is a nice substitute that I have had students get for my watercolor sketching workshop. Sam Flax here in Orlando carries them and the covers are brown.  You could google “Khadi paper watercolor sketch book,” to find other options.

Shown are the Savoir Faire, Khadi Paper books in 2 sizes and on the bottom the Stillman & Birn, Alpha Series, 8″ x 10″

Since this turned into a habit and obsession over the years,  I have used a variety of books and I like all of them, Hand Book, Stillman & Birn Alpha Series, and Moleskin Watercolor Books.

This is a handmade one with a soft leather cover my husband bought for me in Rome.  I love it because it’s small and very light weight and fits easily in my purse. The sketch shows a view of the fortress in Salzburg, Austria from the Mirabell Gardens.

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Favorite Things Top Ten: Number 5, The Coleman Camp Stool

www.KimMinichiello.comI used to take a collapsible three-legged stool with me when I went out urban sketching in watercolor or plein air painting.  I bought it IKEA in Hong Kong years ago.  When I first got it I thought it was fantastic!  I had a softer place to sit rather than on walls or sidewalks.  Then when I traveled by air to other places I wanted to take it with me but it added more bulk and weight to my suitcase.

When my fellow WAM:Women Artists Mentors and I were planning our trip to Venice last spring at one of our Google Hang Out meetings I asked the others if they were taking stools for sketching.  I showed Helen Beacham my stool and said I always have this dilemma packing it number one, then lugging it around on a day’s outing, number two.  Helen immediately replied, “You need one of these!,” and showed me the Coleman Camp Stool.  I ordered it off of Amazon then and there.  It fits easily in my plein air bag, it’s not too heavy where you aren’t super uncomfortable carrying it around all day on outings while you are traveling, and I find it to be fairly comfortable for what it is! It even comes with a small carrying case!  Thank you Helen, I could kiss you! I use it ALL the time!

I’m going to put the link here in case you are as anxious to get one as I was!

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

New Work: Venetian Doorbell

Venetian Doorbell, Watercolor, 6″ x 6,” 15 cm x 15 cm

$285 Framed

Buy Now

I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I posted!  I have a little side project going that is taking away some of my studio time.  I’m redoing my kitchen.  Part of my design background is Interior Design, which I did for Walt Disney Imagineering for many years.  I’m in the midst of designing and ordering all the elements for the kitchen now.  Part of me absolutely dreads what’s ahead, not having a kitchen for a period of time. However, I will be thrilled when it’s done!

This is a small painting inspired by an unusual door bell I saw on my recent trip to Venice.  The tongue is what you press to make it ring!  Was tempted, but didn’t try it.  I’m currently doing a larger painting featuring this guy.

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

Venice, a Recap

Kim Minichiello blog 1When things seem to fall into place so seamlessly, with no shenanigans so to speak, it was just meant to be.  That’s the way I feel about my recent trip to Italy with my WAM:Women Artists Mentors friends, Helen Beacham, Maria Bennett Hock, Debra Kierce and Carrie Waller.  Helen approached us last summer and said, “Why don’t I keep the apartment I’m renting an extra week after my students leave from my workshop and you all can join me in Venice!”  We couldn’t say yes fast enough.  Research was done and flights were booked.

Carrie traveled the furthest  from Tokyo, Debra and Maria were coming from Virginia and myself from Florida.  After we all booked our tickets, at the time we felt we would all get the best deal, we arrived in Venice within one hour of each other not really planning to, it just happened that way.   I was first and waited for Carrie, Maria and Debra. We took the Alilaguna, airport boat, and met Helen at the stop that was 5 minute walk from the apartment.

WAM Venice Group Shot for Publicity, more cropped FINALFrom left to right:  Carrie Waller, Helen Beacham, Maria Bennett Hock, me, and Debra Kierce

This was the first time everyone in the group was meeting in person!  Since we all meet on-line once a month it instantly felt like we had met before many times.  However, meeting on-line and traveling together are two different animals.  But since we all look out for each other supporting each other in our art careers and business, we did the same as traveling buddies.  Aside from  a couple of incidents with pigeon poop, on the same person, I’m not mentioning any names,  the trip was absolutely perfect.

Kim Minichiello Blog 4The thing that strikes me as being so wonderful about spending more than just a couple of days in Venice, is it’s so relaxing!  Granted it’s not a beach vacation, but the ambiance is so special with no cars, sirens, or motorbikes, only echoes of people bouncing off the buildings in the narrow alley ways, the occasional church bells, and the sounds of boats going about their way on the canals.  I think we may have been there before the tourist rush of summer, it didn’t feel too crowded. We had plenty of time to explore the 6 neighborhoods as well as Burano and Murano, as well as sketch, eat, (more than a few gelatos were consumed) and just spend quality time getting to know each other better.

We all took thousands of photos between the five of us and I can’t wait to see what we all are inspired by when we create some new work.

Kim Minichiello blog 3

My favorite Aperitivo, The Spritz

So Cin Cin to my fabulous five friends, here’s hoping we have many more adventures like this one!

On a side note, Debra put together a nice memento and some advise on starting your own mentoring group on Bored Panda, click here.

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


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.

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.

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!


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.

Watercolor Sketch Cassis France

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor Sketch in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook

During our recent trip we stayed in Aix en Provence as our home base and drove to other villages in the area mostly in the Luberon region.  A forty five minute drive south form Aix is the lovely village of Cassis, which is absolutely beautiful. I can only imagine in the high summer season how crowed it must get there!  We spent time sketching, walking around and then took a boat tour of les calanques, which are the limestone cliffs along the Mediterranean Sea that connect Marsailles to Cassis.  The water is the most gorgeous turquoise, which photos never do justice to illustrate.