Day 3 of the Three Paintings in Five Days Facebook Challenge

Pak Tai Guardian, Watercolor, 22″ x 30″, 57 cm x 76 cm, $3200 Framed, Available for purchase please contact me.

DAY 3 of three paintings in five days Facebook challenge… When I lived in Hong Kong one of my favorite things to do was visit and sketch at the myriad of temples. The two dragon paintings evolved from sketches I did at the Pak Tai Temple in the Wan Chai district. One was my first try, and acceptance into a major exhibition, The Florida Watercolor Society. Thanks to juror,  Nicholas Simmons for choosing it!

Pak Tai Guardian Lion, Watercolor, 22″ x 30″, 57 cm x 76 cm, $3200 Framed, Available for purchase please contact me.

Lion Dance, Watercolor, 36″ x 36″, 91.5 c x 91.5 cm, $6700 Framed, Available for purchase please contact me.

Since we moved to Hong Kong during Chinese New Year, I wanted to commemorate that time with “Lion Dance”. It’s my largest painting 36” sq. and I wanted to capture the excitement of the acrobatic dance with a colorful, “in your face,” statement!

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Bourbon Street Encounter



Bourbon Street Encounter, 29″ x 17″, 74 cm x 43 cm, Watercolor on Handmade Twinrocker Paper

Available for purchase please contact me.

I’m posting my first painting of the new year!  Continuing my gate series, this one was inspired by my meanderings throughout  the French Quarter in New Orleans last spring.  I’ve always been intrigued by gates and courtyards that are off limits to the passer by.  One can only wonder and imagine what goes on beyond the barrier.

Technically, I had some goals I wanted to achieve to capture the patina and age of the metal work, and am very happy with the outcome!


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Good News for the New Year

Star Struck, Watercolor Mounted on Board and Sealed, 12″ x 12″,  $550, will be available at the the Annual Juried Exhibition of The Women Painters of the Southeast

Happy New Year!  The year has gotten off to a great start!  I received word that Star Struck  has been accepted to the 4th Annual Juried Exhibition of The Women Painters of the Southeast.  So honored to be in the show with so many fabulous artists who do representational work in a variety of media.  This year the show will be at the Blue Ridge Arts Association,  420 West Main Street, Blue Ridge, Georgia.  Dates are April 3-May 1.  This is the third year in a row I have been in this show!

I’m teaching my “Bold & Dynamic Watercolor Workshop” at the 127 SoBo Gallery/Winter Garden Art Association.  Sat. & Sun. Feb. 7 & 8.  This 2 day workshop is packed with information on planning, designing, and composing a painting, all the nuances of painting in watercolor; papers, brushes, pigments, and lot’s of helpful tips. The painting we will be painting, is Star Struck!  For more information and to register click here.

Lately I have broken away from my monogamous painting practice and am working on several paintings at once.  I’ve got a few plein air starts I want to continue to develop, one new larger work, and a 12″ x 12″ painting.  Will share with you all when they are completed.

In the mean time, I hope everyone’s year is also off to a great start.  If you set resolutions or goals, I hope you have had a chance to contemplate what you would like to accomplish this year.  Last year I set a few goals and didn’t write them down.  Some I accomplished and some  I didn’t.  This year I’ve written them down and hope to integrate them in my calendar for the year by keeping them in my face!

I would also like to thank all my family, friends,  and followers of my blog, for all your support!  Your kind words and comments are greatly appreciated and mean a lot!

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Plein Air Painting at Epcot, Morocco

www.kimminichiello.comThere is a group of artists that goes out every Friday to paint at Epcot and I’m joining them to make it a “painting practice” similar to a yoga practice.  Just like yoga, it clears the mind and you feel great after you do it! I’m really enjoying it because it reminds me of watercolor sketching on my travels, and since we are painting the countries in World Showcase at Epcot, it especially feels that way!   This was my third time and already I can feel an improvement in drawing, painting and time management.

(I have posted a number or my watercolor travel sketches you can see by clicking here.  You can scroll through and look at a number of older posts.)

These sessions I’m painting a bit more in detail than what I normally do in my watercolor sketch book but I’m trying to stay loose and spontaneous as I do while sketching.  It’s hard not to get too caught  up in the details.

Kim Minichiello

Work in Progress

I feel the key has been for me to take time with the drawing, site measuring and getting the proportions accurate.  There is nothing more frustrating than to put a really loose drawing down, start to paint then realizing there is something way off, which is what happened to me a few weeks ago.  I spent about an hour on this drawing, block in.  Knowing I was going to paint, I wasn’t too detailed with the pencil work. I’m drawing with a mechanical pencil and painting on a  9 x 12 Arches Watercolor Block.

The last couple of times I stayed for two hours, this time three.  One hour dedicated to drawing and two for painting.  Having more time for the painting allowed me to get closer to a finished painting, but I still feel I have a few areas and values I would like to tweak.

www.kimminichiello.comI’m also being more conscious of composition and editing out details, not wanting to paint an area just because it’s there if I feel it won’t work in the painting.  You can see from the view that I edited out the white building on the left.  I didn’t want a big white block on one side of the painting.

If you paint plein air or sketch in watercolor, I wold love for you to make comments and share any tips!

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Plein Air Painting at Epcot

www.KimMinichiello.comLast Friday I painted with the Walt Disney Imagineers again from one of the bridges overlooking the lake and a view of the Japan Pavilion at Epcot.  I am loving my en Plein Air Pro Easel the more I use it.  It is so easy to set up and I find it very comfortable to work on.  We had a bit of a cloudy over cast day and at one point it started to drizzle a bit, but not enough to pack up.

I thought I would show  bit of a progression.  It took about 2 hours to draw and paint.  I got it to a point I feel I can finish it in the studio.  I’m working on an Arches Watercolor Block and a palette of various colors I’m experimenting with to determine a good plein air palette with the number of wells I have.

www.kimminichiello.comDrawing and Sky Block- In

Working in Some of the Foliage

Starting on the Pavilion and the Tori Gate

Stopping Point after 2 Hours



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Plein Air Painting, Winter Garden Florida & A Review of the En Plein Air Pro Easel

My Set Up for Plein Air Watercolor

The day after Thanksgiving my husband and I had planned to go plein air painting.  Little did we know when we woke up it was 43 degrees.  That may seem like peanuts to  a lot of you but for those of us who have lived in Florida for so long, it seemed a bit chilly.  We decide to buck up and bundle up.  Once we got out there it was very pleasant, either that or we were so focused we didn’t notice the cold!

 Using the palette/tray on the easel with the cover on to do the drawing.

I have had a number of people ask me about this set up I’m using.  After consulting a number of watercolor artist friends and doing a lot of research I settled on the En Plein Air Pro Easel. This is the Advanced Series Watercolor Easel. My husband got this for me for my birthday this year and I have been using it mostly for life drawing, sketching the model then adding some watercolor.  For this I just bull clip my paper mounted to a piece of gator board to the top portion, paper support of the easel.

www.kimminchiello.comPainting with the palette that comes with the easel, cover off and slid under the palette.

The easel comes with a tripod to mount the paper support at the top, a palette with a slide off cover, a collapsible water bucket, and a case for the tripod and duffel bag to put it all in.  I won’t go in to too much detail here, you can check it all out on their website.  The stool is not included.  Instead of hand carrying everything in the duffel bag. I use my market cart with wheels that I drug all over Paris.

It’s all fairly light and sets up in seconds.  You can just get a version with a tray that fits on the tripod and not the palette.  I thought I would get the palette first and try it.  I can always order just  the tray later and use it with my lighter weight sketching palette, to lighten things up. I also use the palette with the lid on as a tray, and set my other John Pike Palette on it for life drawing.

What I love about this palette is it has a large mixing area. The water bucket snaps on at the top under the palette and is in a very convenient location.  I especially like that the cover slides off the top and then can slide under to give me a little extra room in the front for my brushes.  The paper support also has a slide out brush holder, but I prefer to keep brushes on the tray.  With the tripod legs extended out from just the bottom, it’s the perfect height for me to sit with my legs under the palette tray.  I can also extend them out fully to stand.

There is also a tilt adjustment for the paper support, for those that like to work more horizontally. I was using a watercolor black and didn’t even need to clip it on to the paper support, I just sat it on the lip and it stayed put.  I’m very picky when it comes to equipment.  It has to feel right for me or I get frustrated.  So far I am very happy with this easel! En plein air pro also makes a version for oil painters as well.   I also paint in oils and can purchase accessories to turn this set up I already have into an oil painting easel too.


We had a good couple of hours and I feel like I got a good start on this one, so I will probably finish it in the studio!


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French Quarter Gate

French Quarter Gate, Watercolor Mounted on Board and Sealed, 6″ x 6″, 15 cm x 15 cm, Framed Size 12″ x 12″, 31cm x 31cm

$200 including frame

It’s been a while since I’ve posted!  I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving.  It seems impossible that it is the holiday season!  Where is the time going?

Prior to Thanksgiving I spent some time in the Los Angeles area.  I used to live in Pasadena, California,  prior to moving to Florida.  It was great visiting friends and exploring my old stomping grounds. I’ll be posting and sharing some of my adventures out there in the next few weeks.

Since my return I painted this new piece inspired by my trip to New Orleans last spring.  This will be in the current show, “A Gift of Art,” at the 127 SoBo Gallery, Winter Garden Art Association the month of December.  (Please contact me if you are interested in purchasing.)  The opening reception is this Thursday, Dec. 4, from 5:30-8:00. If you are in the area hope to see you there!


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Visit to Twinrocker Watercolor Paper Factory

www.kimminichiello.comIt’s amazing in life how some things come full circle.  I was recently back home again in Indiana, (pun intended), and was so excited to make a trip to Twinrocker Paper in Brookston, Indiana.  Brookston is about a half hour drive from where I grew up, and I passed the turn off to go there every time I made a trip home from Purdue during my college days.  Little did I know that years later I would become a watercolor artist and fall in love with the watercolor paper they make!

www.kimminichiello.comA couple of years ago my mom and I visited the studio of Terry Armstrong, an Indiana artist who lives in Warsaw.  He told us about Twinrocker, which he uses for his work.   The next day we drove to Brookston, and bought some watercolor paper.  If you buy $100 worth they offer free shipping!  I had never heard of this amazing company until Terry had mentioned it,  and couldn’t believe all these years I was so close and had never been there!  I took a chance that I would like it, invested in $100 worth and had it sent to me here in Florida.

Sales Room at Twinrocker Paper

Once I started using it was I ever glad I took the chance.  I have experimented with it and used it the last couple of years and if I prefer a certain look for a painting, I use Twinrocker. My painting Mayan Gate was done on the Twinrocker cold press and has been juried into four shows, two of them were International Exhibitions.

Mayan Gate Watercolor on Twinrocker Paper, Cold Press

Since Kathryn and Howard Clark founded Twinrocker in 1971 they have been making handmade paper in the European tradition, for stationary, book arts and watercolor.  Kathryn has since  retired, and now  Travis Becker is  the current owner and master paper maker. He started working with the Clarks when he was 19. I highly encourage you to visit their web site to read the fascinating history behind how the Clarks started making paper.

Travis Becker, Owner Twinrocker Paper & Master Papermaker

On my visit I met with Travis and he showed me around a bit.  This is a small facility with 4 employees:  Gail is the Office Manager, Fran, Customer Service,  Travis, Owner & Master Papermaker, and Gerald, Papermaker.   Travis and Gerald make all the paper molded and finished, entirely by hand using pre consumer waste cotton from United States manufacturers.

Gerald molding envelopes.

Vat of Pulp

The day I was there Gerald was molding envelopes and Travis was going through a stack of watercolor paper about 6 inches high that had been molded and  run through the press.  Each sheet was layered between felt and after its run through the press it is removed from the felt, inspected for imperfections and stacked to dry before it can be gelatin sized.

www.kimminichiello.comTravis inspecting each sheet and removing any imperfections.

Each watercolor sheet is then gelatin sized by hand. Once they have a large quaintly of paper made they will spend a day or two doing nothing but sizing.   The sheet goes through the sizing, maintained at a constant temperature, one at a time, and then Gerald and Travis rub each sheet, both sides, by hand, to smooth out the sizing and remove air bubbles. This is critical if there are any air pockets where the sizing isn’t adhered to the  paper it will show once paint is put to paper.  I was in awe of this whole process.  I am so appreciative that there are still craftsman like Travis and Gerald that are producing a product like this that is more than special.

www.kimminichiello.comTwinrocker Press

Every time I start a painting on Twinrocker I feel a reverence toward it before I put brush to paper.  I feel even more so now after visiting and seeing how much care and attention is put into each sheet.  What boggles my mind in addition to the process and care of production, is the science that goes into creating the different weights and surface textures.  They offer hot press, cold press, and rough surfaces, and different weights or more accurately for them thicknesses.  Since the paper is handmade it can vary slightly in thickness from sheet to sheet.  Therefore they don’t describe their paper in weight like the other watercolor paper companies, but by the thickness per sheet measured by a micro meter, to arrive at a thousands of an inch thickness and is assigned a letter code.  All of this is described on their web site.  HA which stands for heavy art weight (HA) is roughly a 250lb./460g/m2 paper.

Pulp Prep Room

Twinrocker has been available by two major retailers, but Travis told me starting next year they will only be selling paper through their web site. The reason being,  It hasn’t been fair to Twinrocker to give the retailers a big discount, they have done little or no marketing or promotion for them, in exchange for the discount,  and then sell the paper cheaper per sheet than what Twinrocker sells it for directly from their site, essentially undercutting Twinrocker on price.

Because it is handmade, it is more expensive than some papers.  It retails at $14 per sheet.  This is only $2 more retail  than a sheet of 300 lb Arches, which I use as well, but in my opinion is so worth it.  If you paint in watercolor, I encourage you to try this paper!  It has been mostly by word of mouth that this watercolor paper has endured in the market place since 1971.  Not only will you be painting on one of the most beautiful papers made today, you will be supporting, a small independent company, with just 4 employees, two of them master craftsmen that are carrying on a tradition that could become a lost art if they weren’t doing it.  And to top it all off, it’s entirely made in the USA!  No other watercolor paper on the market today has that distinction!

Paris Passy Gate, Watercolor on Twinrocker Rough

I want to thank Travis for taking the time to show me around and it’s my privilege to spread the word about Twinrocker. This is some what self serving,  I love this paper so much I want them to be successful and keep making it!


Gate of Reverence, Watercolor on Twinrocker Cold Press

A Side Note:  Recently at the Florida Watercolor society convention, I came across  a new paper on the market, Fluid 100 which claims to be made in the USA.  However, I was told by the representative at the show selling the paper, that it is actually made in Europe but finished in the USA.  Because the last step of production is in the United Sates, they can put made in the USA on the product.  However, it’s not entirely true.

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The World of Watercolor Competition

Was thrilled to get the catalogue of the Art of Watercolor Magazine’s World of Watercolor Competition Catalogue.  Congratulations to the twenty seven artists who made it all the way to the exhibition, in Narbonne, France.  There were over a thousand entries from eighty two different countries.

So honored to be included in the catalogue with so many talented artists from around the world!


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Bold & Dynamic Workshop at the 127 SoBo Gallery

Kim Minichiello
Last Thursday and Friday I taught a watercolor workshop at the Winter Garden Art Association’s 127 SoBo Gallery and  had blast!  I had a small intimate group and they couldn’t have been nicer.  It was such a joy to spend the two days with them!

www.kimminichiello.comI covered my 5 step painting process, starting off the first day with a slide presentation discussing the importance of  design and composition and how I go about planning a painting.  I discussed the difference and nuances of the many materials available for watercolor, papers, paints, brushes, and various accessories, plus tips I’ve learned over the years.

www.kimminichiello.comI had them start exercises drawing and painting pears to get them used to how I mix color on my palette and the viscosity of the paint and water to get lots of bold color onto the paper, as well as the techniques of painting wet into wet, wet onto dry paper and the combination of the two. More variety mixed on the palette leads to more variety and excitement on the paper.  This lead into the second day, painting the bromeliad, covering value, tones, warm vs. cool, and the final phase of analyzing and adjusting your painting to push and pull values and defining form for a more three-dimensional appearance.

I can’t thank my students enough for making the experience so much fun, everyone had a great time and based on all of the kind compliments received, I will continue to offer more workshops in the future, so stay tuned!

A not so happy note at the end of the day for one of my students…. She was so excited after the workshop she spent more time at home that evening continuing to work on her painting.  Her dog really liked her painting too,  the taste that is!  This is what she woke up to the next morning.  He literally “ate her homework!”  I guess she will get even more practice painting another one!  I was looking sooooo good too!



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