Watercolor Sketch at the Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens in Paris

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

I haven’t posted a watercolor travel sketch for a while so today I’m sharing one I did when I lived in Paris.  One nice thing about living in a city that one normally just visits is that once you have gone to all the museums and sites that are the most popular and that you would see as a tourist,  you start to discover and explore places that are off the beaten path.  The Albert Kahn Museum and Gardens in one of those places.

Albert Kahn was a 20th century philanthropist who made it his mission to document the planet.  He financed many discovery missions all of the world.  The museum houses his archive of autochrome Lumière photography (color photos on glass plates) collections from 60 countries.

The thing that is the most spectacular about the museum is it’s gardens.  Comprising 10 acres it’s organized in sections modeled on gardens from around the world: a contemporary and village style Japanese garden, a rocky Vosgienne forest and English and French Gardens.  There is also a Japanese tea pavilion where on certain days you can participate in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony led by a tea master from Kyoto.

I went to the gardens a few times in the spring because it was so such a relaxing place and was hardly ever crowded which made it the perfect place to sketch.  This sketch was done overlooking the Japanese bridge.

If you are interested in going, the museum and gardens are located in Boulogne-Billancourt at 10-14 rue du Port.  One can easily get there by metro or bus.

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Watercolor Sketch Chartres Cathedral

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

Spring is my favorite time of year in France.  I thought I would share a sketch I did in the Spring of my last year living in Paris, on a visit to Chartres.  We had just finished the day site seeing at the Cathedral and sat in the little park just behind it during the magic hour time of the day when the light is golden.  This is the back side of the Cathedral, done with ink pen and watercolor.  A wonderful moment frozen in time.

Chartres Cathedral is on the Unesco World Heritage List.  It is a perfect example of French Gothic Architecture.  Construction started in 1145 and continued  over a 26 year period after the fire of 1194.  It is in an unbelievable state of preservation with the majority of the original stained glass windows intact and only a few minor changes architecturally since the early 13th century.

 

 

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Watercolor Sketching in the Parc de Bagatelle, Paris

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

A little gem in the Bois de Boulogne is Parc de Bagatelle.  I was determined to go on a lovely spring day with my sketchbook right after we moved to Paris and thought I would brave the bus system for the first time.  For those who have never visited the Bois (forest), it is HUGE and some areas can be a bit dodgy, which I won’t get into in this post!  Needles to say because it is so big there are many lovely areas to explore and families flock there on the weekends to commune with nature.  One of the most popular ares in the Bois  is the Parc de Bagatelle. It was created in 1775 and is one of four botanical gardens in Paris.

One of the most popular features of the Parc is the rose garden, boasting over 10,000 bushes from 1,200 different species.  In the spring the peonies and the iris garden are just as spectacular.

I got off the bus at what I thought was the closest stop only to realize after I’d walked more than a mile, I still had a long way to go!  My option at that point was to turn back and try to get back on the bus and hope to get closer or keep on walking, which I did.

I finally made it to the entrance near the Chateau and parked my self on a bench near a gorgeous row of peonies and did this sketch.  The Chateau was built by the  brother in law of Marie Antoinette.  She wagered that he couldn’t built it in three months and he won the bet! From start to finish it took 64 days.

When  I sketch architecture I like to combine watercolor with a permanent ink pen.  I had gotten a set of sepia color Pitt pens which I tried out on this one.  I like the brown tone to the pen which doesn’t seem as harsh as the black.

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Watercolor Sketch of the Alcázar in Córdoba Spain

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I love that my husband is also an artist.  When we travel I can sketch and not feel guilty because he is usually right there beside me! Sometimes though we don’t always want to paint the same view, but he is usually in the vicinity. This sketch has a fond memory for me, because I remember us sitting on a low wall, side by side, sketching the Alcázar of Córdoba, in Spain.

This site  and fortress dates back to medieval times.  It was used by Ferdinand and Isabella as one of  the main tribunals during the Spanish Inquisition. In 1492 these monarchs met Christopher Columbus here before he took his first voyage to the Americas.  And in the early 19th century, it was a garrison for Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops.  Since the 1950’s, it has been a national monument and tourist attraction.  It is well worth the visit if you happen to be in Cordoba to see the Grand Mosque!

 

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Sketching the Louvre in the Tuileries & the Japanese Tourists

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I have been super busy working on the Coral Reef Restaurant menu commission, so I thought I would post another sketch today.  This one was done on a day in Paris when the nasty weather had finally broke, (I know some of my readers can relate to nasty weather right now!). The sun had come out and everyone flocked outside to get some sun and fresh air including me!

I headed straight for the Tuileries Gardens, parked myself on a bench, (it was slim pickings) and started to sketch and paint.  I had always wanted to do a view of the Louvre and not get too caught up in the details of the building but be very sketchy and insinuate them with value.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Just as I was finishing a lovely group of Japanese ladies on a tour stopped and started to gather around me watching me paint.  The Japanese tour guide asked me in French if it was OK.  (The Japanese are so polite.)  I said, “bien sur”,  they watched and made comments as I was painting, none of which I could understand.  I only know a few words of “tourist Japanese.”  The tour guide indicated to the ladies it was time to move on, and translated to me in French, thank you very much for letting them stop and my sketch was beautiful!”  For which I replied, “arigatou gozaimasu,” the formal way of saying thank you in Japanese.  You had thought I had given them a million yen by their reaction.  They were shocked and amazed that I had replied in Japanese! They all giggled, bowed and smiled, thanked me and were on their way.

Little did they know, probably thinking they had happened upon a French woman painting in the gardens, was actually an American who happened to speak French and enough Japanese to make their day.  They certainly made mine!

 

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Paris on My Mind and a Sketch From The Musée Rodin

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I’m working on a new painting inspired by a place I used to walk by a lot in Paris. That, and the very cold, rainy damp weather we are having lately in Florida have put me in the Paris mood.  Working in the studio, I’ve been drinking Mariage Frère tea, listening to my French music mix and the two radio stations I used to listen to when I lived in Paris, TSF Jazz and FIP.  Both are on iTunes!  The ads are annoying but a great way for me to brush up on my French.

So today I’m sharing another Paris sketch.  This one was done in the gardens at the Musée Rodin.  The Hotel Biron which opened in 1919 as the Musée Rodin is undergoing a major renovation now.  I can see why they would need to update it for accessibility and security.  There was something quite nostalgic about it though, lacking in the modern layer of design polishing apart from the entry.  Once you stepped into the Hotel and walked from room to room, you felt like you were wondering through someones emptied out home with the most incredible art collection that was left behind.

Tomorrow I will be announcing the winner of a Limited Edition Giclée print of my painting Poppies, which I’m giving away to celebrate the one year anniversary of my blog.   If you haven’t left a comment yet to be eligible you still have time by clicking here.

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

 

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Respite from a Cold Winter Day, Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil, Paris France

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Here is watercolor sketch I did of the big green house.  I like to use some permanent ink with some of my sketches, specifically when it’s architecture.  This was not done in the winter time but on a glorious summer day!  

We are having a bit of a cold snap here in Florida.  Although, I can’t complain compared to the winter weather in the rest of the country!  Having lived so many years in California  and Florida, I don’t do winter very well.  The three times I have lived in Paris the winters were brutal for me.  My last time living there in the 16th arrondissement, I found a treasure not far from home,  the Jardin des Serres d’Auteuil.  It’s on the edge of the Bois de Boulougne  and it dates back to 1761 under the reign of Louis XV.  It consists of a parterre garden with a huge greenhouse, and aviary, that was open all year round.  I read that they used to store the citrus trees from Versailles here in a hot-house during winter.

Kim Minichiello_Jardin d'Auteuil

Many Paris winter days can be cold, damp, and grey.  When I needed a tropical fix, I would go and hang out in the “hot- house.”  I could pretend I was in some exotic tropical location and all the winter blues would just melt away.  It was hard to leave and have the cold air smack you in the face to bring you right back to reality.

Kim Minichiello

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The completed painting on the easel gives you an idea of the scale.  I really enjoy working larger in watercolor!

www.kimminichiello.com www.kimminichiello.comOdd Man Out, Watercolor, 40″ x 20.5″

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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

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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.

Bayon

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.

Baphuon

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.

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 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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