Plein Air Friday, Lake Butler Boat Houses

Work in Progress,  on 1/4 sheet 140 lb. Arches

 I have a work in progress painting from my outing today.  I went across Lake Butler to the other side  from my community and started a painting of the boat houses.  I was in a relaxing mood this morning and took my time.  I will go back to the same location to finish it another day.  This is about 2 hours scoping location, drawing and painting.

Boat Houses 1

Trying out some new brushes

I was anxious to try my new toys I got at the Florida Watercolor Society Convention & Trade Show last week.  I’ve always wanted a travel brush set.  At some point, I will condense my kit even more to have a small one that just fits in my purse,  I can use on occasion, instead of carrying a separate bag.  They just happen to be the same brush type I use all the time plein air painting.  I love the Escoda Perla series.  In addition to the #14, I now have a #10, #6 and a #2, in the travel kit!  The extra bonus is I can use them in the studio too! The smaller brush came in really handy on the spanish moss.  It doesn’t show up very well in the photo, they came in a black leather case.

I also bought a #16 Escoda Versatil. I had a #14 and found it to be a bit small for what I wanted. This is a synthetic sable brush.  I like to have a bigger sable like brush to lay in large washes and skies.  This worked out really well!!

To quote Tom Haverford on the TV series, Parks & Recreation, “Treat yo-self!”


Plein Air Friday, Japan Yakitori House


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!

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.

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!


Plein Air Painting in Italy, Epcot

www.kimminichiello.comLast week I had the fortunate opportunity to plein air paint with some Walt Disney Imagineers in Italy, at Epcot.  We arrived at sun up to have just shy of a couple of hours to paint.  Instead of working in my sketch book I thought I would give the plein air easel a go and work on piece of paper.  I don’t know why but when I’m working in the sketch book I’m looser and don’t focus on the details as much.  I need to start applying that same mentality to the piece of paper!  Maybe I should work smaller to have the same size surface as my sketchbook and I won’t have the urge to be as detailed.


It was a glorious day and it’s so magical being in the park before the guests arrive!

Kim Minichiello painting plein air at EpcotNext time I’m going to force myself to be quicker with the drawing/sketch so there is more time for painting.


The Florida Watercolor Society Convention & Myrna Wacknov Workshop

www.kimminichiello.comMyrna Wacknov showing us her work on Yupo.

It’s been a busy few weeks!  We moved our daughter back to college and the day after I drove to South Florida for the Florida Watercolor Society Convention.  This three day event is one of the highlights of my whole year.  If you would like to know more about the convention you can read last year’s post here.  Aside from the wonderful demo’s, done by some of the most talented artists working in watercolor today, and the Trade Show where great deals on supplies are always to be had, which can be a bit dangerous, the highlight is always seeing friends and meeting new ones!

This year I also took a workshop with one of the two instructors that are invited to do a four day workshop prior to the convention.  One of the instructors is the judge for the annual exhibition, this years judge was Frank Webb.  He is a Dolphin Fellow of AWS, American Watercolor Society, and turned 90 last week!  The other instructor was Myrna Wacknov.  I have followed Myrna’s blog for a number of years and admire and appreciate her style and techniques, many of which are considered “out of the box” for traditional watercolorists.  That is what I love about her work, I like the “there are no rules” in watercolor approach.

Notan selfie created on my iPad

We started the week by learning about some apps that can be used on the iPad to manipulate photos, to use for reference photos for our paintings.  The main one was Photoshop Touch, which is essentially a scaled down version of Photoshop you can use on a digital device.  I often use Photoshop on the computer to design and compose paintings, which I then paint  from on my iPad.  I like knowing now that I can do some things directly on the iPad.

We took selfies and the manipulated the photos in Photoshop Touch to create a Notan and some grey scale images which were used as the reference for the three paintings we did, focusing on shape, line, and value.

Collaging over painting done in life drawing session.  Sorry Stephanie!

Selfie over mid tone collage background.

The first painting was done by creating collage papers in a plethora of ways to use as a mid tone valued background for the selfie (self portrait) on top.  I could see where this collage paper making could become an addiction!  I don’t do much figurative work other than life drawing once a week.  So between that and all the other surfaces we created to paint on, I was way beyond my comfort level, but it was a blast!

Selfie on Yupo

The second painting was done on Yupo which is a synthetic paper.  I had never used this before and can take some getting used to.  I’m not a convert, but could see painting on this occasionally and experimenting with it a bit more.  I think artists that like hot press paper like this surface, the paint stays and sloshes around on the top and doesn’t really soak into the paper. I’m a cold press kinda gal.  A few artists that I feel are very successful with Yupo are Julie Ford Oliver, Helen Beacham, Taylor Ikin and Carol Ann Sherman.

Selfie done on textured gesso surface over ink drawing.

The third painting was done by creating a textured Gesso surface to paint on, and then using line by emphasizing the face with a line drawing with ink before painting.  It was funny with all the supplies I packed for this workshop, I felt I was bringing  most of my studio, I didn’t bring a quill pen or an oiler boiler (plastic bottle with a fine needle tip)  to draw with.  I improvised by using a black Prismacolor Pencil and dipped it into my ink bottle like a crow quill pen.  This  one ended up being a sort of stylized version of me.

The two paintings aside from the Yupo were done on older watercolors, sketches from life drawings or dogs from the drawer.  With these techniques you would never throw away old paintings or paper, but would recycle them into new work! One of the many, take aways I got from this workshop.  With the limited amount of time to do so many things, I don’t feel these are quite finished but are good starts that still need some tweaking.  This was my first attempt at doing self portraiture so overall I’m pretty pleased with the likeness!  If you ever have a chance to take a workshop with Myrna don’t miss it.  She is a wonderful, engaging teacher and you learn things that go beyond the ordinary in watercolor that may take your work to a new level.

Myrna’s demonstrations from the workshop

Some Nice Press and Finishing Hope is Home

Work in Progress Hope is Home, 22″ x 30″, Watercolor

It’s been a busy and exiting week!  Being the featured artist at the Winter Garden Art Association’s, 127 SoBo gallery I am in two local newspapers.  The latest edition of the The West Orange Times did a lovely half page featured article! I am very honored and flattered!

The Southwest Orlando Bulletin also put my picture in with a nice write-up about the exhibition

I have also been putting the finishing touches on “Hope is Home” the painting I have been working on for Hope City Orlando.  I will be posting the finished piece next week!

I am looking forward to a little bit of down time.  Spending more time with my daughter before she heads back to school, some beach time, and then I’ll start preparing for the workshop I will be teaching this fall at the Winter Garden Art Association.  The summer is flying by!


Work in Progress: Hope is Home and the Joy in the Process

Watercolor on Archival Paper, 22″ x 30″

Here is the latest on the painting for Hope City Orlando and Hope City United.  It is such an awesome feeling when you have down on paper the image that you have been seeing in your mind for so long.  I love the process of painting, and sometimes there are those paintings that seem to flow off the brush and are just a pure joy to work on!

Work in Progress Continues for Hope is Home

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor on Archival Paper, 22″ x 30″

Progress continues on the painting I am doing for Hope City Orlando.  The leaves, vines and tendrils are blocked in.  I’m really liking the mix of warm and cool greens and wanted to achieve a light  struck quality on some of the leaves.  The next step will be to paint the flowers and the background, the shape that symbolizes a home which is a background for the doves, and last but not least the doves themselves.

I hope my readers are enjoying the work in progress posts!  It’s a great way for me to analyze the painting on the monitor.  Many artists do the same by also looking at one’s work in the mirror.  I don’t know how it works, I guess seeing your work from a different perspective,  but areas that need modifying  become glaringly more obvious.  I always enjoy seeing work in progress from fellow artists and the thought process and methodology behind a painting.  It fascinates me.  What do you think?



Work in Progress, “Hope is Home,” for Hope City Orlando

Watercolor on Archival Paper, 22″ x 30″, 56 cm x 76 cm

I almost have all the leaves of the vines blocked in since I last posted this latest painting.  While designing this painting I chose to  incorporate vines to reflect new growth, or being rooted or grounded in a safe place or new home. Vines are also very tenacious and can survive in some of the most adverse conditions, therefore they also represent the victims of human trafficking.

Hope City Orlando, or as it’s known on Facebook as Hope City United, will make a new home and a safe place a  reality for victims of human trafficking.  If you are just checking in to my blog, I am doing this painting to be auctioned off at their fundraiser, “Hope is Home,” in September.  Their goals are to raise enough funds to provide a safe home and a three-year reintegration program for victims of human trafficking in my community of Orlando, Florida.  I am ashamed to say that Orlando is a hub for this abhorrent circumstance.  If you live in the Orlando area, please think about supporting this cause.


“Hope is Home” for Hope City Orlando

Drawing for a  Watercolor for a Special Project for Hope City Orlando

The past few months I have also been brainstorming and designing a painting that is for a special project.  I’ve been approached by Hope City Orlando to create a piece of art for their major fundraising gala in September.  Many of you may not know and, I was actually shocked myself, to learn that Orlando is considered by UNICEF to be one of the major hubs in the world for human trafficking!  Many women and children are abducted and forced into sex slavery against their will.   Not only is this shocking, it is very upsetting that this is happening in my own community.  Hope City Orlando is a non-profit that seeks to help victims who find themselves in this awful plight.  Their goal is to build a home that will be a safe haven and provide a three-year program for a healthy reintegration into mainstream life.  Through a combination of efforts including counseling, social work, legal assistance, social and personal skills training, victims will become survivors.  If you would like more information please visit their website here. If you would like to follow them on Facebook, please click here.  The “Hope is Home” cocktail charity event will be in Orlando on Oct. 2.  My painting will be auctioned to the highest bidder to raise money for this worthy cause.  If you are interested in attending the event I will be providing more details in the future.

This piece, which I’m calling “Hope is Home” for now, is all drawn ready for paint.  This was a tricky piece for me to design because this is such an unfortunate and terrible situation that so many innocent people find themselves in. However, I didn’t want it to be dark and foreboding.  I felt it needed to be up-lifting and represent the hope that will be given by Hope City Orlando to victims of human trafficking.  I have given a lot of thought to the imagery and the significance of each element in the piece which I will explain as the painting progresses.   Stay tuned for work in progress photos!