Maiko Misedashi

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Maiko Misedashi, Watercolor, 24″ x 24″

I have a deep affinity with Japanese culture which I really can’t explain.  I’ve had  a self imposed study for many  years on their food, customs, design, textile arts, horticulture, you name it.  So when I finally had a chance to visit Japan, especially Kyoto, the old capital, on two separate occasions, it was a dream come true.  I have had the idea for this painting floating in my head for a few years, and finally executed it.  On one trip to Japan during cherry blossom season, we came upon a number of  maiko, apprentice geiko, as geisha are known in Kyoto. The maiko in the painting was surrounded by lots of fanfare and was accompanied by her male dresser.  Maiko must by assisted by a person, usually male, to help them layer their formal dress of kimono and tie the heavy and cumbersome obi. The obi is tied differently for the Maiko, leaving a long tail of the two ends down the back.  For the geiko the obi is tucked in and doesn’t hang loose.    A Misedashi is a ceremony when a  girl who aspires to be a geiko becomes a maiko, an apprentice geiko.  It is the official beginning of her career.

I wanted to integrate in the design my love of the textiles of Japan and pay homage to the art of ukiyo-e or wood block prints whIch I also adore.  I used to  do textile work for years  and used some of those former techniques I used to do on fabrics in the background.  Ukiyo-e literally translates as “pictures of the floating world” which describes the lifestyle and culture in the Edo-period of Japan when the prints were produced by artists such as Hokusai. The fish, or Japanese carp, in the design makes reference to the “floating world” depicted in this ancient art form, which also inspired many of the impressionist artists, like Monet and Van Gogh in the late 19th century.  Monet collected ukiyo-e and Van Gogh was inspired by them as well and integrated elements from them in some of his work.

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Painting with the Tigers on Plein Air Friday

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Next to the Tigers, Plein Air Watercolor, 14″ x 9.5″

Bright and early this morning I was at Epcot laying the ground work for a watercolor sketching workshop  I will be teaching next week for artists and designers at Walt Disney Imagineering.  Got the demo spot scoped out with plenty of room for folks to gather around and honed in on other locations for everyone to sketch.

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Getting ready to do the details

A few weeks ago I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Asia trek painting near the bridge between the 2 tiger exhibits.  While I’m painting I love watching the early morning routines of the animal keepers and I end up learning a lot about the animals I’m painting near.  

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Back up the hill after finishing some morning business

While I was working, there was a male tiger on the exhibit to my right and a female on the exhibit to the left.  They are currently separated until they get used to each other and the younger female is ready for mating.  They have to keep the shutters closed on the male’s side because if he sees her through the glass across the promenade, he will go crazy! (This is what the keepers have told me.)  As it was, he can smell her and had some guttural sexy calls, that morning, which felt like he was carrying on right behind me! Nothing like loud Tiger snorts and groans to keep you awake in the morning.  She, the female, couldn’t be bothered in the least! 

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Plein Air Friday, Back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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“Peaceful Morning,” Watercolor, 11″ x 14″

Asia Area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

 I went back to the spot I was at last week in the Africa area.  I had very limited time today, I didn’t completely finish.  I will put it up in the studio and analyze whether I will finish it or not.  Some I’m compelled to bring to completion and others I essentially see as a painting exercise.  As I mentioned in the last post, I tried a new paper I didn’t care for so part of me doesn’t want to spend any more time on this one.   It is at that point where I feel like I may have overworked it.  I will look at with fresh eyes another day. 

www.KimMinichiello.comI’m posting a painting I did finish in the Asia area.  I  also wanted to share a link to the Urban Sketchers Blog.  Last week there was a meet up of different chapters all over the world to record anything related to the Chinese New Year, the year of the Rooster.  Noga Grossman the head administrator for our Orlando Chapter suggested the idea as well as documenting what other artists did on the worldwide Urban Sketchers blog.  If you would like to see the post you can click here.  One of my paintings of the Temple of Heaven in the China Pavilion at Epcot was featured!  There are other sketches from  Lisbon, Yokohama, Seattle, Orlando, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Beijing, Dallas/Ft. Worth, O’ahu, and Canberra, in the article.

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My Favorite Things Top Ten, Number 1: Escoda Perla Brushes

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My latest plein air painting “Peaceful Morning,” Watercolor, 14″ x 10″ done at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on my Friday Morning Paint Sessions with a few Walt Disney Imagineers using Escoda Perla Brushes

Over the years I have tried a number of brushes, and I have amassed quite a collection. I use different brushes for different purposes,  sometimes the task calls for a synthetic brush and sometimes, a natural hair brush.  I go over all these nuances in the workshops I teach.    

I have a number of Escoda brushes from their  various lines, The Barroco, The Prado and The Versatil.  My favorite is the Perla.  Iain Stewart turned me on to this one.  My go to is the number 14.  It has the perfect snap, and point and holds the right amount of water for me.  I really don’t need any other size, with the point on this I can get really fine lines.  However, when I was at the Florida Watercolor Society Convention & Trade Show, this last fall, I spotted a travel brush set of Perlas.  

www.KimMinichiello.comIt was a treat yourself moment, I got them because at times I don’t want to drag my whole plein air kit, but just put a few things in my purse, or tote bag. They even came with a handy leather case!  So I have Perlas in more sizes to use, sketching, plein air painting and in the studio!  If you are interested in getting some Escoda Perla Brushes, Dick Blick carries them on line.  Unfortunately, I have never seen them sold in any retail art stores I have been to.  If you have been good this year maybe Santa will put one or two in your stocking! 

KimMinichiello.comStay tuned my next post will be a Favorite Things Bonus, just in time for the holidays! 

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Plein Air Friday: “Siamang Retreat”

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Siamang Retreat, Watercolor, 14″ x 7.5,” Plein Air

I painted again this morning at Disney’s Animal Kingdom,  and got a good block in and will go back next week to work on it again.  Here is the finished painting from my November 25, post.  This is the area that overlooks the Siamang Gibbon exhibit.  I’m very happy with this one.  Since there was a lot of green area in this composition, my goal was to pay attention to color temperature and value to have variety.

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Plein Air Friday: More from Disney’s Animal Kingdom

www.kimminichiello.comI apologize to my loyal blog followers!  I haven’t been very active on here lately.  I have a full plate of teaching workshops,  private students, demos, shows, painting for upcoming shows, and a kitchen remodel that is still in the works!  Therefore, I’ve been limiting my time on social media and writing blog posts.  I’m looking forward to things slowing down over the holidays.  This morning my husband and I went back out to Animal Kingdom to paint.  I had started this one in an earlier session, and finished it today.  We have a little less than a 2 hour window to paint each time.

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I like how Violet is patting my shadow shoulder.

I had the Saimang Monkeys that are native to Southeast Asia keeping me company today. Since the weather has cooled off a bit they are a lot more active.  Violet and Veruka are five-year old twin sisters.

www.kimminichiello.comThis is a work in progress from the start of the morning.

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Veruka is hanging ten.

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I will add a few more finishing touches in the studio but it’s pretty much complete.

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Plein Air Friday, Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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This was the start from last Friday

The group I have been painting with at Epcot on Fridays has now moved to Animal Kingdom.  We are so psyched!  I was on the design team for this park and have loved it from day one.  We traveled to many places in Asia during the concept and design phase and spending time in the Asia area of Animal Kingdom brings back so many great memories.

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This is where I finished today.  I’ll tweak and punch up the values in the studio.

One of my favorite things about plein air painting is the ambiance surrounding you. At the location today, I thought I would share with you some of my surroundings.  Just behind where I was painting was the home of the White Cheeked Gibbons.  One of the females just had a baby, and here is a video of her with her mom and a few of the males.  The female is a brown color and the males are dark.  The baby’s name is Harper named after Harper Lee.

Every morning around 8:00 they start this ritual where they screech, or sing if you will,  to mark their territory.  It is an unbelievable sound and the first time you hear it you think they are electronic sirens or alarms!  Here is a  sound snippet of their songs!  Stick with it they really get going about half way through this one minute audio.

 

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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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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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Happy New Year and a New Painting

www.kimminichiello.com“Parisian Peacock,” Watercolor on Handmade Paper, 22″ x 29″

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and hope it will be filled with peace, joy, prosperity and good health!  I’m an organizer and a planner so I do set goals each year,  I need to be a bit better about referring back to them occasionally, but I also don’t beat myself up about not achieving some of them!  Last year my goals were to improve as an artists by going to a Life Drawing session once a week and doing more plein air sketching and painting from life, which I did throughout the entire year.  I will have to say, it has made a big improvement, in my drawing and observation skills, and I feel my studio work is all the better for it!  I also was determined to read more, not just on a device or computer but actual books, I built that into my daily routine reading with a cup of tea every morning before I get on with the day.  These are things I will definitely carry into this year because they have become  habits in my life that I thoroughly enjoy!

I also have a goal  every year to paint more and try a new challenges within my painting practice, maybe try new subject matters, or try different materials and techniques.  So to start off the year, I’m doing Leslie Saeta’s 30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge this month.  My goal by doing the challenge is to create some smaller pieces I would like to exhibit for a show I’m doing in February, (more on that in a future post,) as well as finish a larger work.  I know going into it based on my painting style, I won’t be able to paint 30 paintings by January 31!  But I will paint as much as I can!  A few other goals are to teach more workshops and create some videos this year, to share studio tips, works in progress and whatever else might be interesting.

The first painting I’m sharing  is my newest larger work, “Parisian Peacock.”  This painting is inspired by a museum visit when I lived in Paris.  This beautiful gate is featured in the Museé des Arts Décoratifs near the Louvre.  I’ve been wanting to add this one to my gate series for a while!  I combined my love of art nouveau, art deco and the Japonisme movement in Paris, when the French loved all things Japanese in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as a backdrop to the gate.  I was also thinking about artist Jesse Arms Botke while I was painting this.  A California Impressionist and early California Art Club member, known for her decorative paintings often featuring birds and the use of gold leaf.  There is an incredible mural done by her that was salvaged from The Oaks Hotel,  and is now featured in the Irvine Museum in Irvine CA.

So here’s to a great 2016, Happy New Year and Happy Painting! I would love to hear what some of your goals are for the year.  Feel free to share by making a comment on this post.

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