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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Work in Progress of Gate of Reverence, Watercolor

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Watercolor on Handmade Paper

I’ve completed the details on the gate’s ironwork.  Next I’ll be adding details on the background, and then finally adjusting values overall until they are where I want them.  I’m happy with the gate so far!  I’ll be taking a break from this one to work on another small painting.  Stay tuned!

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Work in Progress, Gate of Reverence, Watercolor

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Watercolor on Handmade Paper

More work in progress of this painting, Gate of Reverence.  This is still in the block in phase.  I’m not concerned about being super tight and getting things exactly how I want them at this point.  All of that will come later after the initial color block in is complete.

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Work in Progress, Gate of Reverence, Watercolor

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Watercolor on Handmade Paper

More progress on this new painting.  I’m approaching this one similar to the last painting, Paris Passy Gate, and also to how I would do an oil painting.  I’m doing a block in of all the color first, and then will go back and add details and value changes.  This is what I call the teenager phase of the painting!  I hope it grows up and turns out.

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Work in Progress, “Gate of Reverence”, Watercolor

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Work in Progress, Watercolor on Handmade Paper, 15″ x 22″ , 38 cm x 56 cm

Last week I designed and started a new painting also inspired like Paris Passy Gate, by the area where I lived in Paris.  This is the third in a “Gate” series.  I’m very intrigued by the design of gates and metal work, and like focusing on a detail that lends itself to the composition having abstract qualities and the mystery of what lies beyond.

 

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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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New Work Paris Passy Gate

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Paris Passy Gate, Watercolor on Handmade Paper, 22″ x 19″ , 56 cm x 48 cm

I’m happy to post that Paris Passy Gate, c’est fini!  If you have been following my blog or Facebook pages I have been documenting the work in progress on this painting.  The last post I had all the block in completed and needed to analyze the painting for value and add details.  I hope you can see what a difference value makes!  There is a saying among artists and no one I’ve talked to seems to know the origination of the quote.  “Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work.”  This is so true.  You can paint something in a completely different color scheme than what the original subject is, and it will work if the values are correct.

My goal for this painting was to experiment with getting a lot of texture from the pigments and work with a grayed palette.  I’m very happy with the outcome.  I’m always nostalgic for Paris especially in the spring time, and wanted to capture a place in the area where I lived which is also down the street from the apartment of a very dear friend I met while living there.  When we met she was 90 years old but seemed like she was in her 70’s.  We met by chance in a cafe and she started speaking with me in English because she had been married to an American man whom she met in Paris on V-day after WW II.  From the day we met we got together almost every week for lunch and we are still friends and speak on the phone often.  I thought of our special friendship a lot while working on this painting.

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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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Work in Progress: Paris Passy Gate Now the Magic Happens

www.kimminichiello.comWork in Progress, Paris Passy Gate Watercolor

The block in for this painting Paris Passy Gate is complete and now I’ll move onto the next phase, pushing and pulling value and adding the details.  I’m very happy with the initial washes and the texture I was after to convey the patina on this bronze gate.  But over all the values are pretty mid-tone.  I want to darken areas and lighten areas.  That is what I mean by push and pull.  I will pull lights out and forward and push darks back.  The details I’ll add will be more emphasis on shadows and elements of the design that come after an initial wash.  I really love this part of painting, it’s when the magic happens and it starts to come to life!

 

 

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Work in Progress: Paris Passy Gate

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Work in Progress, Paris Passy Gate, Watercolor

I am always fascinated with details, behind the scenes and the logistics of doing certain things.  I think that’s one of the reasons why I became a designer.  In the past I have shown some work in progress photos of a painting after I had completed it.  This time, I thought I would share them while I was actually doing it!  It’s great for me to actually see the progression too.  When you see the image on the computer monitor, it can be more obvious what tweaks or modifications need to happen!  I hope those that are following my blog are enjoying this step by step process.

This phase of the painting I call the “block in” phase.  I have not gone over very much of this a second time to make adjustments.  Watercolor artists paint with this medium in so many different ways, wet on dry paper, wet on moist paper, wet on wet paper, glazing, etc.  That’s what makes it so exciting to work with.

I like to try to get everything the way I want it the first time, however nine times out of ten that never happens!  Therefore when everything is blocked in, I go on to the next phase. That’s when all the magic happens.   Stay tuned!

If you enjoy following my works in progress, you might consider liking my Facebook page or sending me a friend request.  I tend to do a lot more posting as things happen there.

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