Pak Tai Guardian Lion Sketch & Painting


 Pak Tai Guradian Lion, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 30″ x 20.5″, Inspired by my sketch and my last visit.

As I mentioned in my blog before, one of my favorite places to visit and sketch is the Pak Tai Temple in the Wan Chai area of Hong Kong.  A few of my smaller sketches have inspired larger paintings.  This pencil sketch is one of them.  The day I did this one was particularly memorable for me.  Our time in Hong Kong was winding down and I knew I would be leaving soon.  This visit, I knew would be my last while we were living there.  I did a pencil sketch of this guardian lion statue and before I could apply any  watercolor the keeper of the temple came up to me and we started chatting.

Kim Minichiello

Sketch done at the Pak Tai Temple

We talked for over an hour about a variety of things.  He was kind enough to write the name of the temple in modern and ancient script in my sketch book, next to the sketch plus a faint impression of the actual temple chop.

Kim Minichiello

Me & Sammy Lo, Pak Tai Temple, Wan Chai, Hong Kong

While I painted the larger painting of this statue it invoked so many wonderful and memorable memories of my visits there.

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Artists on Fire Exhibition, 127 SoBo, Winter Garden Florida

www.kimminichiello.comChinese Puppets are Waiting in the Wings, Watercolor on Archival Paper

I am very excited that my local community of Winter Garden Florida is establishing an art  association in the old fire station in historic downtown Winter Garden.  This painting, Waiting in the Wings, will be on exhibit and for sale in their inaugural exhibition, “Artists on Fire,”  which will run from November 7-November 30.  Opening reception will be Thursday, November 7, tonight,  from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The address is 127 South Boyd, or now referred to as 127 SoBo. The sale of all the art will go toward, this wonderful new, non- profit art organization that is going to be such an asset to local artists and the community!    Hope to see you there!!

This is huge for artists on the west side of Orlando.  Most art centers, life drawing opportunities, classes, galleries, and art happenings are  downtown or on the east side of town.   I hope to do workshops, participate in shows,  and volunteer for a wide variety of art events.   If you are a local artist please support this wonderful new venture in downtown Winter Garden!

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Chinese Puppets were Waiting in the Wings

 Waiting in the Wings, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 17″ x 13″ , 43 cm x 33 cm

This painting Waiting in the Wings was inspired by my jaunts to Cat Street Market off of Hollywood Road, near Man Mo Temple in Hong Kong.  A few of the vendors there sell Chinese Opera marionette puppets. Like the embroidered slippers, I was immediately attracted to them for the variety of color, pattern and personality!

I was happy with this painting when I did it.  After recently getting it out and living with it a while again.  I decided to do some tweaking.  I felt the background was too much the same value as the rest of the painting and wanted to make the puppets stand out more.  I also played around with more value changes on the puppets themselves as well as  some lost and found edges.  With a stencil I created a slight vertical striation very subtly in the background to represent the puppet strings without being to literal.


www.kimminichielloWaiting in the Wings before tweaking

 I’m happy with the tweaks.  A painting I thought was finished has a new lease on life!  The title has become even more appropriate. 🙂

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Watercolor Sketch: Sai Kung, Hong Kong New Territories


Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

Some watercolor sketches, even though they are sketches I spend a bit more time on.  Others when you don’t have the time, are what I call quick and dirty!  Not that this sketch is dirty, I guess it’s just one, of many, of those expressions from my midwestern upbringing.

This one was done on a sketch outing with my friend Gladys.  We drove up to Sai Kung which is a peninsula surrounded by the South China Sea  north of Hong Kong Island in the New Territories.  We had painted at another location and then drove over to the Hong Kong Diving Club and decided to paint there.  This one was done in 15-20 minutes.  These quickies are good to do just to get an essence of the place without focusing too much on the details.

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Watercolor Sketch, Peel Street Lanterns, Hong Kong

Kim MinichielloWatercolor on Handmade Paper

This sketch I did sitting on my stool across the street from a lantern and funerary shop on Peel Street in Hong Kong. Looking at this sketch takes me right back there!  It was one of those days that was so full of sensory overload:  shoppers bustling up and down the street, smells of food being prepared from the neighboring dai pai dongs, and being serenaded by Chinese opera music from the shop I was sitting in front of.  Some artists have a problem painting with so much activity.  It doesn’t really bother me. I enjoyed the atmosphere and at the same time I can focus and tune it out. The next week I went into the shop to buy something and the shopkeeper recognized me and wanted to to see the painting!

This sketch has inspired a larger painting I am currently designing.  It has been on and off the drawing board with all of the goings on this summer.  When things quite down the end of the month, I will get back to it!!  I think it’s gong to be fun to paint. I can’t wait!


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Watercolor Sketch: God of Longevity Shou Star


Watercolor on Handmade Paper

There are three deities in the Taoist philosophy that represent good fortune.  The personified images of these three are Fu star, Lu star and Shou star.  They are referred to as stars because of their ties with chinese astrology.  You will see statues of these three stars in almost every temple in Hong Kong and in many homes, restaurants and shops.

Shou star or I believe, Sao, in Cantonese is the God of Longevity.  He has a high domed forehead, carries a staff in his right hand and holds a peach in his left, which represents immortality.

This watercolor sketch is from a Sao statue on a wall at Hung Shing Temple that  I would pass on my way to my framers on Queens Road East, in Wan Chai. This is just a small street side temple that used to face the water front until Hong Kong expanded outward!   There seemed to be a revolving display of deities on this wall, because every time I passed by there was something new to see.  I enjoyed taking photos of whatever happened to be there.  It would have been impossible to sketch at this location as busy as Queens Road is and the temples proximity to the street, so I did this one in the studio because I wanted a memory of this temple in my sketchbook.  I’m planning on a series of temple paintings featuring the other stars!  Stay tuned.

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Watercolor Sketch: Aberdeen Floating Village, Jumbo Restaurant & Sampans

 Watercolor on Handmade Paper

My watercolor sketch travelogue continues in Hong Kong with one from a floating platform next to the Jumbo restaurant in the Aberdeen Harbor.  I was very fortunate to make friends with a few artists while living there.  My friend Gladys and I would try to go out once a week to sketch.  The day we scheduled to go was a gloomy day in December but we went for it anyway.  We headed down to the Aberdeen marina and took a sampan over to the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.

Kim Minichiello

Our Sampan Driver

This was an experience in itself just crossing the harbor.  Like many things in Hong Kong there are a number of ways to go about doing something.  Lining the harbor are private sampans for which we had many offers of taking us over for 50 -100 hundred Hong Kong dollars, or as Gladys would say, honkies.  She is a local. :-).   This equates to about $6-$12 US dollars. These are nice if you want a 30 minute tour of the harbor, but we just wanted a one way jaunt to the Jumbo.   If you are a tourist, you may think this is the only way to go.  However, I had the advantage of being with Gladys, who knew a way around this!  If you know where to look there is a public sampan you can take to the other side for around .25 cents US!  What was even more amazing you can scan your Octopus Card, Hong Kong’s, public transportation card, for the fare.  A mix of modern technology with the old world.

Kim Minichiello

Boat dwellings in Aberdeen Harbor

The Aberdeen Harbor and the Aberdeen Floating Village has been and still is home to Hong Kong’s boat dwellers, descendants of which were said to have arrived in Hong Kong around the 7th-9th century.  If you would like to immerse yourself in a traditional Hong Kong experience this is a great place to visit.

Kim Minichiello

Jumbo Floating Restaurant

Another popular attraction which was our destination was the Jumbo Floating Restaurant.  Established in 1976, it is one of the renowned tourist attractions in Hong Kong.  In the  lobby is a photo gallery of the who’s who of the many people who have visited over the years:  Queen Elizabeth II, Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, and William Holden during the filming of “Love Is  a Many- Splendored Thing,”  and the “World of Suzie Wong,” to name a few.

Kim Minichiello

Sightseeing Sampan

Gladys and I settled our selves on a service platform behind the restaurant to paint boats in the harbor.  It was actually great to sketch on a grayer day. A great exercise in mixing grayed color.   It started to lightly drizzle so we cut the day short and headed over to the Aberdeen Marina Club, in a sampan of course,  for some hot Jasmine tea, and an incredible Dim Sum lunch!  A perfect sketch day with a great friend!

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Watercolor Sketch: The Bank of China Building in Hong Kong & Feng Shui

Watercolor Sketch on Hand Made Paper

In Hong Kong, I loved just up the hill from the Hong Kong Zoological Gardens and Botanical gardens.  Both just a 5-10 minute walk from my apartment building.    Living in one of the most populated and bustling cities on earth, I was amazed at how many opportunities there were to connect with and be in natural environments.  I walked through and enjoyed these gardens often, as did many locals and expats. I had my watercolor kit with me one day and decided to do a sketch of the Bank of China building.  One, because it was designed by architect I.M. Pei who also did the glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris and I like his work. Two, because it is such an iconic building in the city.

Bank of China building

The Bank of China Building designed by I.M. Pei, image via wikipedia

There was some controversy surrounding this building, at the time it was built.  It is the only major building in the city to have bypassed the normal practice in Hong Kong of consulting with feng shui masters on it’s design prior to construction.  According to feng shui principles it’s triangles, sharp angular features, and many “x” shapes have negative symbolism.

HSBC Building

The HSBC building designed by Norman Foster, image via Wikimedia Commons

When another iconic building in the Hong Kong landscape was built, the HSBC bank building, designed by famed British architect Norman Foster, metal rods were installed on the top pointing directly at the Bank of China building to protect it, by deflecting the negative energy right back to Bank of China.  Take that Bank of China!  Hmmm, that sounds like a good idea.  I’d like to have something like that to deflect negative energy.


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Watercolor Sketch Wong Tai Sin Temple, Hong Kong

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

This watercolor sketch is of one of the roof ornaments at the Wong Tai Sin Temple in Hong Kong.  Wong Tai Sin is one the largest and most famous  temples in Hong Kong. A Taoist temple named after Wong Chuping, it  is known for it’s fortune telling.  Supposedly the fortune sticks here are very accurate.  Worshippers kneel before the altar shaking a bamboo container holding slender sticks of wood, similar to those coffee stirring sticks at Starbucks only a bit bigger. There can be as many as 50 or more worshippers doing this at once and there can be quite a  commotion from all the shaking and chanting. When one falls out, the stick is exchanged for a piece of paper by the sooth sayer at the temple, bearing the same number as the stick.  The sooth sayer then interprets the fortune for the worshiper.  Some temples like this one have many stalls, with fortune tellers or sooth sayers which are open for consultation for anyone seeking guidance.

 Roof Detail at Wong Tai Sin

www.kimminichello.comWorshippers at Wong Tai Sin

www.kimminichiello.comWong Tai Sin’s Chinese Temple Architecture

The temple has extensive gardens in the back including a replica of the Nine Dragons Wall from the Forbidden City in Beijing.  What is really odd is the juxtaposition of the temple and gardens surrounded by the towering Hong Kong apartment buildings.

www.kimminichiello.comDetail of Apartment Buildings Surrounding Wong Tai Sin


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Watercolor Sketch and Painting, Chinese Shoes

Kim Minichiello

Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

There is a street near the Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road in Hong Kong called Cat Street.  Although it’s touted as a street to find antiques, and some of the actual shops do sell antiques.  The stalls along the street are mostly things made for tourists that appear to be antiques.  That being said it is still fun to wander, and look and shop because there is a lot of cool stuff there.  But remember, if you do buy anything bargaining for the best price, or what you are willing to pay is imperative!  Sometimes what you are willing to pay is still a big profit for the sellers!  But, you walk away happy with your treasure and the seller is happy they made a sale.

One seller has a bunch of embroidered shoes.  Since I love textiles and  the beautiful colors of these shoes,  I went one day to do a plein air sketch of some of them lying in a basket.  As I was doing the sketch I knew I wanted to develop this idea further.  I took photos and used them, and my sketch as reference for a larger painting.

Kim MinichielloChinese Shoes, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 15″ x 11″, 38 cm x 28 cm

This is the larger painting, Chinese Shoes,  that was exhibited in a summer exhibition at Brushstrokes Gallery, in Hong Kong from an invitation from artist, and my good friend, Isabelle Lim.


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