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

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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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John Singer Sargent Watercolors at the Museum of Fine Art, Boston

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From 1902 to 1911 John Singer Sargent painted a significant collection of watercolor paintings traveling to varied destinations with friends and family painting plein air.   He was getting tired of the rigors of his large commissioned portrait work and he saw these travels as a chance to get away and paint purely for himself and for the enjoyment of painting. He did paint oils on these journeys, however, his medium of choice was watercolor. He never intended to sell or exhibit these works.  However, Edward Darley Boit, kept convincing him otherwise, he finally relented under the condition that they not be sold piece meal and he would prefer that the whole collection be purchased by an Eastern Museum or collector.  Boit and Sargent had a long friendship and it is Sargent’s portrait of his daughters, The Daughters of Edward Darly Boit, at the MFA Boston, that was one of his major triumphs.  Boit, an accomplished watercolorist as well, had the idea for a combined showing of both of their works, and in 1909 the show opened at the Knoedler & Company Gallery in New York.

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Villa di Marlia, Lucca: A Fountain

The Brooklyn Museum wasted no time to purchase the entire collection from the exhibit. The Boston Museum of Fine Art was a day late and a dollar short when they realized all the paintings had been purchased by Brooklyn.  They put dibs on all of the paintings he would create three years after for the second exhibition site unseen.  Therefore, these two institutions own the largest collection of his watercolor works and they organized an exhibition that started at the Brooklyn Museum last summer and is currently in Boston until January 20, 2014.

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A Tramp

Living and traveling in Europe for a number of years, I have had the fortunate opportunity to see some amazing painting exhibitions.  This one ranks up there as one of the best.  The show was extremely well curated with works grouped by the different regions where he traveled and painted, Venice, the Middle East, the Swiss Alps, Italy, Portugal and Greece, with a combination of landscapes and intimate portraits of friends, family and people of these regions. Landscapes tended to be more intimate and focused on less traditional view points and more on details instead of broad sweeping vistas.

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Simplon Pass: Crags

He had complete command of this medium but one gets the sense that he his painting in watercolor like one would in oils with broad sweeping brush stokes, in a loose quick style, still preserving the whites of the paper for highlights, or using wax as one would masking fluid to preserve areas of lighter color before laying down darker washes. He also utilized quite al lot of gauche or body color mixing it with the transparent watercolor, and even laying it on in a think impasto style for highlights and texture. I also love the fact that most all of the works have visible pencil lines that you could study and see his drawing underneath and sometimes on top of the paint. His draftsmanship was more evident in the architectural works of Venice.

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White Ships

I saw the exhibit twice on two consecutive days. The first day taking it all in, studying the paintings up close to analyze his various techniques. The second day I studied them more at a distance and was amazed at the glow, luminosity, how truly Impressionistic they were with his loose washes and painterly style.

Kim Minichiello

The Cashmere Shawl 

Robert Genn, of the Painters Keys, once wrote a letter about the Stendahl Syndrome.  Link to his article here.  It is the condition of being extremely overwhelmed by the beauty of art or nature.  I can honestly say I felt it at this exhibition.  I had a hard time walking out the exit, and feel honored and grateful to have experienced this master’s work in watercolor.

 

P.S. On a sad note… Robert Genn who is such an inspiration to many artists with his Twice Weekly Letters, and founder of the Painter’s Keys web site.  Sent a letter out last week titled “The Bomb.”  He revealed he has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Even revealing this news, he is uplifting and inspirational.  My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

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Watercolor Sketching at the Musee Zadkine, Paris

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper in the Zadkine Garden

One thing about living in Paris, versus just visiting, is you have so much time to explore the city and discover little hidden gems, that you would probably never take the time to see if you were on vacation.  One of those is the Musee Zadkine in the 6th arrondissement.  This is another location a few of us from the sketch group visited one fall day.

M. Zadkine Sketch

Quick Pen and Ink Sketches of Zadkine Sulptures

It is dedicated to the work of Russian sculpture Ossip Zadkine.  It was his former home and studio and was willed to the city of Paris by his wife. It now has over 300 sculptures and various other works and a number of contemporary art exhibits each year.

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Watercolor Plein Air Painting in Mount Dora, Florida

www.kimminichiello.comLast weekend my husband and I made a date to go plein air painting.  It’s nice to have a spouse who is also an artist! 🙂  We went to a quant little town near us called Mount Dora.  It was a popular winter retreat in the late 1800’s.  Since it’s on a beautiful lake, people would visit for hunting, fishing, and boating.  When the train depot was built in the early 1900’s, it became even more popular.  Today, it is a quaint little town, with lots of antique shops, restaurants, a wonderful art center and a few galleries and artist studios.

www.kimminichiello.comInstead of painting in my sketch book, I decided to break out the easel and go for a larger painting.  We painted for a little over 2 hours, and had to call it quits because it was just getting too hot!  It still hasn’t really cooled off here yet!   I will tweak this one a bit in the studio, finishing the train car and adjusting values  before I call it finished.

 

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Watercolor Sketching at the Musee Bourdelle, Paris

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

It’s finally happened!  There is a slight crispness in the air.  The temperature has been dropping into the 60’s at night. Instead of highs in the 90’s, today it will be in the 80’s!

Here is another sketch from a fall sketch outing to the Musee Bourdelle.  This charming museum, tucked away in the 15th arrondissement of Paris, was the home and studio of sculpture Antoine Bourdelle.  It gives you the sense of what an artist’s atelier actually looked and felt like in the late 19th century.  In the late 1920’s he started to turn his studio into and actual museum and today the museum houses more than 500 of works of sculpture, paintings, and pastels.

Bourdelle was one of the pioneers of 20th century monumental sculpture and was commissioned for works worldwide, including the United States; Washington D.C., Honolulu, Texas, Minnesota, California and Ohio.  In 1893 he joined  August Rodin as an assistant and became a popular teacher.

This sketch done sitting in the garden, is the second of the day, and is quicker and looser and than the first one I did.  When we arrived to tour the museum we had a beautiful, cool, sunny fall day but a few hours later while sketching in the garden the typical gray skies of Paris took over.  C’est la vie.

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Watercolor Sketch: Paris, Luxembourg Gardens

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

Even though the weather really isn’t feeling quite fall like yet here in Florida,  I’m starting to get into an autumnal spirit.  I’ve decorated for Halloween and baked a few batches of muffins the last couple of weeks.

I thought I would post today a watercolor sketch I did while living in Paris.  This one was done one October morning of the small cafe in the Luxembourg Gardens.  I had gone out with a sketching group and was bundled up in a coat, hat and scarf it was so cold.  If I had been on my own, I may not have persisted with this one!   It was nice to  warm up with a nice coffee in the cafe across the street after painting, and admire each other’s sketches.  I nice way to spend a beautiful, but cold fall day!

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