Watercolor Sketch From Provence


Abbey Notre Dame Senanque coprtWatercolor Sketch, Abbey Notre-Dame de Sénanque, near Gordes, France in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook, 9″ x 12″

Well I said I was back but I haven’t posted since July 8!  It’s been a bit crazy in the studio, in a good way!  I got a call to do a Disney illustration protect that has kept me busy the last few weeks.  It was a blast to do and I will share when the illustrations have been published.  This little project couldn’t have been more up my alley.  More details to follow.

I thought I would share a watercolor sketch I did while in Provence.  I tried a new sketchbook on the recommendation of Iain Stewart from his workshop I took last spring.  It’s a Stillman & Birn Alpha Series.  The size I got is a 9″ x 12″.  This is the first sketch I did in it and my first reaction was what the #$*%! I’m so used to painting on cold press rough or handmade Twinrocker paper, at first I felt really out of my comfort zone. This paper is a lot smoother.  However, as I progressed I started loving the looseness of the sketches and how the washes dried on this paper!  I’m a convert, not that I will give up on my other books and the variety of papers that are in those.  I just have a bigger repertoire now!

This is Abbey Notre-Dame de Sénanque, a 12th century abbey in a small valley near Gordes, France.

I had to re-read this book when I returned home to keep Provence more alive in my head and re-live our trip a bit.

[amazon asin=0679731148&template=iframe image]

www.kimminichiello.comLimited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.

Shipping Large Artwork Follow- Up

Lion SLion Dance, Watercolor, 43″ x 43,” getting ready to be shipped to the Southern Watercolor Society Exhibition at the Customs House Museum in Clarksville, TN May 8-July 5

Since I had to ship a very large painting to the Southern Watercolor Society show recently I thought I would do a follow-up post on my shipping artwork series.  Artist Margret Mcdermott was kind to make some comments recently on my post “Shipping Artwork FedEx Ground vs. UPS:  What I’ve learned,”  with some of her recent experiences.  Since I have been shipping artwork to shows for about three years now, the consensus among artists is that although we go to great lengths to try to do our research and protect our art as much as we can in the shipping process.  It is all essentially a crap shoot if we were ever to file a claim.  The kicker will be what we have determined the “declared value” to be.  Shipping companies won’t just take our word for it.  There attitude is, we are the artist, we could put any price on it we want!  I have been told by one shipping company they would take the word of an appraiser though. I don’t know of anyone that sends painting to shows that hires an appraiser to appraise their paintings!  I have heard of artists having to jump through hoops in the process of filing a claim for damages and the best we can hope for is they would accept documentation of your sales or sales records from your galleries as proof of the value of your work.

The best strategy is to pack your work as best as possible and hope for the best.  If anyone out there has filed a claim for damaged artwork. Please share your experience here in the comments section!

But I have digressed, I wanted to write a little bit about shipping a large painting!  In my article, Shipping Large Paintings: What I’ve Learned, I went into detail about how to calculate whether your box is oversized.  Instead of turning my large Air Float box into a workbench, which I had threatened to do, I did use it again to ship my painting to the Southern Watercolor Society Exhibition. I bit the bullet and just got over the fact that my painting is big and yes I was going to have to pay extra to get it there.   This time the box was sent using FedEx vs. UPS.  I just wanted to share that the charge for the box being oversized  was less with FedEx than the UPS oversize charge the first time I used the box.

Whenever I send a painting to a show I always check the prices with FedEx and UPS in the estimate calculator, which is so easy to do if you have an account you can save all the address information so you only have to enter it once. If you are shipping work to shows I highly advise setting up an account with both companies!  It’s free, you can schedule pick ups and you don’t always have to rely on the UPS store.    In this case with my oversize box it was more economical for me to go FedEx.  Always try your own dimensions with both to see what works best for you!  Please feel free to share in the comments any knowledge  you have had with shipping so that others can learn and benefit from our experiences!

#shippingoversizedart #shippingart

Limited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.



The Georgia Watercolor Society National Exhibition and Iain Stewart’s Workshop

www.kimminichiello.comYours Truly with Honorable Mention Award for Mayan Gate, Watercolor

I thought I would to a post following up on my trip to Atlanta.  I was there the beginning of the month to attend the Georgia Watercolor Society’s National Juried Exhibition Reception and to take a workshop with the juror, Iain Stewart.  The week was absolutely fantastic in so many ways.  First, I want to thank the Georgia Watercolor Society and all the volunteers and Iian, the show was so beautiful and well-balanced with a range of subject matter.  I was honored to be included with such a talented  group of artists. GWS is a top-notch organization between the members, the  exhibition, the workshop and the folks at the Ogelthorpe Museum of Art, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.  The workshop was held where the show was so it was a treat to be surrounded by it and see all of the work the whole week!www.kimminichiello.com

The Ogelthorpe University Museum of Artwww.kimminichiello.comThe Gallery and Workshop Venue

One of the major high lights attending the shows is getting to meet the other artists.  The group I had the pleasure of being with all week during the workshop was so nice, gracious and a hoot!  We had a ball.  The other was receiving an Honorable Mention award!  To be singled out from a few hundred submissions to be in the show and then from around 90 works in the show from artists all over the United States, to receive an award was such an honor.  If you are interested in seeing the images from the show you can click here.  Another highlight was getting signature status with this great group, after having been in their national exhibition three times.


Iain Stewart with Demo Painting Done During the GWS Reception and Award Ceremony

Last but not least, was getting to spend 5 days painting with Iain Stewart.  I wanted to take a workshop with Iain because I felt he was somewhat if a kindred spirit by doing watercolor sketchbooks especially during travels.  I have been doing the same since 2005 and it is purely the reason I am now painting in watercolor.  I fell in love with the media doing sketches while traveling and living in Hong Kong and Paris.  The other reason I was excited to take the workshops is because I have recently been doing more plein air painting, as a seeing and drawing practice to improve my studio work,  and for my own enjoyment.  My husband also plein air paints and it is something we really enjoy doing together.  I was struggling with not simplifying what was in front of me enough and now with Iain’s help, I feel I have a much better handle on it.


Iian Demonstrating a Painting of Anstruther Scotland

I thought I would share a few of my observations from the workshop in case there are others who are interested in learning from Iain.  He also has a new series of DVD’s that were recently released, in case a workshop is to cost prohibitive.  However, I’m not sure Iain’s sense of humor will shine through on the DVD’s!  Yes, he is a hoot, and you will laugh and have a great time.  If you like taking workshops where the instructor is all business, doesn’t crack jokes and have fun, then this one may not be for you.

Whether you are, or are not a landscape painter you will learn.  If you are a landscape painter, after painting with Iian you will have many take-aways you can apply to your own work and style.  If you are not a landscape painter primarily, I feel the biggest takeaways will be to learn how to analyze your subject matter, edit and add to if needed to arrive at the best composition.  You will draw before you paint, using Iain’s photo reference as a guide.    If you are a watercolor artist  that only traces your images for your work and are lacking in drawing skills, you may feel a bit intimated.  On the other hand, more of a reason for you to take the workshop.  For a city scene, he does go over perspective.


My Painting of Vanasque, Provence, France Done During the Workshop


My Painting of Anstruther Scotland Done During the Workshop

Iain’s method is to finish a painting with 3-4 passes starting top to bottom with washes.  The first wash being the lightest, the following washes gradually getting darker in value, saving the lights from the first wash, and the last wash adds the darkest values and the details.  In my own plein air practice I’m eager to try this method and paint through my subject matter more, knowing the areas from the fist washes will get covered up with darker ones.  This will avoid painting “pieces”  and seeing the scene and painting it as a whole.

Iain’s a great guy and a very talented artist!  If he is coming to an area near you I would highly recommend taking his workshop!   You will have a great time and there are moments you just may laugh your **s off, but you will still learn a whole ***l of a lot!

#GeorgiaWatercolorSociety #IainStewart #IainStewartWorkshop #GWSNationalExhibition

www.kim minichiello.comLimited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.


California Art Club Gold Medal Exhibition, Hurry Only 2 Days Left

www.kimminichiello.comI’m finally home after an extended trip to Los Angeles, Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia.  I have lots to blog about!  I thought I would mention a few exhibitions I attended and will talk about the ones that are closing first in case you live in the area and haven’t seen them yet, you should!

While in LA, my husband and I had the pleasure of seeing  the Annual Gold Medal Exhibition of the California Art Club at the Fishers Museum of Art on the USC campus.  The show closes on April 19 so only 2 more days left!   Founded in 1909 by some of the classic California painters such as William Wendt, Franz Bischoff, and Hanson Puthuff, the California Art Club is one of the oldest and most prestigious art societies in the United States.

The Gold Medal show is juried from its roster of “Artist Members,” who have been juried to reach that particular status within the organization.  Needles to say, the Gold Medal show is the piece de résistance show of the year.

IMG_5383-576x1024I felt every painting in the show deserved to be there.  Did I like every painting in the show?  Not, necessarily like anything I have my tastes and preferences, however from a quality and execution standpoint they are all good.

www.kimminichiello.comIf you enter shows, which I do, it is always a good idea to see these juried shows in person.  You just cant get the full effect of the work from a show catalogue or an image on the monitor.  If I had just looked at the catalogue there are a few pieces I may have just glanced at, but in person they were worth an extended look.

www.kimminichiello.comThe other takeaway  I gleaned form the show is framing is important!!! There were some killer high quality frames here that very effectively enhanced the paintings.  If you are ever juried into this show, do not skimp on your framing or your painting may reside on the lower end of the totem pole compared to the others.

If you miss the show this year, there is always next year, and in the following years if you are inclined to be a part of this great organization,  something to aspire to.

The show catalogue can be purchased from the California Art Club web site.

#californiaartclub #goldmedalexhibition

Limited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.www.kimminichiello.com

Books That Inspire: Alla Prima by Richard Schmid

[amazon text=Amazon&template=my favourites&asin=0966211715 ][amazon text=Amazon&template=my favourites&asin=http://www.amazon.com/Alla-Prima-Everything-About-Painting/dp/0966211715/ref=sr_1_10?s=books%26ie=UTF8%26qid=1429626772%26sr=1-10%26keywords=richard+schmid]Alla PrimaI’ve been sticking with my new year’s goal to spend some time reading art books every morning.  So far I have read quite a few so I thought I would start sharing and recommending a few.  One book that most artists have on their shelf is Richard Schmid’s Alla Prima: Everything I Know About Painting.  I have had this one for while but had never read it cover to cover until recently.  There is an expanded edition of this book out now, Alla Prima II, which I hear is full of a lot of new material, but this post is about the older one.

Many watercolor artists may not have this book since Richard is primarily a very well-known oil painter, but honestly if you are a painter no matter what media, you will get  a lot out of this book.  It’s not a how to book per say  even though there are plenty of color plates and some work in progress photos.  However, it’s a very detailed description of how Richard paints and what he thinks about during his painting process.  All things every artist should consider to achieve their best work.  An extra added bonus is, his wit and charm comes through on the pages!

Chapters are titled:  Good Ideas and Free Advice, Direct Painting, Starting, Drawing, Values, Edges, Color and Light, Composition, Technique and The Magic.  There is so much information here it will be hard to grasp on the first read.  This will be one you will want to refer to and read again.

Richard Schmid Color ChartOne of the biggest  take away exercises from the book are his color charts.  Many artists have done them and given their thoughts.  Just Google “Richard Schmid Color Charts,” and you will get a few hits.  He has taken every color in his palette and mixed it with every other color in the palette and charted it out.  Once you compete this exercise you will know your palette  inside and out and you will  have to use as reference the color families and harmonies for each color.  Richard’s teacher and mentor Bill Mosby made him do the color charts early in his career and he says, “ The charts took only two weeks to complete and when I finished I knew more about my paint a than I had ever thought possible. It was an astonishing- imagine being taken into the kitchen of a great chef and shown everything he could do with flavors-that was what it was like for me!”

I have seen him in a video show his charts done on what appears to be foam core, and he describes how he has taken them out plein air painting.  Holding them up to the scene he is about to paint, he can identify which color family fits the scene and know exactly which colors to use and mix on his palette.

The exercise does seem tedious and may take a while to do. However,  you would really learn your palette and not only what colors you will get when all of them are mixed with each other but what they will do when mixed with white as well if you are an oil or acrylic painter.

If you have a set palette be it watercolor, oil or acrylic you could do the exercise to make your own chart of the colors you typically use and you wouldn’t have to follow Richard’s exact palette. I’m very intrigued by this and hope to do it in the future.  This would be a great exercise to do if you feel you were experiencing artist’s block.  I can’t help but think mixing all that juicy color wouldn’t get one inspired to paint!

#richardschmid #allaprima

www.kimminichiello.comLimited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.

Books About and by Mary Whyte


One of my goals for the new year was to get back to reading more books. I have found myself the past year  being more self absorbed with reading on the computer, iPad, and checking Facebook which has taken away too much  time I would normally spend reading books from my library, specifically my art books.   How did I let that happen?

Starting with the new year I have been spending a little time in the morning and during breakfast reading my art books.  Since I received the lovely book, More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte, by Martha R. Severens, for Christmas. I started there.  After, I felt compelled to read again Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor by Mary Whyte.  I have skimmed and read this one several times since it is chock full of so much good information.

www.kimminichiello.comI don’t know of anyone who paints in watercolor and is familiar with Mary Whyte who doesn’t admire her work.  More Than a Likeness is a beautiful coffee table book that features many of Mary’s paintings from her early years, commissions, oils and many of the paintings one might be most familiar with from her “Working South” series and the paintings of life on St. Johns Island.  This is not a technique book but a lovely narrative of how Mary became the artist she is today.  It reads in chronological order from her early years as a student, how she started her art career,  to how she was inspired to paint the Gullah women on St. Johns Island, South Carolina,  to the years she spent traveling the United States to capture people that are working in dying industries in the South.



Demo Page from Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor

 Written by Martha Severens, an art historian who served as the curator of the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina, the book captures the essence of who Mary is as a person and how her experiences have influenced her work.

Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor, is a more of a technique book written by Mary.  Even if you don’t paint figures or portraits, I highly recommend this book.  What you would learn you could apply to anything you would paint in watercolor.  The chapters are broken down to:

  • Getting Started
  • Materials & Tools
  • Techniques
  • Drawing
  • Values
  • Edges
  • Color & Light
  • Backgrounds
  • Life as an Artist

I have put this book on my recommend reading list for my workshop students.  Her chapters on design and composition, value, edges, color and background are important aspects to the whole painting process  that many fail to consider when they start out painting regardless of the medium one would work with.  Especially if you paint in watercolor, I feel you would find both of these wonderful books inspiring!


Limited Edition Giclée Prints & Note Cards of my work available here.

Plein Air Painting at Epcot, Morocco

www.kimminichiello.comThere is a group of artists that goes out every Friday to paint at Epcot and I’m joining them to make it a “painting practice” similar to a yoga practice.  Just like yoga, it clears the mind and you feel great after you do it! I’m really enjoying it because it reminds me of watercolor sketching on my travels, and since we are painting the countries in World Showcase at Epcot, it especially feels that way!   This was my third time and already I can feel an improvement in drawing, painting and time management.

(I have posted a number or my watercolor travel sketches you can see by clicking here.  You can scroll through and look at a number of older posts.)

These sessions I’m painting a bit more in detail than what I normally do in my watercolor sketch book but I’m trying to stay loose and spontaneous as I do while sketching.  It’s hard not to get too caught  up in the details.

Kim Minichiello

Work in Progress

I feel the key has been for me to take time with the drawing, site measuring and getting the proportions accurate.  There is nothing more frustrating than to put a really loose drawing down, start to paint then realizing there is something way off, which is what happened to me a few weeks ago.  I spent about an hour on this drawing, block in.  Knowing I was going to paint, I wasn’t too detailed with the pencil work. I’m drawing with a mechanical pencil and painting on a  9 x 12 Arches Watercolor Block.

The last couple of times I stayed for two hours, this time three.  One hour dedicated to drawing and two for painting.  Having more time for the painting allowed me to get closer to a finished painting, but I still feel I have a few areas and values I would like to tweak.

www.kimminichiello.comI’m also being more conscious of composition and editing out details, not wanting to paint an area just because it’s there if I feel it won’t work in the painting.  You can see from the view that I edited out the white building on the left.  I didn’t want a big white block on one side of the painting.

If you paint plein air or sketch in watercolor, I wold love for you to make comments and share any tips!

Shipping Artwork FedEx


Odd Man Out, Watercolor, 20.5″ x 40″, 52cm x 101.5cm, currently at the Kansas Watercolor Society National Exhibition, Wichita Center for the Arts.

I recently shipped this painting to Wichita and have shipped several paintings with FedEx since I last posted several articles on shipping artwork: Shipping Artwork FedEx Ground vs. UPS, Declared Value for Shipping Artwork: What Does This Mean & What Do I Need to Know?, and Shipping Large Paintings: What I’ve Learned.

I wanted to add another tip that has seemed to work for me so far with the issue of the declared value and return labels.  All the shows I have been in require that you include a return shipping label with your artwork so that it can be sent back to you if it does not sell.  If you ship FedEx Ground service and you select the “return label” option to create the return label.  FedEx will only let you put a declared value of $1000 on the return.  Therefore, what do you do if your painting is worth more than $1000?  Here is how I have gotten around this issue, which has worked so far.

Do not choose the “return label” option, but save all of your data in the address book for the shipment going to the gallery or show, and then create a new label reversing the addresses.  FedEx will make you choose a shipping date for the return, which will usually always be sooner than the show will be over.  I choose the last date possible.  The reality is the return won’t go into the system until the label is scanned by the driver at pick up.  So the date you put filling out the label is a moot point.  By creating this second label as opposed to indicating you want a return label on the one you create to get the work to the show, lets you put the same declared value on the painting, you had when you sent it there, instead of the FedEx default value of $1000.

If my painting is valued at less than $1000 then I go ahead and choose the return label option.  I hope this helps fellow artists. If you are new to sending your work off to various locations learning all the ins and outs of shipping can be a bit daunting!

Plein Air Painting at Epcot

www.KimMinichiello.comLast Friday I painted with the Walt Disney Imagineers again from one of the bridges overlooking the lake and a view of the Japan Pavilion at Epcot.  I am loving my en Plein Air Pro Easel the more I use it.  It is so easy to set up and I find it very comfortable to work on.  We had a bit of a cloudy over cast day and at one point it started to drizzle a bit, but not enough to pack up.

I thought I would show  bit of a progression.  It took about 2 hours to draw and paint.  I got it to a point I feel I can finish it in the studio.  I’m working on an Arches Watercolor Block and a palette of various colors I’m experimenting with to determine a good plein air palette with the number of wells I have.

www.kimminichiello.comDrawing and Sky Block- In


Working in Some of the Foliage


Starting on the Pavilion and the Tori Gate


Stopping Point after 2 Hours



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!