Watercolor Sketch of the Alcázar in Córdoba Spain

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor on Handmade Paper

I love that my husband is also an artist.  When we travel I can sketch and not feel guilty because he is usually right there beside me! Sometimes though we don’t always want to paint the same view, but he is usually in the vicinity. This sketch has a fond memory for me, because I remember us sitting on a low wall, side by side, sketching the Alcázar of Córdoba, in Spain.

This site  and fortress dates back to medieval times.  It was used by Ferdinand and Isabella as one of  the main tribunals during the Spanish Inquisition. In 1492 these monarchs met Christopher Columbus here before he took his first voyage to the Americas.  And in the early 19th century, it was a garrison for Napoleon Bonaparte’s troops.  Since the 1950’s, it has been a national monument and tourist attraction.  It is well worth the visit if you happen to be in Cordoba to see the Grand Mosque!


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Sketching the Louvre in the Tuileries & the Japanese Tourists

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

I have been super busy working on the Coral Reef Restaurant menu commission, so I thought I would post another sketch today.  This one was done on a day in Paris when the nasty weather had finally broke, (I know some of my readers can relate to nasty weather right now!). The sun had come out and everyone flocked outside to get some sun and fresh air including me!

I headed straight for the Tuileries Gardens, parked myself on a bench, (it was slim pickings) and started to sketch and paint.  I had always wanted to do a view of the Louvre and not get too caught up in the details of the building but be very sketchy and insinuate them with value.  I was pretty happy with how it turned out.

Just as I was finishing a lovely group of Japanese ladies on a tour stopped and started to gather around me watching me paint.  The Japanese tour guide asked me in French if it was OK.  (The Japanese are so polite.)  I said, “bien sur”,  they watched and made comments as I was painting, none of which I could understand.  I only know a few words of “tourist Japanese.”  The tour guide indicated to the ladies it was time to move on, and translated to me in French, thank you very much for letting them stop and my sketch was beautiful!”  For which I replied, “arigatou gozaimasu,” the formal way of saying thank you in Japanese.  You had thought I had given them a million yen by their reaction.  They were shocked and amazed that I had replied in Japanese! They all giggled, bowed and smiled, thanked me and were on their way.

Little did they know, probably thinking they had happened upon a French woman painting in the gardens, was actually an American who happened to speak French and enough Japanese to make their day.  They certainly made mine!


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Paris on My Mind and a Sketch From The Musée Rodin

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

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.


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


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Accepted into the 35th National Georgia Watercolor Society Exhibition

www.kimminichiello.comWaiting In the Wings, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 17″ x 13″

Available during the 35th National Georgia Watercolor Society Exhibition, Carrollton Cultural Arts Center, Carrollton GA

March 7-April 24

I’m thrilled, my painting Waiting in the Wings was chosen for the 35th National Georgia Watercolor Society’s Exhibition!  This is my second year in the show.  Last year my painting Hong Kong Happy Hour was chosen.  It’s always a great honor for me to be juried into shows, and to have my work included with some of the most talented watercolorists in the nation for national shows and from all over the world for international shows.

If you enter a few shows a year which  I do, the logistics of keeping track of it all can be tricky!  Some show dates conflict with each other.   Therefore a careful review of your inventory is necessary to decide which paintings will be submitted where.  Some will accept three paintings for the judge to see, some accept two, and some only accept one.  But usually only one painting  is juried into the show.  Many shows are going on at the same time, therefore if you submit three paintings for one judge to review for a particular show, those can not be submitted for other shows because any one of the three could be chosen and you don’t know which one it will be!

You always want to submit your best work, but usually out of the two or three you submit, you have a personal favorite that you feel is the strongest.  But, your favorite may not be the favorite of the judge, and he or she will choose their preference!  Judges are different from show to show.  Therefore, if a piece is rejected one year, from one organization, doesn’t mean it will be another time from a different judge!

If you are interested in submitting work to juried shows, keep your brushes moving so that you have a good inventory to choose from.  Only submit you strongest work that you are most proud of.  Keep careful records so that you don’t submit the same painting that may be tied up in another show, sold, or not be shipped back to you in time for the other deadline.  Most of all don’t give up!!! Rejection is all part of the process which doesn’t mean you are a bad painter or your work is bad either.  The way I look at rejection from shows is, the judge’s taste just didn’t lean toward my work, and now I have a painting that is available as consideration for another show, where the judge’s taste might lean in my direction!


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Happy Chinese New Year… Year of the Horse

www.kimminichiello.comLion Dance, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 36″ x 36″

After living in Hong Kong, I’m always aware of the Chinese New Year!  So, Happy New Year… Year of the Horse!  I lived there during two Chinese New Years and they were my favorite holidays observed there.  Based on the lunar calendar, the fifteen day celebration started yesterday and ushers out the year of the water snake and in the year of the wooden horse.  Feng shui masters say the year of the horse may be tough for any negotiating because people stand firm in their beliefs and convictions. If this is true, I guess Congress won’t be getting much work done this year either!


Reward, Watercolor on Archival Paper, 6″ x 6″

Original painting available for purchase here.

Limited Edition Giclée Print & Note Cards available for purchase here.

The decorations are spectacular,  we always had the most beautiful pink flowering plum trees in the lobby of our apartment building. Flowers are an important part of the New Year Celebration.  Plum blossoms symbolize courage and hope, narcissus, good luck and fortune, and tangerines and oranges are displayed as a sign of wealth and luck.  Flowering plum and mandarin trees adorn many homes, businesses and temples throughout Hong Kong.

Everyone is the the holiday spirit similar to the Christmas spirit here.  The celebration lasts for many days and has different phases, where different customs are observed.   One is the ever popular Lie See envelopes.  These small red envelopes you tuck money inside are adorned with symbols for good fortune and luck, and sometimes have cartoon characters because it is a tradition to give them to children.   Work colleagues or people in business relationships give them to each other too.  As is the custom, to not forget all the service people that help you throughout the year.

The parades, Lion Dance and acrobatic performances and fireworks are spectacular, and are not to be missed!  All around a beautiful, festive, fun time of year.

Kim MinichielloLimited 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

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor Sketch on Handmade Paper

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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Sketch Page from the Musée Guimet in Paris France


I’m in design and sketch mode right now on a commission, which I can’t share yet. So I thought I would share more sketches today from the Guimet Musée, in Paris.  I miss this place!!  This page shows sketches of statues from Vietnam, Tibet, and a Noh mask from Japan.


Limited Edition Prints & Note cards available here.

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Books that Inspire: The Greater Journey Americans in Paris, by David McCullough

Kim Minichiello

I love history and travel and feel the two go hand in hand.  I really enjoy reading about the history of places I have lived or visited, especially Paris.  David McCullough’s The Greater Journey Americans in Paris, not only gives us a feeling of what Paris was like between 1830 and 1900, but tells various stories of the many Americans who in the early 1830’s braved the rough seas on sailing ships to live in a country whose language and culture they knew nothing about, with ambitions to learn and excel in their field of work, and in some cases profoundly impact American history itself.

Many traveled to further their medial careers, since Paris was considered at that time the most advanced in medicine in the entire world.  He tells the story of Elizabeth Maxwell, the first female physician in the United States, and Oliver Wendell Holmes and his colleagues who had a lasting effect on how medicine was practiced upon their return home.

He tells of writers, James Fenimore Cooper, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mark Twain, and the influence their visits to Paris had on their work.


Bust of Edwin Wallace Stoughton, Marble,  1874 by Augustus Saint-Gauden, Ringling Museum of American Art

He covers extensively the artist’s journey of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, born to a French father and Irish mother, who immigrated to the United States at 6 months old.  He was trained at the École des Beaux-Arts, and is probably best known for, among many of his sculptures, a monument to Civil War Admiral David Farragut, in New York’s Madison Square and his Diane created as a weathervane for the second Madison Square Garden Building in New York City. We learn of Samuel F.B. Morse’s journey and his ambitious works, of painting vistas of the Louvre Museum.   In the late 1800’s we became familiar with the journeys of John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt.

Probably the most mind boggling is the heroic account of American ambassador Elihu Washburne, who remained at his post during the Franco-Prussian War, the Siege of Paris and the horrific Commune.  His accounts of the suffering of the people of Paris in this moment of history are haunting.

David McCullough is a treasure. His extensive research and propensity to weave together historical accounts in the manner of a storyteller makes this work a joy to read.  I hope it’s on your Christmas list! 🙂


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The Ringling Museums, Sarasota, Florida

www.kimminichiello.comEntrance to Cá d’Zan, Ringling Mansion

Before many board games, television, computers, video and computer games, cell phones, and movie theaters, the only major form of entertainment for many communities was the circus. It was a very big deal when the circus came to town by train.  They set up and performed sometimes only one show in smaller communities before they were on to the next destination.  Towns declared the day circus came to town a holiday which meant no school for the children and no work for the adults so that everyone could attend the show.


 Living Room Ringling Mansion

At one time in the United States, there were one hundred companies that owned circuses that traveled all over the country.  Just like today in the age of mergers and acquisitions, smaller outfits were bought out by bigger more successful circuses.  One of the most successful was the Ringling Brothers Circus which eventually purchased the Barnum and Bailey circus in 1907. At first they operated and traveled as two separate circuses but when the business become too much for John & Charles Ringling to handle after three of his other  brothers were no longer involved with the family business, the names and the shows were combined into one, The Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1919.   John’s dream of performing in Madison Square Garden in New York was finally fulfilled.  Previously only the Barnum circus performed there.


 Dining Room, Ringling Mansion

In the early twenties John Ringling purchased 67,000 acres of land in Sarasota and Long Boat Key, Florida.  At the time, John was said to have been one of the wealthiest men in the United States.  In 1927 he moved the winter quarters of the circus to Sarasota, attracting famous circus performers from all over the world and Sarasota became known as Circus City USA.  By 1929 Ringling had acquired and owned all of the traveling circuses in the United States including Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

John and his wife Mabel loved Sarasota so much they built their winter home there on the Gulf of Mexico.  The home named Cá d’ Zan (House of John in the Venetian Dialect” ) is in the Mediterranean Revival style and was inspired by the architectural styles of Mabel’s favorite Venetian hotels.


The Rubens Hall, Ringling Museum of Art

Avid collectors of art from the 1920’s to the early 30’s, they amassed a collection of over 600 paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects,  from the 14th through the 18th centuries, works by Rubens, Van Dyk, Titian, and others.  Their dream was to build an art museum on the property with the home to preserve and house their extensive art collection.  Work began in the 1920’s on this incredible complex built in the Italian renaissance style.  To save on labor John hired many circus employees and used the elephants to move heavy construction materials in place. A new wing was constructed a few years ago to house, a number of temporary shows and exhibitions.


The Loggia Ringling Art Museum

Unfortunately after the great depression, and into the 40’s, the circus business started to dry up and other forms of entertainment started to captivate audiences. When John Ringling died at age 70 in 1936, he only had a few hundred dollars in his bank account. However, he bequeathed many of his assets including his home and art museum to the state of Florida.

If you visit there is much to see and do. You could easily spend two full days. On the property you can tour John and Mabel’s mansion, Cá d’ Zan which is situated on the Gulf. There are two Circus Museum buildings. The original built in 1948, houses the private  Pullman rail car that John and Mabel traveled in with the circus, vintage circus wagons and an interesting exhibit on when Cecil B. DeMille filmed the Oscar Award winning movie The Greatest Show on Earth in Sarasota.


Detail,Under the Big Top, Worlds Largest Circus Model

The other Circus Museum, The Tibbals Learning Center opened in 2006.  The highlight  in this facility is the world’s largest miniature circus model, which was constructed by Howard Tibbals, also the benefactor of this museum.  He constructed the entire model in a 50 year span.  This model is absolutely mind boggling in two aspects.  One, the model itself is a work of art.  Every little detail is conveyed from the circus arriving on the train, the big top, side show and menagerie upon entering the main tent, plus all the backstage supporting elements: commissary, living quarters, quarters for all the animals, repair and machine shops, etc.    Secondly, it conveys in no other way unless you had been there, the logistics, and all the elements, and inner workings of this huge entertainment venue.

In addition to the mansion, art museum and two circus museums,  is the Asolo Theatre, which is an actual 18th century theatre purchased from Asolo, Italy and reassembled on the Ringling grounds.  It is the only state theatre in Florida and features performances by the Asolo Theater Repertory Company.

The Ringling Museums are a true treasure in the state of Florida and definitely worth a visit!



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Peel Street Guardian


 Oil on Panel with Worshipping Papers,  9″ x 12″, Collection of Artist

On the South end of Peel Street, in Hong Kong,  is a tiny temple I would pass by on my way to Central when I walked from our apartment in the mid levels.  This little guardian lion was always covered in ashes from the joss sticks lit for offerings and prayers.   Since I passed by often I wanted to create a painting that would remind me, and be a momento of my daily life there.  To add interest I used Chinese worshipping papers in the upper left corner.

www.kimminichiello.comLimited 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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