Favorite Things Top Ten: Number 4, Watercolor Sketchbooks

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Sketches of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia, Cassis in Provence, South of France, Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, and the Japanese bridge in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot, Walt Disney World

Many don’t realize I paint mostly in watercolor because of watercolor sketching.  My primary medium was oils.  On trips to Paris, and when I lived there working for Walt Disney Imagineering, I found the world of “Carnet de Voyage,” sketchbook of your travels.  Even before Urban Sketching became so popular, many publishers in Europe published the watercolor sketch journals of artists. There were dedicated sections in book stores for these!  I even saw a great show one year at the La Poste Museum in Paris, displaying artists sketchbooks.  I was bitten by the bug.  I had to do this!  The very first sketchbook I got was made by Savoir Faire and it has inside Indian Khadi paper.  I like the rough surface and the deckled edges of the paper.  These are the green and blue books shown below. Sadly, they stopped making them and I bought as many as  I could find a few years ago.  However, there is a nice substitute that I have had students get for my watercolor sketching workshop. Sam Flax here in Orlando carries them and the covers are brown.  You could google “Khadi paper watercolor sketch book,” to find other options.

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Shown are the Savoir Faire, Khadi Paper books in 2 sizes and on the bottom the Stillman & Birn, Alpha Series, 8″ x 10″

Since this turned into a habit and obsession over the years,  I have used a variety of books and I like all of them, Hand Book, Stillman & Birn Alpha Series, and Moleskin Watercolor Books.

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This is a handmade one with a soft leather cover my husband bought for me in Rome.  I love it because it’s small and very light weight and fits easily in my purse. The sketch shows a view of the fortress in Salzburg, Austria from the Mirabell Gardens.

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Favorite Things Top Ten: Number 5, The Coleman Camp Stool

www.KimMinichiello.comI used to take a collapsible three-legged stool with me when I went out urban sketching in watercolor or plein air painting.  I bought it IKEA in Hong Kong years ago.  When I first got it I thought it was fantastic!  I had a softer place to sit rather than on walls or sidewalks.  Then when I traveled by air to other places I wanted to take it with me but it added more bulk and weight to my suitcase.

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When my fellow WAM:Women Artists Mentors and I were planning our trip to Venice last spring at one of our Google Hang Out meetings I asked the others if they were taking stools for sketching.  I showed Helen Beacham my stool and said I always have this dilemma packing it number one, then lugging it around on a day’s outing, number two.  Helen immediately replied, “You need one of these!,” and showed me the Coleman Camp Stool.  I ordered it off of Amazon then and there.  It fits easily in my plein air bag, it’s not too heavy where you aren’t super uncomfortable carrying it around all day on outings while you are traveling, and I find it to be fairly comfortable for what it is! It even comes with a small carrying case!  Thank you Helen, I could kiss you! I use it ALL the time!

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I’m going to put the link here in case you are as anxious to get one as I was!

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Plein Air Friday, Japan Yakitori House

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Watercolor Sketch on Handmade Khadi Paper, 18 x 9, Japan Pavilion, Epcot

I went out plein air painting this friday and last,  in the community of Windermere, where I  live and got a couple of good starts.  I will finish them on site or in the studio.  Why didn’t I finish on site?  Last week it was still pretty hot and as the sun shifted onto me, with sweat dripping on my work,  it was time to call it quits.  Today, I brought the umbrella, and had a great shady peaceful spot, until about a dozen kids that are home schooled came to the adjacent park for recess!  It became super hard to focus.  Oh well, they were having a great time!

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My set up today with the umbrella

The top photo is one I did earlier this summer when the Flower & Garden Festival was on at Epcot.  Every year, local residents loan their gorgeous bonsai, for the festival.  Some are more than twenty years old!  I always enjoy seeing them every year!

As Third Vice President for the Florida Watercolor Society, I will be at the annual convention all next week.  However, I still get to paint plein air one day.  I will be doing a one day plein air workshop with Steve Rogers!  I can’t wait!   I am also the Social Media Chair for FWS. If you would like to see what goes on at the annual convention like the FWS Facebook page here.

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Plein Air Friday, “Japan Cascade”

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Japan Cascade, Watercolor Sketch in Khadi Paper Sketchbook, 18 x 9

Staying inside today while hurricane Hermine passes through Florida. The west coast and panhandle are getting it way worse than we are in central Florida.  Everybody be safe!  I thought I would post a plein air sketch I did earlier this summer at Epcot.  This one is in the Japan Pavilion.  I loved painting all the different color temperatures in the rocks.  Plus, I also really like doing long vertical formats in my sketchbook.

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Watercolor Sketching Workshop: The Love of the Sketch

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Sketching Equipment

I had a great time teaching my watercolor sketching workshop recently.  I was telling my students how I got into the practice of sketching in watercolor which later led to watercolor being my primary media as a painter.  Years ago I came upon the book, Sara Midda’s South of France Sketchbook.  I loved how she captured the quintessential elements of the South of France in sketches with watercolor.  I then started collecting almost every book like it I could find.  I have books by architects and artists who have sketched, Italy, France, China and other countries.  This is way before the Urban Sketching movement.  A lot of my books came from France where the practice of travel sketching is known as “Carnet de Voyage,” a travel sketchbook.  There were even dedicated sections in the bookstores in Paris to these type of books. When I lived there and went to these shops,  I was like a kid in a candy store.

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A little lesson in color mixing before heading out to sketch.

For me, getting really comfortable painting in watercolor is due to starting watercolor travel sketchbooks.  When I moved to Honk Kong I met artist Lorette Roberts, who has done a whole series of books capturing various areas on Hong Kong with watercolor sketches.  I have every single one and love them.  Lorette and I still keep in touch through Facebook.  She was a big inspiration for me to start and maintain a sketching practice.

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Some of my students sketching at Plant Street Market, Winter Garden, FL

As I told my students, if you have the slightest interest in learning to paint with watercolor start a sketchbook!!!  You don’t have to only do it when you travel.  You can start with simple things or just do it in your own backyard. You will then  be far more comfortable doing it when you do travel.  For me it took the intimidation out of  creating a “painting.”  It’s only a sketch and it’s only for me.  I can choose to share with others or not.

Start a book and don’t worry if some of the sketches suck or you think are failures.  It doesn’t matter!  What does matter is that you enjoy doing it and by doing it on a regular basis you can’t help but get better!  Iain Stewart, is another artist friend who sketches a lot in Watercolor. He  has a philosophy that I love.  He says never tear out a page from your sketchbook!  Whether its a “fail” or a “keeper,” leave it in the book.  Once you fill the book it’s a great way to look back on your progression and how much you improved, because you will. 🙂  Plus, especially if you do them while you travel, they will become your most treasured possessions.  No photo can take the place of a sketch.  Looking at it will take you right back there.

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It was approaching 90 degrees one afternoon, we sketched inside from life.

If you are intimidated by going out on your own, ask some friends, or start a group.  While in Hong Kong, I met a local artists and she and I would set a date to go out at least once a week somewhere.  What is wonderful now is when I look at those sketches I have fond memories of the time we spent together!

Some of the biggest takeaways my students have expressed to me are, learning about perspective to sketch architecture, learning how to break a scene down into simple shapes and compose  it how you like, and learning to use the pencil as a measuring stick and proportion while  drawing so that what you want to express fits on the page.

If you are curious to start a sketching practice, what is your biggest fear or reason for not doing so?  If you do have a practice, what do you love the most about it?  Please leave a comment I would love to hear from you!  If you are curious to see my watercolor travel sketches you can click here.

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Watercolor Sketching Workshop in Winter Garden Florida

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The Old Water Tower, in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook

The more I teach the more I realize I love to teach!  We had a glorious weekend with the arrival of some cooler weather, which only lasted the weekend by the way, it’s hot again!  I can’t remember since moving to Florida seventeen years ago it ever being this hot this late in November!  I digress…. I had three lovely ladies join me for a weekend of sketching and they were great!  Sketching in the morning and afternoon is tiring and they were real troopers and really enjoyed it.

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Sketching the Red Caboose and Train Station

I’m hearing from students in all of my workshops that I cover many topics that most instructors  don’t discuss and they are so happy to discover and learn about!  There were quite a few light bulb moments in this workshop, which I was thrilled about!  I love that I can help others move forward with their painting/sketching practice and that I’m providing them with many take aways.

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The Crooked Can Brewery, in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook

In this watercolor sketching workshop since we were sketching in Downtown Historic Winter Garden and focusing mostly on architecture, I covered  different perspective views, horizon lines, vanishing points, one and two point perspective and proportions.  Proportions are key, it took me a while when I first started sketching to figure out how to measure and make sure what I wanted to sketch fit on the page!  How many of you have started sketching something only to run out of room on your paper?

An added bonus for me is that while I’m explaining all of this to others I can’t help but grow and improve myself!

#watercolorsketching #workshop #historicwintergarden #florida #stillmanandbirn #crookedcanbrewery #wintergardenartassociation

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A Loose Watercolor Sketch

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Watercolor Sketch in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook

This was my sketch from last week.  You never know when you work outside what you will encounter: can’t find shade where you want to sketch, bugs, crowds, people wanting to chit chat right when you have started to  lay a critical wash down, vehicles pulling up and blocking your view,  and landscaping maintenance, just to name a few.  The latter was what I encountered the day this sketch was done, hedge trimmers, cherry pickers beeping, pressure washing, etc.  You get the idea.  That’s why this one was quick and loose!  Share your stories in the comments of the craziest things you have run across while painting or sketching outside.

 

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Jock Lindsey from Indiana Jones is my Alter Ego

www.kimminichiello.comJock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs, photo credit Disney Parks Blog

This past July I mentioned I was working on another Disney illustration project but I couldn’t say what it was.  When it’s in the guest hands I can let the cat out of the bag!  If your received my last newsletter, (you can subscribe here) you already know that Jock Lindsey from the Indiana Jones series is my alter ego!

One of the new attractions at Disney Springs, formerly knows as Downtown Disney,  is Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, themed after the infamous pilot in the Indiana Jones series.   The story goes, Jock flew Indiana Jones to Florida in the late 1930’s to search for the fountain of youth.  He loved it so much he settled here in the 1940’s on the waterfront and opened a bar in a deserted airplane hangar.  As he was dreaming up cocktails to serve.  He started sketching out ideas in watercolor.  My (I mean Jock’s) favorite cocktails and sketches are featured in the cocktail menu. They are: The Cool Headed Monkey, Reggie’s Revenge, Hovito Mojito and Anything Goes.  I didn’t design the cocktails, Jock took care of that.  But I did have a hand doing (I mean helping) him with the illustrations for the menu.  I can’t wait to try them!

If you visit Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar and try any of them let me know what you think!

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The Cool Headed Monkey: My illustrations in the menu photo credit Steve Fox, Inside the Magic.

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Reggie’s Revenge: My illustrations in the menu photo credit Steve Fox, Inside the Magic.

Hovito Mojito

Hovito Mojito: My illustrations in the menu photo credit Steve Fox, Inside the Magic.

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Anything Goes: My illustrations in the menu photo credit Steve Fox, Inside the Magic.

#HangarBar #JockLindsey #DisneySprings #cocktailmenu #watercolorillustrations #downtowndisney

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A Couple Watercolor Sketches and some Workshops

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Watercolor Sketch, in a 9 x 11 Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

I have been starting up again my once a week plein air watercolor sketch outing.  My goal is to user a larger sketchbook and get quicker with the drawing and looser with the painting.  I’m using a 9″ x 11″ Stillman & Birn, Alpha Series sketchbook.  I am really liking this painting surface.  A few of my other books have hand-made khadi paper which I also like, but I’m loving how the color is popping off the page with this smoother paper!   The Alapha Series paper is thinner than their Beta Series paper.  The advantage to that is you get more paper in the book and I’m able to watercolor sketch on both sides of the sheet with no bleed through.  That’s how nice this paper is.  It’s a little more like a hot press surface than a cold press paper, if you were to compare it to watercolor paper, but not as smooth and slick as some hot press papers are.

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Watercolor Sketch, in a 9 x 11 Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

The main reason watercolor is my preferred medium at the moment is for my love of sketching in watercolor.  Once I did this for a number of  years I had the desire to try my hand at larger works!  My sketchbooks are like my little children, complete treasures.  I love looking through them to remind me of the memories of the places I have traveled.

If you are interested in sketching in watercolor, documenting your travels or your daily life, I will be teaching a “Sketching in Watercolor: Plein Air” Workshop” at the Winter Garden Art Association.  One this fall, November 14 & 15 and one this spring, April 11 & 12.  For complete details and more information you can visit my website here.  And to register  for the fall class you can do that here.  Leave me a comment or send me an email if you would like to register for the spring class.

My complete workshop schedule for spring 2016 is on my web site here.

#urbansketcher #watercolorsketching #watercolorworkshop

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Watercolor Sketch Cassis France

www.kimminichiello.comWatercolor Sketch in Stillman & Birn Alpha Series Sketchbook

During our recent trip we stayed in Aix en Provence as our home base and drove to other villages in the area mostly in the Luberon region.  A forty five minute drive south form Aix is the lovely village of Cassis, which is absolutely beautiful. I can only imagine in the high summer season how crowed it must get there!  We spent time sketching, walking around and then took a boat tour of les calanques, which are the limestone cliffs along the Mediterranean Sea that connect Marsailles to Cassis.  The water is the most gorgeous turquoise, which photos never do justice to illustrate.

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