Maiko Misedashi

Maiko Misedashi, Watercolor, 24″ x 24″

I have a deep affinity with Japanese culture which I really can’t explain.  I’ve had  a self imposed study for many  years on their food, customs, design, textile arts, horticulture, you name it.  So when I finally had a chance to visit Japan, especially Kyoto, the old capital, on two separate occasions, it was a dream come true.  I have had the idea for this painting floating in my head for a few years, and finally executed it.  On one trip to Japan during cherry blossom season, we came upon a number of  maiko, apprentice geiko, as geisha are known in Kyoto. The maiko in the painting was surrounded by lots of fanfare and was accompanied by her male dresser.  Maiko must by assisted by a person, usually male, to help them layer their formal dress of kimono and tie the heavy and cumbersome obi. The obi is tied differently for the Maiko, leaving a long tail of the two ends down the back.  For the geiko the obi is tucked in and doesn’t hang loose.    A Misedashi is a ceremony when a  girl who aspires to be a geiko becomes a maiko, an apprentice geiko.  It is the official beginning of her career.

I wanted to integrate in the design my love of the textiles of Japan and pay homage to the art of ukiyo-e or wood block prints whIch I also adore.  I used to  do textile work for years  and used some of those former techniques I used to do on fabrics in the background.  Ukiyo-e literally translates as “pictures of the floating world” which describes the lifestyle and culture in the Edo-period of Japan when the prints were produced by artists such as Hokusai. The fish, or Japanese carp, in the design makes reference to the “floating world” depicted in this ancient art form, which also inspired many of the impressionist artists, like Monet and Van Gogh in the late 19th century.  Monet collected ukiyo-e and Van Gogh was inspired by them as well and integrated elements from them in some of his work.

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Painting with the Tigers on Plein Air Friday

Next to the Tigers, Plein Air Watercolor, 14″ x 9.5″

Bright and early this morning I was at Epcot laying the ground work for a watercolor sketching workshop  I will be teaching next week for artists and designers at Walt Disney Imagineering.  Got the demo spot scoped out with plenty of room for folks to gather around and honed in on other locations for everyone to sketch.

Getting ready to do the details

A few weeks ago I was at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on the Asia trek painting near the bridge between the 2 tiger exhibits.  While I’m painting I love watching the early morning routines of the animal keepers and I end up learning a lot about the animals I’m painting near.

Back up the hill after finishing some morning business

While I was working, there was a male tiger on the exhibit to my right and a female on the exhibit to the left.  They are currently separated until they get used to each other and the younger female is ready for mating.  They have to keep the shutters closed on the male’s side because if he sees her through the glass across the promenade, he will go crazy! (This is what the keepers have told me.)  As it was, he can smell her and had some guttural sexy calls, that morning, which felt like he was carrying on right behind me! Nothing like loud Tiger snorts and groans to keep you awake in the morning.  She, the female, couldn’t be bothered in the least! 

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Plein Air Friday, Back at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

“Peaceful Morning,” Watercolor, 11″ x 14″

Asia Area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom

 I went back to the spot I was at last week in the Africa area.  I had very limited time today, I didn’t completely finish.  I will put it up in the studio and analyze whether I will finish it or not.  Some I’m compelled to bring to completion and others I essentially see as a painting exercise.  As I mentioned in the last post, I tried a new paper I didn’t care for so part of me doesn’t want to spend any more time on this one.   It is at that point where I feel like I may have overworked it.  I will look at with fresh eyes another day. 

www.KimMinichiello.comI’m posting a painting I did finish in the Asia area.  I  also wanted to share a link to the Urban Sketchers Blog.  Last week there was a meet up of different chapters all over the world to record anything related to the Chinese New Year, the year of the Rooster.  Noga Grossman the head administrator for our Orlando Chapter suggested the idea as well as documenting what other artists did on the worldwide Urban Sketchers blog.  If you would like to see the post you can click here.  One of my paintings of the Temple of Heaven in the China Pavilion at Epcot was featured!  There are other sketches from  Lisbon, Yokohama, Seattle, Orlando, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Beijing, Dallas/Ft. Worth, O’ahu, and Canberra, in the article.

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Plein Air Friday

Tori Gate, 14 x 11, Watercolor

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since my Favorite Things, Top Ten series over the holidays.  Where did January go? This morning I painted in the Africa area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  I have painted a few times in the Asia area and this is the first in Africa.  I lost my bearings and didn’t realize after I started that about an hour and half into the painting, drawing then block in, I wold have the sun right on my paper and in my face with no umbrella.  Oh well, I will try and go back next week to finish it before the sun crests the building I was in front of.  

On an interesting side note, the past 2 Fridays I have tried a new paper, Windsor Newton Cold Press.  I painted at Epcot last week, this Tori Gate painting, and struggled with the paper drying too fast because it was chilly and windy.  Today, no wind and in the sun, it took forever for the first wash to dry so I could move on!  Just goes to show you different papers behave differently then when you add the elements on top of it, that’s a whole other story,  Something, my fellow oil painters don’t have to worry about. Unless you are painting in freezing conditions and the paint gets stiff. Painting in freezing conditions, not my cup of tea.  Won’t be worrying about that! 

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My Favorite Things Top Ten, Number 1: Escoda Perla Brushes

My latest plein air painting “Peaceful Morning,” Watercolor, 14″ x 10″ done at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on my Friday Morning Paint Sessions with a few Walt Disney Imagineers using Escoda Perla Brushes

Over the years I have tried a number of brushes, and I have amassed quite a collection. I use different brushes for different purposes,  sometimes the task calls for a synthetic brush and sometimes, a natural hair brush.  I go over all these nuances in the workshops I teach.    

I have a number of Escoda brushes from their  various lines, The Barroco, The Prado and The Versatil.  My favorite is the Perla.  Iain Stewart turned me on to this one.  My go to is the number 14.  It has the perfect snap, and point and holds the right amount of water for me.  I really don’t need any other size, with the point on this I can get really fine lines.  However, when I was at the Florida Watercolor Society Convention & Trade Show, this last fall, I spotted a travel brush set of Perlas.  

www.KimMinichiello.comIt was a treat yourself moment, I got them because at times I don’t want to drag my whole plein air kit, but just put a few things in my purse, or tote bag. They even came with a handy leather case!  So I have Perlas in more sizes to use, sketching, plein air painting and in the studio!  If you are interested in getting some Escoda Perla Brushes, Dick Blick carries them on line.  Unfortunately, I have never seen them sold in any retail art stores I have been to.  If you have been good this year maybe Santa will put one or two in your stocking! 

KimMinichiello.comStay tuned my next post will be a Favorite Things Bonus, just in time for the holidays! 

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Favorite Things Top Ten, Number 2: Twinrocker Paper

Assisi Guardian, Watercolor, 24″ x 22,” on Twinrocker Paper, currently in the Kansas Watercolor Society’s National Exhibition at the Mark Arts Center in Wichita, Kansas, Juror, Dean Mitchell

I grew up in a small town in northern Indiana, called Logansport.   Unbeknownst to me not more than 30 miles away was a small factory making handmade papers for stationary and watercolor.  I drove by it many times on my way to Purdue University, where I went to college when I would drive home for a “home fix” and to have my mom make my favorite meals.  She is an excellent cook, and I’m proud to say I have inherited her skills!  

www.KimMinichiello.comWhen I started painting in watercolor I visited an Indiana artists at his home gallery and studio, Terry Armstrong.  He was showing me some of his latest work and I loved the paper he was working on.  It was Twinrocker.  Then he sat me straight up when he told me it’s made in Indiana, in Brookston!  Thirty two miles and thirty-eight minutes from where I grew up!  What are the chances of that? I always go and stock up on paper when I visit my mom. I blogged about one of my visits to Twinrocker, here

You can order a sample pack to try it!

I love this paper for a variety of reasons.  It’s the only handmade made paper made entirely in the United States and I like supporting this business!  I love the weight of the paper, the texture, and the type and amount of sizing on it.  My preference is for the rough texture, but I have also used the cold press.  I can’t explain it but the paint flows differently on it than other papers I use.  It’s slightly more expensive but totally worth it for me! 

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Favorite Things Top Ten: Number 6, Daniel Smith Undersea Green

www.KimMinichiello.comI had to add a paint color to the list and although I have many favorites, I picked this one because it it’s so versatile on my studio palette and my plein air palette.  It is really a time saver because I used to use a mix of ultramarine blue and quinacridone gold to get a variety of greens.  I add more blue to get a cooler green and more gold to get a warmer green.  Well Daniel Smith has combined the two colors in one tube!  Now I start with this and if I want it cooler, more ultramarine blue and warmer more quin. gold.  I also love the way it granulates.

I first discovered it when I painted the menu program for the Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot  and it has been on my palette ever since!

I would love or you to leave a comment on which paint color you love!  I’m always looking for new ones to try.

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Favorite Things Top Ten: Number 7, IKEA Wall Shelves

www.KimMinichiello.comWhen I set up my studio after I renovated it  a couple of years ago, I added these shallow  IKEA wall shelves so that I  could have a space to display and store my paintings.  What is nice is that I can change them out and have different work up at different times.  They come in lengths of 22″ and 45″ and I put one 45″ and one 22″ together to make one longer shelf.  The crazy IKEA name is, RIBBA.  I think they have discontinued the RIBBA shelf and that name is exclusively being used for their picture frames, but they do have what they are calling a picture ledge, and it’s crazy IKEA name is, MOSSLANDA.

If  you crack up over all the crazy IKEA names, then you will enjoy this video of this guy accompanying his girlfriend on an IKEA shopping trip. It’s a hoot!

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Favorite Things Top Ten: Number 9, Bamboo iPad Holder from IKEA


Bamboo iPad Holder from IKEA

When I saw these bamboo iPad holders at IKEA I couldn’t put them in my cart fast enough.  I have one on my painting desk and one in my kitchen.  Sometimes I paint from reference photos on my iPad.  What is great is it doesn’t take up as much space on my desk as a computer monitor would, and you can zoom in and out quickly and easily.

This is a work in progress painting I did plein air at Animal kingdom a few weeks ago and now I’m tweaking it a bit just to punch up the value.

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Plein Air Friday: “Siamang Retreat”

Siamang Retreat, Watercolor, 14″ x 7.5,” Plein Air

I painted again this morning at Disney’s Animal Kingdom,  and got a good block in and will go back next week to work on it again.  Here is the finished painting from my November 25, post.  This is the area that overlooks the Siamang Gibbon exhibit.  I’m very happy with this one.  Since there was a lot of green area in this composition, my goal was to pay attention to color temperature and value to have variety.

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