Front Page!

Annie’s Room, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30. Kit Miracle

Woo Hoo!  I made the front page of the current edition of ArtistsCreating, A bi-monthly e-magazine for artists in southern Indiana.  There’s a feature article about  me inside, too.  Check it out here.

Download the FREE e-zine to see what else is happening in the area arts.  http://www.itsallart.com/AC.AprilMay.2020.pdf

A week of new and old

A typical country road with a little stream, one of many that we saw on our drive.

Well, how has your week been going?  Have you been a dynamo, rushing about getting all those long put off projects done or tackling spring cleaning?  (I hate you.)  Or have you been sitting around in your pajamas all day watching game shows and reruns of golf?

I’ll admit, I’m somewhere in the middle.  Certainly not accomplishing all I had laid out a week ago. (I always make a weekly plan.) Spending way too much time on social media and watching official news conferences.  But I find they just make me anxious and there really isn’t much I can do about the current crisis but what I’m doing already. I have enjoyed, however, the many creative ways that friends are entertaining their children at home.  One guy created a Hogwarts School, complete with costumes and characters, and posted daily videos.  (He was exhausted by the end of the week.)  Others are tackling nature in the backyard or nearby parks.  Wonderfully creative art projects abound with photos to prove all the fun people are having.  Some moms may be hitting the wine bottle a little earlier than normal but, hey, wine is a food, is it not?

St. Patrick’s day was celebrated by my little leprechaun friends going outside to see the spring flowers.

I did get some spring yard work done.  Being outdoors improves my spirits.  And spent some time in the studio but not as much as I should have or usually do.  I’ve talked by phone to my family and friends more than normally.  It just feels right to keep in touch, especially since so many people are isolated right now.

I’ve got several books started but only finished one.  Well, there’s always next week.

We discovered this quaint little foot bridge over a small stream. I am sure I’ll have to go back to paint this scene.

After a few days of rain, my husband and I took a nice drive on country roads to look at spring emerging in little corners here and there.  Then we went over to the lake; he fished and I sketched.  And then picked up take-out dinner at a nearby restaurant.  Nice to eat someone else’s cooking for a change.

A quiet cove at the lake. This was a good place to sit out of the wind while I sketched.

Since the stores in this area seem to be out of bread, I reposted the link to the Crusty Artisan Bread recipe that I posted on my blog a couple of years ago.  Several people have tried it and found it surprisingly easy and yummy.

Anyway, whatever your situation is, I hope you are safe and healthy.  I’d love to hear what you’re doing with your days.  May we all look back on this trying time in years to come and say, “remember when….”

Pine tree. One of several sketches I made while at the lake.

Putting things into perspective – not talking about art

Sunrise, a new day, a new beginning.

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.  Helen Keller

I don’t usually comment on current events or situations, but I thought I’d do a little reflecting on the current situation that is occupying everyone’s minds these days.  With the craziness of people hoarding toilet paper or buying twenty pound bags of rice and beans, I’d like to add a few of my own thoughts on the matter

We live in a 140 year old house.  I often think about how many chicken dinners were cooked in the kitchen.  How many people have passed through the doors over the years.  That the former owners lived without electricity or central heat or running water and some of that wasn’t really that long ago.  They boiled their clothes in a tub outside.  When we first moved here, there was an outhouse in the backyard.  Although we removed it, it sure would have been handy when the kids were little so they didn’t have to come in the house to use the bathroom.

Our place is about twenty-five miles from the nearest real grocery, not counting the local dollar store for bread and milk.  This means we keep the cupboards stocked a little better than most.  But we also grow a pretty good sized garden which helps.

The power goes out once in a while when a storm has knocked a tree onto the lines.  We’re prepared with oil lamps (yes, you can still buy those at farm supply stores), or kerosene heaters, or a camp stove.  We don’t have to use those items often, but they’re handy.  When Hurricane Ike rolled through the Midwest in 2008, the power was out for five days.  Fortunately it was summer so we just opened the windows and “pioneered” it.  Our teenagers took off to stay with friends when the batteries in their devices ran down.  My husband and I enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Although we’re both retired now and don’t have to go anywhere, we’ve got plenty to occupy our time.  Clean up after-winter debris and prepare the garden for planting.  Finally get around to cleaning those attics.  Painting, of course.  Plenty of reading material.  Go fishing or biking or hiking.

We still have electricity and running water.  Really, folks, I don’t think those things are going away during this crisis.  The factories are still making toilet paper and food deliveries will still arrive from the warehouses.  Be patient and put things into perspective.

I have people from all over the world who follow this blog.  Many are not so fortunate as we are regarding supplies and medical resources.  Let us be grateful for what we do have.  Many of you are working from home or have restricted activities.  Why not take this time to enjoy your families?  Try a new recipe or two or ten.  Pretend you’re on Chopped and see what you can concoct just from your cupboards.  Spend some time with your kids or significant other.  Write your memoirs or plant some seeds.  Call your parents.  When was the last time you talked to an old friend?  Now might be a good time to catch up.  Try a new hobby, particularly if you already have the equipment sitting in the closet or basement.

Maybe we can all view this time of uncertainty and turmoil as an opportunity to reset.  Turn your faces towards the sun and feel the warmth.

Signs of spring

We’ve had an unusually warm winter down here in Southern Indiana.  The warmest recorded in 140 years!  Very little snow but plenty of rain.  The past week saw temperatures in the 50s and 60s.  All of this warm weather has given a real push to spring.  Today I took a little walk around the yard and this is what I saw.

Crocuses all over the yard, appearing in the most unusual places, courtesy of children planting them where they wish.

First, several different kinds of crocuses.  Over the years I’ve purchased bags of these in the fall and let the kids and now grand kids plant them.  It is always a surprise to see where they come up.  And some of them seem to travel from where I planted them many years ago.  I really don’t know how they do that.

Daffodils emerging with day lilies in the background.

The early daffodils are always a welcome harbinger of spring.  It seems the singles come out earliest, especially the ones that were already naturalized in this old homestead.  We have doubles and other colors but they come out a bit later.  Another “walking” plant as they seem to come up in the strangest places, not where I have planted them at all.

Forsythia jungle. This will be a golden mountain in another week or two.

The forsythia jungle has grown from the three small plants that I bought end of season at the tractor supply center many years ago.  About fifteen years ago, I had one of my sons dig up the resets and plant them along the road.  The past few years they have made quite a showing.  I hope the travelers enjoy them.  He replanted some lilac starts, too, but they’re a bit slower.

Flowering quince, ready to pop.

This is a flowering quince bush ready to pop.  I’m sure the sun and 60 degree temps will lead to an explosion of blooms real soon.  The start came from my mother’s garden so I always think of her when I pass by.

Twenty tons of rock delivered this week to repair the winter damage.

After all the rain and mud this winter, we just had twenty tons of rock delivered for the drive.  It seems that we’re always trying to keep up here on the farm, man against nature…and nature is winning.

Down at the creek. The peepers are creating a cacophony of noise!

The peepers are going to town down at the creek.  I love this early sound of spring.  Sometimes the beaver have dammed the stream so I can see a one acre pond through the trees.  Fortunately, not this year.

Hazelnut bushes with catkins.

I also spotted a lot of hazelnut bushes coming into bloom.  They’re not real showy but they make a nice addition to a spring bouquet.  I cut some forsythia branches last week and forced them into bloom.  It only took about three days for them to come out and brings a needed touch of spring indoors.  Check out this previous post for how to do this.

Runaway daffodils. I really don’t know how they got here.

Some call this vinca an invasive species but I really like their periwinkle flowers. Yes, I have to pull out tons of vines in the spring, but I think they’re worth it.

Tulips and flowering trees will be out soon as will the spring beauties and violets. And my husband prepped the cold frame for sowing some lettuce soon.  Can’t wait.

Anyway, that’s the spring update from this part of my world.  I hope you are seeing signs of spring in your neck of the woods, too.

February’s Art Production

February’s Art Production. The Food We Eat Series. Acrylic on canvas. Kit Miracle

I thought I’d do another post about a month’s art production.  I created ten food paintings for the series The Food We Eat.  I love the bright colors.  Most of the meals were at home but a few were while I was away. I really don’t eat out that often except when traveling.  Guess we like our own cooking best.

For those who may be interested, I am using my own photos for the paintings.  The pictures cover a span of over ten years so I have a good amount of inspiration.  They are not projected on the canvas but are drawn free-hand.  Dang, those circles and ellipses on the plates and glasses!  What a challenge!  And they’re all either 16 x 16 or 16 x 20 on canvas of 1.5 deep.

In addition to the food paintings, I did more tree drawings but they’re not shown here.

March will probably see some more food paintings but I think I’ll take a break.  I have other ideas rolling around.

The titles that you see here – reading top to bottom, left to right are:

  • Ahi Tuna
  • Raspberries and Oatmeal
  • Texas Tacos
  • Breakfast with Oranges
  • Lunch in Santa Fe
  • Leah’s Lunch
  • Good Lunch, Bad Lunch
  • Pie!
  • Hot Soup on a Cold Day
  • Holiday Meal

Each meal has a story which is on my website. Kitmiracle.com  You can click on the individual photos to see closeups of each painting.

Cultural Center Update

The latest view of the atrium in February. It’s really starting to take shape.

Last year I posted about the ground breaking for our new cultural center. (April 3, 2019)  It has been so exciting to watch the huge building going up this past year.  I’ve been stopping about once a month to take photos of this process.

Just to bring you up to date in case you haven’t been following this story, the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center is located in the center of Jasper, Indiana.  Jasper is a prosperous little German town in southern Indiana.  Although it only has about 15,000 citizens, in a county of only about 40,000 people, it boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in the state.  Many businesses are located here – Kimball, MasterBrand, OFS, Jasper Engines and Transmissions, and others.

The expansion of the arts began as a nugget of an idea back in 2006 when I first became Director of Jasper Community Arts.  We already had a decades long history of the arts and a very nice performing arts center. Unfortunately, the economic crisis of 2008 set everything back for years but in the end, we came up with a much better idea.

The new cultural center is a partnership of the arts and the library and will boast over 63,000 square feet of space, part arts, part library, and a central atrium for community events.  After many years of planning, public meetings, many design changes, getting a library referendum passed, our dream is finally coming to fruition.  With an amazing challenge grant from Jim and Pat Thyen, support from the city and the state, the local businesses jumped on board, seeing this as a wonderful recruiting tool, and private citizens have dug deep to help fund the project.

Although we were not able to save the old Hoosier Desk Building – it would have cost more to refurbish it than to build new – other old factory buildings in the area along the river have become apartments and condos. A new hotel has been erected and other businesses are moving in.  All in all, a wonderful development for a small town where people work together.

As my husband often reminds me when I say “we”, I don’t work for Jasper Arts any more.  But I’m still proud of all the hard work that has gone into making this dream a reality and will be so excited when it’s open to the public at the end of this year.

If you’d like to see the plans for the building, follow this link.  Or Google Jasper

Cultural Center photos for more images.

Jasper Cultural Center building progress, November 2019. In the background, most of the arts wing is framed in on the west and north sides.

Cultural center December 2019. The large part in the middle is the atrium and the part to the right is the new library wing.

Showing more of the library wing framing on the south side of the building.

The atrium of the cultural center is pretty much up except for the windows. It will be able to host special events with table seating up to 150.

View of the arts wing from the northwest corner. This will host three galleries, a small event space, classrooms and private studios. Plus offices for the staff and a sculpture garden.

Another view of the arts wing classroom space. Here it is being bricked already.

Fame and Fortune. What is your legacy?

Raspberries and oatmeal. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 16, Kit Miracle.

I was being interviewed for a magazine article earlier this week when the interviewer asked me, “ Do you hope to be famous with your artwork?”

This question gave me pause.  I don’t think I’ve thought about being famous before.  I’m pretty competitive but famous?  Hummmm.

Maybe when I first began painting I had visions of being the next Georgia O’Keeffe or Janet Fish.  But you don’t have to be in the art business very long to know what a long shot this is.  And there have been many years when I was churning out production work to make some money.  Do enough art fairs and you’ll become pretty mercenary.

You don’t have to be famous or rich to have fun making art.  Just as every guitarist knows that his/her chance of becoming a famous rock star is pretty slim, but that doesn’t stop him/her from enjoying noodling on the instrument for the entertainment of friends and family.

These days I like the challenge of entering competitions for fun.  And selling enough artwork to make back my expenses and support my bad habits.

However, I do think about my legacy sometimes.  When I run across a picture of a painting that I may have completed years ago, I wonder where it is now.  Who is enjoying it?  I think of all the paintings that I’ve done over the years, where they are, and how they’re holding up.  That is my legacy.  A little bit of me spread across the globe.

One month’s art production

A composite of my January art production. Four watercolors, five sunflower paintings, six tree drawings and three paintings for my new series focusing on food.

Since I retired from being a director of a multi-discipline arts center a couple of years ago, people are always asking me, What are you doing with your time these days? Or Are you still painting?

Sheesh, I was an artist before I was nearly anything else.  Yes, I paint every day! That is really no exaggeration.  Sometimes I’ll take a day to just goof off, read a book or go do some other fun stuff.  Without guilt.

So I thought I’d look back at the month of January just to see how much art I really created for the month.  These are the stats.

Red Rock Cliffs at Zion National Park, watercolor / pen and ink, 9.5 x 13.5, Kit Miracle I don’t remember what is the name of this group of rocks (there are so many in the park) but I was attracted to the contrast of the sunlight and shadows.

Four watercolor / pen and ink travel paintings. These sell well in one of my online shops and they’re fun to do.

 

 

 

 

 

Rosemary’s Sunflowers, 20 x 16, acrylic on canvas, Kit Miracle. This bright painting is one of five sunflower paintings that I completed in January. Love the loose brushwork and dazzling colors.

Five sunflower paintings, all acrylic on canvas. Various sizes from 8 x 8 to 20 x 16.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maple, partial sketch. Faber Castell grey pens. 11 x 14, Kit Miracle. I first completed the whole tree, then decided to focus on this detail.

Six tree drawings. Trees are hard to do but winter is a great time to “see the bones.”  I thought I’d give myself a challenge of doing one tree per week.  We’ll see how that goes.

 

 

 

 

Room Service, 16 x 20, acrylic on canvas. Kit Miracle As the name implies, this is a meal that I ate in my room on one of my many business trips, this time to Kansas City. I was attracted to the muted colors with a little dash of color for the main entree.

Three paintings in a new series called “The Food We Eat.” They will all be paintings of food, a very popular subject.  I just love the bright colors.  And the challenge.  I have thirty two paintings planned for this series.  Or at least until I get bored.

 

 

 

In addition, I have been designing new print-on-demand products for one of my Etsy shops.  So far, I’ve created about fifty.  There are so many ideas but time is limited.

The drawings are not for sale; just for practice.

And the food paintings will be saved for a group display.

Plus time spent updating websites, blog, and social media.

Lest you think that I spend all of my time in the studio, that is not the case.  I probably spend five or six hours a day, sometimes more, sometimes less.  It’s not work really.  I just get lost.

But, of course, January is a time of year with few garden demands.  Although I could probably spend some more time cleaning the attic or going to the gym.  But I’m happy.

And larger paintings require more time so not every month sees this kind of output.

But even when I was working full time, I was still able to squeeze in 15 to 20 hours a week in the studio.  I guess it’s just all about priorities.  Although I read a lot, I don’t watch much TV or waste too much time on social media.

If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the time.

Rereading favorite books

Just a small portion of my personal book addiction. I should also mention that I have library cards from two counties!

Winter is a time of forced indoor activities, or at least, that’s my excuse.

I’ve been culling some of my many books for donation and have come across some of my favorites, probably too tattered to donate.  I was thinking about if I could only have ten books to read, maybe on that proverbial deserted island, what would they be?  That actually led me to contemplating rereading some of my favorites.  Books that may (or probably not) end up in the donation pile.

These are just some of my favorites, most read many times but at least twice…or more.  These days I cheat a little and will get the recorded book from the library to listen to while I’m in my studio, but they’re still on my list.

In no particular order:

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams and The Bean Trees.  Plus, just about anything else she has written.  I love her observations and narrative.  She has introduced me to different ways of life, different ways of living, that I never knew existed.

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women and Little Men.  I always thought Laurie was a sap and Amy was a spoiled brat.  But I actually like Little Men much better.  I haven’t seen any of the recent movie remakes but will probably catch them on TV later.  My imagination is always better than the movie.

Robert McCammon, Boy’s Life.  This was a gift from my father many years ago and has nothing to do with the magazine of that name.  It’s a delightful coming of age tale with so many twists and plot threads that it’s often difficult to keep up with.  I’ve read it several times including once aloud to my sons when they were young.  One of them recently borrowed it again.

Jean M. Auel, Clan of the Cave Bear and Valley of Horses.  I’ve read these several times and recently pulled them off the shelves again.  I even read them to the boys, skipping the juicy parts, and they have borrowed them again.  I didn’t care for some of the later books in the series but these were still thought-provoking.

Niven and Pournelle, Lucifer’s Hammer.  I first read this on vacation in Florida many years ago and it has been a hit with the family since then.

Shel Silverstein, all.  Love every book of his and am now reading them to the grandchildren. Just the irreverent attitude and silly poems and puns. And who doesn’t love The Giving Tree?

Raymond Jones, The Alien.  First read this back in high school when I was in my aliens and outer space period and a few times since. Might have to reread this again.

Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking.  I read this when I was very young and I think it has an effect on my life ever since.  It gave me the idea that with enough effort, I could pretty much be whatever I wanted to be.  Looking back now, it seems a little simplistic, but it was a good push at a young age.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit.  A major inspiration for artists and probably on lots of studio bookshelves.

Bayles and Orland, Art and Fear.  I reviewed this book not long ago and have read it several times.  I find something new in it every single time.  Another great inspiration.

David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish.  This book has prompted me to look at life with new eyes and an open attitude.  Another inspirational book for artists, writers and any creative person.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow and Creativity.  I particularly liked his research on flow, that feeling of being one with whatever you’re doing, whether that is painting, gardening, biking, whatever.  You get so involved with what you’re doing that you just go away in your head for awhile and return to the results a few hours later.  This really works for me and other people that I’ve talked to.  It might be likened to a creative meditation trance.  For me, at least.

Johanna Spyri, Heidi.  And her other books.  I’ll admit that I read this many times when I was young but when I tried to read it to my granddaughter, it just wasn’t the same.  Probably dated, by now.

Anna Sewell, Black Beauty.  Another children’s book that is getting pretty dated now, but still, most girls love horses, so there’s that.

Agatha Christie, any, all.  I think I have the complete works of Agatha Christie in various book forms.  Used to love these books and would reread them endlessly.  I loved the England of the era of Miss Marple but those days are gone now.  Might be time to donate this collection.

I remember the time when my best friend Mary and I would always have a mystery or sci-fi book tucked into our purses for those moments when we had to wait after school for someone to pick us up, or on road trips or vacations.  I wonder if teens still do this?  I know my granddaughter is happy to take a bag of reading material with her on vacation.  I still do.  But I also am as likely to read a book on my phone at the hairdresser or while waiting for a meeting to begin as with a physical books.

What do you think?  What favorites have you reread or are still rereading?  Are any of these books on your list, too?

Making temporary fixes to a painting

Far Horizons, original painting, acrylic on toned canvas, 20 x 24, Kit Miracle This is the original painting with portions of the toned canvas (raw sienna mostly) showing through as well as the original charcoal sketch on the canvas.

A few weeks ago I posted about changing the background of a painting.  I took a standard flower painting from a traditional dark background to a colorful reddish-orange background to a mixed background.  Someone asked me if I made the changes on the actual painting.  Yes, I did.  I like the painting but I’ve long passed the point of where every one is precious to me.  As the artiste, I feel it is my right to paint how I wish and what I wish.

However, I’m going to show you a neat little trick which will allow you to make temporary changes to a painting.  Here you can try out new ideas, new approaches without making permanent changes.

I have a large roll of acetate film which I used to use for wrapping large matted but not framed paintings, particularly watercolors.  This kept the paintings clean and protected them from fingerprint smudges and other dirt.  Great to use in art bins or wherever you want to display your work in public. You can buy acetate in rolls or sheets.

The painting that I’m demonstrating with is titled Far Horizons.  It shows my granddaughter looking out over the Grand Canyon. Not only does the painting depict the distant views of the Grand Canyon, but the deeper meaning of a young girl looking out to the future.

Although I love the composition of the painting, it somehow didn’t seem to give the impression of really far horizons, as anyone who has visited the great canyon can attest.  So I wanted to try to lighten the background as a test.

Far Horizons, 1st step. A clear acetate sheet has been taped over the canvas. No painting has been done on the acetate yet.

First, I cut a large piece of acetate and taped it to the painting.  Then just started loosely painting over the acetate with acrylic.  I lightened both the distant sky, and made many changes to the rocks with lighter colors.  I even added some more highlights to the girl’s hair and jacket.

Far Horizons, 2nd step. Here you see that I started with the sky and have been painting directly on the acetate sheet. The whole idea is to test out some lighter background colors in order to push it back.

Detail of step 2 showing some loose strokes of lighter colors.

Far Horizons, final step of the acetate painting over the original painting. I even touched up the highlights of the girl’s hair and jacket.

This is the actual painting on the acetate. I’ve put a plain piece of toned paper behind it to better show you the actual painting.

I plan to set the painting aside in order to evaluate whether I want to make any of these changes permanent.  If not, I haven’t done any damage to the original painting and can leave it just the way it is.

This technique works well for both acrylic and oil painting.