Gallery show, update

Kit Miracle at the J. Michael Dunn Gallery at Oakland City University, Oakland City, Indiana.

I took a drive over to Oakland City University today to see my newly-hung show at the J. Michael Dunn Gallery.  I’ll admit, it’s been a long time since I’ve had enough work to show at a solo show.  However, in the past few years I have been able to devote more time to painting and creating.

Most artists understand how amazing it is to walk into a gallery and see your work on display, especially if there are several years’ worth of work.  But to see everything out of storage and out of boxes and hung all together…well, it’s just a bit overwhelming.

I’ve posted photos of individual paintings over the past few years but I really haven’t seen the whole body of work in one place.  The first thing that struck me is the color.  I like color and it shows.

Then there’s the subject matter.   Still lifes, landscapes, portraits.  It’s all meaningful to me but I’m not sure it is to anyone else.  Nevertheless, I love seeing the work hung as a group.

The show runs from August 13th through September 28th.  The public reception and gallery talk is scheduled for Sunday, September 9th from 2 to 5 CST.  The gallery hours are M-F 10 to 5, weekends by appointment.  Check it out. Come on out for the reception or just to view the work.

https://www.oak.edu/facilities/j-michael-dunn-art-gallery

Kit Miracle, gallery show 2

Gallery show-3, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 4, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 5, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 6, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 7, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 8, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 9, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 10, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 11, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 13, Kit Miracle

Gallery show 13, Kit Miracle

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Painting close to home

Garden in August, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

Visiting new places is always fun and inspiring for artists, but many of the best paintings have been made close to home.  One of my favorites is one that Renoir painted of Monet in his garden.  It’s just a homey painting of a backyard with other houses in the distance.

Renoir painting of Monet in garden

Today I decided paint a scene that I see every day from my breakfast table. It is of my garden this month with the tall sunflowers and multi-color zinnias and other flowers.  The rest of the garden is still producing but is beginning to look a little straggly this time of year.  We’re still getting plenty of tomatoes, eggplants, beans, and peppers.  But it’s the flowers that I really love. The birds and butterflies love them, too.

Garden in August. The sunflowers and zinnias are in full bloom. The vegies are still producing heavily. Lots of tomatoes, eggplants, beans and peppers.

I got out early to take advantage of the cool morning and the shade.  The canvas is primed with a beige color and painted black on the border.

Garden in August, step 1. Here I have generally covered most of the canvas. Notice that I’ve edited the trees in the background to provide more interest.

The first step as usual for me is to lay in the general composition and the dark colors.  As you can see, I did some editing, removing the line of trees in the background and just including a few big trees.  I also squashed things together a bit for the composition.

Garden in August, step 2. More blocking in plus I’ve added the sky and most of the foreground.

Next I laid in more darks and some brighter greens as well as the sky.  I wanted a rosy early morning sky….so I made one.

Actually the most difficult part was painting the flowers.  It is so hard to get them bright without being gaudy.  I ended up painting a light wash of pale green over some of them to tone down their brightness.

The entire painting took about three hours minus some time for a phone call to a friend while I was waiting for paint to dry. The point here is that you don’t have to travel a great distance to find something worthy to paint.  A good subject might be just outside your window.

Winning Plein Air Painting

Here I am with my first place winning plein air painting at the Jasper Arts competition this past week. It’s the top painting of the new bridge at the Parklands. The bottom painting is of a dead tree.

Here I am posing with my winning plein air painting this past weekend.  It was of the new bridge at the Parklands in Jasper, Indiana.  What a nice surprise!  I guess it was worth enduring the extreme heat and humidity that day.

Also, there is an update on my exhibit at Oakland City University.  It was supposed to open this past Monday but that has been pushed back to Monday, August 13th.  The end date has also been pushed back to Friday, September 28th.  The reception and gallery talk is still scheduled for Sunday, September 9th from 2 to 5 p.m.  Hope some of you can make it out. I’d be embarrassed if no one shows up.  ;-/

Plein air painting at the Parklands

Bridge at Parklands, plein air, acrylic, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

I attended a plein air painting event today at the Parklands.  This is a new park in the area which just opened last month.  Already, it has become a popular destination for dog walkers, bicyclists, moms pushing strollers, just about anyone of any age.  Created from a former golf course, it features three lakes/ponds, several water features, an outdoor musical instruments area, exercise equipment activities, a pavilion for special events, a splash park for kids, and many other features.

Although the day was promising to be exceedingly hot with temperatures in the 90s, I elected my first painting should be of a new bridge over a waterfall.  Usually one only has about two hours to make a plein air painting before the sun and the shadows move too much.

I always start with a small black and white Notan sketch before I begin to paint. Then on a toned canvas, I lay in the darks.  Since I was working in acrylic, it didn’t take long for the paint to dry.  In fact, I had to use an acrylic retarder to slow down the  drying.

This is the view I selected. I liked the shape of the new bridge and the contre jour light (backlight). As you can see, I began painting in the darks on a red-toned canvas.

I start with a one inch brush which will get 85% of the painting done.  The bigger the brush, the less fussy I am.  Sometimes I begin laying in the sky.  In this case, I laid in some of the other darks and midtones and just kept working away.  The bridge was critical as any mistakes could really make the painting ….well, not good.

About 85% finished. Leaving the bridge for last, I concentrated on the landscape first.

The final touches are to add the lightest colors, the highlights, the sky holes in the trees, most with smaller brushes.  I really like the peeps of red showing through the painting.  I think it adds a little bit of liveliness.

A friendly little butterfly who kept me company quite a while. I think it’s a Painted Lady butterfly. Very appropriate.

One interesting thing happened to me while I was painting.  I had a little butterfly who just kept hanging around.  She walked along the top of the painting, then the sides, not even moving as I painted closer to her.  If I shooed her away, she quickly came back.  If my identification is correct, this was a Painted Lady butterfly. How appropriate.

After I finished this painting, I moved to the shade where I completed another one of a different scene.  Fortunately, there was a nice breeze all day but it was still pretty dang hot.

To my surprise at final judging, I was awarded first prize.  So it was worth the melting conditions.  Maybe the Painted Lady brought me a little luck.

Gardening news, odds and ends

Fresh picked basil, destemmed, washed and ready to be made into pesto.

We use a lot of basil in our cooking so I always plant plenty.  Instead of planting it in pots, I just sow the tiny seeds directly into the garden.  They’re about as big a specks of pepper but are very easy to grow.  If you’re diligent about weeding them when they’re just emerging, then you’ll have a big healthy crop.

Today was a drizzly, rainy overcast day.  Perfect for indoor work so I decided to make pesto.  I picked a huge bunch (overly ambitious) and set to work.  This is the pile of basil leaves after destemming and culling.  I ended up making six batches of pesto and then froze the rest of the leaves for other use.  I froze the pesto in my silicon muffin pan (they slipped out nicely when frozen) and an ice cube tray (not so much.) This will be so yummy in winter in a sauce or directly on pasta.  Yummm.

Squash plants with rag mulch. Still going strong.

The second item I want to report is an experiment I tried this year with my summer squash and zucchini.  I always plant a good row of these vegetables but it seems they die off halfway through the summer, mostly due to squash vine borer I’m guessing.  This year I decided to mulch the vines with some rags (old sheets and jeans).  I did this primarily to keep the squash from coming into contact with the soil as they tend to rot quickly.  But I had heard that there’s some connection between the squash vine borer bug and the soil so, why not?

The row of squash and zucchini. Notice the difference in growth. The zucchini (nearest) is nearly gone while the summer squash (rear) is still thriving.

One of two zucchini plants with a rag mulch. Still thriving, also.

Well, I’ll let you be the judge.  Most of the rags were placed under the summer squash plants which are still producing heavily.  I only had enough rags to place under two zucchini plants.  Result:  All of the summer squash plants are still blooming and producing, as are the two zucchini plants.  The rest of the zucchini plants have died.  So, this will definitely be on the list of experiments to try again next year.

The rags allow the soil to breathe and lets the water in while keeping down weeds.  I might try this with cardboard next year, too.  And I do rotate the crops in the garden every year.  Certainly worth trying again.

Finally, as Facebook is changing its rules, where I used to have my blog posts automatically repost to my personal Facebook profile, it will now be directed to my Facebook page KitMiracleArt.  You can follow me there.  Otherwise, I’ll try to remember to repost this to my personal profile.  I usually post on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Thanks again for stopping by.  I always love to hear from you.

Gallery exhibit – behind the scenes

Yesterday I delivered fifty paintings to Oakland City University for a solo exhibit.  It’s been several years since I’ve had the time to build enough work for a solo show so this has been a bit of a challenge.

Car number one, packed with dolly. A dolly is invaluable if you have to schlep work any great distance. Always choose wheels. I have a much bigger dolly but this small one is compact and travels well.

Car number 2. Make sure everything is tight. I used to have a full-size van and could have gotten everything into one vehicle, so it’s a bit more challenging now.

Car number 2. Again, make sure everything is packed tight so there isn’t any slipping. This can damage your artwork.

Before I was director of the arts center, I was the visual arts director responsible for lining up and implementing the exhibits.  There is a lot more to it than it would appear.  Contracts, designing and ordering gallery announcement cards, press releases, unpacking, hanging, receptions, repacking, etc.  However, this only built on two decades of schlepping my work around the country to art fairs and festivals.  Those were the gypsy days, for sure.

But yesterday I was on familiar territory with meeting my old friend Roger Willis at OCU.  This was the culmination of spending the past few weeks deciding what to take, ordering frames and framing artwork, packing and delivering, then unpacking.  Fortunately, Roger didn’t require that I stay to help hang the exhibit as some galleries do. So it will be a surprise to see which paintings he places next to each other.

Gallery shot number 1. Unpacked paintings waiting for hanging.

Gallery shot 2. More paintings waiting.

Gallery shot 3. Even more paintings waiting. These smaller pieces (16 x 20) can be double hung to save space.

If you’re interested in viewing the exhibit, it will be held from August 6th through September 24th.  The reception is Sunday, September 9th from 2 to 5 pm.  The address is on the Oakland City University campus at the J. Michael Dunn gallery, Cornwell-Reed Fine Arts Building, 138 N Lucretia Street, Oakland City, IN 47660.  They’re open M-F from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.   And weekends by appointment.

I’ll post more photos of the exhibit later.

What happened to color?

Many shades of gray. I’m not sure if it’s fifty, but probably at least that.

I like watching those house renovation programs but have you noticed that everything seems to be turning out the same these days?  It’s granite countertops, hardwood floors, open floor plan (noisy), glass tile backsplash, subway tile bathrooms, barnwood doors.  And….it’s all gray, gray, gray.  Well, white and black play a big part, too.

But whatever happened to color?  I mean other than a staged bowl of green apples or a throw on the sofa?  Can you imagine living in northern climes with white on white walls?  I’d be snowblind.

I don’t wish to bring back avocado or harvest gold appliances, but what happened to color?  Humans see a wider range of colors than almost any other animals so why aren’t we using more color?

As an artist, I get excited when I walk into an art store and see the beautiful array of colors.  Even just writing about it gets me pumped up.  I love color, as my paintings attest.

More neutral interiors. How about a little personal touch? Anyone?

So I wonder why the decorators or  home stagers don’t use more colors in their final reveals?  Don’t you think that favorite red painting of the dancer that you move from house to house makes your home feel instantly like your own nest?  Are people afraid of color?  I mean, we’ve had the beiges and off-whites of the 60s, 70s and 80s.  Now we live in a black and white and gray world?  Nah, not for me.  I want some color to excite my senses.  Besides, you can always move a painting or repaint a wall.  Probably a lot easier than that barndoor you had to have.

And what’s up with those giant clocks?  Well, that’s a subject for a different post.

What’s your favorite color?

What are you reading?

Books, my not-so-secret addiction

What are you reading these days?  This is a question I am frequently asked as most people who know me, also know that I am a true bibliophile (lover of books.)  I covet books.  I love the smell, the feel, the heft.  Just opening a new book gives me chills of anticipation.

So, most friends are also surprised when I reply with several titles.  How can you read more than one book at a time?  they ask.  Well, you can watch more than one television series at a time, can’t you?  You watch an episode and then come back the next week to watch the next one.  Then I can see the light dawn as they get what I’m saying.

I like a variety of books and subjects to read and switch off during the week.  Quiet morning time is often reserved for more contemplative, deeper non-fiction.  Later in the day, I escape with some fiction (many genres).  And bedtime reading is, let’s just say, a wee bit boring, or at least nothing that’s going to keep me awake all night.

So this is my current reading stack.

Bronnie Ware’s The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.  Since I already have more years behind me than I have before me, I mostly want to see how my life compares with others who have reached the end of theirs.  There are some interesting concepts but I do find that the author wanders around a bit.

John Muir’s A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf.  This is more of a journal than a bonafide book.  It is scanned and has all the errors that some scanned books have.  But I always find Muir a fascinating and awesome writer and person.  It’s nearly incomprehensible some of the treks and adventures he made with very little in the way of supplies or equipment.  Bedtime reading, for sure.

Dr. Michael Mosely The Fast Diet.  The author discusses some of the science behind intermittent fasting and the research for better health and longevity.  I think I like’d Dr. Jason Fung’s The Obesity Code better but this book is very readable.

James H. Rubin How to Read Impressionism: Ways of Looking.  I’ve read so many books about impressionism, the period, the specific artists of the era, that I doubted there would be anything new here.  However, the author approaches the subject by grouping the artists and paintings by location and subject matter more than chronologically.  It’s an interesting read but I have noticed that his conclusions do not always agree with other authors.  It’s loaded with color pictures and is a good reference.

Then this past weekend I indulged a guilty pleasure of zipping through two sci-fi dystopian books by Dima Zales, The Thought Readers and The Thought Persuaders Not deep but good entertainment.

So, this is what is on my reading table these days.  What is on yours?

So many books; so little time. – Frank Zappa

Mid-July garden update

A pretty little sunflower playing peek-a-boo. I love the patterns of the seeds.

Outdoor activities have been limited lately due to the extreme heat and humidity. Plus ozone alerts.  Who would think that in a county which is heavily forested and has such low population that we don’t even have a traffic light, we would have trouble with air quality?  It’s the Ohio River Valley influence again.

Any work that must be done outdoors is usually in the early morning.  However, some relief is in sight with cooler weather predicted for the next few weeks.

Garden in July. Still looking pretty good. The corn in the far right of the photo has been harvested. We’ll take the used stalks to the neighbor for his cattle. Squash vines dying. Plenty of basil and cilantro which should be harvested soon. Now is when the real work begins.

The garden is still looking pretty good but doesn’t seem to be producing as much as most years.  We are usually overwhelmed with zucchini and summer squash this time of year but not this year.  Also, green beans that we generally pick by the bucket seem sparse.  The first crop of corn has been harvested and put up.  Thanks to Mikey the guard dog for keeping the raccoons out of the corn patch. And it looks as if the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant will be plentiful.  Just not yet.

Garden in July. Flowers for cutting. Peppers coming on. Squash vines dying.

One of my great pleasures is planting flowers for cutting in the garden.  I love to bring in big bouquets for the house.  The varieties change from year to year but I always have a row or two of sunflowers, especially the mammoth and the multi-stemmed varieties.  Zinnias, cosmos, nasturtiums, are usually sown, but I add other varieties, such as baby’s breath.

The many containers with flowers seem to be holding up well, probably due to better watering and care.  This is one reason to plant in pots.  The flower beds could use a good weeding and some more mulch but that will have to wait until the cooler weather next week.

Living in the country makes one cognizant of the cycles of nature, whether it’s the heat of summer or the cold of winter. I think it’s easy to lose sight of man’s connection to his environment if you don’t experience some contact with nature every day.  Just my humble opinion.

I hope that you get some time outdoors this summer.

In every walk with Nature, one receives far more than he seeks.  John Muir

Memories of Paris

Memories of Paris, 24 x 36, acrylic on canvas, Kit Miracle

I completed this large painting this past week.  Well, I may not be finished as I keep tweaking it. You would think that a painting of the sky through some tree branches would be easy but I’ve worked on it for some weeks.

Memories of Paris, detail 1, acrylic on canvas, Kit Miracle

I’m not quite sure why I was attracted to this subject.  Maybe the cool spring colors.  It seems to exude a feeling of peace.

Memories of Paris, detail 2, acrylic on canvas, Kit Miracle

It was my intention to just give an impression of the sky view, not to paint every detail.  In fact, I think that is boring. I like the viewer to bring something to the scene.  If you look closely at the detail images, you’ll see many variegated colors, both in the foliage, the flowers, and on the tree limbs.  But also, look at the blank sections of the painting.  You’ll spot a vapor trail and some wispy clouds.

Memories of Paris, detail 3, acrylic on canvas, Kit Miracle

And, do you see the surprise that I hid here?  It is a pair of birds.  Maybe they’re getting ready to build a nest in one of the trees. Not overly obvious, just a sweet sign of spring.