Visiting the Falls of the Ohio

Falls of the Ohio II, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle. This view is looking back towards the shore from the beds, where the puddles reflect the cloudy sky and trees.

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I took a day trip to the Falls of the Ohio in New Albany, Indiana.  Although it’s only a short drive away, I had never been there.

The Falls of the Ohio is an Indiana state park set on the edge of the Ohio River.  It features large fossil beds which visitors can climb over.  You can view thousands of fossils right beneath your feet.  As the level of the river drops, more layers of fossils are uncovered.

Falls of the Ohio I, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle. View from the treeline at the Falls, across the river towards Louisville. We saw a train crossing the bridge while we were there.

The day we visited was an in and out day, with showers alternating with sun.  I particularly loved the setting along the river.  The old trees, the puddles reflecting the trees, the skyline of Louisville across the river.  We even saw a train crossing the old bridge.

There is an interpretive center which has a fee but the visit to the Falls is free.  If you go there, it is a bit tricky to find but follow the signs.  Obviously it’s on the river so you will be looking for River Road.  Take a picnic lunch or travel along River Road to eat lunch at one of the many neat restaurants in the area.  You can even follow the road east to Jeffersonville to the walking bridge over the Ohio.

All in all, an enjoyable day. It’s good to try something new.

Reception at Oakland City University

Gallery exhibit at the J. Michael Dunn Gallery at Oakland City University in Oakland City, Indiana. The paintings always look so nice when the lights are set. As you can see, I really love color!

As I mentioned earlier, I have an exhibit at Oakland City University last month and through September 28th.  We had a reception today.

Friends who made it to the reception. Even with the leftover remnants of the hurricane rain, some people still made it out. Thanks so much!

I was so delighted that some new and old friends were able to make it as we have had some real rainy weather with the remnant of the hurricane coming up from the Gulf. (We had over seven inches of rain yesterday!)  It would have been real embarrassing if no one had shown up.

My son and his girlfriend speaking with a long-time acquaintance LaVonne Tisdale.

My friend Roger Willis and his helpers put out some nice refreshments.  People hung around for my gallery talk.  Difficult to squeeze thirty-five years into twenty minutes but I hope they enjoyed it.

The artist posing with a self portrait with still life. A bit ironic, I think.

Thanks so much for coming out.  The show runs through September 28th.  If you’re in the neighborhood, please try to stop by.  Check out the hours and address at the J. Michael Dunn Gallery on campus.

Pen and ink, a test

I’m teaching a class next month for flower painting with watercolor and pen and ink.  I’ve been using this technique for about 35 years now so I might have learned a thing or two about the subject.

A few of the pens that I used in the most recent test. Top to bottom, India ink and a #4 quill dip pen, my favorite Platinum Carbon Ink pen, a Uniball Vision Elite, Lamy Safari, Shaeffer calligraphy, and a brush pen with ink.

In preparation for the class, I dragged out all of the accumulated pens that I’ve used over the years.  I first started with the old fashioned dip pens and India ink.  This is still a tried and true favorite.  I use a #4 quill and used to buy them by the dozen as I tend to wear them down. (Or a #102 crow quill.) I like the feel of the quill pen and the slight variance of the lines as I draw.  However, there’s often the problem of an errant drop of ink on the paper, which, being India ink, cannot be removed and is difficult to cover up.  Also, when I was doing house portraits and using a ruler for some straight lines, the ink would sometimes wick under the ruler, again, spoiling the painting.

Several years ago, I began exploring other pens.  I’ve tried many of the mechanical drawing pens but they were too difficult to clean.  Some commercial pens were nice but the ink faded over time.  I’ve actually done some tests in the south-facing window of my studio and some of the inks faded totally away!

My current favorite is the Platinum Carbon ink pen.  These are wonderful pens with cartridges, never seem to clog, and are very affordable.

Several others that I tested in this sample are the Lamy Safari, Faber Castell, a brush pen, and whatever else I had.

Samples of various pens and inks. The blurred samples are where I dragged a brush loaded with clear water to test the fastness of the ink. As you can see, they’re not all the same.

After drawing the test sections, I let them dry completely, and then passed a brush with clear water over the lines. As you can see, some of the inks are not waterproof at all.  This could be a problem for artists who do the ink drawing first before they add the watercolor.  In my case, it wouldn’t matter too much as I always start with a quick pencil sketch, paint the watercolor, then add the details loosely with the pen and ink.

This test paper has been in my window for 16 years. On the inside of this piece, I tested several commercially available pens as well as the standard India ink. Some faded totally away while some others held up surprisingly well.

Anyway, if you’re interested in the class, there are still some openings but it’s filling quickly  Here is the link for the signup. Flower Painting Class.

search my blog for more posts about using pen and ink.

Flowers from the garden

Here you see Beebalm, onion, and a beautiful Magnolia. Watercolor, pen and ink, Kit Miracle

After the painting blitz of landscapes the past few weeks, I jumped back to painting flowers again.  I’m teaching a flower painting class in October, watercolor / pen and ink, so I wanted to have some more work for the class.

All of the flowers I depict pretty much come from my own property.  Even though they’re seasonal, it seems as if we always have something in bloom, either cultivated plants or wildflowers.  One has to be pretty quick sometimes because the blooming season passes quickly and some plants I’ve missed.

Zinnias and red day lilies, watercolor, pen and ink, Kit Miracle

I needed to catch up on photographing paintings today.  In the old days of film cameras, I used to have to order special film from New York, special lights and filters, then set everything up in my studio with total black-out curtains.  The lights were hot and it was a real pain.

These days, with digital cameras, I just hang the paintings on the side of my studio, either on overcast days, in the shade, or on the north side.  As long as it’s in focus and square to the camera plane, photo editing programs will take care of the rest.

For the flower paintings, I divide a full sheet of watercolor paper (22 x 30) into quarters.  Each quarter is then divided into smaller sections, either four, three or two.  I tape these down to a board and work on them that way from the actual flowers.

Orange cosmos and a mixed bunch of purple and lavender cosmos. Watercolor, pen and ink, Kit Miracle. The orange cosmos is topping seven feet now! Can’t believe it.

The style is a very loose, not botanical studies, but lively, colorful depictions of the flowers. My whole aim is to capture the spirit of the flower, its uniqueness and what makes it special and different.

I’ll have some of these up on my Etsy shops soon so if you’re interested, check them out.

Etsy:  my90acres for the small paintings and KitMiracleArt for the larger ones.

What’s in a name?

East Field in Evening, tetraptych, acrylic on canvas, Kit Miracle

This week I created a set of paintings but I’m not quite sure what to call them.  They are of our east field in the evening, showing the stretching shadows.

I started with one painting, the one on the far right, and that just lead to another and another and another.  Four in all…so far.  I’m actually working on a fifth one.

Since these are all painted from the same vantage point, it’s not quite a series which I consider to be more of the same subject but not necessarily from the same view.  This set of paintings creates one broad vista, each overlapping by a quarter to a third.  They don’t exactly match as far as horizon and it wasn’t my intention to do so.  But I did want to convey the same feel.  Although they work well together as a connected work of art, the individual paintings each stands alone as far as composition and technique.

My question is, what does one call four (soon to be five) paintings of the same larger subject but from the same vantage point?  If a diptych is two paintings, and a triptych is three, what is four or five?

The best information I can find is a polyptych or maybe a tetraptych or soon to be a pentaptych.  Doesn’t exactly fall off the tongue, does it?

What is your opinion?

East Field in Evening 1, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

East Field in Evening 2, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

East Field in Evening 3, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

East Field in Evening 4, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

 

“Whatever you eye falls on – for it will fall on what you love – will lead you to the questions of your life, the questions that are incumbent upon you to answer, because that is how the mind works in concert with the eye. The things of this world draw us where we need to go.” 
― Mary Rose O’ReilleyThe Barn at the End of the World: The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd

My favorite blogs

The Little House, oil on canvas, 8 x 10, painted from memory, Kit Miracle

I could have titled this post Why write a blog?  There are just so many people online these days, sharing opinions, knowledge, how-to’s.  You can find practically anything on the internet these days.  Or so it seems.

I started my blog (short for web log) several years ago because, well, why not.  Art. Books.  Country living.  That’s about it.  I’ve been an artist for over 35 years now and have a little knowledge about the subject which I share from time to time.  In addition, I was director of a multi-discipline arts center for over a decade – music, dance, theatre, education…and visual arts.  I love to read since I first figured out how that works.  Piles of books wait for me but I do eventually get to them all.  Eventually.  And I love living in the country, ninety acres of peace and quiet – mostly.  Gardening, walks in the woods, flowers.  Oh, there is the matter of the neighbor’s cows in the garden, rogue boars, insects, birds, raccoons causing mischief in the corn patch.  I could go on.

So I thank all of you who have taken the time to read my postings, especially if something strikes a chord and you make a comment.  It lets me know you’re out there.  Those ads that WordPress puts on here are not mine and I don’t get paid for them.  Well, I could upgrade to an ad-free site but I haven’t.  Yet.

I try to post a couple of times a week, Sundays and Wednesdays, but no more as it becomes more of a have-to than a sharing of fun and opinion.  Who wants that burden hanging over their head?

However, I love to read other people’s blogs.  Some are inspirational.  Some share knowledge.  Some make me think. Some I read daily and some I just check 0n once in a while.

These are some of my favorites.

The Daily Motivator – Ralph Marston, essays of motivation and food for thought.

Gurney’s Journey – James Gurney, artist and illustrator who provides daily thoughts, demonstrations and inspiration for artists.

Joe’s Retirement Blog – Joe Manomet, great photos and very light-hearted.  Some travel in the New England area and beyond.  Not too fond of his local theatre reviews but I’m sure those postings are popular in his area.

Herbalblessingsblog – Carolee, gardener extraordinaire and a true inspiration.  I always learn something from her.

The Sketchbook – Shari Blaukopf, Canadian artist and teacher specializing mainly in watercolor with pen and ink, or pencil.

Fruitful Dark – Fritz of New Zealand.  Some beautiful art plus plenty of food for thought.  He hasn’t posted too regularly lately but I keep checking.

Raptitude – David Cain writes about some pretty deep subjects but plenty of food for thought.

Words In the Light – F.G.M. beautiful poetry, some music or video, thoughtful.

There are so many others that I check on from time to time. This is a very short list but give these people a visit.  You might learn something but I certainly think you’ll discover something in yourself.

What are your favorite blogs?

What makes a great painting?

Metropolitan Museum of Art

What makes a great painting?

The answer to this question is, of course, subjective and there are probably as many opinions as there are people who think about it. When I used to run the arts center and gallery, I was often asked this question.

My general reply is this:

  • Impact – when you walk into a gallery or museum, which artwork are you most drawn to? What is your initial reaction? Sometimes you may be attracted to beauty or color.  Sometimes you approach with curiosity.  Sometimes it is horror.  But what initial impact does the painting make on you?
  • Size – a wall-size painting is not always good art but it usually has impact. I have seen some pretty bad giant paintings but they usually get your attention, at least initially.  As an aside, young artists often want to create these very large pieces before they have any real talent or anything to say.  That makes them large bad paintings.  On the other hand, Monet created some huge murals of waterlilies which required a special museum to be built but that was towards the end of his life. And Picasso’s Guernica will only fit into spaces of a certain size. Size might matter but not always.

    Pollack’s iconic painting at the Met. Questions remain today about quality of workmanship but he certainly explored new territory in his time.

  • Composition – how does the painting flow? Although there are many rules of composition, the golden mean being one of the most well-known, I find it is more of a feeling of flow and balance.
  • Evokes a feeling – this is often related to composition but not necessarily. How do you feel when you view the painting?  Is it calming, exciting, emotionally disturbing?  What does your gut tell you? Does it touch the mind and soul of the viewer? Does it make you want to keep looking? It should be something beyond just wall decoration.
  • Originality – a great painting should provide something new to look at. Is it the same flower arrangement that dozens of other artists crank out or has the artist treated a common subject in a new way?  I think a great painting should explore new territory.

    Great paintings make you want to look closer.

  • Quality of workmanship – I admire quality of workmanship and appreciate how the artist actually handled the materials. An artist who cares for the process of the art will often care for the longevity of the art, too.
  • Memorable – will you remember this painting? Will it haunt you long after you have left the gallery or museum?  What will you remember about it?  This was a question that I often asked customers when I sold my work at art fairs long ago and they couldn’t make up their minds which painting to buy.  Which painting will you remember and regret not buying long after you’re gone?  And there usually was one piece more than the other.

As I said at the beginning of this post, this is a subjective list.  I’m sure there are many other opinions but most of these points would be generally agreed upon to answer the question, what makes a great painting.

What are your thoughts?  What do you think makes a great painting?

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

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.