Monthly Archives: April 2018

Spring Flower Explosion

Columbine, watercolor, pen and ink, Kit Miracle

After a roller coaster ride of weather conditions the past two months – we had 80 degrees on one day and blizzard-like conditions the next – it seems as if spring is finally here…with a vengeance.  Suddenly, all the spring flowers are blooming.  A quick walk around the grounds reveals spring beauties, violets, irises, bluebells, azaleas, columbine, sweet William,  the end of the daffodils and narcissus, lilacs and more that I’m sure I’ve overlooked. Oh, of course, the fruit trees are all in bloom, too.

And I’m trying to paint them all!

Violets, watercolor, pen and ink, Kit Miracle

Here are three samples of yesterday’s work, all done in watercolor with pen and ink overlay.  For efficiency, I use a quarter sheet of watercolor paper (about 11 x 15 inches), divide it into four boxes of 4 ½ by 6 ½ with margins between and surrounding.  I tape the whole thing onto a board and then hand sketch each subject.  This is the same technique that I use for the fruit and vegetable paintings.  I have been using this method for about 30 years and it works for me.

Columbine, demo, working on four paintings at once.

Then I paint each sketch with watercolor.  The tape around the edge is enough to keep the heavy paper from buckling.  When the paint is completely dry, I then add an overlay of India or carbon ink.  I like my Platinum pen with the cartridges, but my first love is a quill #104 with India ink.  As you can see in the photos, each painting is slightly different although the subjects are the same.

Blue Bells, watercolor, pen and ink, Kit Miracle

Today’s sample of flowers for painting. Violets, blue bells, columbine.

The little paintings are matted in museum-grade off-white mat with a foam core backing.  Yes, they’re for sale on my Etsy shop, my90acres.  Mother’s Day is coming.  Get a 20% discount on everything in the shop until May 13th.

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Low carb pizza

Low carb pizza

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile, then you saw the recipe for the crusty artisan bread that I posted earlier.  My husband loves to make bread of all types, white, whole grain and multigrain.  Unfortunately, all this bread has consequences.  His doctor advised him last year to cut back on the carbs.  Drat!  No bread. No pizza.  Bah!

So I came up with this low carb version of pizza last year which is made from, yes, cauliflower.  Let me just preface this by saying, although we LOVE vegetables in this house, I doubt that a cauliflower has ever crossed our threshold since we’ve lived here…30+ years.  Blech.  A white vegetable that isn’t potatoes?  No way.

However, we are open-minded people so I did some research and this is what I came up with.  No, it does not taste like cauliflower…at all!  Yes, it does taste like yummy pizza.  If you’re watching your carbs, give this recipe a try.  You might like to make two crusts if you’re going to the trouble.  You’ll want to repeat this again.

Ingredients:

  • One large head of cauliflower
  • One egg
  • Goat cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Decorations for the actual pizza, your choice– your favorite sauce, herbs and spices, peppers, onions, olives, garlic, sausage, pepperoni, veggie crumbles, cheeses (Romano, mozzarella, etc.)

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven 425 degrees
  2. Cut up cauliflower into same size flourettes

    Cauliflower flourettes

  3. Add ½ c water, cover with plastic wrap with one side open to let out steam, and steam in microwave until medium soft, about 15 minutes. You may need to stir these every five minutes or so.  It shouldn’t be mushy but just al dente.
  4. Run through food processor until just riced, (not mashed). You may have to do this in batches.

    Steamed flourettes after ricing in food processor, about 20 seconds

  5. Place riced cauliflower in clean, dry kitchen towel, stir a bit to let cool, then squeeze ALL the water out that you can. The more you squeeze, the crustier your pizza crust will be.

    Riced, steamed cauliflower in clean, dry towel before squeezing

    Squeezing out moisture from the steamed, riced cauliflowe

    Riced, steamed cauliflower after squeezing moisture out.

  6. Add egg, goat cheese, salt and pepper and stir.
  7. Press onto parchment-lined pan. You want about ¼ inch with a little higher crust on the edges.

    Cauliflower Pizza crust, baked

  8. Bake 20-25 minutes or until browned on the edges.
  9. Decorate pizza as usual with your favorite toppings.
  10. Lower temp of oven to 375 and bake for another 20-25 minutes until it looks like a pizza.
  11. Cauliflower Pizza, final, baked.

There you go! You’ll be surprised that you can actually hold this like a piece of regular pizza. It does NOT taste like cauliflower.  Manga!

Wyoming Landscape

Wyoming Landscape, original painting, acrylic on canvas, near the Shoshone River, impressionistic style, Kit Miracle

If you have never visited the western United States, you really must do so someday.  I particularly love Wyoming, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.  However, when my husband and I visited a few years ago, we took the northern route across the Big Horn mountain range, (a nail-biter for sure).  After we crossed the mountains and were heading to Cody for the night, we drove along this river valley.

The scenery is just so beautiful.  Peaceful and with the bluest sky you’ve ever seen.  I imagine it’s a different story in the winter but this was summer.  As I searched through old photos earlier this week, this subject caught my eye.  Of course, much editing as usual, but the landscape just called to me.  Oh, how I want to visit again.

This is painted in acrylic on stretched canvas.  I’ve painted the edges black so the painting doesn’t necessarily need a frame.  Such a peaceful painting.  Enjoy!

A Week of Painting

A question that I often receive is, “Are you still painting?”  This puzzles me.  Do we ask musicians if they still make music?  Or writers if they still write?

The answer is, Yes, I paint nearly every day for several hours.  This is what I do.  I can’t seem to help myself.  I often do some inside work or gardening in the early part of the day, then head out to the studio and paint. And paint. And paint.

These are three paintings that I completed last week.

Chinese Bridge at Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Louis, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30, Kit Miracle

This large one is acrylic on canvas 24 x 30 inches. The scene is from the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis.  As it’s only a few hours away, my husband and I like to visit for a quick trip.  The gardens are beautiful in nearly any season.  The scene depicted here is from the Chinese garden area.  I was attracted to the bridge, of course, but also the back lighting.  It has some echoes of Monet but is pure American impressionism.

Windy Day at the Lake, acrylic on canvas board, 12 x 16, Kit Miracle

The next painting is called Windy Day at the Lake.  I painted this en plein air on Friday. My husband and I went over to the Lake (Patoka); him to fish, me to paint.  We found a nice sheltered  area and had a wonderful morning at the lake.  The acrylic sketch is 12 x 16 on canvas board.

Japanese Bridge at Missouri Botanical Gardens, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

The final painting that I completed last week is of the bridge in the Japanese area of the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis.  I was attracted to the early autumn colors, the shape of the bridge, and the reflections in the lake.  Painted in acrylic on canvas, it has the edges painted black so it wouldn’t necessarily need a frame but could be hung as is.  It just gives such a feeling of peace.

So, as an artist, this is what I do.

Perseverance: Or How to Build Your Art Career

I was thinking the other day about how some artists become successful and others, equally talented, don’t seem to be able to attain any kind of success.

I think I was prompted to this thought by a casual remark my husband made while he was watching the Masters golfing tournament, I wish I could golf like that. My flippant reply was, Well, you have to get out there more.  Golfing a few times a year won’t cut it.

This harkens back to Malcom Gladwell’s theory that you need 10,000 hours invested to master anything.  Not quite true but close.  I would clarify that to be many hours of working diligently and with thoughtfulness.  If you practice incorrectly, you’ll only get good at doing something poorly.

But I asked a visiting artist, Alice Kidderman, a tiny woman who is a wonderful stone sculptor, what her secret was.  We hosted many artists over the years at the arts center and some were definitely more organized and easier to work with than others.  Alice was one of the best.  And most successful.

She told me that being a stone sculptor took a physical toll on her body with all that hammering away at pieces of rock.  She always spend one day a week, usually Wednesdays, on the business aspect of her career.  Updating inventory, posting and updating her website, applying to shows, taking care of the money and correspondence, etc.

This reconfirmed some things that other artists have written; about how they spend 50% of their time on the business of art and the rest of the time on creating.  That makes sense to me.  Otherwise, you can end up with a studio full of work and no place to go with it.

When I was Director of the arts center, I always made annual, monthly and weekly goals, keeping in mind the five year plan.  Everything was flexible but it gave me a road map.  Each Monday I would look at what I wanted to accomplish in each area (fundraising, grants, performing arts, special events, etc.) and started with the most difficult task first.  Sometimes this meant locking myself in my office and just sticking with the task at hand, without distractions. I have always been a goal setter and list maker and I still do this.  Now I apply my efforts to my own career – art creations, home / farm stuff, whatever.

One of my top goals this year was to redesign my website, a chore I was definitely not looking forward to.  I’ve had my own website since the 1990s and it has morphed several times.  And I’ve managed several other websites, too.  It always involves learning new platforms, tricks, maybe some coding.  What a headache!

After several months of researching what other artists are doing, many web hosting companies, and new platforms, I finally made my selection.  I made a list of what I wanted:  full screen but adaptable to notebooks and mobile, an e-commerce site, a site that looks good but is relatively easy to manage (ha ha), and more bells and whistles.

Then I spent some months moving domains around to new hosts (the former hosts really gave me a hard time about this).  I outlined what I wanted on the actual site, wrote out the descriptions, found or took the art photos, and then I dove in.

I made use of my library’s high speed internet and would come in early and spend ALL day in a little study room working.  Even the librarians were surprised when I left in the evening and commented on how long I had been here.  But, as I replied, sometimes the only way to get a job done is to sit your butt in a chair and do it.  So, whether it’s writing a grant application, doing your taxes, or creating something new, just dedicate a significant amount of time without distractions to the task at hand no matter how difficult it may seem at first. Break it down to small tasks or steps if you need to, but stick with it.   The feeling of accomplishment when you’re done is amazing.  And it encourages you with the possibility of the next big thing you can tackle.  And you will.

So, I invite you to check out my newly designed website at www.kgmiracle.com .  It shows my bigger paintings and will give you a lot more information about me as an artist.  There will certainly be additions and changes over the coming months but I always welcome feedback and suggestions.

Screenshot of new website, KGMiracle.com Check it out.

Thanks for stopping by.

Your Legacy

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.  (Kahlil Gibran)

I was in my studio yesterday, finishing up a large painting that I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks.  Then I started another one…and finished it.

My mind often wanders when I’m working as I’m zoning out in the painting process.  I’ve been spending the past month redesigning my website from the ground up.  I put up some work in the archives which one of my sons remarked he had never seen.  (Before you were born, sweetie.)  That led me to thinking about all the art I’ve created over thirty-five years plus.  A lot!

And then that led me to think about where it all is now.  I did my first art fair in the early 80s and have been selling my work ever since.  I’m embarrassed when I visit relatives and see all the paintings I’ve given them over the years.  It looks like a Kit Miracle art gallery.

Several years ago I received a call on my business land line phone…when I had a land line.  It was from a woman in Florida who had purchased one of my small paintings in a resale shop.  It had my information stamped on the back.  We chatted for a while.

That led me to thinking about where all my paintings are now.  I’ve traveled a lot.  Shipped a lot.  And now, with online marketing, have sold work all over the place.  It’s a little bit of me scattered all over the world.  That’s my legacy.

I’ve never been a person who longs for fame, but it’s always pleasant to think about all the places where my paintings live now.  Maybe they’ll end up in a jumble sale; maybe they’ll be treasured family heirlooms.  But they’re like my children, scattered to the winds.

Which led me back to one of my favorite poets, Kahlil Gibran and his exemplary work The Prophet.  The section of the poem above is from the part of the work where he discusses Children.  My art is like my children.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

We are the bows.  We send our children….or our creations…out into the world.  That is our legacy.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of The Prophet lately, check it out soon.  I’m sure you’ve got an old copy from high school or college lying about.  Or you can check it out of the library. Or purchase a used copy.  You won’t be sorry and you’ll have plenty to think about when your mind takes a walk.

Talent or skill?…or is it even art?

Moving sculpture from junk

Talent or skill…or is it even art?

I’ve had some pretty lively discussions with artist friends this week about what is authentic art.  Boy, that is a can of worms. Fair warning; there is no definitive answer to this question but come along for the ride.

We were reviewing submissions for the gallery for next year (2019).  About 50 artists entered their portfolios this year for about seven slots.  This is usually a good variety (some years we’ve had up to 200 entries). The committee was also given a list of about 15 artists to consider who didn’t actually apply but who might add to quality of the line up.  (Debatable.)

The committee is comprised primarily of professional artists and art teachers.  But…we do not always agree on what would make a good exhibit.  A little background is that this is a public art gallery so we have to be somewhat cognizant of our audience and the fact that we are receiving tax dollars.  We like to bring in new and different work but we’re not out to shock our audience.  We also understand that many people enjoy viewing art they are familiar with.  Trying to meets the needs of everyone is challenging.

A little more background.  I have been on this committee for about 30 years, and was director of the arts center and gallery for many of those years.  I’m back to being just a citizen volunteer now.  And I’ve been a professional artist for 35 years.  I’ve probably seen more art than most people will see in several lifetimes.

And I’m still confused.

I believe that some people are endowed at birth with talent.  That is a given aptitude for doing whatever they are going to do, whether it’s shooting a basket or drawing a portrait or playing a musical instrument.  Skill, on the other hand, requires some work.  Continuous practice, that 10,000 hours thing.  I appreciate that.

But sometimes I’m reminded of the story about the Emperor’s New Clothes.  I just feel as if someone is pulling the wool over my eyes and I want to be that kid that says, “Hey, he’s naked!”  I look at a piece of art and wonder, is that really art?  Or is it just hype? I try looking beyond the artist to see where they’re coming from.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, pile of candy installation

For instance, here is a photo of an installation piece by Felix Gonzalez-Torres of a pile of candy.  Really?  That is art?  Not to me it isn’t, but a whole lot of high-highfalutin’ people think it is.  I think it is good marketing.  Just my humble opinion.

Helicopter at MOMA

Or how about a helicopter hung in the stairwell of the Museum of Modern Art?  Art?  Or is it engineering?  Who really gets credit for this? By the way, they also own Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World which is exhibited in a dark hallway next to the bathrooms.  Really?

Gabriel Orozco exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum

Or how about this installation by Gabriel Orozco of junk (artifacts) that he collected along a certain part of the beach on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.  (Exhibited at the Guggenheim Museum in 2012-2013.)  I like the way he’s laid this out.  I like the fact that he took photos of EVERY piece and made photo montages of them.  It certainly makes me think.  But is it art? Who says?

Wise Man, Cesar Santos, charcoal on paper

On the other hand, there are the wonderful and amazing drawings of Cesar Santos.  Just watch the video of him completing this awesome pencil sketch of an old man.  I’m overwhelmed with appreciation for his talent AND skill.

Juliette Aristides, painting of soldier

Or there’s Juliette Aristides and her wonderful atelier for training artists in classical drawing and painting.  Boy, do we need that! No, she isn’t exactly trying to do “pretty” but her work is pretty amazing.  I’m so glad to see someone still promoting classical training in the arts.  Not just hype.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that realistic art is more popular than abstract art or assemblages.  People can relate to it.  No, I do not think that realism is better than abstract or installations.  But I certainly do not have patience for anyone who believes that obscure art or that which needs an explanation is better than realism.  To each his own, I guess. There is no room for art snobs.

And this is my humble opinion.  Go check out your local gallery or museum to see for yourself. What do you think?

Hey, how about these ties at the local Good Will? I think this is an interesting composition. Is it art?