Category Archives: art

Four categories of painting subjects

Central Park, acrylic on canvas board, 8 x 10. This was created from a sketch that I did while on a business trip to New York.

Do you ever feel like making some art but you just don’t know what to paint or draw?  For some people, this is a common frustration.  You have some free time and then what?

In my case, I keep a list.  I’m very fond of lists.  I often have many lists, here, there, everywhere.  I have a couple of lists in my studio, but I also keep an idea notebook. This is actually to just capture an idea which might flit through my mind…and then flit out.  These days I’m working on a lot of seasonal paintings for the upcoming holidays so I just brainstorm and write things down.  I also use this technique when I’m thinking about another series of paintings.

Most of my ideas fall into three or four broad categories:  still life, landscape, figurative and non-objective.

Nine Apples, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12. A variety of views of two apples. This could be a still life or an abstract painting. Not all paintings fit neatly into one category.

Still life.  This can include any single or group of objects.  Fruit, flowers, vases, skulls, musical instruments.  The list is practically infinite.  Some artists select a group of objects and then keep rearranging them and paint them for their entire lives (Morandi).  Others choose themes – types of objects like all glass vases, or natural objects, or sports equipment.  The really nice thing about still lifes is that the objects stay put (usually) and you can come back to work on your painting another day if you run out of time.  This is a really good way to develop eye-hand coordination, composition, and learning to tell a story if that is what you choose to do.  Instructors start beginning art students off with still lifes to help build these skills.

Schnellville Rd, September. Acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10. I used to drive this road on my way home from work. I loved the hills and small farms along the way. Sure beats fighting a few million people to work every day.

Landscape.  Just about anywhere in the world can be a subject of a landscape painting.  Painting outdoors (en plein air) is both challenging and fun.  Cityscapes, your house, your dog’s house, beautiful scenery, or even things that aren’t so beautiful.  Landscape painting can be a bit more challenging as the time of day and the seasons often dictate how long or when you can paint.  Many artists make quick sketches and bring them back to use as subjects for larger or more detailed paintings.  If you are painting out doors, then you have about two or three hours before the light and shadows change.  You can always return another day to finish your work, or start another painting while you’re outside.

I loved this small marble bust of a boy with a wreath in his hair. Sketched at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. You have to get used to people leaning over your shoulder when sketching in a crowd, but really, most people are very polite and may not even notice you at all.

Figurative.  This entails studying a figure, body, part, or group.  It can even encompass pets and animals.  For many people, this is one of the most difficult categories to approach.  Why?  Because your subjects move!  Stand still, dang it!  Again, the more you do, the better you become.  Building that eye – hand coordination.  A trip to a museum helps if they will allow you to sketch their sculptures.  Those usually stay still.  Or sit at your favorite eatery, a park, library, or any public space.  Plenty of subjects there.  The trick is to be stealthy but really, not everyone minds someone sketching them. And don’t try to make a finished piece if you only have a few minutes to just jot some sketches. 

Abstract or non-objective.  This is the anything goes category.  Do you want to make circles or squiggles?  Fine.  How about several canvasses of lines or shapes?  Add some sand or affix some found objects.  Maybe your favorite music will inspire you.  Ask any four year old and they’ll teach you how.

So next time you’re searching for something to paint, pull out your notebook or 3 x 5 card and check it for ideas.  Just keep it nearby, maybe by your reading or TV chair, to jot down ideas as they come to you.  You’ll always be ready for those times when you have a few hours to get creative.  Good luck!

What to do with a bad painting

Let’s face it, if you’ve been an artist for any length of time, you will inevitably create some bad paintings. Crap is the professional term.  (Just kidding.)  Not everything that comes off your easel, your brush, from your pencil is wonderful.  Actually, few pieces of art fit that description.

I remember when I was first getting back to my art roots after several years’ hiatus that I sat at the kitchen table one night and created a cute little flower painting. It was pink, I think.  I was so proud of that piece.  When I showed it to my husband, he said, “Oh, that’s nice, honey.”  Such a sweet supportive liar but I certainly needed the boost to my ego. 

I kept that painting for years, long after I realized what a wreck it was.  I would drag it out when teaching a class and point to it and say, “See, this is where I came from.  You can learn to paint, too.”  I have searched the studio for the piece as I would definitely show it but can’t locate it.  I’m sure that I never threw it away.

The point is, that we do the best we can with the skills we have at the time. When you know better, you do better.  I have painted plenty of really BAD paintings.  And still do, although not quite so many. 

So what do you do with a piece of art that just didn’t turn out the way that you wanted?  Here are several options.

  1. Examine the piece carefully and determine just what you are unhappy with.  The color, subject matter, composition, execution, the method of painting, etc.? 
  2. Ask yourself if there is some way to correct the mistake?  Not all mediums can be corrected but many can.
  3. Ask a friend for input.  Sometimes we know something is off but just can’t see the mistake although it may be glaring to some new eyes.
  4. Scrape off the paint or paint over the mistake.  You may even need to paint over the entire canvas.  I have done this many times and just started over. Or even explore a new idea rather the one you were pursuing.
  5. Trash it.  Burn it, destroy it.  Some people recommend that you keep your bad work to inspire you but I think it will only haunt you.  Use it as a learning experience and move on.  It can be very cathartic to throw your canvases into the burn barrel.  I’ve had very few regrets over many years.

One thing that I don’t recommend is to donate the bad artwork.  It may come back to haunt you as when someone picks it up a resale shop or flea market.  And don’t pawn it off on your friends and relatives.  They’ll be too polite to tell you and will resent moving it around from place to place over the years.

Finally, don’t stress about a bad painting.  It happens.  That’s OK.  We learn from our mistakes and just promise yourself that you’ll do better next time.  It’s only a painting, after all. 

Bread and Miriam

Bread and Miriam. My friend is delighted to display her new painting. We had such a fun morning visiting, talking about books and life.

I had the great pleasure of hand delivering my painting Bread to my friend Miriam.  She was so delighted to be able to buy this.  “Making this bread was the best experience of my time during the COVID pandemic.”  Miriam used my bread recipe for no-touch sourdough bread.  I heard back from so many friends and blog followers that they loved this recipe. 

Still need some bread?  Check out this post from last year. https://my90acres.com/2018/03/28/crusty-artisan-bread/ https://my90acres.com/2020/08/02/bread-a-new-painting/

Summer Super Sale still going on.  40 to 70% off.  Adding more every day.  Check here to see what is currently on sale.  Or contact me personally if you’re nearby and I’ll deliver. https://www.etsy.com/shop/KitMiracleArt?ref=l2-shop-info-name&section_id=1

Super Summer Sale continues!

Farmers’ Market, Saturday Morning. Original painting, acrylic on canvas board, 16 x 20. Kit Miracle (Frame not included.) On sale now!

My super summer sale continues. Adding new paintings every day. Extreme discounts of 40 to 70% off. Maybe your favorite painting is on sale now. Check back often. https://www.etsy.com/shop/KitMiracleArt?ref=l2-shop-info-name&section_id=22114364

Wyoming Landscape, 16 x 20, acrylic on canvas. Kit Miracle, on sale now!

SUPER SUMMER SALE 40-70% OFF

Initial set up in the back room.

SUPER SUMMER SALE, JULY ONLY! 40 – 70% off! Normally I have a studio sale every autumn and invite friends and locals out to my studio for some super sale items. Feed them my famous minestrone soup, desserts, wine, etc. A real party for everyone plus they can get some great bargains. Since I couldn’t do that last year, I am offering a SUPER SUMMER SALE of select items just for JULY. They will be priced at 40 to 70% off and new items will be added every day. Some items will even be reduced over the month. Check back often for new SUPER deals. As always, FREE SHIPPING.

KitMiracleArthttps://www.etsy.com/shop/KitMiracleArt?ref=l2-shop-info-name&page=4#items

Initial set up in the front room during my studio sale. This lineup changed over the weekend as paintings were sold.

Garden update, home on the farm

Life out here on my 90 acres has been so busy this spring.  Making some progress tackling my three page list of things to do (yes, really!) but there are still plenty of things left to do.

Garden May 15th, you can see the corn coming up in the foreground. The far end of the garden is tomatoes and peppers.
These tomato and pepper plants look so small.

We got a late start planting the garden this year on May 15th.  I did manage to plant the first crop of corn on April 27th.  It is now as tall as I am.  The freeze in early May delayed planting but we got to everything else in one day. Then we had about a week and a half of hot, dry weather so I had to haul water.

A month later, June 20th. Everything is growing well. The corn in the distance on the right is as tall as I am. The left distance is the second crop of corn. And the sunflowers on the left side of the garden. The posts have solar-powered motion detector lights to scare away marauders.

The past few weeks have been pretty wet but at least not gully-washers as sometimes happens.  I planted really wide rows to allow my husband to get down them with the rototiller.  This is after I hoe around the individual plants.  As you can see, everything is really established now.

Hundreds of thousands of cicadas. Even the birds got sick of them. A week and a half ago, the sound was deafening. Now, none. There is a lot of debris left, but that will decompose soon.

The cicada invasion has been here and gone. Finally! Hundreds of thousands of the bugs. The birds, toads and lizards are full. A week and a half ago, the noise was deafening. Today, barely anything at all. Wait another seventeen years. And, no, I did not eat any. Blech!

Other chores which needed attention.  Trimming out the lane (1/3 mile) both on the sides and overhead.  This is a several day job, particularly during the extreme heat and humidity.

Then I started on other tasks: trimming bushes, digging flowerbeds, potting flowers, etc.  And those are just the outside chores. There are many other tasks, cleaning the greenhouse, attics, closets, preparing for company.  Taking the grandkids on road trips or to art classes.  It’s always something.

But, I am still able to get out to the studio, mostly in the afternoons.  (Outdoor work is reserved for mornings when it’s cool.)  Recently I created a small series of sunrise paintings.  Who doesn’t love a beautiful sunrise?  Every one is different. And contemplating my next big series.  Just some ideas rolling around but I’ll get there.

A composite of three recent sunrise paintings. Same location (Florida Keys), different days. Golden Sunrise, God’s Eye Sunrise, and Confetti Sunrise. All acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12. For sale in my Etsy shop and local shops around here.

How’s your summer going?  I hope you’re having some fun, seeing some friends and family as things open up now.  Still cautiously keeping safe but a little freer.

One more week!

Beach Girl, preliminary color sketch for Wings and Jump. 16 x 12, acrylic, Kit Miracle

One more week to view my solo exhibit at the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center. I must say, the number of visitors has been terrific and the comments in the guest book are so touching. Thanks so much for coming out.

Wings, Intimate Spaces, Beach Series. Acrylic on canvas, 18 x 24. This little girl is fascinated with the seagulls. Thus, the double meaning of the title. I wish I had done this painting on a larger scale.

If you would like to have a personal tour, just contact me and I’ll meet you there if I’m available. Otherwise, admission and parking is free. And the exhibits are open seven days a week. M-F 9-5, Sa 10-2, Sun noon – 3.

Jump, Intimate Spaces, Beach Series. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 24. Kit Miracle Notice how the little boy’s feet are just lifting off the sand, thus the title.

Two more weeks!

Gallery view 1. Visitors are invited to examine the paintings up close or from afar. Photography IS permitted in this exhibit.

Only two more weeks to see my exhibit at the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center in Jasper, Indiana. It has been such an awesome and inspiring experience to show my contemporary impressionist paintings in this brand new facility.

Gallery view 2. Kit Miracle exhibit. You can see the other two galleries across the hall.

The number of visitors and the flattering comments made in the guest books are humbling. As my son told me, Mom, although these paintings are large, this gallery makes them look small. That is just how beautiful and large the gallery spaces are.

Gallery view 3. Kit Miracle, contemporary impressionism.

The show closes on Friday, June 25th. If you haven’t had a chance to drop by, please plan to do it soon. I’ve met many friends and guests at the gallery for a private tour, not only of my show, but the entire facility. Just let me know if you’re going to be in town and I’ll be happy to meet you there.

Jasper Community Arts / Thyen-Clark Cultural Center

100 Third Avenue

Jasper IN

Hours: M-F 9-5, Sa 10-2, Sun noon – 3. Free admission and plenty of free parking in the rear of the building.

Gallery view 4. More paintings in the exhibit.

Spring follow-up

One of many beautiful peonies. The scent is so lovely.

We have been so busy with spring activities here on the ninety acres.  The temperatures have exploded from the frost predictions earlier this month to near 90s this week.  No rain so we’re doing lots of watering.  Everything I planted last weekend – the entire garden pretty much – is up and looking healthy.  I’ll post photos later when there’s more to see.

The air is a flood of beautiful scents, roses and peonies, honeysuckle, too.  The locusts are about done.  The strong perfume seems to be the only redeeming value of the multiflora roses and the wild honeysuckle, both which are fighting it out in the scent category. 

Top: Tame climbing roses vs wild multi-flora roses. Bottom: Tame honeysuckle bush vs wild honeysuckle vine.

The farmer who rents some of our fields has been working until way after dark these days.  You can see by this monster disk how much time it takes to prepare the ground.  Not counting that “other” natural odor that was spread on the fields.  Well, that’s called soil improvement. 

Disking the fields. That is some big piece of equipment.

And the cicadas have emerged in ever-increasing numbers.  They don’t bite or sting, just climb out of the ground and then hang onto anything they can while they emerge from their shells.  They can’t climb on vinyl or metal but they do like wood or just about anything else they can attach to.  My husband uses the leaf blower to blow them off the porch.  I use the broom.  And now they’re starting to sing to attracts mates.  Not as loud as it will be but it’s already beginning to sound like that weird alien noise in a sci-fi movie. The birds and frogs and toads seem sated but I watched two little lizards stalking the same bug today.  I think they both missed. 

The Reader, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18, Kit Miracle

Of necessity due to the heat, studio time has been limited to afternoons.  I did manage to finish the painting which I started as a demo a couple of weeks ago.  The Reader is a lovely piece, not in any series of paintings but just because I like the subject.  I’m already scouting around for the next topic.

Delivering the Exhibit

Visual Arts Coordinator, Emily Colucci Peak, helping to unwrap the paintings.

After a week of final framing, I packed my exhibit of thirty paintings into two vehicles and delivered them to the new Cultural Center in Jasper on Friday. It’s always a little more difficult than one would think it should be.  How to layer the paintings without them scratching each other, damaging the frames, or poking through.  Also, so they won’t shift while driving. 

First car loaded. These are mostly the Breaking Bread series so they’re all the same size. The important thing is to not have any movement of the paintings while transporting.
Second car, side.
Second car back. This is the Beach series. A greater variety of sizes, some framed and some gallery-wrapped. Again, prevent shifting during transport.

The Visual Arts Coordinator, Emily Colucci Peak, helped unload and move the work into the gallery.  We unwrapped everything and sat the paintings around.  Then moved them into position for hanging later this week.

Wow, so exciting to be in this new space.  I still can’t believe that the whole building is the final culmination of ten years of work by many many people. 

Laying out the exhibit before hanging.
Another wall of the exhbit layed out.
Third view of the gallery layout. It took a while to determine the order of the presentation.
Final wall of the layout. I can hardly wait to see the actual exhibit hung.

So, for those of you who are interested, the show opens on Thursday, May 6th.  Although there will be no reception due to COVID restrictions, the galleries are open to the public seven days a week.  Free admission and plenty of free parking in the rear of the building.

I will also be doing a demonstration painting on Saturday, May 8th from 10 to 2.

If you’re in the area and would like a private tour, let me know and I will meet you there.  But the staff is very helpful and each painting will have an explanation next to it. 

Thyen-Clark Cultural Center, 100 Third Avenue, Jasper IN 47546

812-482-3070

Hours: M-F 9-5, Sa 10-2, Sun noon -3