Category Archives: art

A month of art

August has been scorching here this summer.  Too hot for outdoor work.  So I spent much of the month in the studio just being an artist.  This was a great respite from all the other chaos of the summer. 

However, we did have a couple of days of lovely cool  temperatures, in the low 80s. Fling open the windows!  I took advantage of the cooler weather to clean out my studio.  This meant dragging nearly everything outdoors, rewrapping and packing many of the paintings, vacuuming, debris clean out.  Just making an inviting space to work again. 

Our garden was in name only this summer.  And I only gave cursory attention to the weeds and flowerbeds.  This meant that I had plenty of time to devote to creating some art.

I began with building up some inventory, especially of sunflowers, some of my favorites.  Although I usually grow several different varieties from the mammoth giants to the multi-stemmed, to all the colors that are available, this year I only had a few to work with.  I planted them but they just didn’t want to make an appearance.  So I used some of the many photographs that I’ve taken over the years. 

I did several sheets of minis.  I can get four 4 x 6 on a quarter sheet of watercolor paper.  Although I often repeat a theme, they never turn out the same.  I buy mats and backs in bulk so it’s pretty easy to prepare them for display or shipping. 

Four mini sunflower paintings on quarter sheet of watercolor paper. Although the top two are the same subject, they’re not exactly alike.

Then I did a few larger ones. After that, I created duplicates of two local scenes.  These are not standard sizes so I have to cut the mats to size for framing.  More time and money involved.

Two paintings of the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center on quarter sheet of watercolor paper

Finally, the last half of the month, I was really missing our usual vacation.  This was probably prompted by selling some previous western scenes so I dove into that subject.  These paintings were larger and more complex, the smallest being 9 x 12 and up to 12 x 16.  I have some pretty extensive photo files from some of our western vacations so plenty of subject matter to choose from.  The most difficult part with these paintings is canvas prep.  And trying to come up with new titles.  Grand Canyon Vista #1, Grand Canyon Vista #2, etc.  But it’s so satisfying to just put on some music or recorded books and zone out.  Due to the many years of plein air painting, I can generally produce a painting a day, maybe two.  But I did discover that I had duplicated two scenes from previous years.  They came out similar but not exactly the same.

Overall production for the month of August was twenty-five.  Not all are shown in the multi-image above as several were duplicates.  And I didn’t work every day.  It’s very rewarding to spend time alone with my thoughts and just create.  To build inventory for online shops, the holidays, or local and regional shops. 

Most of these paintings will be up on my Etsy shops soon. https://www.etsy.com/shop/KitMiracleArt?ref=l2-shop-info-name or https://www.etsy.com/shop/My90Acres

Series Paintings

Tire Swing, Park Series. Kit Miracle, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30.

I have introduced several series of paintings over the years here on my blog.  It seems that I’ve started another one, the Park Series.  This will focus on, what else, scenes from the park.  A park.  Many parks.  Parks are usually filled with scenic landscapes and people doing activities, two of my favorite things.

Most of the series paintings are a little larger than some of my other pieces.  They also tend to concentrate on the same color palette.  In fact, I’ll often make a schematic of the colors I plan to use.  Using the same color family adds a cohesive theme to a series of paintings.

Some of the series paintings I’ve created over the years include Westerns, particularly The Grand Canyon, Intimate Spaces – Beach Series, Intimate Spaces – Breaking Bread Series, The Food We Eat, Lucky Red and Alley Views.

I might have an idea for a series of paintings at the beginning but more often I just cruise through my extensive batch of snapshots until something catches my attention.  I’ll write about using photos as an art subject in a future post. 

I’ve created a step-by-step page for the painting above, Tire Swing for those who are interested.  Click here for more detailed information.

Painting local

The Little Cottage, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14, KitMiracle I was driving down a side street of nearby Birdseye, Indiana, when this scene captured my attention. One of the smallest houses in town with the largest tree in town. The front path and gate are framed by beautiful lavender and blue irises. Painted in heavy impasto, a very impressionist-style painting.

One of my favorite parts about traveling is seeing new vistas.  Visiting the mountains, the parks, the ocean, historical sites.  It’s all good.  I always take my art equipment and capture the areas on canvas.  Parking my easel on the edge of the Grand Canyon and painting for a couple of hours is my bliss. 

But one of the best parts about traveling is returning home and seeing your own world through new eyes.  Noticing that which you may pass every day but in a new way.  You can look at your own home town as a tourist.

At the Crossroads, Schnellville, Indiana. Acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14. KitMiracle It was a spring morning and the sun was playing in and out of the clouds. This little road has many twists and curves, the beautiful hills catching the sunlight. This little crossroads only has about six houses and reminds me of many villages in Germany or France.
Seven Cedars in Spring, acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12, KitMiracle. Along the same Schnellville Road, these cedar trees were silhouetted against the spring sky.

Spring here in Southern Indiana was so beautiful this year.  Often we’ll receive a late frost or freeze which pretty much ruins everything, but this year was spectacular.  The wild flowers in the forests and fields put on a show to remember.  I captured the spring greens of the fields and byways for several weeks, and even had my husband drive while I was shouting, stop here! to take photographs.

The Old Lady’s House, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14, KitMiracle. I used to drive past this house frequently on my way to work. A very old lady lived there who always mowed her lawn by hand, and she always wore a kerchief. I think her grandson lives there now. Located in central Dubois County, this is a very typical spring view in these parts.

The results have been paintings of spring fields and crossroads, little villages, gentle vistas of all types.  Not my usual big, bold colors but a much more gentle palette.  Often painted in the style of Pissarro or Monet but not actually deliberately.  I just want to bring to the viewer’s attention and appreciation the overlooked landscapes of our everyday world.

Take a look around your own world, your home town, the back allies.  I’m sure you can find some wonderful vistas, too, which you may have overlooked a hundred times.  They’re out there, I promise.

View more about these paintings online at this link.

Brown eggs

Five Eggs, original painting on canvas, 12 x 12, Kit Miracle

If you happen to get to the post office or a farm supply store this time of year, you will hear the peeping  sound of baby chicks.  They are SO cute!  And it takes all kinds of willpower to NOT buy a bunch of each. 

There are many varieties, but I particularly like the speckled ones and the ones with feathered feet.  They look so fancy.  We’ve had many kinds over the years.  I also loved the bantams, the females, not the males which tend to be aggressive for their size.  One year, one of my favorite dun-colored females disappeared.  I was certain that she was the victim of a raccoon or hawk.  But after about three weeks, she reappeared with about eighteen little bantam peeps following her. They were so tiny and cute.  I don’t know where she hid but apparently it was a good hiding place.

This antique sponge bowl holds five fresh brown eggs.  Do they taste different?  That’s hard to tell but they sure are deep yellow when cracked open. Probably from all the extras that the hens get in their diet than those that are confined to chicken factory farms. 

We’ve also had blue and green eggs, too.  It is rumored that they are lower in cholesterol but I don’t know if that is true.  They’re just so beautiful to look at.

The sponge bowl, by the way, gets its name from the decoration.  The glaze was applied with a sea sponge.  I have only seen these in blue. These stoneware bowls are very heavy for their size. I bought this at auction many many years ago and still use it for fruit and whatnot. 

Spring paintings

Farmhouse in Spring. Acrylic, 12 x 16. Kit Miracle

Although spring officially began a little over a week ago, the season has been sneaking up on us for a while.  The grass is greening with that lovely shade of spring green.  The trees are sporting a haze of pinky-red buds or some with more greenish buds.

The daffodils and crocuses are out.  The yard if full of spring beauties, a tiny white flower with a pink stripe.  It looks like snow in some areas.  And the forsythias in the yard and out by the road where I had my son transplant shoots over fifteen years ago.  I think it adds a little colorful surprise for passersby.

I’ve been so busy with other activities but have been able to sneak out to catch a painting or two.  These are some of my favorite recent ones.  One depicts our house sitting on the little hill with the morning sunlight catching the fronts of the buildings. The middle building behind the big house is my studio.

The second larger painting is of our North field looking west.  You can see the farm rows from last year’s crops.  The white dogwood, some redbud, and the various spring colors on the big trees.  Such a pretty time of year.

North Field in Spring. Acrylic on canvas 16 x 20. Kit Miracle

Night Reaper

It is not unusual here in the Midwest to see farmers harvesting late into the night during the season.  Last year our renter harvested past one in the morning.  Only fatigue drives them inside.

Night Reaper. Acrylic on canvas board, 11 x 14. Kit Miracle

Earlier this week, the farmer was rushing to get the corn in before the rain predicted the following day.  The giant combine looks like some eerie monster gobbling up the stalks, spitting the debris out the back.  The grain trucks meet the combine in the field to be filled and cart away the gold. 

I have always been fascinated by night activities such as these and I sneaked out to take a bunch of reference photos.  I don’t know why I have to sneak on my own property but I felt compelled to do so, hiding in the shadows and behind the trees.  With the low light conditions and the movement of the equipment, most of the photos were blurred but I managed to get some good shots, too.  I was just using my phone camera, not my good camera.

The clouds were scudding across the night sky, alternating blotting out the nearly full moon and then darkening everything.  The lights on the equipment were dazzling.  The dust kicked up by the harvest hung in the air like smoke, sometimes caught in the blue light of the moon.

I find night subjects to be interesting and compelling in a totally different way than daytime subjects.  I’ve sketched leaning up against buildings in Times Square and have painted the buildings of the city seen at night. Watching diners through the window of a restaurant can be fascinating.

What is going on in your neighborhood in the dark that is worth capturing in art?

Dreaming of colors

And the golden ones came, Dreamland Series. 16 x 20, acrylic on canvas, Kit Miracle

My painting activities often insert themselves into my dreams.  That’s probably an occupational hazard from creating so much.  Reading about art, making art, visiting art.  It doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I find that I have worked out a painting problem in my sleep. 

But a while back I woke up with a most vivid image in my mind.  Very bright colors, semi-abstract, nothing like my usual subject matter or palette.  Fortunately, I was able to keep the image in mind (it was that strong) and later captured it in my studio.  This does not happen often. 

This led to several other paintings in a similar vein.  Bright colors, semi-abstract, nature themes of birds and flowers and trees.  A few recognizable subjects of water and ponds, bridges and houses.  Vivid skies and vegetation. 

Dawn at the Little Pond, Dreamland Series, 16 x 20, acrylic on canvas, Kit Miracle

I’m calling this my Dreamland series.  There are about seven paintings so far.  I’ve been distracted with some other work lately so I hope that I can get back to this idea or state of mind.  The bright colors just make me happy.

I don’t have these listed for sale yet as two of them are on exhibition right now.  But check back later in my Etsy shop KitMiracleArt to see if they’ve been added.

Sometimes we just need to follow our intuition and have fun creating.  Or so I think.

What are you doing to break out of your routine?

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