Category Archives: contemporary impressionism

Blind Painting – or Painting from Memory

Blind painting – Sunrise before the Storm 1, 8 x 10, Kit Miracle

I’ve been clearing out a lot of junk from one of our attics lately.  A few weeks ago, my husband and I were taking several large bags to the dump one morning.  A big storm was moving in from the west so we put the rush on to get it delivered before the skies opened. 

The dark clouds were rolling up behind us.  As I was hustling along the road, I made a note of how beautiful the early morning skies were, especially the dramatic contrast between the rising sun and the storm clouds.  I wished I could take some photos but kept my hands on the steering wheel.  I decided to use an old trick which I haven’t practiced in quite some time.  This is to memorize the scene.

Blind painting – Sunrise before the Storm 2, 8×10, KitMiracle

Landscape and plein air painters often use this device.  That is, to set their easels up facing away from the scene, then study the scene for a bit and try to commit it to memory.  The point is to try not to capture every detail, but to make note of the key aspects.  Then turn around and, facing your easel, begin to paint what you remember.  It sounds difficult but you get better as you practice. 

We made our deposit at the dump and scurried home.  By this time, the skies had opened and a torrential rain was beating the car. 

As soon as I got home, I went to my studio and did two quick pencil studies of what I had seen.  Of course, I couldn’t remember every detail, but I think I got the jist of it.  Noting the main colors which had attracted me in the first place, plus some primary shapes.  I fired up these two small paintings (8 x 10) and am pretty pleased with the results.

I think the best part about using this technique is that it forces the artist to focus on the main shapes and not get lost in the weeds of details.  Certainly worth a try if you have never done so before.

Sketches from memory

Breaking Bread

It’s no secret among those who know me that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  The holiday of gluttony and naps I always joke.  But that’s nearer to the truth than most would admit.

It’s a time for sharing with friends and family.  A time to reflect upon the rapidly receding year. I love the new  holiday this has evolved into called Friendsgiving, where we share a meal and company with a chosen family if we can’t be with our loved ones.  Isn’t that a great idea?  Since people are spread out all over the country now, we find friends that we can share the spirit of the day with.

Other than the cooking and food shopping, there isn’t really much to preparing for the day.  No presents to buy and wrap.  Minimal decorations.  No cards to mail.  Just sit back and relax, enjoy our company, talk, argue, maybe watch some football on TV.  That always leads to more loud discussions. 

I always like the term breaking bread which actually extends beyond Thanksgiving.  The idea of sharing food is universal among all cultures.  A little while ago I did an entire series of paintings called Breaking Bread which depicted people eating together, or sometimes alone, the aftermath of the table, or even the presence of a well-loved furry member of the family.  I tried to capture the warmth of the occasion.  I think this was one of the most missed things about our isolation during the pandemic.

In honor of my favorite holiday, I am holding a temporary sale on all of the Breaking Bread series of paintings, a whopping 50% off!  And free shipping, too.  The sale will only be for a couple of more weeks so if you see something you like, grab it. These are all original paintings on stretched canvas which should arrive in plenty of time for the other big end of year holidays. 

Check them out on my Etsy shop at kitmiracleart.com

Water themes as a painting subject

Waterlilies at the Spillway, acrylic, 12 x 12

Many lists of the most popular painting subjects include landscapes and seascapes.  I must admit that I’ve painted quite a few pieces with these subjects.  Although I live in the Midwest, many of my landscapes include some water feature – streams, rivers, ponds, lakes.  And my travels have taken me to the ocean in various places.  There is something very primal and soothing about hearing ocean waves…most of the time.

Fishing at Patoka Lake, acrylic, 12 x 16

Recently I painted a couple of paintings based on the very large lake nearby.  Lake Patoka is 8,800 acres and is a major water and recreation source for the area.

Leaving the Cove, Cape Breton, NS, acrylic, 9 x 12

But I also cruised through old photos of places we have visited, particularly Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, and New England.  Such beautiful scenery that it was difficult to choose.  Many more subjects for future paintings.

White Wharf, Rockport, MA, acrylic, 12 x 16
Fishing Shack (or Motif #1), Rockport, MA, acrylic, 8 x 10

And, of course, I did an entire series of beach paintings but those are mostly about people and children with the ocean being a common denominator for each painting.

Beach Readers, Intimate Spaces series, acrylic on linen, 24 x 30, Kit Miracle The whole attraction of this subject with the irony of the two young women who are reading and totally ignoring the beautiful day at the beach. I also love the way the red beach chairs draw the viewer’s eye into the scene.
Wet Reflections, acrylic, acrylic, 24 x 30

This is not to say that painting water features is the only subject that I tackle, but it is one of my favorites.  So many opportunities if I take my time to look for them.  

Ritter Creek, oil, 24 x 30
French Lick Creek, oil, 24 x 30

What are your favorite subjects to paint?

See more paintings at my Etsy shop KitMiracleArt or my main website ContemporaryImpressionism

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 will arrive – eventually

My last post earlier this month was about Snomagedden.  The weather in the midwest has been all over the place – ice, sleet, fog, freezing rain.  Later this week we are expecting temps up to the 60s.  I’ll be watching for spring flowers as the daffodils are already up several inches.

After the gallery talk this month.

My show at the Harrison County Arts in Corydon has been very successful.  Last week I gave a gallery talk which was well-received. The reporter Judy Cato came out twice.  Once to interview me and another time to bring her friend Lorraine, the photographer.  And then this coming week I get to pick it up the show. 

Judy Cato (reporter for Southern Indiana Living) and me.

But I am already on to the next thing.  I’ve decided to paint some bridges and started with some train trestles and tunnel bridges, graffiti and all.  It’s been fun so far.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Stay tuned for the next thing.  Happy spring until we meet again.

Train Trestle Riceville Rd
Tunnel bridge on Schnellville Road, complete with graffiti.

Solo show opening this week

I gave a little background behind the Breaking Bread series. I could only exhibit about six paintings in the series due to space limitations.

My solo show at the Harrison County Arts gallery opened yesterday. This is in downtown Corydon, Indiana, the first state capitol of Indiana. It’s a quaint little town and is about thirty miles west of Louisville, Kentucky. It gets a lot of visitors and many people work in the big city.

Harrison County Arts is a co-op of a group of volunteers who manage and present quality art and crafts of regional artists.

I dropped off my work the week before and the volunteers did the rest. They did a lovely job hanging the exhibit although the space is limited. My show is the last exhibit at this gallery. They’re moving across the street to another space which is several times larger.

This exhibit features a few paintings from my Breaking Bread series. The remainder are mainly focused on Southern Indiana scenes and locations. There are a variety of oils and acrylics with a few prints in a rack.

Despite being a chilly Friday night during a pandemic, the turnout was very decent. Many guests had interesting questions. As an artist, I always have something to spout on about my work. I didn’t see anyone’s eyes glazing over. And everyone wore masks!

The show runs through February 26th and there are pieces in all price ranges. The location is at 121 E Chestnut Street, Corydon IN 47112. Their hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 12 – 4, Friday 12 – 6, and Saturday 10 – 2.

If you’re looking for the gallery, this is the outside. It’s on Chestnut Street in Corydon next to Butt Drugs (yes, a real place).

Introspection

I have an exhibit coming up in January and was recently asked by the gallery director what the title of my exhibit will be.  Duh?  You would think that a person who has spent most of her life in the creative field would be more imaginative in this respect.  Uh, my name?  The types of paintings I’ll exhibit?  I finally landed on the title:  Introspection. 

Alone. Intimate Spaces – Breaking Bread series. Acrylic on canvas. 30 x 24. Kit Miracle

Introspection seems to represent what we do at the end of the year and the beginning of the new year.  How were things?  What did we learn?  What do we hope for the new year? 

Let’s face it.  It’s been a difficult year.  Most of us did not expect to still be dealing with a world pandemic.  Wild weather and climate change.  Economic and world political disputes. 

This led me to contemplate my Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread series of paintings.  I plan to include several of these pieces in the upcoming exhibit.  Many of them represent the theme of being alone. Eating alone or limited to a close group of friends and family. 

Sunday Dinner has taken a new meaning these days. A small family gathering at a restaurant.

Some people seem to have handled being alone better than others.  For an artist, this is a normal state to reach down deep to access my thoughts and determine how best to express them.  I enjoy the time with my thoughts and am not lonely, just alone. 

Other creative people – dancers, musicians, those who work in large studio groups – thrive on the lively input of many minds. What looks to me like chaos is their life blood.  With theaters shuttered and musical venues closed, I can only sympathize.

Dinner at Octave. One of our favorite restaurants. Very eclectic with all kinds of people.

For me, being alone whether spending time in the studio, reading, taking a walk in the woods, or even attending a movie or performance alone is an enjoyable experience.  It doesn’t really matter who I’m with or how many people are around me.

But being lonely is no fun for anyone.  And, yes, I’ve been there, too.  This is a much more nobody likes me emotional state.  You can be surrounded by  people and yet still feel hollow and disconnected.

Alone II, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30. I saw this old guy having breakfast at a fast food place. I don’t know if he was widowed or, perhaps, an old veteran.

This has been a difficult couple of years for everyone and the holiday season is an especially emotional time.  Maybe you’ve been separated from your family and friends.  You’ve been working from home and don’t have any work buddies to pal around with.  Maybe you’ve moved and don’t have any friends in your new city.  I’m not a psychologist but I do know that people are not going to knock on your door.  As a friend told me a long time ago; there are always people like you (in the area); you just have to go out and find them. 

Even if you live in as unpopulated an area as I do (and it would be difficult to find many counties in the Eastern part of the United States with a more sparse population than mine), there are still some people like you out there.  Go to the library, join a club, start your own club.  What special interests do you have?  Hiking, biking, fishing, playing ball?  Maybe you like to volunteer at the animal shelter or help others.  Young people who are new to a city or area often reach out through online groups to plan activities.

Whoever you are out there, I hope that you can enjoy the holidays. That you’re not alone or lonely. Let us all hold higher aspirations for a new year.