November sunset

November sunset

November sunset

Beautiful November sunset.  Just turning out of my drive when I caught this one.  It looks like November, doesn’t it?

Interior with Desk

Interior with Desk, Final, oil on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

Interior with Desk, Final, oil on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

This is a recent painting of an interior.  I’ve got step-by-step images on this page.

Interior with Desk Step by step

Clouds

A.J.'s Clouds, oil on canvas, 24 x 30, Kit Miracle

A.J.’s Clouds, oil on canvas, 24 x 30, Kit Miracle

Occasionally here in the Midwest we get some pretty fabulous cloud formations.  They’re probably not any different than anywhere else, it’s just that we actually have the space to see them.  This painting is from a photo that my son shared with me of some dramatic cumulonimbus clouds in August. Interestingly enough, I was taking photos of the same clouds from two miles away as was another friend who lives about 30 miles away.  That’s how impressive the formations were.  I decided to turn it into a painting for my son for Christmas. I don’t think he follows my blog or otherwise, this won’t be a surprise for him.

Monet’s Field

Monet's Fields, oil on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

Monet’s Fields, oil on canvas, 16 x 20, Kit Miracle

This is the field next to my studio.  In the early fall, it is a riot of colors of  wild flowers.  This time of year it’s mostly purples, blues and yellows.  Of  course, as the artist, I emphasized the colors but they were pretty bright anyway.  The field was hayed earlier in the year so you’re mostly looking at goldenrod, ageratum, iron weed and Queen Ann’s lace.

Monet's Fields, original photograph

Monet’s Fields, original photograph

What’s with that?

Since this blog is about art, books, and country living, today’s post is about books.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an Amazon Vine reviewer.  They offer me a limited number of books and merchandise to choose from which continuously changes.  I get to keep the items and all I have to do is write an honest review of the product.  No where does Amazon require that I write a good review if I don’t think the product is any good.  I do try to justify my review with specifics thinking of the readers who rely on reviews.  In fact, I often find the negative reviews to be more enlightening but that is just me.

I’m not quite sure how Amazon selected me for this program.  Probably because I buy a lot of books and other merchandise through them.  I also write reviews even on the non-free items that I order, some of which have received high ratings.

But a few months ago I wrote a negative review on a book that I’d ordered several months ago.  It was an art book and I felt the author was a fraud and didn’t have any skills except self-promotion.  I realize that anyone can write a book and publish it.  That is not the point.  The point is that other people rely on the reviews when they make their purchases and would be wasting their money if they purchased the book thinking it was one thing when it wasn’t (in my opinion).  So I wrote the review and even had several photos that I’d scanned from the book to prove my point.  However, for whatever reason, I wasn’t able to upload the photos.  But the review received several positive votes.

The surprise was when I recently revisited the review to see if I would be able to upload the photos now, the review wasn’t there anymore.  Hummm….  A little internet research revealed that Amazon is now taking down some reviews.  There’s some internet chat about the reasoning behind their decision, but the fact that they do makes me pretty skeptical about the entire review process.

The point here is, you ought to be wary of the review system, too.  How do we know we’re getting honest opinions?  I don’t know the answer to that question but I do know that I’m going to go back and re-review that book.  Hopefully I’ll be able to upload the photos now.

Sage Cottage

Sage Cottage, Adairsville GA  Watercolor / pen and ink, Kit Miracle

Sage Cottage, Adairsville GA Watercolor / pen and ink, Kit Miracle

We were in Georgia last month for a wedding at the Barnsley Estate. We stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast a few miles away called the Sage Cottage.  Owners, Jim and Sharon Southerland, were such gracious hosts and made us feel welcome in every way.  The house is actually quite large with really beautiful grounds. Another wedding party had taken over most of the remainder of the rooms.  There was plenty of space to roam so I decided to use my time to make this watercolor / pen and ink sketch of the main house.  It was difficult to choose a view as the grounds were laid out so well, with hidden nooks, statuary, and gardens.

This was painted in a Pentalic Aqua Journal which has really thick pages, almost like cardboard.  I use a couple of clips to hold the pages open but otherwise, there is no buckling from watermedia.  I only wished later that I had used a larger sheet of paper, maybe an 11 x 14.  This is 5 x 16 (5 x 8 landscape notebook).

Capturing the Moment

After the Harvest 300dpi

After the Harvest, oil on canvas, 12 x 24, Kit Miracle

I do not ever text and drive and rarely speak on the phone while I’m driving, but I am guilty of another distraction.  I am frequently guilty of taking photos out the window as I drive.  Sometimes there is just one fleeting moment – a ray of light, a cloud formation, whatever – that I must capture.  The photos are usually not very good but they capture enough of the effect to jog my memory and be translated into paintings in the studio.

This is from a photo I took on my road (sparsely traveled) that I took last November.  It grabs the early morning light on the cornfield after the harvest.  I was attracted to the contrast of the golden cornfield, the patterns of the rows, the cast shadow of the valley and the darkening sky.  Rain is on the way.

Plein Air Painting at Patoka Lake

First day of vacation for me…finally.  So does a plein air painter sleep in?  Heck, no!  Up at the crack of dawn to paint at the beautiful Lake Patoka which is just right down the road from me.  Fortunately the oppressive heat wave is over for a while so the morning could not have been more pleasant.

Lake Patoka has 8,800 surface acres set in a 29,000 acre state recreation area.  So peaceful and not crowded.  I have been scouting places to paint and selected this site on the eastern side of the lake.  No one was there except me and the cormorants fishing for their breakfasts.

Cormorants fishing for breakfast at Lake Patoka

Cormorants fishing for breakfast at Lake Patoka

The first painting was facing north with the strafing light and shadows from the right.

Patoka Lake, first site

Patoka Lake, first site

First plein air painting at Patoka Lake.  11x14, watercolor, Kit Miracle

First plein air painting at Patoka Lake. 11×14, watercolor, Kit Miracle

The second painting was facing west with the sun at my back.

Second site at Patoka Lake

Second site at Patoka Lake

Second plein air painting at Patoka Lake, 11 x 14, watercolor, Kit Miracle

Second plein air painting at Patoka Lake, 11 x 14, watercolor, Kit Miracle

Sunflowers in blue bowl

Sunflowers in blue bowl, 16 x 20, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

Sunflowers in blue bowl, 16 x 20, oil on canvas, Kit Miracle

This is another example of a slow painting.  If you’ve followed my blog, you know that I like to paint en plein air.  The challenge of turning out a speedy painting in a couple of hours is fun.  However, some of my best work is when I create a studio painting which may take weeks or more.

This blue bowl of sunflower and zinnias presented its own challenges.  If you’ve ever painted live sunflowers, then you know that they keep up their rhythm of turning towards the sun.  This means every time you return to the studio, the darn flowers have rearranged themselves!

This is an oil on a toned canvas.  I spent about a week and a half on this painting.  I don’t know if the painting is actually done but I’m finished working on it.  The flowers were in pretty sad shape by the time I finished. I like the careful attention to detail but it is a real trick to not overwork a painting.  It should look effortless for best effect.  In my opinion.

How long does it take?

I have frequently posted paintings on here that are quick sketches, plein air or otherwise.  These usually only take an hour or two.  I have friends who can knock out four paintings a day, and darn good ones, too.

But…sometimes it is good to spend some time studying a subject.  These two paintings that I completed this month are examples of that philosophy.

Ginko, watercolor on paper.  19.5 x 27, Kit Miracle

Ginko, watercolor on paper. 19.5 x 27, Kit Miracle

Ginko is one that I’ve been rolling around in my head for a couple of years.  It is a full-size watercolor.  I haven’t done a watercolor of this size for several years so it was good to try my hand in it again.  (I painted watercolor for 25 years before switching to oils several years ago.)  Ginko is a study of the ordinary.  What is below your feet.  I saw this one day as I was leaving the post office.  The Postmaster later told me that many post offices in Indiana have ginko trees planted outside (males only).  I think he said it was some kind of Girl Scout project but I’m not sure about that.  I just loved the soothing shapes and colors.  The painting itself was a lesson in patience.  Why did I choose to paint all those rocks!?!

Generosity, oil on canvas, 20 x 16, Kit Miracle

Generosity, oil on canvas, 20 x 16, Kit Miracle

The second painting is an oil that I call Generosity.  It is from an very old black and white photo of a family member.  She was always so generous; you never left her house empty-handed.  I actually worked on the prep for this for several months, doing countless studies in pencil, charcoal, etc.  This painting may actually end up being a preliminary study itself as I was planning to do a much larger work.

So, the lesson here is to enjoy the fast painting, dashing off a sketch or plein air piece.  But sometimes you can be rewarded by taking your time and creating something really worthwhile.