Tag Archives: art

Homage to a dead bird

Dead bird, wood thrush, watercolor, pen and ink, 10 x 14, Kit Miracle

There’s something about birds.

When I’m sitting on the patio in the evening, watching the night fall, listening to the sounds of life wind down, or in some cases, just change from day to night, I love to try to identify the birdsong.  Watch the various birds – robins, blue jays, wrens, the lovely mourning doves.  I love how the birds have adopted our territory as their territory.  We have so many kinds of birds.  Cardinals, goldfinches, bluebirds, owls,  even the dratted starlings in the gutters.

So the other night we found this lovely brown thrush on the ground.  Apparently he’d broken his neck on a window on the greenhouse.  So sad.  Although the cycles of life and death are a given here in the country, each little animal has a pull for me.

I decided to capture this bird in a memorial drawing, watercolor with pen and ink.  Taking the time to capture his tiny but strong feet.  Thinking of them clinging to a twig in the winter.  And admiring the bib of spotted feathers.  His long black beak.

Although his heart beats no more, he shall live on in this small painting.

That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, lest you should think he never could recapture the first fine careless rapture!

Robert Browning

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Racing spring

About a month ago, here in southern Indiana, we had a white out blizzard.  The snow was coming down sideways, windy, and it stuck to everything.  Very beautiful but frankly, everyone I know around here was pretty darn tired of winter.

White Iris, dark blue background, watercolor, pen and ink, Kit Miracle

Then the past six weeks, we’ve had spring shoving in on us with summer not far behind.  Record high temperatures.  This pushes and squeezes all the flowers in the garden.  I have been hurriedly trying to capture my favorite flowers before they’re gone!

Purple and yellow iris, watercolor, pen and ink, 10 x 6.5, Kit Miracle

I have several varieties of irises which are always so beautiful to me, from the tall, stately white iris, to the delicate light purple iris.  Some were here when we bought the property.  Some I traded with friends.  They all smell delicious.

Light purple iris, watercolor, pen and ink, 10 x 6.5, Kit Miracle

The problem with painting in the heat, even in the speedy medium of watercolor and pen and ink, is that the flowers change so rapidly.  I’ll do a painting in the afternoon, then go back to the studio after dinner to discover the elegant iris I painted earlier has crumpled in upon itself.  This is speed painting at its most challenging.

White Iris, light blue background, watercolor, pen and ink, Kit Miracle

These will be on my Etsy shop in a day or two, if you’re interested.

More spring flowers

Spring bouquet of azaleas and bridal veil bush, watercolor, pen and ink, 10 x 14, Kit Miracle

The flowers keep coming and I just can’t seem to paint them quickly enough.  The past week I’ve been working exclusively in watercolor with pen and ink. This allows me to loosely capture the beauty of the flowers but add detail with the pen and ink.

Red Azaleas, watercolor, pen and ink, 4.5 x 6.5, matted to 8 x 10, Kit Miracle

I always sketch the flower arrangement first, then add the watercolor.  When that is completely dried, I add the details with a Platinum pen and carbon ink cartridge.  Sometimes I still use the dip quill with India ink. I can even use a plastic eraser to remove some of the pencil lines without disturbing the painting.

Lavender Azaleas with Ruffled Edges, watercolor, pen and ink, 6.5 x 4.5, matted to 10 x 8, Kit Miracle

These paintings are usually done on quarter sheet watercolor paper, 140 pound, Arches or another quality paper.  They are 10 x 14 inches with a ½ inch border or I divide the paper into four sections.  The smaller paintings are matted in museum grade soft white mats of 8 x 10 inches with a foam core backing.

Blue Phlox, watercolor, pen and ink, 4.5 x 6.5, matted to 8 x 10, Kit Miracle

Flowers this week include a branch of dogwood, an arrangement of some lovely salmon-color azaleas with fronds of bridal veil.  Smaller paintings include Greek Valerian, Blue Phlox, more varieties of azaleas and whatever else I find blooming.  The season is often so short that I can’t capture everything I want to paint but I give it a good try.

Branch of Dogwood, watercolor, pen and ink, 10 x 14, Kit Miracle

Branch of dogwood flowers for painting

Spring flowers. This is a selection of flowers that I painted recently. I’ve picked up the little vases over the years at resale shops, and even our farm dump. Everything is useful.

View the details of these paintings on either of my Etsy shops.  KitMiracleArt or My90Acres.

Plein air painting on a lovely spring day

I went plein air painting with my friend Bill Whorrall this week up in beautiful Martin County, Indiana.  There is just a small window between the dreariest of winter and the veredant summer.  This time of year the landscape sports so many different shades of greens, as well as the beautiful red-bud, dogwood and other spring flowers. I wanted to capture the scene before it was gone.

Plein air painting in Martin County, Indiana. The Overlook in Shoals.

This day we painted at The Overlook in Shoals, Indiana.  The scenery is gorgeous any time of year but especially now with the freshly tilled fields.  The river you see there is the White River which can sometimes be pretty angry.  Now you can see it as the peaceful water highway it once was.

The painting is acrylic on hardwood which has been gessoed and sanded.  I chose the longer format as it seemed to fit the landscape.

I only had a couple of hours to get most of the painting down before the sun had moved.  A few final tweaks were done in the studio.  Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted all of my photos for the day so this is the only one available from my Facebook page.

Yes, the painting is for sale on my Etsy shop, KitMiracleArt.

The Overlook in Shoals, Indiana. Martin County. Acrylic on wood panel,12 x 24, Kit Miracle, Spring landscape.

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.

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!

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.

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?

The Demise of Art Supply Stores and Bookstores

Just a small part of my secret addiction.

Two of my favorite hangouts when I go shopping are bookstores and art supply stores.  For some reason, these marvelous emporiums of possibilities grab me and hold on until I manage to escape some hours later.  Usually lighter of wallet, too.

Last week I made a foray to the “city” of Evansville and, as usual, stopped by Dick Blick’s art supply store.  I had my list in hand, had checked out online prices, and was prepared to spend some money.  I milled around a bit, filling my basket with some “necessary” studio items, and proceeded to the checkout.  The clerk couldn’t tell me if the in-store prices matched the online ones or not. What the heck.  I was there already so I checked out anyway.  It seemed like a lot but when I got home and checked the online prices, they were the same.  That’s good for my budget.

And I’m afraid that I do the same thing at bookstores.  Spend hours perusing my favorite sections, surreptitiously check prices with Amazon and Bookfinder, and see if the book I desire is the latest edition.  It’s just so easy so shop from home and have my heart’s desire delivered to my doorstep.

But the past several years, I’ve made a concerted effort to actually buy something in these stores, even if the price is a little more.  I think we need to support our local merchants for more than just a cappuccino and to read magazines for free.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be enough.

Yesterday I received an e-mail notification that Dick Blick’s in Evansville will be closing later this month.  I am so sad.  This was one of my favorite stops every time I went down there.  Shopping online just doesn’t supply the same adrenaline rush of actually fondling new pens and paints, checking out new authors, just looking around to see what is available.

Over the past several years I’ve seen Border’s flagship bookstore in Ann Arbor bite the dust.  As well as Hawley-Cooke in Louisville.  These stores had knowledgeable staff, enormous selections, and were just comforting places to hang out.

Lee’s Art Shop in New York closed its door last year.  Dang, that is where I bought my Lamy fountain pen (in dayglow green).  And the awesome Rizolli’s Bookstore in upper Midtown was a store right out of casting central – beautiful carved stone exterior, well-worn wood inside, nooks and crannies to find some amazing tome.

Sigh.  I know.  Things change. And we’re all guilty of bottom price shopping.  But where are people going to shop, to hang out, to fondle the plants at the nursery or the special pens and crayons at the art store? To find out what is new and amazing?  Are we all going to sit in our isolated armchairs and just punch buttons to order things?  It is fantastic to be able to find that something special online but it doesn’t quite replace the in-person experience of ogling something new in person. It’s so sad but I await to see what’s next.

What are your thoughts?  Have any of your favorite stores closed?

When is a painting finished?

Grand Canyon from the South Rim. Cloud shadows on the rocks. Painted in impressionistic style in acrylic, 20 x 20. Kit Miracle

Sometimes when I’m working on a painting, it just seems to paint itself.  I have a clear vision of what I want and it all comes together.

Other times, not.  I may think I’m finished, then when I go back into the studio, I see a glaring mistake.  Or something I was attempting didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted.

This is a painting of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim.  I was particularly attracted to the play of the cloud shadows across the scene.  The Canyon has such beautiful colors which change constantly throughout the day and the seasons, that it’s difficult to catch just the right time and color.  Sometimes I get some part of the painting which becomes “too precious”, meaning that I like it and tend to paint around it, but it throws off the rest of the composition.

This particular painting was created with the limited palette that I mentioned in my last post but took me far longer than some of my other recent paintings.  In fact, I painted some other paintings and then came back to this one.  Still not sure it’s finished.  What are your thoughts?