Tag Archives: contemporary impressionist

Preparing for the big exhibit

Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread series. Hung on the side of my studio. It sure helps to have all the canvases the same size. At least for ease of framing and wiring.

The good news is that we were able to escape to warmer climates for a brief respite.  After two years of being stuck at home, we had a delightful and restful vacation.

However, upon returning, I had to start scrambling to prepare for my upcoming solo exhibit in May/June.  Fortunately, all the paintings are completed.  The frames were on hand.  So I jumped into the presentation process.

Framing back. Fortunately with gallery-wrapped canvases (where the canvas is stretched around the supports), there is no real need for frames. The sides are painted. The canvases only need to be wired.

All of the Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread series are on two inch deep gallery-wrapped canvases.  This means no framing, only wiring.  Actually, the process went rather quickly, especially after I bought special wire snips to cut through the plastic-covered wire.  My professional wire scissors wouldn’t work.

Then I began the process of working on the Intimate Spaces: Beach series paintings.  About half of these canvases are also the deep, gallery-wrapped type.  Those went quickly.  BUT….when I began to frame the rest of the paintings. I realized that I didn’t have the correct hardware.  Plenty of Z clips, but no L clips.  They’re on order. 

Wait. Wait. Wait.

Fortunately, they’re due to arrive on Tuesday.  It won’t take long to finish once they actually arrive.  Remember, I’ve been framing my work for nearly forty years now! 

Anyway, the show is coming together. The marketing materials have been ordered.  The paintings will be delivered on Friday, April 30th.  The show will be hung.  It opens at the new Cultural Center on Thursday, May 6th.  Unfortunately, with the COVID restrictions, there won’t be a public reception. But I will be doing a demonstration painting on Saturday, May 8th from 10 to 2. If you would like a personal tour of the exhibit, let me know and I’ll try to meet you there.

If you’re in the area, please stop by. It’s even worth it to make a special trip.  Some great restaurants in Jasper, especially the Schnitzlebank, a German restaurant that attracts guests from miles around (closed Sundays). Plus, there are many other fine restaurants in the area and lots of neat shops downtown.

Address:  Jasper Cultural Center.  100 Third Avenue.  Turn right (North on Mill Street) and then right again (East) on Fourth street. Plenty of free parking in the rear of the building.

Anticipation

Anticipation. Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread Series, Acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24, Kit Miracle

This is the last painting in my Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread series.  I began planning this series in December 2019.  I thought I had enough material.  The theme was to observe people eating, either together or alone.  Some were family members, others were people in the public – restaurants, picnics, etc.

I had a lot of ideas but unfortunately with the onset of the pandemic, my ability to observe was limited.  I scoured through hundreds (thousands) of photos taken over about two decades.  I laid out about a dozen paintings but towards the end I was running out of subject matter.

This painting is from a photo that I’d saved from several years ago.  It was taken by a friend of mine at a special dinner, Thanksgiving I think.  I’ve always loved this image but could never figure out quite how to capture the scene.  So with his permission, I decided to add it to my series.

It made me think of several paintings of the impressionists who portrayed pets in their work.  Even the formal setting seems reminiscent of that era.  I thought, well, pets are often our dinner companions so it fits with the theme of the series.

The painting was so much fun to do that it almost painted itself.  Some pieces are like that.  I don’t usually paint animals but even the fur of the doggie was fun to paint.  If you can zoom in on it, you will see that it contains many colors and perfectly captures this little girl.

So, it is with a big sigh that I’ve finished this series last month.  Now just to do some framing and I’m all ready to go for my big show next month at the new Jasper Cultural Center.  If you’re in the neighborhood, come check it out.  More details to follow. 

Anticipation, detail 1 Our little friend R. A well-loved, well-behaved companion. Loved painting her fur/hair.
Anticipation, detail 2. A table setting for celebration.

How Long Does It Take?

After the Dinner Party. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30. Kit Miracle this is the final version of the painting. I’ve tweaked a few things. I didn’t like the shape of the wine bottle, added a few more highlights here and there. The whole idea with this type of impressionism is that the brush strokes are clear and bold. Your eyes will fill in the rest. I think this makes a much livelier painting than if I had meticulously smoothly brushed all of the shapes.

One of the most frequent questions that artists get is, How long did it take to paint this painting?  I’m not quite sure why people ask this question.  Are they trying to gage how much per hour that I’m charging based on the price of the painting?  Maybe.  Is it worth more if it takes more time?  I don’t know.

My flippant answer is, Thirty years and a week.  No artist reaches a professional level without a lot of work.  This is actually true for most professions.  Some people may have a little extra edge in a skill, maybe eye/hand coordination, color discernment, perfect pitch, but most people get where they are by plain hard work. I think this is true for athletes, musicians, artists, chefs, frankly nearly everyone.

I painted this painting After the Dinner Party in my Breaking Bread series pretty much in one day.  But that number is deceiving.  There was a whole lot of work required before I even began painting.

First there was the canvas prep.  I purchased the gallery-wrapped 24 x 30 canvas.  Then sanded it, applied two coats of gesso allowing for drying and sanding in between. I like a textured canvas so you will notice that in some of the photos. All of the canvasses in this series are primed with a greyish/greenish color. 

Then there was the time to sort through the hundreds (thousands) of photos that I had to select the one that I wanted to use.  Then to decide what I wanted to keep in and what to take out or move or change.  I did two small NOTAN (black and white) sketches, two large charcoal sketches, and a preliminary watercolor painting.  I noodled around with the idea of placing a bouquet of flowers in the background.  Which lead me to paint two possible floral candidates.  In the end, I did not use them as I thought they didn’t add anything to the painting set up.  Finally, I sketched the full painting on the primed canvas.

THEN….I could begin the actual painting part. 

I started in the morning with the colored outlines and painted in the larger areas first.  I pretty much worked all day until late evening.  Once I’m on a roll, I’m on a roll.

You can see the step-by-step at this link.

It takes time to achieve a certain level of skill in nearly anything.  Larry Bird shot 200 hoops before school every day and was known throughout the NBA for the hours he dedicated to conditioning.  Even after decades of success, Norman Rockwell agonized over the details of his paintings.  How many hours a day do you think Yo-Yo Ma practices his cello?  (He estimates over 10,000 hours every five years which is five hours every day.)

Next time you admire someone’s artistic skill (or other skill), keep in mind that the final product is just the tip of the iceberg of work behind the scene.  You can do it, too.  If you wish to work at it.

Something a little different

I’ve been taking a break for the past several weeks from working on my current series of paintings Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread.  Although I tend to be pretty disciplined when I’m working on a big project, sometimes I need a respite.  Recently I’ve returned to some old themes, particularly western scenes and my travels.  Culling through a couple of decades’ worth of old photos, scenes that I may have skipped previously, now draw me in.  It doesn’t always have to be the entire picture, just a small portion of it.  And I always feel free to change things around.

Atrium at Longwood Gardens, du Pont estate, Pennsylvania. Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20, impressionistic style, Kit Miracle

Here are a couple of my most recent paintings from my travels.  The first one is of the Atrium at Longwood Gardens on the du Pont estate in Pennsylvania.  Although I visited in March of that year, it was still beautiful.  The gardens under glass were particularly impressive. Touted as the most beautiful garden in America, I couldn’t disagree.

Garden Cherub, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16. Pittsburgh, PA Kit Miracle

The second painting is from a different trip to Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh to be exact.  One of our favorite places to visit is The Strip District, a multi-block area of food shops and restaurants, fish markets and collectibles.  This particular shop had some very enticing items in the front of the shop, but as I walked through the store to the back, they had a garden shop with rusty gates and ironwork, birdbaths and outdoor trellises.  I loved this little garden cherub.  Now I wish I had purchased him but at least I could capture him in paint.

Both of these paintings are painted on red-toned canvases which peeks through, adding another layer of liveliness to the scenes.

In case you are interested, these are both available in my Etsy shop KitMiracleArt.  AND….I’m having a 20% off Labor Day sale through Monday.  Free shipping, too.

After School, 96th Hoosier Salon Exhibit

After School, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 30 Kit Miracle This painting is currently on exhibit at the 96th Annual Hoosier Salon show at the Indiana State Museum through October 25th, 2020.

I’m thrilled to have my painting After School on exhibit at the 96th Annual Hoosier Salon exhibit at the Indiana State Museum.

This painting depicts two girls having a snack after school.  I assumed that they were in band or cheerleaders as they were dressed alike.  I was attracted to the silhouette shape of the figures.  Despite the high contrast of the figures against the light background, the painting itself actually has a lot of color.  Notice the distinctive color outlines.  These are painted before the rest of the painting, however, sometimes I go back and reemphasize the colors.

The background is painted very loosely and doesn’t really include any details except the umbrella.  It’s always as important to know what to leave out as well as what to include.  More details, parking lot, would not have added anything to the painting, just more distraction.

This is another painting in my Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread series.

After School, detail 1. Acrylic on canvas.

After School, detail 2

The painting is currently on exhibit at the Indiana State Museum.  The exhibit opens tomorrow, Saturday, August 29th with free admission.  It runs through October 25th.  You can find the Indiana State Museum at 650 W Washington St, Indianapolis.  There is so much to see at the museum it’s certainly worth the trip.  A great outing for kids and adults.  And it’s right next door the the Eiteljorge Museum of Native American and Western Art, too!

If you can’t visit the museum in person, here is a link to the exhibit online.  All the works are for sale, of course.

Bread, a new painting

Bread, acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20. The Food We Eat Series. Kit Miracle This series is all about food. We’re all a little bit obsessed, I think. But what is better than fresh made bread, still warm from the oven? Ah, the aroma. The crunch of the crust when it is cut.

Who doesn’t love the aroma of fresh bread?  The crunch of the crust and soft texture of the body?

This week as I was waiting for more canvases to be delivered for my latest series, I spent some time doing some smaller paintings.  This is another painting for The Food We Eat series.  I guess since we’re all isolated at present, my thoughts return to food.  Must be an animal thing.

My husband makes this lovely, crusty bread.  I’ve posted the recipe in a previous post.  It is very easy and so so delicious.  It makes great toast and bruschettas. I think he’s making French toast for breakfast this morning with the last of this loaf.  https://my90acres.com/2018/03/28/crusty-artisan-bread/

Bread, detail. It is often difficult to convey in the pictures that I post the brushwork and the texture of the paint. Just click on the picture and expand it to see. You will notice that I actually use very loose brush strokes for much of the painting. Again, as mentioned in my last post, the viewer’s eye fills in many details.

As I was waiting for a frame to arrive for a painting which needed to be delivered this week, I painted this and three other smaller pieces.  One plein air and two landscapes.  The frame never arrived, due to delays at the factory due to COVID.  So I had a good friend make a frame but that’s a story for another day.

Anyway, if you’re not doing anything today and you’d like to surprise your family, or just yourself, try your hand at some homemade bread.  You won’t be sorry.

Lunch at the Museum

Lunch at the Museum, Kit Miracle, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 24.

This is the seventh painting in my Intimate Spaces: Breaking Bread series.  A bold, vertical portrait, this painting certainly grabs attention.  I’ve been noticing that in addition to telling a story, my portraits often include a wry sense of irony.  Yeah, I just now figured that out but looking back at much of my work, I can see what often attracted me to the scenes initially.  Maybe it’s my quirky sense of humor but hey, it’s my work and I can do what I want.

Anyway, this scene was when I took my granddaughter to the Carnegie Museum complex in Pittsburgh a few years ago.  All that walking around to see dinosaurs and artwork and more is hard work.  We stopped for lunch in the museum restaurant.

I guess that the first thing that strikes the viewer is, “What are those things coming out of her head?”  This, of course, as any photographer will tell you is a definite no no in composition.  You don’t want trees sprouting from your subject’s head.  But here with those globe-shaped lights, it works.  Some rules are made to be broken.

Lunch – detail 1. A sweet portrait but not saccharine.

There is a lot of vertical in this painting.  Not only the canvas but the stripes, the lights, the straw for the girl, the wood on the table.  The head is not quite in the center but everything leads to the face.

Lunch detail 5. Those squiggles become chairs and tables on the outdoor patio, viewed through the window of the restaurant.

Lunch detail 4. Up close, the people in the background look like beans, but again, from a distance, they come together.

I particularly like the balance between the warm and cool colors.  Even within the cool areas, you can see quite a bit of color if you look closely.  It’s about one third to two thirds ratio of warm to cool.

Lunch, detail 2. I captured this little still life even in a portrait.

Another little still life. The loosely painted silverware and napkin come together when viewed at a distance.

Some people like to see a photo realistic finish on paintings but that is not my style. (Been there, done that.)  As a contemporary impressionist, I look to convey the message with as few strokes as possible.  Looking at my paintings up close often reveals a jumble of bold brush strokes.  But stepping back about six to eight feet, it all comes together.  This is done to deliberately allow the viewer to become a participant in the experience by filling in the details with their own eyes where there may actually be none.

Canvas prep and under painting. This abstract painting doesn’t necessarily follow the composition of the painting but is designed to give a little guidance. Look closely to see my initial sketch of the subject before I begin to paint.

I also like to paint on a toned canvas, often with a rough gesso base to add texture.  One of my favorite colors is a reddish tone which adds sparkle where it peeks between the brush strokes.  This is particularly good for landscapes that have lots of green.  However, the tones on this series of paintings are more somber, greys with some splashes of color.  The subject is then drawn on top before I start painting.  When my husband saw all the prepped canvasses in my studio, he thought I was switching to abstract painting.  Well….not yet.

Plein air painting – oil and acrylics, tips and tricks Part III

Plein air painting on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Duck on a Rock is the name of the formation. It was very, very windy that morning so I had to secure the easel.

My last post about plein air painting addressed how to do watercolors.  In this final post, I will address how to do oils and / or acrylics.

There are many similarities with painting plein air in oil or acrylics. Same supports – panels or canvasses, same (similar) brushes, same easel, etc.  The biggest difference is that oils take a long time to dry and use some volatile chemicals, such as, mineral spirits.  Acrylics are painted with water and dry in less than fifteen minutes.  This makes a big difference if you are transporting the canvasses.  Oil painting will smear and get everywhere, whereas, acrylic paintings will dry quickly and be ready to transport within minutes.

Although I painted in oils for over a decade, now I do plein air painting almost exclusively in acrylics.  Mostly for the ease of transport and quick drying times.

This is a typical French easel. It is a wooden carry box and easel all together. These have been around for over 100 years. There is also another smaller French easel called a half-easel. Both weigh quite a bit and, in my opinion, not too comfortable to lug around.

As always, my main concern in plein air painting is weight and ease of transport.  There are many wonderful easels but the most common is the French easel which has been around for over 100 years.  There is also the half-box easel and new aluminum easels which help a bit with the weight.  Another option is the pochade box, either homemade or purchased.  It seems everyone is trying to get smaller and smaller.  I have a pochade box which is a beautiful piece of art furniture, but not really practical for my needs.  I never want to get it messed up!

This is a beautiful little pochade box, similar to the one that I have. It is so exquisitely made that I hate to get it dirty. One needs to use a camera tripod to attach to the bottom as it doesn’t come with legs. However, you can just set it on a table or bench to use. The one that I have will hold a canvas up to 16 x 20 but that is not very practical for this size.

As usual, my main concerns are with weight and portability.  I use another light weight aluminum easel (Stanrite 100) this one with spikes which fold out, but the whole thing collapses to about 25 inches.  That I carry in the same homemade carrier as my watercolor easel.  And another backpack devoted to acrylic (oil) painting.  For some reason, Stanrite quit making these easels but I expect that is mostly because they last so long.  You can probably find them on Ebay or one of the resale sites.

The typical gear that I take with me for acrylic painting. Backpack, selection of brushes and paints. portable travel palette, sketch book, panels and canvasses, gloves, water. Not shown would be a container for water. For oil paint, there would be two containers of mineral spirits and a portable oil paint palette.

Many of the items that I carry with me are the same, but some are devoted to acrylic painting.  Paints, types of brushes, larger water jar, rags, etc.  For oils that would be oil paints, brushes, and two jars of mineral spirits (one for cleaning brushes and one clean).  Backpacks are cheap so just keep one packed for each of the type of work you wish to do.  I have made separate lists for each type of plein air art activities that I do to remind myself what to take.

Easel

Chair / stool

Umbrella / bungees

Bag

Paper

Support

Clips

Acrylic travel palette (Mijello)

Or…oil travel palette

Brushes -assorted

Paints – assorted

Water and cup

Or Mineral spirits (two jars)

Spray bottle

Pencils/pens

Sketch book

Tape / clips

Multi-tool / pliers

Paper towels / cloth rags

Sponge

Bug spray

Sunscreen

Hat

Camera / cell phone

Apron

Scissors / knife

Snacks

Business cards

Some folding green stuff (money)

Bandaids

 

My backpack will hold canvasses or panels up to 11 x 14 inches.  Larger canvasses will have to be hand carried or strapped onto your pack.  When I travel, I will keep a plastic bin to contain all my canvasses.

These are the reminder cards that I keep in my kits. They remind me of what I need to take. I’ve used these kinds of cards for many things, vacations, camping, etc.

Most of the other equipment is the same as listed in my previous post about watercolor painting.  Bug spray is a must to ward off mosquitoes or biting flies.  I once had a guy who was hauling manure and (I think) deliberately let some out near where I was painting.  Bungees help to anchor your easel or attach an umbrella.  Very disappointing to return to your easel only to discover it face down in the weeds.  Oh, well, such is the life of the artist.

And, yes, it is OK to tweak your painting when you return to your studio. Yes, there are some purists who think that is awful, but, hey, it’s your art and you can do what you like!

The main thing is to relax, enjoy yourself and have fun. It’s not a competition; it’s an adventure.

This is what can happen when you don’t anchor your easel on a windy day.

Using my beautiful little pochade box.

On a bluff overlooking the White River in Loogootee, Indiana.

Italian Eating Italian: Intimate Spaces, Breaking Bread Series

Italian Eating Italian – Intimate Spaces, Breaking Bread Series. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30. Kit Miracle

Painting a portrait head on is a bit challenging.  However, the distinct lighting of this portrait helps define the features.  The painting has a very robust feeling; a man eating a piece of bread and drinking some vino.

Italian Eating Italian, detail, chin. Notice the reflective light on the chin and neck. Also notice that I rarely use a direct white paint. Most of my whites are mixed to add more vibrancy.

If you look carefully at the closeups, you can see that although I paint in a loose impressionistic style, the brush strokes are sure and vibrant.  I’ve been working with some colorful and contrasting lines which add a bit of spark to the painting.  The colorful outlines are not always related to the painting as far as contrasts go, but sometimes they are.

Italian Eating Italian, detail, hand and glass of wine. Here you see the wine glass, slight angle, gripped by the hand but all loosely painted.

Italian Eating Italian, detail. Hand with piece of bread. The challenge here was to paint a piece of rustic white bread against a white shirt.

This is another painting in the Intimate Spaces – Breaking Bread Series.

Intimate Spaces – Breaking Bread. A new series.

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

A few weeks ago I showed some of the NOTAN studies for my next series of paintings.  If you recall, this is where the artist breaks the composition down to black and white abstract shapes.  This is the first painting in that new series.

Intimate Spaces, Breaking Bread is a rather ironic title for the series considering the times we are currently living in.  However, this series was planned out in December, long before we knew what the pandemic would do to our socializing.  No more public meals, family gatherings, etc.

So it only appropriate that the first painting is titled Alone.  The lone figure, distanced in the deserted restaurant.  The hard back lighting and reflections on the tables and chairs.  The even more ironic title of the sign inviting him to “Join” the team.  The painting evokes the feeling of loneliness, being alone, as in Hopper’s Nighthawks and some of his other paintings of solitary figures.  Even though there are some quite bright colors in the painting, the main palette is subdued, echoing the feeling of being alone.

Alone, NOTAN study. Although I don’t usually add middle tones to the NOTAN study, I did here to add more body to the image.

Alone. Charcoal sketch 24 x 18, Kit Miracle. Here I have added middle tones but it still keeps true to the basic NOTAN study.