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.
July Fourth has always had a special meaning for me. Far beyond the picnics and bands, the fireworks and family gatherings. There is just something about the holiday here in the United States which makes me proud and excites my sensibilities.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a marching band in person or even a fireworks display, although I love both of those things. The big booms reverberate in my chest all the way to my toes.
And I love the family gatherings. In our case, not quite reunions but a group of friends and relatives who show up to spend a pleasant day in the country. This year is especially poignant since we haven’t seen many of these folks for over a year.
The kids will run around, sneak blackberries from the bushes, and whine about when they’re going to eat. The adults will swap tales and events. And the young men will regale everyone with some awesome fireworks. (Fortunately, we’re not in the super dry western states where fireworks are banned these days.)
But I often reflect on the meaning of the day. Independence Day. The declaration of our split from our English heritage and ruler, King George. What a chance our founding fathers took! What moxy! What great beginnings, too. I wonder what they’d think of the form of government they started nearly two and a half centuries ago. Would they be proud? Astonished? Perplexed? Maybe all three.
I hope that you have a great day, an enjoyable day, and perhaps can reflect on the meaning of this special day here in the United States. Be kind. Be safe.
Life out here on my 90 acres has been so busy this spring. Making some progress tackling my three page list of things to do (yes, really!) but there are still plenty of things left to do.
We got a late start planting the garden this year on May 15th. I did manage to plant the first crop of corn on April 27th. It is now as tall as I am. The freeze in early May delayed planting but we got to everything else in one day. Then we had about a week and a half of hot, dry weather so I had to haul water.
The past few weeks have been pretty wet but at least not gully-washers as sometimes happens. I planted really wide rows to allow my husband to get down them with the rototiller. This is after I hoe around the individual plants. As you can see, everything is really established now.
The cicada invasion has been here and gone. Finally! Hundreds of thousands of the bugs. The birds, toads and lizards are full. A week and a half ago, the noise was deafening. Today, barely anything at all. Wait another seventeen years. And, no, I did not eat any. Blech!
Other chores which needed attention. Trimming out the lane (1/3 mile) both on the sides and overhead. This is a several day job, particularly during the extreme heat and humidity.
Then I started on other tasks: trimming bushes, digging flowerbeds, potting flowers, etc. And those are just the outside chores. There are many other tasks, cleaning the greenhouse, attics, closets, preparing for company. Taking the grandkids on road trips or to art classes. It’s always something.
But, I am still able to get out to the studio, mostly in the afternoons. (Outdoor work is reserved for mornings when it’s cool.) Recently I created a small series of sunrise paintings. Who doesn’t love a beautiful sunrise? Every one is different. And contemplating my next big series. Just some ideas rolling around but I’ll get there.
How’s your summer going? I hope you’re having some fun, seeing some friends and family as things open up now. Still cautiously keeping safe but a little freer.
One more week to view my solo exhibit at the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center. I must say, the number of visitors has been terrific and the comments in the guest book are so touching. Thanks so much for coming out.
If you would like to have a personal tour, just contact me and I’ll meet you there if I’m available. Otherwise, admission and parking is free. And the exhibits are open seven days a week. M-F 9-5, Sa 10-2, Sun noon – 3.
Only two more weeks to see my exhibit at the Thyen-Clark Cultural Center in Jasper, Indiana. It has been such an awesome and inspiring experience to show my contemporary impressionist paintings in this brand new facility.
The number of visitors and the flattering comments made in the guest books are humbling. As my son told me, Mom, although these paintings are large, this gallery makes them look small. That is just how beautiful and large the gallery spaces are.
The show closes on Friday, June 25th. If you haven’t had a chance to drop by, please plan to do it soon. I’ve met many friends and guests at the gallery for a private tour, not only of my show, but the entire facility. Just let me know if you’re going to be in town and I’ll be happy to meet you there.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I'm a professional artist, retired director of a performing arts center, bona fide book addict, and enjoy the quiet life...most of the time. I'd love to hear from you or get your ideas for future posts. Come back soon!