Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday Feature: Kim Minichiello

"Bird's Eye View" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello

Hi Everyone,

I have a fabulous Friday Feature today:))  If you've been reading my blog lately Kim has been a guest on my blog.  She filled us in on very important information about trademarks and copyrights.  So today I wanted to show you her fabulous works of art.  

To see more of Kim's work visit her website and blog

How did you get your start?  What’s your artist journey so far?

Since I was little, I can remember drawing or doing creative things.  My mom was a big influence, we always had a garden in the summer and I learned a lot about plants and horticulture.  She is an excellent cook and instilled in me a passion for food and cooking.  We also did a variety of needlework; sewing, knitting, and embroidery.  I feel all of these things are artistic endeavors, and I’m so glad I was exposed to them. 

I went to Purdue University, and received a degree in Environmental Design, which is Interior Design with an emphasis on architecture.  I took as many art classes as I could and was exposed to and became interested in textiles. I worked at a design firm in Indianapolis, Indiana, while attending college, and got a good foundation there in sketching and rendering interiors.  As a designer, I felt it was important to be able to illustrate your designs and ideas.  

Two years after I graduated from college, I got a job at Walt Disney Imagineering and became an Imagineer.  They were designing Disneyland Paris and I was part of that design team.  While working at Disney, I still pursued my interest in textiles and created one of a kind garments, home furnishings, and children’s clothing after my daughter was born. I also studied drawing and painting at The Art Center College of design, with artist Mark Strickland.   At that time, I decided to continue my relationship with Imagineering on a freelance design basis, to pursue other endeavors.  One of those was art licensing.  I co-founded a design studio with one other designer, where we created digital art for the art licensing market.  

In 2007, my family and I had the opportunity to move to Hong Kong.  Until that time, most of the painting I had done was for interior or architectural rendering or illustration, or all digital. I always wanted to live in Asia and was so inspired by my surroundings that I started painting for my own enjoyment. I met some artists there who I am still friends with, who taught and inspired me.  I also started plein air painting in both oil and watercolor in Hong Kong. Shortly after our time in Hong Kong, we moved to Paris, France for a few years.  I had worked and lived there previously, but this time I become a self imposed student of art, visiting museums, painting and sketching as often as I could and have continued to this day.

Where were you born?

I was born and grew up in a small town, Logansport, Indiana which is about 75 miles north of Indianapolis.  
"Tai Guardian" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello
If you could live anywhere where would you live?

This is  tough because I have traveled and lived in some amazing places.  To be honest, I love where I live now in Florida. I live in Windermere, in the Orlando area.   I love tropical climates and Hawaii is also one of my favorites.  One thing I do miss though, is being able to walk to places as I did living in cities like Hong Kong and Paris. Here in Florida I pretty much have to drive everywhere.  I’m also a museum junkie and miss living in an area where there are a number of major art museums close by to visit regularly.  If there was a place like I live now, where I could walk for shopping and dining and have a major art museum or two near by, that would be perfect!  Anyone know where that is?

What’s your favorite thing to paint and why?

Right now I love painting things relating to Asian cultures. Even before living there I have had an affinity for them. I really enjoyed and was inspired by my experience of living in Hong Kong and traveling to Mainland China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia and Nepal.  The things that I saw and experienced in all of these locations really speak to me when I’m working on a painting. Through my paintings I am immediately taken back there and I can recall many wonderful memories.    

Could you talk about your painting techniques?  

I paint watercolor and oil, recently, I’ve been focusing more on watercolor so I’ll talk about that.  I’ll either use a photograph from my travels, or a plein air sketch as inspiration.  I’ll think about the subject for a while, what drew me to it, and design the painting in my head to get an idea of where I’d like to go.   I might use a number of photos for inspiration to come up with the final design.  I sometimes use Photoshop as a tool to work out design, size and composition or will sketch out my ideas on paper.  Then I’ll draw out the design on the watercolor paper, I really enjoy this process too.  Sometimes I’ll work out a color palette ahead of time and other times, I’ll dive right in.  I paint either wet on wet, or wet on dry or wet on moist to get the desired effect I want.  I’m not really a glazer, I like more direct painting to get in and get it done.  I pay close attention to value, hard and soft edges, and color temperatures next to each other. With watercolor, I try to have somewhat of a plan when I paint each area, but I also try to be spontaneous, and let the paint do what it wants, that’s the beauty of watercolor!  I find it to be a challenge and somewhat of a mind game to be in control and be intuitive and spontaneous at the same time.  That’s what I love about this medium.   I put my painting up and stand back from it often to make value judgements, especially when I’m working big.  The final phase I call the tweaking phase, where I’ll push and pull value and add details.
"Mayan Gate" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello
Do you have go-to paints/colors, what are your favorites?

Once I took a color theory workshop with Pat Weaver, and have since used a more limited palette and mix more of my color. The three primaries I use most are, Aureolin Yellow, Permanent Rose and Cobalt or French Ultramarine blue.  That being said, I still can’t help having at my disposal a variety of other colors I’ve learned to like.  But, I usually mix my colors.   Indigo, Quin. Burnt Orange, and Quin. Yellow seem to creep into most of my paintings.

Do you have a favorite artist?  Who has been your biggest inspiration?

This is hard, there are so many but I’ll try to be brief!  I would have to say first my family is a huge inspiration to me.  My husband is a designer, artist, and plein air painter, and my daughter is an actor and performing artist.  I’ve learned so much about painting and the theatre from them.  I love that my husband and I share the same passion and he is so supportive of my art career.  As far as workshops, my friend and fellow artist in Hong Kong, Isabelle Lim, was a huge inspiration, taking a watercolor workshop with her, I got that light bulb or aha moment where I really started to understand watercolor and fell in love with it. Likewise for Janet Rogers, where I  learned to stretch myself and paint more spontaneously and loose.  Last year at the Florida Watercolor Society convention, I took Nicholas Simmons’ workshop, and he inspired me to paint big, which I’m really enjoying.

As far as favorite artists, I have had the wonderful opportunity to visit museums all over the world and study and see in person a variety of amazing work.  Whenever I stand in front of a: John Singer Sargent, oils and watercolors, Joaquin Sorolla, Edouard Manet, Edouard Vuillard, Franz Bischoff, Edgar Payne, and most of the French Impressionists, to name a few, my heart skips a beat!

What have been some of your crowning achievements?

I think first and foremost my family and watching my daughter become the creative, talented, independent person she has become.   Starting my creative career as a designer and my time with Walt Disney Imagineering, I’ve had the opportunity to work on almost every Disney Park and travel all over the world either doing research for projects or living where the parks were being built as part of the installation and design team.  A few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to design the stained glass windows as part of the castle suite for Cinderella’s castle in the Magic Kingdom.  Most Imagineers can’t say that they have had the opportunity to work on a Disney Castle!  Even though I have been painting a number of years for my own enjoyment, I just recently put myself and my work out there to start my fine art career.  In just a years time, I have gotten juried into Florida Watercolor Society, Central Florida Watercolor Society, Women Painters of the Southeast, and Georgia Watercolor Society’s Annual Exhibitions, all on my first attempt.  I’m very proud of that and feel honored to be in the company of so many talented artists.
"Lion Dance" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello
What are five things you would like to happen in your life in the next five years? Dream big here:)
  1. Have my work juried into one of the biggies, NWS, AWS, and International Shows in China and Europe, and win an award in a juried exhibition.
  2. Teach, possibly do a workshop in France, and make many new wonderful artist friends.
  3. Write a book or get published.
  4. Continue to travel the world and paint and live internationally again.
  5. Do a plein air event.
  6. Judge or curate an art exhibition.
  7. Have my art bring enjoyment to people, make them stop and look at things in our amazing world in a different way, and acquire a number of collectors so that my art will go to good homes.
  8. Stay healthy and continue to paint as much as I can.
Sorry that’s more than 5 but you said to dream big!

What is your advice for other artists who are just getting started in their career?

Show up and paint, don’t make excuses that you aren’t good enough or why you can’t paint that day, etc.  Paint and get to know the medium you enjoy working with. Play and try different techniques and methods, make some discoveries until you hone in on the methods and materials you prefer.  Be a perpetual art student, read magazines and books on all aspects of painting, and study works of other master artists. Try to discover why you are you drawn to their work?  Take workshops or classes from artists whose work you admire.  I have never taken a workshop where I didn’t have some take away that I use in my painting practice.  If your goal is to get into juried shows.  Don’t give up, we all get rejections.  Judging can be subjective, even Nicholas Simmons said at the critique for last year’s FWS Exhibition, if he had judged the show on any other given day that the award results may have been different.  

What is the best advice that you have received as an artist?

Two recent things come to mind and are resonating with me.   I attended Lori Putnam’s demo at the Women Painter’s of the Southeast Exhibition, she was also the judge for the show.  She said while judging she would be looking for paintings that were painted from the soul versus the ego.  That really made me stop and think.  I took this to mean that if we as artists have a personal connection to our subject matter, our personalities will shine through our work.  When I am connected to my subject matter I enjoy the painting process a lot more and I feel the end results are better. In other words, paint what you love and enjoy the process.

The other piece of advice, I just read in the current issue of Plein Air magazine.  Ken Auster says, “Teachers keep telling you to paint 100 pictures, as a way to get better and find your style.  I’m here to tell you 100 bad paintings won’t get you anywhere.  Effort without critical thinking, will just perpetuate bad painting.  Hard work has to be combined with reading art books, looking at museum paintings, studying with good teachers and honest criticism from yourself and from others with more experience.” 

You have owned your own company and delved into the world of art licensing, where you worked with over 35 manufacturers, Target, Stein Mart, etc. Can you talk about your experiences with this?

I worked with one other designer and a licensing agent.  Analyzing trends in the current market place, I created art using Photoshop and Illustrator, sometimes using vintage imagery.  Compiling different themed collections that could be licensed for a wide variety of products, by a variety of manufacturers my art was used on, home furnishings, textiles, decorative accessories, and stationary to name a few.  The products made by the manufacturers were sold in some of the stores you mentioned.  I would get royalties, that you share with the agent if you are working with one,  from the products that sold.   In the licensing world royalty percentages can be small, you have to have quite a few contracts and sell a large quantity for a substantial income.  It helps if you have that one image or style that really resonates with the marketplace.
"Joss Sticks" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello
You worked for Walt Disney Imagineering, what was that like?

It was great on so many levels.  First I met my husband there! :-)  I got hired during the design phase of Disneyland Paris for Discoveryland and Main Street, and got a chance to meet and work with some of the classic artists, designers, and authors that knew and worked with Walt Disney, Herb Ryman, John Hench, Bill Evans, Frank Armitage, and Marty Sklar. I had the opportunity to see a lot of Disney art.  Dorothea Redmond’s, watercolors for one, are amazing.  It was inspiring and energizing to be surrounded by so many creative and talented artists and designers.   We had the opportunity to take art classes to keep up painting and drawing skills, attend guest lectures and events at the studio. I loved Disney before working there, but I came to appreciate Disney history and the legacy of Walt Disney even more.  I learned to incorporate storytelling into design, paying close attention to and incorporating elements down to the tiniest details. Mainly, I did interiors for shops, restaurants and attractions. During some projects, I had the chance to design custom furniture, hardware, fabrics, drapery trimmings, and wallpapers for various projects.  Working on Animal Kingdom, the design team would go on research trips to Asia, to immerse ourselves in the culture, and photo document countries we visited to help us to re-create similar environments in the park.  We would also seek out and work with local artisans and craftsmen to create elements that would eventually be part of the overall design. One highlight for me, was working with Disney Artist, Frank Armitage, who was a background artist for Jungle Book and Sleeping Beauty, designing murals for Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom. Overall, it was hard work, with many long hours, but a once in a lifetime experience.

How did you get involved with creating textiles?

In college one day I passed a room with floor looms and padded tables for silk screen printing and was curious, so I took the class.  I enjoyed the silk screening process and while I worked in Indianapolis, I approached an Indiana artist, Marilyn Price, who did textile work creating large wall hangings incorporating silk screen printing, hand painting and quilting.  I became her apprentice for a number of years, and we are still friends today!
"Lotus Nocturne" original watercolor by Kim Minichiello


Chocolate or vanilla?
I assume you are talking about ice cream, so it would be both swirled together. But, I love pure dark chocolate!

Your dream vacation spot?
The next great place I haven’t been, or someplace tropical, or somewhere beautiful or culturally stupendous to inspire me to paint!

Book or movie?
I love both!  But, I would have to choose books, because they don’t make movies of art books!  With books, I can seek out and read whatever I’m interested in!

Favorite author?
This is hard... I read a lot, more non fiction than fiction.  My favorites are history relating to various cultures, travel, historical fiction, books about artists, and all my art mags!

Favorite movie?
I love old classics, but two of my favorites that are more current are Lost in Translation, and Midnight in Paris.  I also love period dramas, like the Merchant Ivory films, and documentaries on art, artists and designers.   I also really enjoy Wes Anderson’s movies, my two favorites are Moonrise Kingdom, and Fantastic Mr. Fox, and of course, Disney and Pixar movies.  

Romance or comedy?
A period drama with both romance and comedy.

Favorite dessert?
Rhubarb Pie

Night owl or morning person?
For productivity, late morning.  My favorite time of day is early evening, dusk, or in France aperitif hour!

Such a fascinating interview.  Thank you so much Kim:))

Have a great weekend everyone!



  1. Oh strawberry rhubarb pie to be more precise. My fave! Love Kim's art too.

  2. Great feature! I so look forward to these.

  3. fascinating interview. I came over from Kim's blog and I am so glad I did.
    Thank you, Carrie
    thank you, Kim.

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