Meet Kim Minichiello, this week’s top American Watercolor Weekly Ambassador!
Kim Minichiello is an internationally recognized, award-winning artist whose career in art and design has spanned more than 30 years. As a designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, she designed shops, restaurants, and attractions, for Disney theme parks in Paris, Tokyo, California and Florida. She was commissioned to paint the art on the menus for the Coral Reef Restaurant in Epcot and other illustration projects at Walt Disney World, as well as, a watercolor sketching workshop for Walt Disney Imagineering in Florida.
Through a career in design, she has lived in Paris, on three occasions, and Hong Kong and traveled throughout Southeast Asia as a concept designer for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “Traveling and experiencing other cultures is truly an inspiration to me. The places I have encountered still speak to me, and while painting I am immediately taken back to a particular place and time, recalling sites, sounds, and fond memories.”
Kim is a member of nine professional painting societies, a signature member of the Georgia, Louisiana and Pennsylvania Watercolor Societies, and has been juried into and won awards in a number of regional, national and international painting exhibitions. She is a board member of the Winter Garden Art Association, and the 2019 President of the Florida Watercolor Society. Kim also teaches workshops and private lessons in watercolor plein air sketching and painting as well as those geared to studio work. Kim paints on location, en plein air, locally, and when she travels.
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I have a deep affinity with Japanese culture with a self imposed study for many years on their food, customs, design traditions, textile arts, and horticulture On one trip to Japan during cherry blossom season, I came upon this maiko, apprentice geiko, as geisha are known in Kyoto. She was accompanied by her male dresser. I don’t know for certain, but I interpreted the situation as it being her Misedashi, a ceremony when a girl who aspires to be a geiko becomes a maiko, an apprentice geiko. It is the official beginning of her career.
I wanted to integrate in the design my love of the textiles of Japan and pay homage to the art of ukiyo-e or wood block prints whIch I also adore. I used to do textile work for years and used some of those former techniques I used to do on fabrics in the background. Ukiyo-e literally translates as “pictures of the floating world” which describes the lifestyle and culture in the Edo-period of Japan when the prints were produced by artists such as Hokusai. The fish, or Japanese carp, in the design makes reference to the “floating world” depicted in this ancient art form, which also inspired many of the impressionist artists, like Monet and Van Gogh in the late 19th century. Monet collected ukiyo-e and Van Gogh was inspired by them as well and integrated elements from them in some of his work.
A couple of years ago my husband and I went to the Provence area of France on our 25th anniversary. After living in France several years, the trip had a special significance. Driving in the Vaucluse area to the village of Ménerbes, made famous by the classic book by Peter Mayle, A Year in Provence, we came upon, in the valley below the village, fields laden with cherry trees ready to be harvested. It was one of those stop the car moments. I got out of the car and strolled among the trees marveling at the millions of tiny red and yellow orbs hovering over my head. While I was composing this painting inspired by that day, I couldn’t help but think of the classic French song Les Temps des Cerises, (The Time of Cherries.) It was written in 1866 just before the French Impressionist movement. Lyrics were added later and it become a revolutionary song for the Paris Commune in 1871. This is the time from March to May a rogue, radical government, laid siege to Paris right after the fall of the French Second Empire. The title of the painting reflects, a wonderful memory of a day in Provence with my husband, a classic French song beloved by many today, and an ironic reference to today’s political environment.
Over many years a watercolor sketching practice in my sketchbooks has developed into a plein air painting practice. I feel observing and painting from life helps inform my larger studio work. For a couple of years now I have been joining a group of Walt Disney Imagineers once a week, early morning, to paint en plein air in one of the Disney Parks at Walt Disney World in Florida, mainly Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This painting, “On the Kali River,” was done on location in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Painting there has a special significance for me. I was part of the concept design team for the park and being there in the early morning hours reminds me of research trips I took to South East Asia, to gather reference material for it’s design. It has also been a wonderful experience being among the rich landscape of the different areas, talking with the keepers, and a great opportunity to learn about and spend time with some of the animals while painting!
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