Remembering Kim Minichiello

We join the friends and fans of Kim Minichiello in mourning the recent loss of this great talent and unique artistic voice.

Kim Minichiello was an internationally recognized, award-winning artist whose career in art and design 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 had 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,” she said. “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 was a member of nine professional painting societies, a signature member of the Georgia, Louisiana and Pennsylvania Watercolor Societies, and had been juried into and won awards in a number of regional, national and international painting exhibitions. She was a board member of the Winter Garden Art Association, and the 2019 President of the Florida Watercolor Society. Kim also taught workshops and private lessons in watercolor plein air sketching and painting as well as those geared to studio work. Kim painted on location, en plein air, locally, and when she travelled.

watercolor painting of geishaMaiko’s Misedahsi (watercolor, 24 x 24)
She had 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, an apprentice geiko, as geisha are known in Kyoto,” she said. “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.”


Les Temps des Cerises (watercolor, 30 x 17.5)

“A couple of years ago, my husband and I went to the Provence area of France on our 25th anniversary,” she said. “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.”


On the Kali River (watercolor, 10 x 14)

“Over many years a watercolor sketching practice in my sketchbooks has developed into a plein air painting practice,” said Kim. “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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Kelly Kane
PleinAir Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly Editor-in-Chief With more than 20 years experience in art publishing, Kelly Kane has served previously as Editor-in-Chief of Watercolor Artist magazine and Content Director for The Artist’s Magazine, Drawing, Acrylic Artist, and Pastel Journal. She has interviewed many of the preeminent artists of our time and written numerous articles about painting, drawing, art education and art history. She is now the Editor-in-Chief of PleinAir Magazine and the American Watercolor Weekly newsletter. Click here to send her an email.


  1. Even though I never met Kim, I find myself being heartbroken and wishing I had gotten to know her. It’s such a shock to lose someone that young who seems to be so healthy. She really made a difference by volunteering so many hours to the arts. My deepest sympathy to her family and friends. I will live life to the fullest from now on. Karen Knutson

  2. I first met Kim at the AWS awards reception and dinner. There I was, my first time a the Salmigundi Club, a little wide-eyed and feeling a bit intimidated and Kim approach me and started a very pleasant conversation. It was her first time, as well. We both shared our joy at winning awards and the excitement of the evening. We remained Facebook friends and I celebrated the rise of her star, now snuffed out too soon.

  3. I met Kim several years ago through the Florida Watercolor Society and am thankful I was able to take workshops from her and to host several workshops for her at Village Art Workshops. One workshop I took was at Kim’s house, and all the students marveled at her beautiful studio and stood in awe of her gorgeous paintings displayed throughout the home. She not only taught the workshop but also cooked a gourmet lunch and dessert for us both days! I remember wishing I could be half as organized as she seemed. She was a very special person and conveyed her warmth to everyone she met. I am so very happy to have known the unique and special person known as Kim.

  4. A GOLDEN STAR shot down too soon !! Through her vibrancy and self reliance her personality will bloom on forever through her world of art that will bloom on forever!!!

  5. Kim was a long time member of the Central Florida Watercolor Society. She was so full of life and always ready to help and inspire anyone. She was respected and loved by all of our members. We have a tribute page for her at our website. We are so sad to lose such a talent.

  6. I knew Kim through the Florida Watercolor Society, a group for which she did so much. She was an amazing artist and teacher. So very talented. So sad to learn of her untimely passing. She was on the rise and in the prime of life. She will definitely be missed. My deepest condolences to her family.

  7. Even though we never met in person, Kim and I had been Facebook friends for a couple of years. We commented always on each other’s posts and eventually we had some more in depth conversations. I truly appreciate people with a positive, kind attitude towards others, so I was looking forward to meeting Kim in person. The world has lost a wonderful human being and a great artist and I’m deeply saddened for her family and the friends that loved her. RIP, dear Kim.

  8. Kim was a lovely person who made lovely art. She will be terribly missed here in Orlando, her home town, especially by the many watercolor enthusiasts and art fans who loved her work. She was a terrific artist, and a giving person. We are thankful to have known her.

  9. Kim was a lovely and talented woman who generously shared her gifts of love and painting with many people. It was my pleasure to know her and work with her on the board of the Florida Watercolor Society. It’s especially heartbreaking when one so young and at the height of her career to lose her life and a great loss for all of us.


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