K. Miller WatercolorsApril 2013 

K. Miller Reflections  .   .   .

                                      a watercolor newsletter

Hello from K. Miller Watercolors!


Happy Spring!  Yes, it is spring in spite of what it looks like outside.  Those who relish the cold weather and snow are still smiling  . . . but the rest of us are ready for the warmth and sunshine of a real Minnesota spring.


Winter has been extremely busy for me - a time for staying indoors and diligently getting ready for several upcoming events that will occur over the next few months.  Because all of my time is still focused on preparing for these activities, this edition of the K. Miller Watercolors newsletter will be a rather abbreviated one . . . but I will follow up with a more typical letter in May.  Read further to discover just what I've been up to and what lies ahead! 





Kathy Miller



       "Art is the unceasing effort to compete with the beauty 

  of flowers - and never succeeding."        

- Marc Chagall
- Russian artist (1889-1985)


One year and still counting . . .

"Amongst the Pads", 2012
Last year about this time I received the news that I had been accepted to have an exhibit of my watercolors at the Northfield Arts Guild (NAG). The letter indicated that it was scheduled for June, 2013, fifteen months away.  Upon hearing this, I was confident there would be PLENTY of time to create a whole new body of work built around my theme "Visual Explorations - A Voyage of Discovery and Reflections."  Fast forward to April, 2013, and I am still painting in preparation for the big event and can say with great certainty that it's been quite the voyage with a lot of exploring and discovering along the way! 

The impetus for this creative endeavor was a quote by the 20th century novelist Marcel Proust that caused a major shift in the way I approach my artwork - "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."  This sentence has had a profound effect on me and has caused me to look at my subject matter in new ways - from varying viewpoints that range from broad panoramics to intimate close-ups.

My new body of work for the show includes about 20 paintings focused on four themes: Water Lilies, Peonies, Aspens, and Reflections (from local river and pond scenes).  I have done a series of pieces from varying viewpoints on each subject.  In addition, I have explored new formats in my paintings including squares and elongated rectangles, both vertical and horizontal.  I also have completed works much larger than any I've done before, including a double peony composition measuring 44" x 35" and an Aquabord triptych of the St. Olaf pond that measures 30" x 66".

In March I received a grant from Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) which will enable me to continue this journey beyond the present 20 pieces.  I am most grateful for this opportunity to continue my creative voyage as I feel I've barely scratched the surface of  possibilities!!!

It truly has been an exciting year of exploration and discovery for me!  I sincerely hope that you'll have the opportunity to see my new works at the NAG in June.  The exhibit runs from June 12th to July 21st, with the Opening Reception on Friday, June 14th from 7 - 9 pm.  I'd love to visit with you and get your reaction to the results of this past year's voyage of discovery! 



"The act of painting is about one heart telling  
another heart where he found salvation."


 - Francisco Goya   

- Spanish painter and printmaker ( 1746-1828) 




Artist-in-Residency Program in Lakeville

In May I will be doing a 5-day Artist-in-Residency program at Oak
Hills Elementary School in Lakeville.  The program is part of a Celebration of Life in memory of Theresa Beissel, an Oak Hills teacher who passed away from cancer in fall of 2012.  Not only was Theresa a passionate teacher who cared deeply about her students, but also an outstanding artist who was passionate about watercolor painting and sharing that love with others.

All 675 students from grades K-5 will have an opportunity to
explore  watercolor techniques and complete one or two paintings. I will meet with each of the 26 classrooms for one hour to expose them to this wonderful medium.   I'm excited about this project - it will be great fun to be back in the elementary teaching mode again!!

Watch for more details and photos of the project in my next newsletter.  


" I paint as a bird sings."

- Claude Monet
- French Impressionist  (1840 - 1926) 

 A recent painting

"Winter Royalty", 2013
I love birds!  The cardinal has always been my favorite, especially the magnificent male with his beautiful red coloring.  His presence never fails to bring warmth to the soul, no matter what the season.

I was attracted to the way the male's brilliant red body stood out against the snow-covered branch in this photo. The small red berries added another element of contrast and pattern to the composition.  My challenge in painting this scene was to capture the feathery nature of the bird, as well as the many reds of his body that range in tone from purple to orange.

I always paint from two watercolor palettes and have a wide variety of colors on each.  The palettes contain several different shades of red  - about 10 - that I chose from when painting my cardinal piece.  These reds range from very warm hues (such as Scarlet Lake) to very cool hues (such as Alizarin Crimson).  When deciding what pigments to use, I have to consider a very basic, but important, principle of color - namely, cool colors recede and warm colors advance.  In other words, when painting an object with a cool color it gives the illusion of being farther back, whereas when painting an object with a warm color it appears to be closer.  So when painting the male cardinal, I had to make decisions as to which reds I wanted to use.  The breast was painted in the very warm Scarlet Lake and had washes of yellow glazed over it to warm it even more, thus making the chest seem full and puffed out and appear to be the closest part of the body to the viewer.   In contrast, the underbelly and tail feathers were painted in cool Alizarin Crimson with thin washes of Ultramarine Violet glazed over these areas to give the illusion that they were curving under or receding back from the viewer.

In watercolor painting, whenever a new layer of color is painted over a previous color, it is called glazing.  This is done to add richness to the color or to alter the first color in some way - such as warming or cooling it, or dulling or brightening it.  When adding the next layer of color - and some artists paint dozens of layers of color - the artist must be certain that the first coat of pigment is completely dry or else the paint might lift or mix with the first coat.  This is what watercolorists have to do to avoid the "dreaded muddiness" that can so easily occur and ruin our paintings.

As I progressed through this painting, it was fun to see how the bird seemed to take on a life of its own.  Each detail that was added at the end breathed life into this wonderful creature, from the tiny strokes that created its feathery layers to the black and brown circle with its white center that formed its eye. Suddenly this magnificent bird was staring back at me as if to say, "Aren't I beautiful!!" 



"The purest and most thoughtful minds are those
which love color the most." 
-John Ruskin
- English art critic and watercolorist (1819 - 1900)  

 Intermediate watercolor classes in Northfield

"Crimson Beauty", 2012
The Thursday morning and afternoon sessions at the Northfield Senior Center
are filled, but a Monday class has been opened.  There are still a few spots available (only for those with previous watercolor experience please)

      Mondays, April 8, 15, 22 & 29

                    Noon - 3 p.m.

*  Please come to the first class with materials and subject matter to paint.
All classes are held at the Northfield Senior Center (1651 Jefferson Parkway, Northfield, MN 55057) 
Stop by the NSC or call 507-664-3700 to register; supply lists are available at the NSC.   Limit of 10 students per class.

"O great Creator of being, grant us one more hour
to perform our art and perfect our lives."
- Jim Morrison
- 20th century singer-songwriter 

 Another season of Riverwalk Market Fair

  Once again I will have a booth at    
  Northfield's Riverwalk Market Fair

  Following are the Saturdays when I
  will be setting up my tent: from
  9 am - 1 pm:

  June 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29
  July 6
  August 17, 24 and 31
  September 14, 21 and 28
                                               October 5 and 19

More details to come in the next newsletter!


And so concludes another K. Miller Watercolors Newsletter, giving you just a brief preview of what's ahead for me in the next few months. I'd love to see you at one of the Upcoming Events 
as it is always such a pleasure to visit and find out what's happening in your life as well!  And, hurray, by then we'll be well into the warm and sunny days of summer!!!!  Until then . . .
All my best, 

Kathy Miller

To view all past newsletters click here

K. Miller Watercolors 
email:  kathy@kmillerwatercolors.com  
In This Issue
One year and still counting
Artist-in-Residency Program in Lakeville
A recent painting endeavor
Intermediate watercolor classes in Northfield
Another season of Riverwalk Market Fair
Upcoming Events



The Thursday classes are filled, but another class has been opened:

Mondays, April 8,  15, 22 and 29

12:00 - 3 p.m.


Northfield Senior Center
1651 Jefferson Parkway
Northfield, MN 55057

More about Northfield Senior Center



Coming in May to Oak Hills Elementary School

Lakeville, MN 



K. Miller  


"Visual Explorations -
A Voyage of Discovery and Reflections"

at the

Northfield Arts Guild

June 12 - July 21, 2013


Friday, June 14th 

7 pm - 9 pm


K. Miller Watercolors 
Booth at the


June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29
July 6
August 17, 24, 31
Sept. 14, 21,  28
October 5, 19

Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

at the

Bridge Square in Northfield, MN