Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Flowers by Orange Cat

The 'Orange Cat' is a favorite coffee shop in Lewiston, with a line out the door and plentiful outdoor seating. With two days to spend at the festival, I set up my easel and captured these models on the patio. They must have had extra large coffees because they sat for a long time. 

'Flowers at Orange Cat' 12x9, oil on birch

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Pete's Tavern in NYC

I grabbed an opportunity to paint for a weekend with Nancie King Mertz. She is a pastel painter from Chicago who I met in Cuba and offered a workshop with the American Pastel Society by Gramercy Park.

Slightly damp, a bit of wind and temperatures around 60, we watched her do a street scene including the glorious white ConEd building, trees, apartments and cars. Fortunately there were protected spaces to do our work. I tried Nancie's alcohol under paint demonstration and will add this to my pastel process, I love how it fills some of the areas with color, ready for texture and details. 5 minutes at home and I fix a few little spots and be thrilled with his.

That rock between islands

One of my favorite places (I have several favorite spots) at Niagara Falls is the Three Sisters Islands. This area actually has 4 islands and some locals call the last one 'Little Brother'. I'm not sure if there was a brother, but I do know that anyone who wants to go there may have a death wish. The river flows so furiously that I've never seen or heard of anyone trying to get there. 

When I first visited, years ago, there was a large tree trunk wedged there, now there is a large rock visible. The depth of the water drops nearly a foot in just a few yards, it swirls and churns around this rock furiously. I always stop to admire its adamant defense of the space.

16x20 oil, not yet titled!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Sights in Italy

A thousand travel photographs and each has its own story. Walking the ancient streets included ruins of Roman civilization as well as the glorious Renaissance. Marked with Latin, a language I suffered through for 6 years allowed me some translation skills I didn't know I retained. Triumphal arches celebrating battles and generals, church scripture and labels all brought me back to Latin class and the Gallic wars we endlessly translated.

Reflections on the Tibor, a regular view when walking, and between Trastevere and Capitoline HIll.

Absolutely ancient columns embedded in the early walls of Rome. We hopped off the tram here for an 'archeological spot' thanks to Charles, grabbing the next tram a few minutes later.

A side trip southeast, beyond the ancient walls included pizza from this pizza shop; just tell her how big a piece you want and it is priced by weight. And delicious.

Laundry still attracts me. In Cuba it is everywhere, but most city buildings in Rome have central courtyards and the lines are out of sight. This is in a bit more 'suburban' area.

Founded in 440AD, St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) was expanded in 1475, 20 Doric columns of the nave are from the original church. Michaelangelo's tomb for Pope Julius II here was to have originally been a towering wall including a series of giant sculptures by him. Only his Moses was completed before funds were halted and Julius was buried inside St. Peter's Basilica. One of the artworks I didn't want to miss, I was disappointed that the wall of sculpted figures was obscured by scaffolding as it is being restored. Nevertheless, the church is absolutely spectacular.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Hidden treasures

Walking Rome and Florence's streets is a wonderful visual adventure. I took photos of new and ancient symbols and curiosities on every street. I loved the Via Urbana walking street, just wide enough for single small vehicles and scooters. On the way back to our apartment I found this small brass marker in the street, that's my shoe to see the relative size. It marks where Catholic priest Don Pietro Pappagallo was arrested January 29, 1944 and assassinated March 24, 1944. He worked for the underground, aiding victims of Nazism and Fascism in World War II. Dying for freedom, I only feel awe of his memorial.

Schifano in Rome

Turning around from the marker, this little church on the hill was closed to us for renovation as well as Sunday services, but its low elevation and simple basilica shape belied ancient roots. Faded wall paintings and simple lines date this church to ancient times.

San Pietro en Vincoli

St. Peter in Chains is the English name of the church that contains a lighted and elegant box in an altar niche containing the chains that are beleived to have held Peter when he was imprisoned in Rome, but that was not my goal.

Michaelangelo's massive Moses was one of my top two mental wishes and it wasn't until the end of  a busy week that we finally walked through the massive doors of San Pietro en Vicoli. We cut through ancient Roman alleys and found hidden staircases between streets. Arriving a half hour early we used stone benches on the porch to rest and I drew the arch capital at the gate. I knew Moses would be on the front right wall but there were many of us waiting, so I started on the back left, amazed at the number of grim reaper and skull themed art works that seemed contemporary. The crowd thinned near the front and I was disappointed by extensive renovation scaffolding hiding the 3 story wall of sculptures. 

Michaelangelo was working on this tomb for Pope Julius II when he was summoned to paint the Sistine chapel. It is not as large or decorative as he had envisioned even though he kept returning to work on it. When Julius died the funding stopped and he wasn't buried here, and parts of Michaelangelo's plan were moved to other locations. Moses wore a dark shadow across his face from the steel pipe scaffold. This was a lovely, holy and dramatic space. I'll have to come back another time to see it all restored.

At Santa Maria Maggigore, a wedding

Rome, Italy. An opportunity to visit noted paintings and sculptures I exhorted as a high school art history teacher for so many students finally occurred. I created a mental list of 'must see' as well as as a written list of required locations. Little did I realize that every single lane and road would have multiple basilicas and sights to add to my list. It did not matter that I had no idea what to expect as I passed through most doorways, it was always a treat. In fact, the most severe facades and plainest entrances presented the most surprises. 

 A fortified entrance with tents for purse and bag inspection attracted us and the line was quick. It turned out to be one of the oldest and best preserved churches, built in 432AD when Popes were becoming the political leaders as Rome fell to the Goths. The ancient mosaics glowed among the newer paintings and sculptures. This basilica layout had traditional side aisles, unlike many others we visited, as well as an apse that was closed to us. Bernini grew up in this neighborhood and is buried near the altar.

A wedding or a procession was in preparation and it appeared to be for a group from India, with young women gathered in white saris bordered with gold threads, and young men in white shirts were erecting a tall sparkling silver maypole contraption out in the front plaza, colorful umbrellas bursted from bags, bright blankets laid on the perimeter fence and two nuns in soft gray habits carefully decorating the altar with bunting. Comparing the ancient church and the modern wedding traditions was a culture and time blending experience.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

NFPAP's HOT reception

This day had a 'temperature index' approaching 100 degrees, but most of the people here would say it was hotter. We had a great crowd, but no one could stay very long, it was even warmer inside Carnegie Art Center, and if it were not for the quantity of artworks, the rooms would have emptied faster.

I had three paintings here and was pleased to see that two were together on a wall near an open door so they got attention from viewers seeking a breeze and escaping the heat. They were bathed in lovely light from the Carnegie's track system and augmented by the sun. I was joined by Laurene Buckley, Roger Mott and Claudia and we continued our visit into the evening by enjoying the sunset watching boats on the canal.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Painting a boat

The marina in Buffalo remains a favorite paint spot. The sounds of seagulls and wind in sailboat rigging lends this area a creative feeling. This sailboat marked only Buffalo NY attracted me with its classic lines and lack of pretension. It isn't a showboat, instead it's a sturdy dependable craft, a getaway on a summer day. 

Buffalo Marina 12x16 oil on birch

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Notaro Chiropractic

These two pastels were purchased several years ago for the Chiropractor office on Grand Island. The left was painted at Beaver Island near the sled hill and it was one of my first plein aire pastels. The second is the north bridge to Niagara Falls. 

One from each end of the island. It's always a pleasure to go there leaving comfortable and feeling great and then see my paintings by the entrance. It's time to get out the pastels!

Niagara Sentinels 11x14 pastel
North North Bridge 21x14 pastel

Perfect water

Fresh and still wet on the easel, I painted this while protected under my 6 foot plein aire umbrella. The sun was in front of me, morning on the ocean. I'm thrilled with the results even though I didn't add the seagulls who kept me entertained while painting. I also did a few sketches, one was of the crumbling summer home behind me, it took perhaps 10 minutes and I was not shaded. However did I get a sunburnt back and no where else? 10 minutes sketching?  

Connecticut St. Rocks. 9x12 oil on birch

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Tonawanda Riverwalk Prize

Art on the Riverwalk, honorable mention, Jenna Koch, Tonawanda City

Art on the Riverwalk is a wonderful Sunday afternoon show in Tonawanda along the Niagara River. This was the 14th year and I had participated once before. SInce then we were always busy that weekend with family visiting and the 4th of July weekend. This year, I was free to attend and applied.

The wind blew gustily all day but the tent stayed up and people came by to cool off with the river breezes. Kids ran around, bicycles and skates passed walkers on the path and it was a simply fabulous day to sit out and chat with happy people.

I was assigned spot #9 by trees, close to my car and the comfort station, next to two painters displaying on the snowfences and a ceramic potter.

The organizers and PArtners in Art Gallery secured prizes locally which made the exhibit extra special. The painting above took the Jenna Koch-Tonawanda City Council President Award, an Honorable Mention green ribbon as well as a cash prize donated by Jenna Koch.

The painting reflected the day as it was painted during a similarly windy event. A hurricane whirled a distance off shore. The gusting winds lifted the crests of the tumultuous waves and created roosters of mist. Sturdy clamps held my board steady on a weighted tripod. It was fun to paint it!

Wave Watching (From the Boardwalk) 9x12 oil on carton 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Havana musician, oil painting Cuba
Elegantly dressed, this trumpet player serenaded from this doorstep, Cuban flag mounted on little clips attached to the fan fold green door. I felt honored to capture this moment in Havana, Cuba. The painting was done later in my studio, the third in a series for Pasion Latin Restaurant.

 I worked from the background to the center details, leaving his hands and face for last. My photo didn't have the hand and fingers in enough detail to paint a three foot tall canvas, so I googled 'trumpet player.' Lots of great musicains and portrait pictures, but very little information that I needed at this angle, so I tried 'Cuban trumpet player' in a google search. Lo and behold, this particular musician was in half the shots, and by scrolling down I could see his advancement, from a plain red button shirt, to a brown tweed suit and up to this dapper white one. Bless those tourists!

Now part 2 of his story, he is mounted on the wall in Pasion and looks simply wonderful, adding color and atmosphere to the room. A gentleman comes up to me at the reception and says "There is a guy in there who knows the trumpet player." Of course I have to introduce myself, and he and his date are next to each other looking at the painting. He tells me the trumpeter's name which I promptly enter into my phone notes. I also learn that he played at the Buena Vista Social Club. Our group got to go there, just in time, as it has since permanently closed. The reason given is that the musicians are too old and want to stop. What, no substitutes? Anyway, I wrote his name amidst a crowded restaurant, surrounded by friends and blasting Cuban salsa and didn't notice that spell check corrected my Spanish. Later, looking up his name, I read 'Campo Defunded' Nope, that's not right.

Concert to the Cuban Sky, oil on canvas 36x24 c. 2016

The Village Inn

On its way out the door, I took a quick snapshot as I do not have a photo of this finished painting before the frame.

The Village Inn is a local Grand Island restaurant with a bit of New Orleans flair to the menu. It's tucked into Ferry Village, an area of the island where ferry boats would bring patrons from Buffalo on weekends, to dance, drink and carouse. The main dancehall, The Bedell House, was just down the street. Like other dancehalls here, it burned down, a victim of lack of electricity, I suppose. 

This painting will live on the wall of the Inn, on the eating porch; the room was just repainted, and coincidentally it happens to be our favorite place to sit. 

Sunday Morning, 12x16 oil on birch panel

Friday, June 3, 2016

I paint water, landscapes and outdoors so often that people forget I love food, like fruits and vegetables. YEs, I love to eat but they are very obedient models as well, especially when I want to paint but outdoors does not cooperate. 
This year I was selected to submit works for the Lewiston Region Tour of Kitchens and Homes Event and 3 of my paintings were chosen to stage one of the sites. The dark frames will jump out and look spectacular in the great white kitchen.
Three others will be displayed at Barton Hill Hotel for the final event, along with a selection of my minis. I get excited when my work is featured and seen by so many new eyes. I also love seeing the food paintings displayed together.

Lemon Hide, pastel

Sanded Tomatoes, pastel

Tomatoes and Mushrooms, oil

Carl Ate Two Radishes, oil

EDITED, several more paintings were selected for display at Barton Hill, plus 3 were used to stage a lovely River Road home. This is the display at the hotel.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Spirit of Havana

I am so thrilled to have mastered SATIN!
This beautiful and proud lady modeled for the plein air painters in Cuba and I took her photo when she took a break. She was an amazing model, no motion, and she stayed seated and kept her foot stretched for a half day. I didn't paint her in Havana, instead this is a studio piece and quite large. I painted it especially for the dining room of  Pasion Latin Restaurant in Buffalo, one of three paintings for them.

art in Cuba, orange satin, native dress
Spirit of Havana, oil 36x24 c.2016

Her REAL job is to keep planting fresh lipstick on the cheeks of tourists, then posing for photos and collecting a CUC, or tourist peso, equal to a dollar. A fair number of gentlemen walk around with a juicy kiss planted on their cheeks as part of the deal.

A different art, Eco-dyes

 A large collection of Christmas Cactus flowers and some branches with a small bunch of impatiens blooms were arranged on a pre-soaked well loved white sweater. I don't remember the name of the solution for pre soaking which was two days.

Then, it was all rolled tightly, with strings and rubberbands, for compression and double bagged...for three full days.
The second bag said 'fancy rolls' just for irony.
Unbagged, I steamed it for quite a while and let it cool slowly in the pot. I might have waited longer for the dyes to set more but I was getting impatient.

Rinsed and washed on delicate, I am thrilled with the results. But, it took a week and the weather warmed so it will be new for Fall.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival

Spring in WNY is a time of glorious color, flowers, warm weather, outdoor activities. Early May brings a riot of pink to the Japanese gardens behind the Buffalo HIstory Museum, and a collection of events and painters to capture them.

With the Niagara Falls Plein Air Painters, I went to the Gardens to paint twice on consecutive Saturdays. This is my first attempt at painting the figures in a pediment and I was surprised at the variety of scale as I inspected their shadows and positions of the figures. The reclining figure on far left was tiny compared to the soldier with a shield kneeling next to him. And yes, I eliminated two of the figures for my sanity, after all, who counts?
pink trees, classical architecture, Japanese flowers
Saturday's Pinks 9x12 oil on birch

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Havana Taxi Stand

Paint Cuba, Plein air painter, KSchifano

"Did you see old cars?" is the first question regarding a trip to Cuba. 

Yes. Most of the cars are old and most of them are taxis. Carefully hobbled from existing parts after the Cuban Revolution and the American embargo, a look at the streets is a step back in time. 

Other than the exteriors, the bulk of this treasure trove of classic cars have been replaced. Many have diesel engines now, and a look inside shows polka dot upholstery, broken levers and hanging wiring. Often they need to be push started and a ride, or even a walk, along a road involves seeing newly broken down vehicles being tended to by a bevy of muscular Cubans. A drivers license in Cuba requires a test in car repair.

A row of cars waits near the tourist bus stops and this painting was made from Gail Sauter's photo in that area. Painting it, I learned a lot about painting chrome and had a great time searching for photos of various details as well as the date and model of each car. It's big and it will be mounted in the new Latin Restaurant, Pasion, on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo NY.

Right to Left, 1957 Ford Fairlane, 1950 Chevrolet, 1952 Buick

Havana Taxi Stand, oil 24x48 on canvas, c. 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Transportation in Cuba

 Everyone asks about the old cars. They are colorful and everywhere and most of them are taxis for tourists. To get a driving license in Cuba you must pass a test of mechanics as most of the cars are from the 40's and 50's, and many of them are in constant repair. We were warned not to cross a street with an oncoming relic, they would not slow as brakes were not dependable.

Cubans have many modes of alternate transportation, everything from horseback to public busses, including motorcarts and bicycle taxis or rickshaws. Out of the city, animals are preferred and I saw many carts loaded with families, workers, produce and hay. The horses were in much better shape than the wheels which were frequently made of wood or mismatched rubber from various vehicles.