Friday, May 1, 2020

Covid 19 Time out.

Two months indoors? What ever have I been doing? Along with the rest of the world I have caught up with a bazillion plans, sorted places I hadn’t paid much attention to and painted some challenges. I am so fortunate to have my art studio/gallery in my home. Here is a sample of what else keeps me busy. 
BAKING. This is an Irish bread from an old family recipe which I have discovered must be made with only the freshest ingredients to have it taste like Aunt Rose's. She made several large loaves weekly and brought them to the firehouse in Locust Valley NY. And 2 loaves to visit as I was growing up.  Plus some oatmeal cookies since the ingredients were out. I’ve baked more different things these days than I usually do all year, except Christmas.

RESURRECTING PAINTINGS. Not every painting is perfect the first time around so I have sorted through 15 years of work and discarded some more (I have a 'to be burned' pile) and reworked others. This needed more pastel color, it’s pretty big and the balloon which is the subject had faded in storage. There are more paintings to tackle and correct, so both oils and pastels are out in the studio.

MEMORIES. I found this on Facebook from 2011. I still have everything in the, pants jacket and hat are all useful painting clothes. Except the car. This had a good back deck for protection from rain and wind, and occasionally snow. I require a lift back so I can use the car as a mobile studio and have shade or protection. I can’t wait to get back out! 

Monday, April 6, 2020

A story of two paintings.

Several years ago I was invited to participate in the Westfield NY Plein Air Event, a week of painting at various sites, meeting artists, some get-togethers and dinners and a final public exhibit and sale.

A day was scheduled at Johnson Estate Winery. In the morning I trekked the tractor path up a hill and painted a lovely barn scene surrounded by the vineyards. After lunch I settled my easel under a sour cherry tree in deep shade, so cool on that hot summer day. For several hours I worked on a painting (framed, below). Although it is a lovely memory and a fair painting I continued to have concerns about it-was it too realistic, too hard edged, not painterly, well, just too something to me which I couldn't define clearly. 

With all the studio time we have now (as I am social distancing) I felt I should tackle my problem. It turned out that I probably won't ever change the first painting since the composition is okay and it is a lovely close up of the tree. 

I decided to repaint it as an experiment on an old canvas, a hard edge abstract that I don't remember painting. After sanding the old painting a bit I sketched the cherries a bit closer and oversized. The canvas is twice the size of the original. With some serious planning and evaluation I adjusted leaves, added fruit on the top right and poured on paint with large brushes and bravado, mostly using old paint tubes of odd colors. After all this was an experiment on an expendable surface as well as rejected tubes of colors.

I love the results of this experiment!  Reused canvases, painted over failed pictures, practicing new skills...and coming up with a fine painting on top of a discarded image is a welcome result. I can't actually regret painting on old canvases when the new picture turns out well, because the colors underneath probably influenced the new image. That is one more reason I always prefer to paint onto toned backgrounds.

Sweet Sour Cherries 16x12 oil on birch, © 2016

Sweet Memories 22x18 oil on canvas © 2020

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Figure drawing

The Carnegie Art Center has begun scheduling figure drawing opportunities in the evening. As much as I love the practice and challenge of figures I am a bit lazy about driving a distance after a long day. The Carnegie is significantly closer to drive than other spots and I plan to join them as the schedule is released. 
I arrived after the warmup speed drawings. For the remainder of the session the artists chose a long pose, on a stool, seated on her bent right leg. In the first drawing I dealt with a difficult foreshortened leg. For the second I moved myself to a side view for a quick sketch. This model maintained great posture throughout the pose which encouraged me to sit a bit straighter. Artists used a variety of media and views. I used 18x12 pastel paper with soft pastels, having fun blending values and color. 
Kath Schifano
About an hour with short breaks
20 minutes, I moved to the side for this one, basically unfinished.

Nice film about the Castellani show

The WKBW link (which may have an ad)

Here is the YouTube link.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Castellani Museum Reception

Kath Art
20/20 Vision:Women Artists in Western New York at the Castellani Art Museum contains work by 186 artists from five WNY counties. I am so pleased to be represented in this amazing exhibit which will remain until August 26. My painting 'Beyond the Rock of Ages' is on the Tops Gallery wall. It is 15"x30", an oil painting that shows the talus being pounded at the base of the cataracts. Many of these rocks are as big as a bus, I chose this because of its power. All the art works are arranged alphabetically in the main rotunda as well as the large gallery you can barely see over my shoulder.

We visited a few days before the reception, so this is BEFORE
and this is AFTER!

 The reception at 5:08 pm, it opened at 5:00 and people kept arriving until the last minute. What a crowd and a great opportunity to meet artists and guests. 
 Interim Director Michael Beam, NU professors Amelia and Marian and I found a moment to celebrate with a rare selfie.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Castellani Art Museum 20/20 Vision

I am so pleased to be included in this comprehensive exhibition of art representing women artists from counties in the western part of New York. 
The Castellani Art Museum exhibition '20/20 Vision' reception will be on February 20, 2020 at 5pm-7. I expect a crowd! Nearly 200 artworks by Western New York artists are displayed through August. The large central gallery room as well as the double gallery on the north side will be filled with examples from women of varied styles and levels of expertise.

My painting of the American Falls from the hurricane deck is included in this comprehensive exhibit. Most of the artwork is for sale and in support of women, and businesses run by and supported by women have been  requested to support the artists by purchasing work.
Be there, 02/20/2020
Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University

Castellani Art, Niagara University, American falls
Beyond the Rock of Ages, 15x30 oil on canvas

Friday, January 24, 2020

Tropical Snow Scene

Living in the Northeast means snow in winter and it is especially welcome at Christmas. This was another one of those crazy holidays where we were somewhere else and the holiday seemed so different. Sunshine and warmth on Christmas morning called me to my easel-this is my 12/25/2019 holiday statement. 

That blowup (and sparkly lighted) snowman almost made it into the composition. Just almost, as I considered it but didn't try to sketch him into my plan. However, he was nice company and caused me to chuckle more than I usually might when painting.
Christmas morning painting outside

Tilt on a Christmas Palm, 14x11 oil on Arches H'uile

Painting Selected for an Award

While Plein Air painting this Fall scene in Letchworth State Park, I was asked by many visitors if they were allowed up on the railroad bridge. I didn't know the answer-until the train came and the answer was obviously no. The bridge was very old, probably quite rickety and when the train came it went very slowly. Nevertheless, I had to paint very fast to capture it. Probably the first train I've painted from life while moving!

I had not shown it publicly until the opportunity to enter 'Artists and Friends' at Niagara Arts and Cultural Center in Niagara Falls, New York in December. I had every intention of attending the gala reception that the NACC has for this winter show but had to change my plans. A family trip to Houston had to be changed to an earlier date. Facebook was how I learned the painting was awarded an Honorable Mention prize and I feel badly that I was not there to receive it in person.
The Townsend Gallery at the NACC
"Are You Allowed Up There" oil on panel, 30x15

Friday, November 29, 2019

BNAA Fall exhibition

The transition of the Eastern Hills site to a town square continues to evolve.

 The lovely and large, well lit site, Expo 68 Art and Design Gallery features the Buffalo Niagara Art Association Fall art show through December 5. It's open daily, except Mondays. These two paintings were selected for this spectacular Exhibition at Expo 68.
Peony Bliss, 48"x24" oil
Under American Falls, 12"x16" oil
The BNAA is a juried group, new members are juried into the group, then the shows are juried for exhibition and awards. New artists are welcome to join as Associates or Juried members.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

River Art Gallery Plein Air show

The bottom picture, '186 Linwood' and flowers on right are mine
River Art Gallery, the pink building in North Tonawanda by the theater, is a lovely art space. Three paintings in the current show, 'Plein Air Landscape, Discovering Nature' are my plein air works.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

6 Aches, 7 Columns, 8 Clay planters

A good start, day 1
One of my larger paintings in Italy is also the most ambitious. I drew it several times from the lawn before finally choosing to use oil paints on portrait linen taped onto a birch panel. The perspective must be exactly right as well as the arches, interior windows and columns. It was planned to be painted in the morning but the shade disappeared as the sun rose higher so I returned after three o'clock and shade had returned. Three afternoons later, I felt I had it finished. 

I was privileged to have an elegant daily breakfast here which inspired this painting of the lovely Tuscan restaurant, MeoModo.. I was able to observe early preparation of service for late dinners that were served at 8:00. Chargers were polished, tablecloths ironed on the table, silver laid precisely and fresh flowers placed. At the same time, waiters scurried to deliver room service and drinks to guests on huge trays, covered with elaborate basket lids. As the afternoon faded, chandeliers and dozens of white candles were lit, wall sconces burned and Meo Modo turned into a glittering dreamland.
Paint in Tuscany, schifano
Have Breakfast Here, Meo Modo, 18x24” oil on linen

Crazy color geraniums

Flowering plants and lovely trees are on every lane and in every garden, delighting the senses. Giant Lavender hedges line the paths and the fragrance will forever remind me of Borgo Santo Pietro.  Every window with an outside sill had a window box like this, the stunning deep red violet geraniums enjoying the Tuscan sun. Several people commented that they loved the unique color of the geraniums here. Towering tall cypress trees framed this window, and the ever present lavender peeked from the foundation. 

Welcome, 22x16 pastel

Not able to rotate the photo but this is a sample window.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The 13th century In Plein Air pastel

Invited to paint for a month at this lovely estate, farm and restful location, my studio there provided a space to work and think. I was constantly aware that the history of Italy is evident millenniums after buildings and cities were established. Ancient aqueducts remain all through Europe, and the towns and cities I visited were walled against takeover by neighboring cities, the church and warring states. One of the buildings was nearly intact on the Borgo estate and was transformed from a 13th century bakery to a residence for guests. The giant cook oven was transformed into a large fireplace. 

Intrigued by the chimney, this pastel painting shows the building as it exists today. Another part of the ancient monastery and way place for pilgrims was a one story building, broken up into various living spaces. It was salvaged and rebuilt to be utilized as the main entrance, as well as the wine cellar, restaurant and guest rooms.

The Old Bakery, 16x20 pastel, c. 2019

Work in Progress on location

Plein Air in Tuscany.

Step by step, I completed this oil painting sitting in the shade of olive trees while guests arrived and departed through this main entrance to Borgo Santo Pietro. Sitting in the shade at a tea table in the atrium garden and painting is high on my list of favorite places in Italy.

Welcome to Borgo
The final painting captures the warm welcome you will receive upon arrival, the comfort you can expect and the light of the Mediterranean sun. 

Welcome to Borgo, oil on linen 24x16 c. 2019

Thursday, October 3, 2019

An Abundance of Vegetables

Residing and painting for a month in the midst of a self sufficient organic farm there were many different flowers, plants and especially vegetables growing. Acres of farmland provided all the food for guests as well as animals, such as llamas, chickens for their eggs, cows for milk and cheeses, and bees for the farm and their honey.

A lovely stone bowl was on my outdoor patio table. It held two yellow apples and would make a lovely still life to paint indoors if it rained. I asked a gardener if I could have a few fresh vegetables for my little bowl. I returned from lunch to find this huge selection of perfect specimens, artfully arranged with accents of yellow dill and straw. It was huge and weighed 15-20 pounds. I made use of the contents for the rest of the month, painting some, eating others and experimenting with drying peppers. Definitely the most delicious painting. Later in the month I painted the stone bowl with some assorted peppers.

painted still life, brown background
Watercolor plan for a large painting 6x8

mixed food, pastel still life

Organic Vegetables, of Course. 18x24 pastel c.2019

Morning on Lake Ontario

August along the Great Lakes is close to heaven. An NFPAP paintout, hosted by Laurene, brought the painters right to the edge of Lake Ontario. I chose a comfortable seat on the deck with a lake view obstructed by glorious pots of flowers. A sailboat emerged from Youngstown and the Niagara River to complete my painting. This was one of those great summer memory making days.

On Claudia’s Lake Patio, 12x9, oil on canvas panel

A Still Life That Needed a Little More

Fresh flowers are abundant on the Tuscany estate and peach and pink multiflora roses surround the Art House. Rose of Sharon in the back appear to be a wall of violet and herbs are grown as shrubs and landscape plants along the paths. My bouquet needed a little support, I added short dense branches to make it stand. They were a soft blue green and scented like sage. Not looking, I titled the flowers with the color name of sage in the title.  It took a day or two before I realized that the plant I had clipped was rosemary, and so the title was changed.

"Put Some Rosemary in it" 24x18 pastel on paper

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Exploring Meo Modo

An exclusive estate has to have amazing foods, and this did. Everything was organic and delicious. The morning views were spectacular as Mist rose from the mountains and farmland. I explored the shapes and moods of Borgo Santo Pietro with pencil and pen, deciding what to paint and how to place it on the surface. I frequently draw scenes to become more familiar and that helps my final painting.
The second photo became my plan for a large painting.

Kath in Italy, paint planning, Schifano
Have breakfast here. 5x7

Farm fields, classic urn

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Looking through the cattails

 From the left side and close up.

Starting out.

Final painting.

Italy. Tuscany.
I was offered a month residency at an exclusive Michelin starred estate as their resident artist. From a stocked and charming studio, called the Artist House, I painted gardens and farms, animals and flowers, ancient stone buildings and classical architecture.  

Liking a hard surface for my brush, I attached linen to boards and used a portable box for oils and brushes. The picture here shows my view at the studio, where a covered marble chip patio had three outdoor couches and a large stone table. My first painting in the shade there was this wisteria vines bridge, thick with impasto and water lilies. It is named the Monet bridge.

My joy was unbounded in the summer sunlight, surrounded by waterfalls, white ducks, peacocks and a frequent visitor, a giant blue heron. What beautiful surroundings to inspire and enjoy. A speaker attached to the music on my phone made it even more special. Music accompanies painting like a comfortable old friend. 

A few days later, I realized that the vines were flowering and I added a few hanging purple blossoms, as well as more light and shadow.  "Song of the Water Lilies" was purchased on my last day, to a collector in California.

Song of the Waterlilies, 16x12 oil on linen. C. 2019

2020 calendars

2020 has been printed collated and packaged. You may order them on the website or find it at my usual vendors in Niagara Falls and Buffalo in October. Right now it is available on the counter of Niagara Falls Teachers Credit Union. 
12 new paintings are assigned to the seasons of next year for gifts and personal use. Happy New Year!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Dreams do come true

How is this for an artist studio? I have every intention of making it my own space and filling the walls with my art. What do you think? Can you imagine a nicer place for a painting studio than this one?

Outside, looking in

Inside, Looking out