Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Darwin Martin House Pergola

pergola painted by Kath Schifano

Darwin Martin chose Buffalo for his business selling soap. He became the first paid employee of the Larkin Company, worked his way up, innovated record keeping, and was instrumental in getting Frank Lloyd Wright to design the famous Larkin Company office building, open, airy and worker friendly space. The Larkin Company provided household items like soap which came with points or certificates. Households would exchange the certificates from the laundry soap and other purchases for various items. It expanded and rivaled Sears and Roebuck. I have a faux pearl necklace my Mom ordered with coupons from there.

Martin supported Wright during Wright's lean times and had him build his home on Jewett Parkway in Buffalo, as well as Greycliff in on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie in Derby, NY.  

I have painted the front facade of the Darwin Martin House before; this is the side and back view, just part of the long pergola that extends to the back of the property and attaches to the neighboring Barton home of his sister.

Since 2002 the entire complex, including the demolished gardeners cottage and the conservatory and pergola have been under restoration, now completed. The gardens are recently restored, sculptures have been placed in the lawn but the whole complex is now closed due to Covid 19. I'm hoping to see crowds return here soon. I did enjoy the quiet on the morning I painted this from the side street.

The Pergola at Darwin Martin House, pastel 12x16

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Miles of Pink Lilies

Although I had been painting previously at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, I had never walked the pond paths. They were bursting with pink lilies and the only thing I needed was some shade to set up my easel. If working from pictures was useful to me, I could use my photos for months. Instead they are here for you to enjoy.

 The light changed and shadows moved aftervthe start of my picture, it had been brilliant on the trees in the distance when I started this. The glowing tree attracted me to the outlet from this pond to the next lily pond.
Lily Pond at Reinstein, 12x16 pastel Schifano

Monday, June 29, 2020

Gratwick Park

Along the Niagara the view is often the water, some weedy things and the flat land across the river. It isn’t inspiring without an effort to find an interesting view. This hot June day required shade-no trees were there but a clamp on umbrella from the car works well when there is no breeze. I found large rocks along the shore and cattails shining in sunlight to paint and this is my setup.
I really enjoyed the shade and cool air off the river while painting on this beautiful day. People can come here and just relax during the quarantine, there is a great deal of space at Gratwick Park for walking, kites and bicycles.
Ducks and Geese made their appearances and I managed to add a few slow ones by working quickly. Those rocks I saw? Mostly bird pedestals on this day.
Goose Snooze,  9x12, pastel

Feels like summer

Diane caught me painting on my lap

The evolution of a shack into Casey's Cabana in Ferry Village, Grand Island is an interesting story. Several local High School entrepreneurs transformed this little historic shack into a cool little take out restaurant. It is at the end of the street perched on the Niagara river. They added a wonderful new dock with picnic tables and umbrellas which dwarf the tiny cook space and everyone loves it. We like to stop by for a tasty lunch or a quick dinner with that million dollar view over the Niagara River, with miles of shoreline and the bridge in the distance. The food is Delicious.
With schools closed this Spring for social distancing they were able to open early this season. I happened to meet two artist friends there and we all painted the building from different angles. A graduating senior purchased my painting, something she will always have as an heirloom memory of a great and successful undertaking. The name came from Mr. Casey, the business teacher at the high school who was an inspiration and supporter to these kids for several years now. What a guy! This painting is going to college outside Boston with its new owner this Fall. 

Casey's Cabana, oil, 11x14

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Bringing Spring indoors

An unusually early Spring brought out glorious flowers that lasted weeks longer than usual because it didn't get hot. The Forsythia bloomed for at least a month and the huge yellow bush out back reflected yellow into every window. We had planted 3 of them in one spot and it is about 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide, a haven for birds waiting their turn at the feeders. I have planted lots of yellow daffodil bulbs over the years but the majority have turned themselves into these orange centered daffodils.

This is a traditional still life with soft pastel sticks and it was a very happy project as long as the flowers lasted in my studio.

In progress

Bringing Spring Indoors
Bringing Spring Indoors, pastel, 20x16

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 photo...shoes, 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