Monday, July 30, 2018

Bonds Lake and Kayakers

Familiar with kayakers frequently entering the water at Buckhorn, a pair of visitors from Canandaigua entered the water at Bonds Lake when we first arrived. Sherrill Primo and I were mentoring a new plein air painter and we drove further into the park to a quiet view of a smaller lake, a few fallen trees and the richness of nature.
IMagine my surprise when the kayak couple entered this water as well. I had taken photos of them earlier, planning to use them if needed. This time, the lady kept her boat still for me to observe it in scale with my picture. I wound up turning her around, because who wants to see a painting of someone paddling out the right corner of a picture?

The drama of the day was during clean up. My very wet and globby palette took a dive, face first right into the painting. A great deal of thick paint-red, orange, yellow- stuck itself to the water  areaas well as extra speckles all through the picture. A palette knife comes in handy-scrape it off!

I did get home later than I planned.
Perfect Kayak Day, 9x12 oil on birch c.2018

Same old angle, new view

I can walk along the Niagara River and see views of the mist rising from the bottom of the gorge for close to a mile. It never fails to amaze me and I have painted it from slightly different angles in different sizes and media.
This particular painting is unusual as I included the skyline of Niagara Falls Ontario. Usually, manmade structures are omitted or barely visible.
Rainbow Mist, 9x12, oil on birch panel c. 2018

Buffalo Garden Walk in the Community Gardens

The annual Buffalo Garden Walk is one of the 'must do' things in WNY. Instead of working in a private garden with tinkling waterfalls and spectacular floral and fauna, the Buffalo Society of Artists sponsors a community gardens paint in for kids, mostly kids anyway. Paints, paper and shade are ready in this neighborhood garden where anyone who wants or needs fresh vegetables can pick them. The cherry tomatoes I chose were turning color as I worked. What a nice way to experience nature.
Vermont Street Tomatoes, 16x12 pastel, c. 2019

Gallery windows in Buffalo

Two adjoining galleries wrap around North Street in Buffalo to Linwood Street. Art Dialogue Gallery has a window facing the street that is always interesting to view. I had parked in front and took this shot of Bill Wilson's sculptures. 
While I was there, Don Siuta asked if he could use my painting in the North Street windows of Artists Group Gallery. Leaving, I took this photo of it at the very moment a cyclist rode by and her reflection landed precisely on the beach of the painting. Coincidentally, it is titled "That Moment" which was meant for the moment of sunrise on the ocean horizon. This picture caught another 'moment'.
Art Dialogue Gallery, Bill Wilson sculpture, Donald Siuta

That Moment, 40x20, oil on canvas, c.2015

Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse

The start of a painting, a drawing - it is on a black toned canvas
Note how the light and shadows change.

 The Wind At FLW Boathouse oil. I chose to leave the foliage off the tree to keep emphasis on the building.
Note how the shadows are longer in this afternoon photo and there is no light on the front. The wind is evident from the furled flags.
Wind at FLW Boathouse, oil on canvas 12x16 c.2018

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Buckhorn! Again! Summer!

 Look very carefully, the right side of the photo at top shows the tree hanging over the creek. Taking the photo together with a painting uses a different vantage point and size relationship than my eyes see as I paint. Watching this tree slowly melt into the landscape over the years has been interesting. It is indeed slowly breaking down as it had several trunks in my first painting years ago. That was a fall scene from the opposite side of the creek. Kayaks were unloaded near my vantage point and I decided to add one in.
Another Buckhorn Day, 12x16 pastel. c. 2018

Burchfield Nature Park

Buffalo Creek and Burchfield, 9x12 pastel c.2018

Sharon Fundalinski and Peggy Walker introduced me to this park at least ten years ago and every time I return it is a lovely day with slowly rippling water, little kids with grandparents, people walking dogs and peaceful nature sounds. Many of the stately trees are gone as the creek has the potential to become fast and furious and the trees roots are eroded, year by year as they age.

There are still a few massive trees that may have been painted by Charles Burchfield. He lived directly across the creek from this one.

Fort Niagara Lighthouse

This is my view of
the lighthouse, about 5 minutes into my preliminary drawing, when the buses arrived.  Not interested in using yellow I decided to paint the upper part of this lighthouse. It was a scorching hot day and there were no trees so I had set up in the shade of my car, with the back extended and a shade umbrella attached with bungie cords.
I met so many nice people, tourists from all over were on vacation and headed to Fort Niagara. Best part was espying a revolutionary uniform or other traditional dress as colonial actors reported for work
lighthouse painting, Fort Niagara, old lighthouse
The painted view above the buses
North By Northwest, 12x9, oil on linen panel, 2018

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Another Buckhorn Painting, Spring with a bit of snow.

From the canoe launch on the south side of the park, there is a small inlet that connects to the creek. I painted there on a sunny spring day with ducks and herons and fishermen all around. As I painted, the little bits of snow remaining from a late storm melted.

Spring Equinox, End of Winter, oil on canvas, 9x12 c.2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Burchfield Penney Saturday still life

Two fun Saturday afternoons at Burchfield PenneyArt Center in their first floor classroom
involved an art project with unusual still life set ups by invited artists. I like to work with real objects outdoors, but these were so different that I kept smiling as I painted. It was difficult to choose a particular part of these unusual structures to work with because there was so much going on in each still life.
Saturdays With Myles

Watching the museum's schedule for additional opportunities to do this challenge, I am disappointed that these two paintings will stand alone. There is no way I could put up a crazy still life like either of them for myself. I have to laugh that I did this for my students regularly. Because the setups were completely my choice I didn't have the perspective of strange and new objects. Planning the shapes and colors gave me an unfair advantage. At this moment I want to apologize to all the art students who were overwhelmed by art room still lifes in Niagara Falls High School. It took me quite a few years, but now I know how you felt.
Both paintings are 12x9 oil.  My Guerrilla Painter pochade box worked well on the classroom tables.
Critters With Eyes

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sitting here to paint these rocks=Perfect Day!
 This is just one little piece of the fabulous Niagara Reservation State Park. Three small islands in the upper rapids provide spectacular views of the rapids, but sweet views are abundant as you walk across each of the bridges. Check my post on 3/23/2012 for another island view. I've painted, but not posted, this same boulder several times. When I returned a week later the bushes in the foreground had grown so much that this view was no longer visible. This is one of Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters favorite painting spots. I schedule us there every year.
In progress 'Between Bridges"

plein air niagara, rushing water
Between Bridges, 16x20 oil c. K Schifano 2018

Always nice to win!

Nice coverage of the NACC prize in the Niagara Gazette!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wilson, NY with NFPAP

white building, boats in water
Lighthouse Tower, c.K. Schifano
A group appointment to paint together on the shore of Lake Ontario means I can buy fresh vegetables on the way home. The nice bunches of asparagus I saw on the roadside were gone by the time I was finished, but the garlic sign was up. The garlic farmer gentleman cutting the grass was fun to talk to but unfortunately the garlic isn't ready until July. He said I could come back and paint there...and bring my friends. Angled trees and various sculptures added to the charm of his multiple farm buildings and gardens.
I wanted to paint the Wilson Restaurant but did not have a vantage point to see it from the public area and the homeowners were not around to give permission. I did have a nice view of this new building which is actually a residence and hotel, there is also a marina gas pump nearby. The boats along the front changed frequently as they filled up. The one I painted was pretty big and took a while to fill the tank. I cannot imagine what their bill is to fill it, probably they could afford this painting for that price; the painting would last a lifetime while the gasoline is just a memory.

Lighthouse Tower, 12x9, oil on linen

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A NACC Art Award for Plein Air

Infrastructure, abandoned building, rust painting
The Light in the Tunnel, 20x16, oil on canvas
Award for Excellence in Plein Air Painting

street scene, NYC tavern, city pastel
Pete's Tavern 18x12 pastel on Wallis 
The annual Niagara Arts and Culture Center's summer exhibit "Beyond the Barrel" is always a fun event and a chance to catch up with artists in the center, two gallery shows and friends who hibernate the cold months. These pictures were my two entries, and both were accepted. I try to apply for this show every year, in 2018 the show was appended "Inspire".

At the reception 'The Light in the Tunnel' was awarded the Vjolla Cela Award for Excellence in Plein Air Painting. The certificate hangs by the painting throughout the exhibit and I also received a cash prize. This lovely show of mostly WNY artists will remain in the Townsend Gallery until July 29th.

The Sunday Niagara Gazette published an article and a photo that you couldn't miss in the Night and Day section. These kind of recognitions are flattering, but also reinforce my dedication to creating art that says something, that contains the spirit of the place it is produced. 

The saying 'paint 1000 pictures before you are a painter' is true. Check.

A favorite painting finds a new home

schifano, powerful painting
3 Sisters in Sunlight 12x24 oil on canvas c. K.Schifano
This is perhaps the most powerful painting I will ever do. In fact, it is. I had drawn and painted it several different times from various directions but was aware that a north-northeast facing orientation would rarely have sun or shadows and the work would look flat. Considering this issue, I realized that the late Spring sun would shine on the stone early in the day and I made plans to catch that light. This is a pedestrian bridge to Three Sisters Islands in the Niagara River rapids, very close to Niagara Falls. The name comes from the daughters of General Parkhurst Whitney who settled here in 1810.

When I arrived with the sun low in the sky, it was still in the shade, so I planned the layout on my canvas and began to paint the water and lower part of the canvas, the tree trunks and sky. Finishing those areas I was eager to paint the bridge stonework. However, I had come too late in the season as the leaves on the tree in the right side cast heavy shadows. Sunlight wouldn't touch this bridge again until the next Spring and before leaves opened. 

At that moment....
That tree crashed down, right into the water and the smashed branches and leaves all covered...only the lower area that I had already captured with paint. People and Park workers converged on the area immediately to see what the crash was about. The tree had just broken and fallen at the moment I was wishing it was not there.

That is powerful plein air power.

It actually glowed and I think I was the only one who kept doing what I had started before the crash. Of course, I was slightly shocked, and in awe, but accepting the event as some sort of omen. Just keep painting.
This was several years ago and other paintings of this area have been purchased and loved by their owners. Although several clients held this painting and nearly purchased it, it was always put back in exchange for a different scene. I believe most of them were overwhelmed by the power in the story of this picture, and two people admitted that to me. I decided to keep it in my studio.

Last week '3 Sisters in Sunlight' left me to a new home. I am so pleased that Theresa was immediately attracted to the painting and also loved the story. She spent time looking through many other paintings but this one stayed with her. I am so happy to send it away to someone I consider a friend and who loves the picture for its power like I do. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mother's Day Rose collection In progress

A stunning double order of varicolored long stem roses came from Monica's daughters with both our names on the card. There were so many that we used two vases for them.  Peach, lavender, pink and shades of those colors were all represented.     The smaller of the bouquets made its way into the studio and I have been working on a rose painting for more than a week.  I added forsythia  branches and plum blossoms from the garden to the composition.  Roses open fairly quickly so I worked on them first.  Although unfinished, the wilted roses are still in the studio as the branches and leaves still serve as a reference when I need it. It is unusual for me to tackle a project like this but I am finding joy in the challenge and am probably honing skills for a future picture.
I have taken pictures several times and turned them black and white in order to see the values as I was working. It helps to choose emphasis areas as well as my use of dark and light colors.

The entire time I have been working, which is significant with a painting such as this, I have endured the company of a critic, a visiting resident cat, Chiquita. She wants to be close as possible to me and the stool in the picture isn't close enough for her. She would paint with her nose if I let her. She would be in my lap if I was not standing to work.

Chiquita the critic also likes to rearrange my set up. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

On the street 186 Linwood

Buffalo, a mecca for great architecture and architects is full of variety and details. Every street has unique buildings no matter the economics of the area. Lovely Linwood Avenue is tucked between Main Street and Delaware Avenue and was on the Thursday NFPAP paint schedule. A short walk up Linwood after parking and there were multiple opportunities to choose from, this house was painted partly because of the large shady area across the street.
The challenge here was to capture the soft light bluish-gray white color on the first floor. Of course the front door was purple!
In progress, turning the easel to keep sun off the canvas
It is a wide street with stately homes and mature trees. People were walking dogs, getting exercise and running errands. It is so nice to be in a walking area of Buffalo that is also residential. I smelled laundry, heard birds and vehicles. I felt the occasional breeze and flickering sunshine. Mostly, I saw a very cool Sears and Roebuck plan house that I needed to put on canvas. Oh. what fun Spring is!

purple front door, house in Buffalo, plein air architecture

"186" oil on canvas, 12x9 (c) K.Schifano 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Italy in 2019, Exhibit in 2020

Based on my posted art work and not a proper application, I have been invited to be the resident artist at Borgo Santo Pietro in Italy for a month next year. It is an elegant 14th century manor expanded and updated to be an exclusive hotel in the hills of Tuscany.

It is nestled near Sienna and Florence and I am provided with a lovely glass walled studio surrounded by gardens, water, farmland of grapes and vegetables, flowers and history. I plan to be outside painting en plein aire but have the studio to retreat to if the weather should be windy or too rainy.

This has me very excited and already doing some long range planning. It will be a welcome interruption to 2020 exhibit preparation, Trilogy XXX with Karen Foegen and Carol Case Syracuse at Artists Group Gallery. That will involve the three of us Plein Air painting in many of the same places over the next two years. Our exhibit will feature our three paintings of the same locations as well as sketches on site and possibly some studio work from the Plein airs. This will be intriguing and interesting.

These two special events were recently confirmed and, as things happen in threes, I’m waiting patiently for the next big one!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Cherry Blossom Festival in the Japanese Garden

Each May the Buffalo History Museum presents a week long festival when the Cherry Blossoms in the Japanese Gardens open and celebrations of the Japanese tea ceremony are held as the cascading flowers fall to the ground. Parades, boat rides, music and painters, cosplay actors, bonsai, free admissions and spring bring out crowds of happy visitors and many cameras. 

In progress.

This year I decided to choose a close up of the pink tree flowers. After drawing the plan for this in a sketch book I decided to paint the Cherry Blossom flowers horizontally. My selected bunch were right in front of me and a bit above. Mild breezes kept moving the branches and I managed to keep from getting dizzy by not looking up until the breeze slowed.

The final painting. 'Early blooms in the Japanese Garden ' 9x12 oil

Photo (with my French Resistance pochade by Judson’s Art  Outfitters) by Diane G. My pink hat draws the most comments during this event. 

Billy Wilson Park

Although there is a lot of grass in the photo, this early Spring painting has such a little bit of green in the scene that I viewed, in the moss on the logs and a bit of skunk grass starting across the pond.

Annual early Plein Air events at places like these are the perfect way to welcome Spring. Ducks and geese and turtles abound, the sounds of toddlers in the new playground nearby and expansive views of the wetlands all combine to celebrate the new season.

I’ll edit this and add the final photo soon.

Buffalo skyline At Paint The Town (edited)

I had an unusual opportunity to paint from the top floor of the iconic Electric Building in Buffalo before the adaptive reuse was completed. The top floor was designed as the corporate offfices of the electric company and was paneled with carved and detailed wood, elegant doors were disguised in the walls and great windows opened in every direction from the empty round space. The first long distance transmission of DC electricity was sent from Niagara Falls to this building.

The views extended for miles in every direction to Canada, Grand Island, and the Falls as well as the challenge of looking down onto streets in a radial grid designed by Frederick Olmsted for Buffalo. I chose a window facing southwest through the First Ward, past the grain elevators to the wind turbines in Lackawanna and beyond to further shores of Lake Erie. The dome on the right is the Buffalo Sabres ice arena.

Perspectives were altered by looking down, and the clarity of the air made distant details easy to see. Truly, it would be a pleasure to access those windows again! 

"Paint the Town" is an annual fundraiser for the Buffalo History Museum and I have donated paintings there for several years; the generous patrons have bid the prices high enough to make my work valuable to their endowments. I chose to give them this skyline painting because patrons are familiar with these buildings and the location, I think it should bring them a good price. 

I am asked for donations frequently and carefully choose organizations that I wish to support and which will benefit most from a work I am willing to part with. Artists are asked to subsidize clubs or donate too often, to support all sorts of endeavors and fundraisers but their work may be auctioned or sold for low amounts and without benefit or value to the artist. The public is often unaware of the difference between a print and an original painting. For these reasons, I investigate requests and try to match my life interests with their needs and the quality of the invent. Years ago I was told by a potential client 'I won a $350 painting for $40!”.  Shame. 

Be generous. Support your local museums! Paint The Town event is May 17 this year.

'Where I Like To Paint, Buffalo '. 12x24 oil 


The painting was placed in the Live Auction and was one of the last to be featured, so it earned the museum a great price. I was thrilled to see it front and center for the event, and more thrilled to watch the bidding. The new owner invited me to see it in his home, he was excited to have won it.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Covered wastebasket for Plein air.

 It is frequent painting outdoor season and there is sometimes time to stop for a tasty latte on the way to meet up with friends to paint. Those sturdy cups come in handy as a waste basket with a sturdy cover. I make sure there is one available in the back of my car to collect paint rags and paper towels as well as my apple cores and gum wrappers.

It can roll around but won’t lose it’s contents as the lids fit firmly.  

Merit Award won at Kenan Center Gallery

Both of my entries were accepted to the Buffalo Niagara Art Association Spring Exhibit. I am very pleased that Juror Donald Zinteck selected this entry for a Merit Award. Two floors of excellent paintings to choose from makes the distinction more meaningful to me.This shows the painting mounted at Kenan reflecting the draped windows and chandelier of the beautiful building. The lights looked like sailboats in the water to me. 

This shows the placement between two floor to ceiling windows, it is next to their grand piano in the main floor parlor.

Kath Schifano, rapids, horseshoe falls, Niagara
Horseshoe Races 24x30 pastel c.2016 Merit Award

Spring Equinox at Buckhorn State Park

Initial marks lay out the image shapes after drawing in a sketchbook to choose a composition.

Spring started March 20th. I try to paint at each change of season. I schedululed the Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters at Buckhorn State Park at 4:00, hoping for warm afternoon sunshine. We got that beautiful sun and some solar heat to help warm us but it was still cold especially when the breeze picked up. 30 degrees is cold enough to make the paint tacky and some colors acted like melted pizza cheese. I used to go out often in the winter but have discovered the joys of indoor painting, too.

Here is my painting right in front of the actual scene as it was nearly finished.

   "Spring Equinox Snow" 9x12 oil

All together, I had on 6 layers which impaired moving! Fingerless gloves over leather gloves worked pretty well, and I sat upon my apron folded on the fence rail of the park road. So, pretty comfortable for the start of a new plein air season with my friends.