Friday, April 21, 2017

Pastel Workshop 2

 These are MINE! This is my studio set, but I also used my travel Guerilla box as there aren't enough colors here!

Pastel Workshop Setups

Western New York Pastel Society sponsored a 'Color Confidence' workshop with Marla Baggetta. I had admired her work and saw an opportunity to meet her, watch her work, and hopefully learn a whole lot by joining the club and signing up for the workshop. I am so glad I did, it was a wonderful mixed group of artists, various styles and experiences and activities.

ON the third day I went around the room and photographed the various pastel setups and how they were packaged, set up, and used. INstructions for this workshop said to bring as many high quality pastels as we had and suggestions for purchase. There were Diane Townsends, Sennelier, Terri Ludwigs, Unisons and more. Various cases were purchased or converted, and different references, including digital were used on the third day to utilize what we learned. Such a feast for the eyes!

Late Fall at Niagara

painting Niagara Falls, American Falls

Last November, I joined Jacq Baldini at the overlook bridge to paint the Falls. It was a true Fall day, chilly, breezy and a bit of rain as well but we were able to set up behind a glass windbreak wall on the bridge that didn't impede the hardy tourists who joined us. 

The first picture shows my picture on the easel on location with my view. The second is the painting in proper lighting, we were in a corner. I am so happy with my painting that I chose it for my new business card. Not every painting is a 'keeper' but once in a while I feel I have made an exceptional beauty.

kschifano, painting Niagara, American falls

Power, 12x18 pastel on Wallis, c.2016

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Garret Club

Invited to display paintings at the lovely Garret Club in Buffalo, I was given two walls to show work near the grand piano. I chose to use one for botanical images and the other for local scenes and landscapes. This was a good opportunity to talk with groups of people who appreciated art and had interesting questions and comments. It was particularly nice to carry less home than I brought to the club. They asked me to leave the work up for more than a month. I like to have a group of paintings out at the same time, it leaves me a bit of room in the studio to reorganize and rearrange. I have a rule, no nail shall stand alone, so every lonely nail is given a new painting.

The Plein Air Force Houston

Houston artists

If you have heard me talk about the lack of unique character in suburban Houston, you have probably also heard me say that a painting can be found anywhere. This is just around the corner from Robin's street, a wide greenway lined with a row of evergreens. I have sketched here before as it is an outside street of a planned neighborhood and a good place to practice perspective; trees, houses, powerlines, parked cars, and the street all converge at a single distant point.

After a neighborhood walk the afternoon light was right and I brought my half French easel out to the shady corner, followed soon by Ian and Amelia with paper, lap desks, drawing supplies and their FURNITURE for comfort. It is humbling to be reminded that kids have no limits, no worries about appearance or rules, they just get involved. Hearing the chairs drag down the sidewalk, seeing them scramble to hold their artist odds and ends and grinning and eager to work with Grammy, I wish I had that picture. We all worked in the quiet, greeting occasional neighbors checking us out, dog walkers,  and cars slowing.

Amelia painted with her set of new brush markers and left sky holes in the trees and light marks on the tree trunks. It wasn't because I did this, it was because she was looking at what was in front of her. A lesson well learned. She wasn't sure what to draw and I said "just do whatever you are looking at."   
One of my very best days.

The Trees Across the Street, brush markers  9x12 c. Amelia

Across the Street @10x12 oil on Arches paper 
I titled this post Plein Air Force because there is a movement of that name to get everyone involved, to get people out, to try drawing and painting from life.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Carnegie Workshop

The Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters created a workshop to educate the public about plein air and encourage more to share our activities, enjoy outdoors and create paintings. Even before the scheduled start time, interested  people were looking around, asking questions and collecting handouts as well as Plein Air magazine and the Liliedahl video catalog, both donated by the publisher for our event.

My talk was about various ways to pack and organize, how to eliminate extra weight and pare down the amount of supplies to paint outdoors. The display included a half French Easel, Guerilla Boxes, Laptop Pochades and even a tiny oil color set in a doll size suitcase box. People enjoyed seeing box adjustments including handles, brush holders, strategic holes drilled and different ways to organize for pastels and paint.

Waiting for Warm, Late Winter Plein Air

Perhaps life gets hectic when the weather warms. At least, I think it does, but winter has its own slower pace. Right now I am ready for the busy painting schedule that NFPAP has put together, so I have been playing with a variety of different materials.

The first painting is from an upstairs window view. A little bit of snow and a lot of sunshine inspired me to capture the blue shadows of the biggest cottonwood tree I have ever seen. It is at least three times the height of a two story peaked roof. About 100-150 feet away and across the street, if it ever came down we would have a huge mess and a bit of damage. I see this tree out of every window in the front, and it fills my view from bed as well. This was a pastel experiment, the paper had too much texture for me, perhaps I should have used the back. I think the same painting in oil would be more successful.

The second is a front seat in the car painting. I parked along the Robert Moses, recently renamed the Niagara River Parkway. A fairly gray and quiet day, the Niagara plume hovered in the gorge making the buildings of Niagara Falls Ontario appear to float or sit on the mist.  A famous chimney has been moved to the river side of the road and was given its own parking lot as well. It is a good place to just look and think.

Shadows of My Dreams, pastel 9x12 c.K Schifano
Niagara river, kath Schifano, Niagara Falls
A Chimney's View watercolor 6x9, c.K Schifano

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The March Exhibit announcement

The Dispatch posted this about the show. We just returned from Houston so I hadn't seen the paper on Friday, but on Saturday morning it was the subject of yoga class. I guess they recognized my photo even though we usually are upside down or have our eyes closed. Thanks to the paper for printing this announcement from the library.

Naturally, Grand Island

Living on an Island? Surrounded by water, and blessed with two state parks, overlooks and rural areas,  and some interesting views make it very easy to display a collection of Island paintings. There are nearly 30 paintings in this show at Grand Island Memorial Library and all of them represent Grand Island scenes. Except for the two florals every picture was made outdoors, between the bridges.

I couldn't help but title this exhibit "Naturally, Grand Island". I am so blessed to have so much beauty to surround me. Although a few paintings are from close to home, I could fill another exhibit with works that show the changing seasons right in my own yard. Missing a few labels and the sign, this is how the paintings look this month on the day they were hung.

Monday, February 6, 2017

New art show at the Memorial Library

Last fall I was asked to consult on the purchases of a hanging system for the Grand Island Memorial Library. It would be freestanding and the committee had already investigated various systems. All I had to do was suggest taller displays and a new configuration, considering the 3d space they would occupy. The library is a large open space and the art displays would be between the stacks and the reading room, equally available to viewing from all directions.

The display arrived and the staff has considered moving them a bit from the original plan, realizing that the artwork should be central and the stands adjacent to each other. A local artist shows a variety of paintings for this inaugural show.

I am invited to hang my paintings at the end of February and have chosen local Grand Island scenes to show my neighbors as they check out books, join meetings and bring their children to events. The local paintings will include views of our two state parks in all seasons as well as some area landmarks. I hope that other opportunities to show my work there will feature Niagara Falls, flowers, ocean views or travel paintings.

Staying creative with jewelry

A box of nostalgic family costume jewelry sat in the basement for entirely too long. Some of the 'better' pieces had been claimed by cousins, but Martha's well loved collection was still waiting for a purpose. She never left the house without a necklace and earrings, a pin on every jacket echoed the colors of her outfits. 

A bit of research to find the perfect glue for metal and plastic and a few weeks on the work table helped these three compositions create themselves out of the myriad of jewel boxes. Each includes a single gaudy Christmas tree, some tiny angels, loose pearls and love. Now mounted under glass in display frames and ready to display, they are going to the homes of her three granddaughters.

I haven't painted during the process but I felt creative and 'charmed' throughout the production of these new family heirlooms.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


After Fall exhibitions come down and collections of paintings are delivered to holiday gift shows, I like to take a break from creating paintings, clean and organize the entire studio, prepare surfaces for new work. Then I leave the studio and take up residence in my kitchen as the baker lady.

Cookies. The ultimate creative endeavor for the homebound. I enjoy the change of seasons out my spacious windows, but as the browns turn to grays in the woods the colors of dough, sprinkles and frosting light up my artistic side.

It's been a few weeks and several large home projects are complete, visiting has slowed down and it is time to return to the studio for a few bigger projects before sunshine and balmy weather calls me outside again. I have been itching to paint but have continued to draw. As soon as I uncover my table from a messy gluing project the paint and pastels will fly.
These is last year's photo but I made most of these again this year, doubling up on the chocolate ones and making the cuccidatis larger. That's it until next December. The creative season of dessert is over.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Something I re-learned in 2016

green and yellow, tree painting
Pastel. My original favorite medium beckoned me to stop using oil paints for a while. Although framing a pastel painting is more difficult (sealing the surface, making perfectly cut mats with spacers, using glass in the frame while still handling a fairly fragile powder media) the colors and reaction of the pastels to the surface is so exciting. The easy part is covering a fresh new pastel with glassine and adding it to the pile, no drying time is necessary.

After a weekend workshop in NYC with Nancie King Mertz I was energized and inspired to get back out with my plein air pastels. Early Fall beauty at the Tifft Nature Preserve with my Niagara Frontier Plain Air Painters friends made it easy to find good compositions. Choosing just one view to paint was hard, but the yellow tree leaning into the lazy creek became my subject. The fall sun was low and trees in the park were tall.  It was more about the brilliant yellow leaves in nature than the sun or shadows.

Autumn Glitter, 12.5x9.5, pastel. c. 2016 K. Schifano

Start with excellent photos

custom painting, schifano

Niagara Falls home, stone front house, kschifano

This series shows the progress of this recently delivered commission. I made several trips there in various weather and lighting conditions to get good reference photos. Facing north, it was a challenge to show their beautiful home through the trees but also in good light. It is entirely more detailed than I had planned to paint it, but the colors of the stone facade, various textured surfaces, interesting window treatments and a curved, railed porch were so interesting that I just got carried away.

Looking at the picture here, on a computer screen, it looks like a photo, but the full size painting is definitely painted and shows textures and strokes of my brush throughout. Dan and Jenna and their families were all surprised and pleased with this thoughtful gift from his parents.

On The Rivershore, 16x20 oil on canvas. c. 2016 K. Schifano 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

New paintings at PasiĆ³n

It's the holiday season and that means parties and special events. If you happen into the wonderful Cuban style restaurant "Pasion', my paintings from Cuba 2016 have been replaced with Buffalo area scenes. Besides these photos, there are more in the halls and by the bar. 

The very large paintings belong to the restaurant, these small ones are mine. Once winter gets intense I will change these for some warm weather flowers; with the music, fresh cuisine and flowers on the walls, Pasion may feel more like summer than winter in Buffalo.

Small Works Holiday Studio Show

Schifano studio, art on display, open studioFriday and Saturday, December 9 and 10 dawned cold and windy. After a mild fall the cold was a surprise and keeping the front door open got chilly whenever a cloud passed in front of the sun. Usually, sun streams in and warms the front of the house.
Nevertheless, I was ready and art work of small sizes were on the first floor and the gallery room was jam packed with Niagara paintings. 
The studio is always full of drying paintings and new work and this weekend was no different. You can see here that I often neglect to post some spectacular paintings. As usual, all studio sales are discounted a bit with double discounts for my repeating customers. People like to see work in progress, that painting is now finished and will be posted soon.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Back to My Roots?

flower painting, artist in Buffalo, plein air flowers, KSchifano

Flowers. First it was apples, and I learned to draw by using apples as my subject, over and over, as instructed by Walter Prochownik at UB in the 80's. It was flowers, not apples, that intrigued me and I later spent many years looking deeply into the lines, curves and details of all sorts of plants and flowers, working large and small in my tiny Niagara Falls studio as my practice improved.

Since I became a plein air artist I have spent many Thursdays in winter painting the flora and architecture of the Botanical Gardens, usually small and often with pastels.

For this painting, I was invited to show a wall full of work related to gardens at the Twentieth Century Club in Buffalo and chose to paint outside in their gardens while my work was up. I have painted there several times, choosing bits of architecture as my focus. I made several sketches, the garden statuary is quite attractive, there are fountains and sculpture, groomed trees and brilliant colors against an interesting Romanesque architecture.

At each column in the back, large pots of Canna Lilies and Begonias glowed in the light. These urns became my subject and I wound up surrounded by a large garden party while I painted. It was interesting to be in that space with so many people yet nearly invisible as my work transported me right out of the crowd and few were interested in what I was doing there.

Cannas and Begonias oil on board, 20x10 c.2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

LaBatt Beer, Buffalo's 6 pack

There was a big public ruckus when Labatt decided to dress a six pack of grain elevators in plastic wrap, but I love them and still support the decision. They are in the process of converting these old storage silos into a craft beer brewery, a beer garden and tourist destination. Next door, Riverworks is the site of multiple events, from late night drinking to roller derby races and weddings. Of course, winter turns the outdoor area into a very large and busy ice rink, but on this day the flower pots cascaded onto the patios.

This was painted across the Buffalo River in the new Festival Park, where we sat on contour benches under an arbor and enjoyed watching kayaks, tugs and sailboats on the water.

Labatt beer, bar in buffalo, Kath Schifano, craft beer, beer silo

Buffalo and Blue, 12x18 oil on panel, c. 2016