Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tuscarora State Park

Every paint-out is a mini vacation. A few weeks ago my mini vacation was in Northern Niagara County outside Wilson, NY, so I was home by 4pm.

The Tuscarora State Park on Lake Ontario has a lovely beach area on the west side bordered by a small outlet. Standing in sand, protected in the shade of a massive cottonwood, I could see across the tiny bay to thirsty trees reaching down to the water.

The shallow water here can float small sailboats and inboards, but there were none at this plein air paintout-just Canada Geese families.
Tuscarora Caribe 9x12 oil 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Buffalo Skyline Kath Schifano Kathy Painting This summer I had the opportunity to ascend 'The Electric Tower' to paint, it's the dramatic building where the outdoor New Year's Eve party & fireworks is centered in Buffalo. Built as the terminus for long distance electricity from Niagara Falls for the 1904 Pan Am Exposition, most of it has served as offices, the first two floors used to be an elegant store for electric household tools-vacuums! Waffle irons! Electric lamps!

The current owners (ISKALO) have been restoring the dignity of this round building and converting it to offices & condos. We were invited to paint on the 15th floor & quite a few Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters took this opportunity to 'see the sights' 2/3 of the way up the building where the white section starts. This level was due to be renovated, so we were able to explore original boardrooms totally carved and decorated with dark wood, built in furniture and secret doors in the panels. Each painter selected a different window, our floor was small enough with all the walls and dividers removed that we could talk to each other about whether it was really plein air painting or not! The windows were huge, but we were protected from the wind and sounds of the city.
In addition, few of us had ever painted anything by looking down for the whole painting. This created perspective & compositional challenges; most buildings were much lower than us, roofs full of electrical systems, the lake and Canada in the distance, hockey & baseball stadiums within a few blocks.

I selected to paint a long view-the old first ward and grain mills with windmills & Lake Erie in the distance. As an outdoor painter I have discovered so many new streets & hidden treasures in downtown Buffalo, side roads off Ohio Street take me to 'Elevator Alley' a majestic remnant of 19th century glory when Buffalo was one of the largest cities in North America and the gateway to the west. Now these river alleys are quiet with age and home to geese, boaters and tugboats instead of crowded with great lakes ships.

Where I Like to Paint, oil 15x30 2010
The Electric Tower photo from website

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Is this an old church in Canada?

A summer weekend at Artpark with the Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters during the wine trail tour was a perfect place to paint. Surrounded by artists and wine, lots of people who were all in a great mood and not in a hurry--who could ask for more?

This is a Canadian building, perhaps a church, across the Niagara River in Ontario. I am not familiar with it by driving along the Niagara Parkway so it must be nestled in Queenston, behind those lovely historic homes and businesses. The river had a Caribbean color to it that day, reminding me of Cancun.

Canada from Artpark, 20x16 oil 2010

Phyllis Stigliano Gallery

Brooklyn Brownstone Kath Schifano Kathy Painting , Phyllis StiglianoA Jetblue airfare sale and a quick painting trip to NYC enabled this plein air of a lovely Brooklyn brownstone in the historic district of Park Slope.

The image will be used by Phyllis Stigliano for cards at her art gallery on the first floor. The title was inspired by the large number of serendipitous events that brought Phyllis, Charles & I together, as well as the ambiance of the afternoon that I painted. The sun shone and neighbors gathered as I was challenged to capture decorative details, fleeting light and the elegant mood of this grand old building with a quick brush.

Accustomed to wide open spaces and infinite vantage points when I work en plein air, this was painted from across the street by perching on a neighbor's wall, the only spot that afforded a view between towering trees. It might have been more difficult if the recent tornado that blasted this area had not torn down small branches and many leaves to give me a better view.

This is my second longest (time) on site painting; learning the scale and proportion of protruding windows, multiple columns and solving perspective from close range was a genuine challenge that I enjoyed all day. Now that I have challenged and conquered brownstone style architecture I'll find additional opportunities to paint in the city.

8th Avenue Serendipity, 14x11 oil 2010

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Escarpment Drive Painting

Escarpment Drive House Kath Schifano Kathy Painting Answer: Exactly one month, plus about 20 years of practice.
Question: How long did it take to do that painting?

I put brush to a gessoed canvas on September 5th, after several visits to take pictures, choose lighting & a bunch of drawings to choose composition & resolve scale for this commission. Although I plan to add a signature & a few dots & dashes for depth, it is a finished painting on October 5.

So, all things considered, including prep and framing, the real Answer: 2 months, + drying time to be varnished [3-6 more months].

Escarpment View, oil 12x24 2010

That's really a LOT OF WATER!

A plein air paintout on a late September morning resulted in a successful capture of one small piece of the American Falls. The photo was taken early, the water turned greener as the light changed. I placed it here to share my awe of the tremendous power at Niagara Falls. This was a joint paint out with Naiagara Frontier Plein Air Painters and Genesee Valley Plein Air Painters, so we all had an especially lively lunch discussing techniques and turpentine.

I toyed with the idea of including some tourists----it would emphasize the scale of the cataracts, but have instead decided to title it with a tremendous fact.

8,000 Cubic Feet Per Second, oil 16x20, 2010