Sunday, June 19, 2011

Rivershore colors

Kath Schifano Kathy Painting house portrait Cayuga Island NIagara FallsThis Cayuga Island home portrait has been in progress on my easel for nearly 3 months and it is leaving me as a surprise gift to the homeowner. I had promised myself to never do another surprise house painting because there is little opportunity to spend time sketching the building and generating a personal relationship to develop the composition. Cameras flatten images and the eye is more honest. It happens to be cited on the water, surrounded by mature majestic trees so it was easier to select a view.

However, there are many details to any house and I did several 'drive-bys' to take pictures. The neighbors wondered what was going on, the kids playing hockey in the street just stared. It felt like I was lurking and clicked photos from the window of my car since someone always seemed to be home.

I took the first pictures in early Spring when trees were bare; this let me paint the sky, lawn and entire house and place the trees and significant branches. As the foundation plants grew in and trees claimed their shapes the portrait could continue. A fairly large painting, this is a lovely heirloom that commemorates the energy the owners invested in creating a lovely home.

There is always a little feeling of loss when another painting leaves. Now, what's next!!??

Rivershore Colors, 22x28 oil, 2011

Erie Canal Locks in Lockport

Two consecutive weeks were scheduled on the Erie Canal in Lockport, NY with Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters this month. We listened across the canal as children on field trips screeched and exclaimed waiting for their tour boat rides and the cruise narrator repeated his prepared speech about the history of the Erie canal, the height of the locks in Lockport and the upcoming 'widest working bridge' as well as train whistles and passersby. This was followed by the natural quiet of a park and the regular opening and closing of huge lock gates to change the water level.

Huddled under my giant paint umbrella, straddling a picnic bench, I relished each moment as I painted. The network of paths and bridges and stairs engineered under the level of the city of Lockport was fascinating. Both paintings are from the same location, the park across from Market Street, but painted one week apart.

Waiting for Tour at Noon, 8x10 oil 2011
Opening the Lock. 16x20, oil 2011

Delaware Park Rose Garden

Slipping off to Buffalo to paint the beautiful Delaware Park Rose Garden doesn't bring the Albright Knox Art Gallery to mind. All of the other painters-there were about 8-headed for the beautiful colonnade, surrounded by steps, columns, roses and trees. I had spent a full year painting only roses, so I was up to this challenge and liked the idea of varicolored bushes, clusters, longstems and bunch roses.

As I perused this lovely location, the sight of the Albright's E. B. Green 1905 building peeking over the end of the gardens grabbed me. I turned my easel around and accepted the challenge. Having painted on the grounds and having a profound respect for the institution, I did appreciate this distance view.

However, I ended my visit with about 50 new rose photographs, with all the varieties and colors one could imagine.

Look What's Growing in the Rose Garden, 11x14 oil on masonite 12x18
Photo; in progress plein air painting

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Margaret Louise Park, Amherst, NY

My second visit to this jewel of a park was a perfect Spring day. We had been through a spell of cold and rain which caused a few paint-outs to be washed out.

The painters kept murmuring 'what a lovely day' as we drank in sunshine, listened to geese clattering over territory and birds celebrated their varied chirps.

Painting on a masonite panel reminded me how important the surface is to a composition. My oils slide like butter on warm toast but dry more slowly so each brushstroke must be carefully placed to avoid muddy effects. In this case, the tannin in the water created deep dark browns, but the sky and scattered clouds reflected themselves in all the light areas.

If this is the best plein air I create this year, I will still be happy. It is named for the turtles basking on the log in the water to the left of the tree trunk.

4 More Turtles, oil 16x20 2011

Olmsted Parks paintings.

It's unusual for me to paint from a photograph, but I was indoors, painting an Olmsted Park. I used a dull photo and my memory to capture the day I was there early last Fall. This Spring I spent a day with representatives of Olmsted Parks of Buffalo, painting at the 'Plantasia' event on the Hamburg fairgrounds.

The varied Olmsted designed parks in Buffalo include several traffic circles in the system, including at McKinley, Kleinhans, and Richmond as well as South and Delaware Parks. I donated this painting to their fundraising and by a roundabout way it remains much loved in

Olmsted at Delaware Park, 9x12, oil 2011
collection of Buffalo Park System