Tuesday, September 27, 2011

9th Annual International Plein Air Paintout

On the second day of my 9th annual International Plein Air Paintout adventure, I crossed into Canada to paint. Little did I expect that my favorite parking lot in the park would be gone, and I would have to pay big bucks and still have to walk forever with my cart, lunch, painting supplies and more. I was thrilled to pay only $7 at the Skylon, later it was $10, and when I left it was up to $15. I didn't find the other painters there, either.

I intended to paint the American Falls, and set up my easel and supplies in the shade by the railing. I happened to look through a small hole in the trees to my right and found the gorge full of dense mist, curling around below the river and rapids. Fortunately I had a small board with me and painted that tiny bit of bright water quickly, before the light and wind changed. Then I turned back to my original composition. The Bridle Veil Falls and Luna Island look quite the same, but there is now a 'dry spot' on the American Falls. There seems to be less water going over every year and I had not seen any water from the powerful cataracts course over this prominent rock all summer. Perhaps some rocks have fallen on each side, but I remember there being a trickle there 2 years ago.

Marshmallow Mist, pastel 6x12 2011
Split in 3, pastel 9.5x12.5 2011

Niagara, again

Still fascinated by the massive curve of the Horseshoe Falls, these two paintings were created 3 weeks apart from 2 entirely different locations. I am amazed that the colors are so close, but the weather and light were almost the same.

The first is from a bridge at Three Sister's Islands. I used my 'eagle eyes' to see this from more than a half mile upriver, choosing just a piece of the falls, west of the area I often paint. It was a brilliant sunny day and the mist stayed low.

The second painting is from above Terrapin Point, close to Top of The Falls restaurant. I have painted near this same spot for 5 years now, and have noticed frequent changes in the flow of water, the size and number of islands, and the fact that the trees growing there are starting to block my view! It started as an overcast day, I worked on the sky as the clouds started to break up and it turned into solid sunlight, similar to the picture above. This was painted during the International Plein Air Paintout, September 9-11.
Curve from Three Sisters, oil, 12x24 2011
International Mist, oil 12x24, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

BNAA Fall art show at Artsphere

The Erie County Fair is supposedly the largest fair in America. Two years ago, the fair's plein air contest did not conflict with the Lewiston Art Festival weekend and so I competed.

I had four hours to create and return a finished, matted painting and spent a good part of that time looking for a location and racing back to the car for supplies. While I sat on a bench painting, a hawker behind me was screaming 'Guess your weight, your age, your birthday!' for the entire day. After a while it was pretty hilarious because he was making a ton of money guessing birth months within two months, (meaning 5 months of the year were covered), with similar conditions for weights and ages. The cable company's Roadrunner is a giant blow up next to their trailer , with classic fair food behind it, and riders screaming in the distance.

The picture is hanging at Artsphere Gallery and Studio, 447 Amherst Street Buffalo, this month along with the Youngstown pastel I made this summer. This is the Buffalo Niagara Art Association Fall show of small works; this one is framed at the maximum size, it is 16x20 with a maximum impact!

 It won a 2nd prize, but mostly my process cemented the sensations of the fair in my brain. Permanently.

Guess Your Age, Your Weight, Your Birthday, pastel 12x18 2009

Lewiston with Sherrill Primo

Summer. Painting season, a chance to plan multiple dates with artist friends to paint outdoors and capture that day's joy, to listen to birds and boats, kids and campfires. Plein air is such a pleasure, to actually experience one single place for the better part of a day, record feelings with vivid colors and have a beautiful product to preserve that memory. June seemed mostly wet and chilly, I missed several great locations due to weather, distance and other appointments, but it ended with my week in the mountains and a magic experience with painters from all over, people who are now my friends with shared experiences.

On the last day of June I joined Sherrill Primo for a stolen day, a last minute decision to leave other responsibilities and get out with my easel. Meeting in Lewiston, it was natural to head for the water. I just wanted to sit and swivel my head 360' to drink in the view, indecisive about choosing my composition. There was so much to select from, piles of colorful stones, blossoms bursting, seagulls, boats, underwater rocks, miles of Canadian shore were all in my view.

After a period of sketching ideas, I selected a small canvas and laid in the shapes of the Silo above me and the craggy hill of wildflowers. I was most interested in the horizon with seagulls soaring and distant clouds rolling along, perhaps from Lake Erie, yet underneath the Silo Restaurant on North Water Street.

As that was completed more people arrived on the waterfront, calling to friends, fishing and eating lunch. Mostly they remained for a short time and then moved away. One young man, perhaps 10 or 12 patiently fished the entire time, someone who was enjoying the beauty of calm winds, clear skies and soaring seagulls at the same moments as Sherrill and I. Painting the second image calls attention to the peace and pleasures of solitude in nature the three of us experienced.

It was a long day with a lot of painting, a perfect start to a great summer. I have completed several new falls and water scenes that may eventually be posted here as well as parks and city life. Now that the first of Fall has arrived, I am watching the tinges of color and have my sights set on another Buckhorn meadow picture as well as many other forest and field scenes of crimson and gold.

Above the Clouds, 5x7 oil 2011
Lewiston Dock, 5x7 oil 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lewiston Art Festival tent photos

 People ask me 'How was the art show?' and my response is usually 'Which one?' The term art show can refer to a gallery opening, an exhibit of my work or of others or a museum.

Recently, that question refers to my annual Lewiston Art Festival exhibit. It is the ONE big weekend show that I have my tent at annually, with the most people. I consider it the social event of the summer season because I get to see so many friends and acquaintances that I may not have seen otherwise.

It is also the release date for my calendar, you can see the 2012 displayed on the table. All of the new monthly paintings are horizontal this year, if you have collected them there are different formats each year. For some reason I did not choose any long or tall paintings as I have been trying some new sizes recently.

The next outdoor event I participate in is a one day show,  Music is Art at Delaware Park, across from the Albright Knox. It is a celebration of music like no other, with a small number of artist tents and activities, a food section and organized especially for families. It is a fundraiser for the music in the schools programs, so come on over, Saturday, September 17, 10am to 10pm.
Photos, Kath Schifano tent at Lewiston Art Festival, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Whitesville House

 Mike White turned 50 this summer, Carl designed an invitation to the planned pig roast birthday party, and I had an opportunity to bake a crazy birthday cake, camouflage icing, pig relaxing on a chaise lounge, dirt (almonds) around the sides. I just copied Carl's invitation and treated frosting like paint, mixing various muddy colors with my spatula. Off we went to Wellsville with cooler and my paint sets.

I always liked the view of Monica's pond and the woods behind it, but this hot afternoon it was particularly moody and cool looking. I settled myself in the shade of the house with my pastels to capture the scene, hoping that one of the balloons from the balloon rally that weekend would soar overhead and be reflected in the pond. That didn't happen, although there were balloons to be seen.
Whitesville House Kath Schifano Kathy Painting house portrait
Several people came over to watch my drawing evolve that afternoon. Later in the evening we got into a conversation with Linda and Buck who have been updating and restoring the Whitesville House restaurant, tavern and hotel since 1992. I remembered this building from a great meal we shared with Monica and Mike during the snowiest winter. It is right on the Pennsylvania border and I had known Whitesville as a town occasionally mentioned on the TV weather.

They asked about painting an architecture portrait, so the following weekend I packed a variety of my materials and canvas sizes, spent 5 hours drawing and planning the painting in unbelievable heat and worked a bit more back in Wellsville. I returned the next day and 7 hours and gallons of water later went to my car at 6pm to see that the shade temperature read 101'. No wonder the paint was so sticky!

This old lady has great architectural bones and details and they have done an amazing amount of work to develop the porch, outdoor area, stone wall and waterfall, flower boxes and even more indoors. The hardest part (besides the heat) was the foreground, every time a car pulled out of a space, a truck would pull in so I could not ever see the entire front. I just ran back and forth making sketches and taking pictures. Although it was started as a plein air, I had to bring this into my studio to paint the rest of the wonderful details, the windows with beer signs, the flowers, red and white sign, porch rails. I am very pleased to have created a wonderful record of an historic building, it was built in 1826 as a hotel and you can still get a nice room there.

So if you are in the southern tier of NY, do stop at the landmark Whitesville House, a bit of history, great character, excellent food and wonderful caretakers.

Afternoon Delight 18x24, oil 2011