Friday, December 14, 2012

December traditions

Kath Schifano, card, Botanic garden
Home made cards are much more than a challenge now that the kids are grown and no longer illustrating sweet Christmas scenes for us to copy and glue. We have home made our cards for more than 25 years, with a couple of skipped years due to too much to do!

Each year we try to create a card image, fully expecting to get it all together in August or September, but that has NEVER happened, not once, even when I knew what picture would be on the cards! It has become our December 'hurry up' project and tradition, right after cookie baking.

This is a Buffalo Botanic Gardens painting from this season, the first of my pictures with colors that might work, even if it was not holiday themed. Since then, I went to the gardens to sketch three times to try for another image, coming home with approximately 10 plans and drawings, none of which suited my purpose. The gardens are now wall to wall with poinsettias and Christmas themed decor, absolutely entertaining and beautiful. This is a large leaf office type plant, the waxy leaves are richly colored and the red spathes in the center are a lovely surprise from an already handsome plant.

So, Merry Christmas! This is the image on our 2012 Christmas postcard, the reverse side has a lovely snowflake motif that Carl created, and tonight I will write my notes. I am saving some without the Christmas message for my own use, sending notes and postcards may be so 20th century, but I love it all year long.

December's Surprise, pastel 12x16  c.2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Not Just Paint. not just cookies

People often look at my artwork and say they wish they were artistic or creative, but art is more than paint, and these people all have their own skills. Many of my art students went on to work as hairdressers, florists, toy, jewelry and clothing designers, window dressers and in film and theater working on costumes, makeup and sets. There are so many ways to express your creativity, including how one dresses or decorates their home.

As for me, I nearly quit my paint habit in December when plein air season (warm enough to paint out) is over to move into the 'creative' kitchen. Not a fan of shopping in stores, I spend days in the kitchen baking homemade gifts, containers of cookies galore, incorporating color design, flavor blending and shape considerations with baking expertise before I begin the wrapping and ribbons. 

 Each year I make trays of traditional favorites such as Cuccidatis (filled with fig, date, raisin and more), Chocolate Spice, Wagon Wheels and Thumbprints, but I also try new ones.
  Always a favorite to eat whenever I go to NYC, I made my first Linzer Tarts and a new swirl cookie with raspberry this week.
 The Checkerboards are not new, but they are chocolate mint for the first time. This is also the first time I (reluctantly) added food coloring in my cookies, just three drops of green in the mint flavored batter made a pretty cookie with a visual mint hint.
 Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

2013 calendars

New 2013 calendars are available from me through the mail or at these local sites:

Niagara County
Art Museum Giftshop at Niagara University
Book Corner on Main
Studio One on Niagara Street

Erie County
Art Dialogue Gallery 1 Linwood, Bflo
464 gallery on Amherst Street & satellite shop in Williamsville
Quaker Bonnet on Allen
Serene Gardens, Grand Island Blvd, GI

$12 for calendar and case, $10 for a refill.
Mail orders, $15 and 11. Contact me for discount on multiple purchases to one address.
Art news & pictures at

Friday, November 9, 2012

2013 calendar

Dealing the 13 pages of my calendar to assemble the sets creates new colors
and patterns on my table as each month is added. It is assembled backwards, Back page, then December, November, October....this is a set of July ready for June on my table, I get a kick out of seeing a table full of my mini paintings as each month is added.

What happens after I get to dealing the January pages? Then it is time for packing the months into special calendar stand boxes and clear protective bags. I'm nearly finished with sorting this year, because starting when the pages arrive from the printer, I put them together in bursts. I have them ready by the August Lewiston Art Festival which is my only big art event outdoors. The final calendars will be ready for Open Studio next weekend.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Lower Trail at Artpark, Lewiston NY

Artpark artists
Sometimes friends are the best reason to get up and try new things. With a report of warm sunny weather, Sherrill Primo convinced me to come paint at Artpark-right when I was preparing for my Houston trip. Of course I dropped my suitcase and joined her.

I knew we would be hiking a bit, so I packed my small art kit with me as well as a take out lunch from Orange Cat in Lewiston. The first surprise was how close we parked to the trail, and the second was how easy a hike it was, new trail had been cut and it was wider with crushed stone and mostly trimmed bushes and overhangs. Even the final long staircase was new with handrails and landings.

First things first, we sat and ate lunch....and talked....and contemplated the water, then we talked some more. We eventually got to work, but the quiet time down on the Niagara rivershore with eddies and flows, little whirlpools and changing water depth was just the recipe for a perfect day.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Glorious painting day

'Autumn on the Ridge' is a 12x18" oil painted yesterday on Lower Mountain Road, at a Shaw Barn paint out. I started with a 5x7 plan which sparkled in the morning light, it was mostly overcast for the rest of the day when I worked on this, but the brilliant Fall colors stood out against the farm buildings. I thought about naming it after the profusion of purple asters along the fields in the painting and the ride through Sanborn.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Part 2- Publisher's Invitational Paintout 2.0 2011

WHATEVER did I do on this blog? THIS ADK post was posted in the summer of 2011, when they were painted, now I see it as my newest post in 2012, oh well, consider a review of this art course, my blog. There was no changing a date until just today!

After painting a few pictures in oil, carrying them fresh and wet into another person's car and looking at the results that evening in a dorm, I realized that pastels would be a good choice in the mountains. The pastels are heavy, but require less space and equipment to carry. It was a good decision as I was caught in the rain and had to work very quickly. My yellow Fantasy Island slicker stayed waterproof, but my plein air umbrella wasn't totally waterproof when it stayed wet. The first painting here is successful because I stopped early and the pastels captured the image I wanted and will allow me to paint it again on canvas without the distraction of details and with the richness of experience. That won't happen soon, it's a possibility for winter, so in the meantime, it is NFS and I like it just as is.

The second was painted from the dock at night, oh how I love to paint at night, it was quiet and peaceful, and it is always a treat to see it in room light when finished. My hat batteries held up, so I could see my palette and picture quite well.

Splashing water at St.Regis Falls really is orange, this is a study for another pastel made the same day. I decided to add more of the area to my second painting, in the meantime, the light changed and it seems like the amount of water crashing had diminished. We worked under a pop up tent and had a wonderful time protected from weather.

Lewiston Art Festival Ribbon 2012

Although I participate at several individual events each year, they are usually indoors. My big 'sell it on the street' in a tent is also the nicest WNY art showcase. Artists apply for admission in the winter and their work is juried by a committee of artists. The jurors limit the number of artists and keep the show 'fine art' without work that is commercial or reproductions. It is a huge amount of preparation for me, and exhausting, but it is also the biggest social event, I see EVERYONE all in two days. Students, coworkers, neighbors, customers and acquaintances all come to chat and catch up. 

There are hundreds of artists and tens of thousands of visitors in Lewiston for the weekend. This photo by Carl shows Mary Grace Ohrum, a wonderful artist who started painting with Carl in the Artwheels program, and former neighbors from our first home on 3rd street, Niagara Falls, a lifetime ago.

Cooler weather prevailed for the annual weekend festival in Mid August, we always get rain in Lewiston but this year had only a brief downpour with a few minutes of sprinkles several times on Sunday. The sun shined brightly on my work though, as I was awarded a prize and an Honorable Mention ribbon in painting for this plein air, a view to the west side of Tuscarora State Park, looking across the creek, the water had a Caribbean color in brilliant sun which reflected into the spring trees.

Tuscarora Caribe, oil, 11x14 2011

Friday, September 28, 2012

Flying wet painting

The Towpath Plein air weekend paintout was held in Tonawanda and North Tonawanda, in the area of the Erie Canal. My painting named 'Morning Canal',was donated to Partners in Art Gallery for the Carnegie Art Center fundraiser, and was sold. Making the spirit of painting work, by supporting local projects is a goal to keep in mind.

The day this was painted was fairly windy and I often put my hand up to keep the easel steady in the gusts. Frequently, we step back from our work to see how it is progressing, one of those times it took off in a gust, tumbling end over end like a miscast frisbee and landing about 10 feet away, 'butter side' down on the lawn. A boater, watching just below me on the dock stood frozen with two hands up to her face as she watched it take off, muttering loudly, 'ooooh, ohhhh'. To me, it was just another plein air event to deal with and the painting bears some evidence of its adventure, a little dirt and some grass lines that add to the honesty of the art. I suppose if I was painting a bit closer to the canal I would have learned whether old wood houses can float.

Morning Canal, 10x8, oil, 2012

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Youngstown Yacht Club mishap

Kathy Schifano, Kath, Yellow Truck at Youngstown Yacht Club
There is a good reason I did not post this picture when I painted it last Spring.

Annually, there are opportunities to paint near the yacht club, this time we went when the yard was full of owners painting boat bottoms, sprucing up woodwork and boats being lowered into the river. I had previously painted a wonderful pastel of a sailboat in progress (sold) and was interested in staying in the shade to paint this time. I chose a cool shady spot near a large sailboat that was a long way from being ready to sail, there were drop cloths and tools around it, a ladder against the side and it was fully up on blocks from winter storage.

The truck painting was nearly finished after lunchtime, the two different yellows of the frame and the old chassis had been fun to paint. There were also several boats painted in the water, moored on the anchored buoy balls, but I removed them as they seemed distracting in the composition. As I touched up the water, a huge amount of foul liquid poured over me and my easel, I was sure someone on board my shading boat had dumped a bucket over the rail. I heard a gurgle and grabbed my easel to the side as more water shot out the bilge hole in the side of the boat, filthy water that had sat in the bottom of the boat all winter, including mold, grease, bugs and antifreeze, the same garbage that had been ejected onto me. Apparently the battery was just attached and the bilge pumps itself automatically with power. Realizing the extent of the filth..and the smell...I scrubbed myself in Carol Mathewson's studio, fortunately the nicest best supplied washing area we had ever painted near.

The painting did not fare as well. The grease sat on the surface while the water ran off easily. It took me a long time to clean and repair the painting and I cannot verify it as quality materials or archival supplies. But at least now I can laugh about it.

Yellow Truck at RCYC. oil on board 8x10 2012

Roswell Park Paintout Weekend

 Roswell Park's plein air weekend started with rain so I found an overhang with a view and donated this 14x11, titled 'Cheese Truck Lunch'. Note the yellow truck! Of all the fun food trucks in Buffalo, I least expected the cheese truck to spend the day at the hospital entrance. I was also attracted to the flagpole and the reflection of the flag in the window as well as the blue street signs, neither of which show up well in the photograph.

The painting was donated to Roswell along with a second painting of their Black Eyed Susans in the garden, painted on the second day. I love to paint, but the studio can get pretty crowded with a sreason of wet oil paintings spread out to dry on every surface, so this is a perfect solution. Go paint, enjoy the day outside with my easel, and leave it to be sold and raise funds for Cancer Research. 

Cheese Truck Lunch, oil, 11x14 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Storm Surf Oil Painting

ocean painting
Waves arrive in sets of three and bunches of nine, and it is easiest to see this when they are big. One night we had some rain, but the real storm stayed at sea, churning the water and sending great surf water onto the beaches. Surfers watch and count these waves and in Long Beach and Atlantic Beach different areas are reserved for surfers each week. You cannot see any surfers in this tiny reproduction, they would have been all over this painting if this was a surfing beach that week.

I painted this early, while the storm clouds were still visible, rolling out to the southeast. By the time I finished, they were just spots on the horizon and the sun was burning off the mist and haze. The waves stayed rough for most of the day and most of the swimmers stayed close to shore, playing in the surf where it was shallow.
Morning After the Storm, 11x14 oil 2012

Jetties at Long Beach, Long Island

ocean painting
Another glorious week spent at Long Beach, New York allowed me to continue studying the jetty at Ohio Street. It changes with the tides and the light, the time of day and the pounding surf. Waves come in faster as high tide approaches and recede faster when the tide goes out. As the powerful salt water reaches the edge of the jetty the sand swirls around and over the rocks, it covers and exposes them in a new way each day. The beach and sand is higher on the east side of all the jetties, lower on the west. To this day, the value of jetties to reduce beach and land erosion has not been determined or proven.
Ocean painting, jettyLast month I was intrigued by the waves crashing on the furthest rocks, making giant rooster tails that twisted and reversed as they crashed onto other rocks or back into the sea. This visit found me exploring in paint the inside end that you see here. These sites are both painted at the same location from a little different angle and different times of day. Morning sun lights up the algae and grasses and water, but an overcast sky softens those colors in the second picture.  Various rocks are covered and uncovered by sand each day as seagulls and sandpipers scavenge and flit about the shore.

Incoming Tide, oil 8x10 2012
LowTide Jetty, oil 8x10 2012

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuscarora State Park on Lake Ontario

Kath Schifno
After two weeks of painting travels, schedule conflicts and distractions I am pleased to be home and back on schedule with the Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters and hope to rejoin my Thursday group as well. Unfortunately I missed several of my favorite locations this summer, but I did get to Tuscarora State Park with our group.

I found a clean and smooth log to sit on which turned out to be quite lumpy after the first hour as well as the high speed runway for carpenter ants and other beach creatures. After my time in the mountains with assorted unnamed critters, the ants were no problem as long as they only crossed my lap.

Sitting low in the shade, my view of Lake Ontario early in the morning was clear and colorful, the horizon was like a deep green streak against the blue sky, as the water came toward shore it changed several times in long bands, getting darker and lighter until weak bits of waves nibbled at the shore, barely creating a wake and not much more than a ripple at times. An assortment of grey and tan rocks at the water's edge balance the uneven clouds drifting over the water. Just another beautiful day!

Rainbow Lake oil 10x20, 2012

Friday, August 3, 2012

My newest email newsletter!

Kath Schifano, August 2012 news
Getting ready for Lewiston Art Festival and an evening at the Youngstown Yacht Club with my art and a few other artists, it is time to get out my first newsletter of the year. Considering the number of repeating emails we get, I cannot be bothering anybody with this one!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ocean Painting, Long Island, NY

c. kathy schifano
At the end of Ohio Street in Long Beach, Long Island, a well worn jetty of massive rocks tangles with waves and tides to maintain the beach, just one of a series of jetties on this barrier island.

This ocean spot brought me back to growing up nearby, when Jones Beach was my playground, piles of friends jammed into cars or onto the bus, sometimes hitching a boat ride across the bay to get to the ocean. White sand for miles, huge waves and the smell of coconut oil mixed with blasting radios defined my summers.

A hot and sunny week in Long Beach was an opportunity to study the waves and tides and record a series of paintings around this jetty. Morning and evening visits with both oils and pastels created a challenge, to catch the perfect wave, observe the splash of a breaking wave and the colors of sky and sea.

Tide on the Jetty, pastel 9x12 2012

Friday, July 27, 2012

Asgaard Farm in the Adirondacks

Asgaard Farm painting
c. K Schifano
Ausable Forks is the home of Asgaard Farm, which is the location of Rockwell Kent's artist studio. The studio was interesting as it was presented just as he left it, brushes and paints in plain sight, unfinished paintings and all the accoutrements of an artist in a secluded cabin in the woods. It has been carefully preserved by the farm's owners who also have cows, chickens, lots of goats, horses, tremendous fields rolling into the distance, artisan cheeses, goat soap, fresh eggs and meats all managed on their certified organic farm.

Since this is such a large working farm, there were tractors and silos, a variety of buildings, fenced and open areas, animals and gardens all around the 1500 acre spread including deep forests, rolling hills and fields for cattle and crops. It was impossible to choose one thing to paint and there were 48 artists set up to paint as well, we had decided to have the group photo taken there. After walking around, I chose an old milk can minding a quiet spot in the center of several farm buildings, it turned out that behind the white doors were a flock of goats occasionally making goat noises, and they quieted as I sat and drew.

Much later, I learned that the goats escaped, trampling and eating the entire herb garden, surrounding the artists working on the opposite side of the barn. A single riderless horse galloped around them, much like a sheepdog and herded them into an area with buckets of feed that they also got into before they went through a gate and were safely rounded up. My friends took many photos of this melee, I am amazed that I was so close and missed all the action as the photographs are hilarious. Imagine quietly sitting with paint and suddenly having a flock of goats circling your easel!

I bought goat cheeses, of course, two dozen beautiful colorful eggs and some fresh caramels which hardly lasted to the end of the ride home.

While Goats Ran Wild pastel 9x12, 2012

Publisher's Invitational 2.0 2012

c. K Schifano
Another invitation to paint with artists near the Trinity Lakes in the huge Adirondack park got me packing and driving 6 hours in June. THis time, we didn't drive hundreds of miles during the week to the well known Hudson River School of Artists sites, that was my focus last year. Instead, I tried to capture some of the sights of the Adirondack Park that make it memorable, a place to return and rejoice in nature, year after year. I found pleasure in roadside streams, long vistas and beautiful farms, the contrast between open sunny fields and dappled light of deep woods as well as the lakes and mountains.
Reviewing my camera memory cards, I found daily records of the ever changing morning light on St. Regis mountain as I walked to breakfast as well as dozens of rocks and huge boulders sitting in streams, on roadsides and buried in mountain walls. At one spot, I set my camera to movie and turned 360' to record the lake, stream, woods and animal sounds at my spot. Listening and looking at the film at home I am amazed at the variety and volume of the birds recorded.
I walked a little into the woods off a back road and painted this birch tree rooted on the shore, it was surrounded by pine needles from massive evergreens that had been there for generations. It was quiet and meditative, only a single car could be heard during the entire painting process.

c. K Schifano
Miles of Mountains, pastel 6x12, c. 2012
Sun Salutation, pastel 9x12, c. 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I do on my vacation.

Kathy Schifano, ocean plein air
Staying just half a block from the ocean, I spent a week of mornings and evenings painting the tides and this jetty, thank goodness for the umbrella! I have decided that the only thing I really NEED to paint is water, the more action the better.

I also realized that as an Aquarius, I was raised on Long Island, live on Grand Island and never lived further than 3 blocks from the Niagara for 22 years living in Niagara Falls. This painting included several surfers and was sold with wet paint from the easel. I love when that happens, a person loves the work I do and makes a decision on the spot. Since I was traveling home the same day it was especially nice to have one less (actually two) paintings to transport. Will post photos of the artworks next.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Niawanda Park's 9th Annual Art on the Riverwalk

Kathy Schifano painting at Riverwalk, Tonawanda
Spectacular weather along the Niagara river combined with a Sunday art show in Tonawanda was an opportunity to paint plein air at my tent and chat with viewers about the process. Nearly full sun along the river while my pictures were set up under shade trees with a picnic table and water and parking right there made it perfect.
I started this picture when a couple placed their chairs in the shade and left for a while. Just as I was ready to work on the chairs, they returned and remained for quite a while while I was painting. It tookk a long time to finish, I had to stop frequently to talk to visitors and friends who visited the tent, so I appreciate that they stayed until the figures were completed.
c. K Schifano

The Polka Dot Chair, pastel 12x9, 2012

Friday, July 6, 2012

ADK Mountain School Painters and Me

Recently returned from an invitational paint week with the publisher of 'Plein Air' and 'Fine Art Connoisseur' magazines, we made headlines in the Adirondack newspaper. I am the fourth in the front row, with hat and sunglasses. We were all painting at lovely Asgaard Farm when this photo was taken.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

On the road, Adirondack painting

Kathy Schifano, Adirondack plein air
Publisher's Paintout 2.0 2012 is now over and I am back home with 8 new paintings, so it's up to the studio to mat and frame and finish whatever needs touch ups after traveling. I found this photo of me in Facebook, with the Adirondack Mountain School of Painters at Heavenly Hills Farm, an amazing spread with mountain views in every direction, a lovely white mansion available for non profits and meetings and miles of rolling fields of freshly cut hay bales. Can you tell I like it there? I oil painted a 5x7 plan, followed by 16x12 of the same scene with a little adjustments for composition. The two paintings have completely different colors because the light changed from clear, as you see it here, to misty distance, so the second painting is lighter and more pastel. Same day, same picture, but I don't chase the light and I just paint how I see it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Beaver Island State Park Casino

Kathy Schifano, Beaver Island Casino painting
Kath Schifano c. 2012
Beaver Island State Park, at the south end of Grand Island is an artist's playground with boardwalk and beach, golf course, woodland trails, mature evergreens and hardwoods, busy marina and sports facilities.

Years ago, the 'Casino' was a big old historic log built clubhouse with fireplaces big enough to set a table for 6 on its hearth. About 10 years after it burned the state built this smaller building with large lovely side porches. There are frequent weddings here and the music spills outside from the lovely dining room.

I have also painted from the porch, but on this occasion I liked the Spring colors in the flowering trees against the deep color of the building. I gave my previous Casino painting to Jamie and Mike Fortunate as their wedding there last year was beautiful and the reception was fantastic and lively.

Beaver Island Casino 9x12 pastel

Wilson Tuscarora State Park Secret Spot

c. Kath Schifano 2012
Wilson Tuscarora State Park has a main entrance, road to activities and parking lots, but it also has a 'secret' entrance about 1/2 mile east. I pulled my car onto the grass and walked through a meadow, up a hill and along a wooded path to find my fellow painters at work in an amazing secluded area. Sherrill Primo had hiked here and suggested it as a good plein air location, I think I could return there all year with so many views of water, hills, flowers, reeds and wildlife to choose from.

There were a number of trees downed by beavers as well as a few that had been started over the years. This was my first paint out in a beaver area so I was attracted to the pointed tree stumps like litter in the area. This painting shows three of my fellow Niagara Frontier plein air painters at work, Sandy Heath, Sherrill Primo and Carol Carreno in the distance. Sandy was safe from that dead tree trunk falling as it was firmly caught in the live tree. Several other painters were around, some in the woods and others along the stream.

It was a mix and match weather kind of day, sun and shade and a horrendous rainstorm that appeared just as we packed up. A bit of water is quite cooling after painting!

After the Beavers, 12x16 pastel 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back to the Adirondacks

High Falls, plein air pastel, K.Schifano c.2012
Last June, I was invited to Plein Air Magazine's Publisher's Paintout 2.0 and spent 5 days chasing the locations of the original Hudson River School of Painters. Besides opportunity for friendship with artists from around the country and as far as Russia, I pushed myself to climb mountains, slide down wet rocky slopes and bravely paint in the rain every day.

High Falls, plein air pastel, K.Schifano
The High Falls was spectacularly tall, my painting shows about 2/3 of the drop, and access to it was by at least 300 rickety wood steps that twisted and skirted the wall of the gorge. I completed the smaller painting on site, the larger oil was my winter studio project. I rarely paint from my own work, so the lack of detailed information recorded in the small pastel was difficult to transfer to a 4 foot tall canvas, a challenge I really enjoyed. The oil painting was exhibited at Partners in Art Gallery in North Tonawanda, framed in wood, it dominated the rich red wall across from the entrance at the Buffalo Niagara Artist Association Spring show.

Most of the painters chose a similar view of the scene and it was a rare treat to have so many paintings by various artists in the 'viewing room' that evening. Now I am looking forward to my return; familiar with some of the locations, I will bring some experience with me this year.

High Falls, plein air pastel 12.5x9.5, 2012
High Falls ADK, oil 48"x24", 2012

Youngstown Yacht Club

New Old Sailboat, Kath Schifano c.2012
Two consecutive Mondays were scheduled for the Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters at the Youngstown Yacht Club, but Spring is a super busy time for the boat keepers and workers; owners were painting their boat bottoms and sailboats were moved around to enter the water for a new sailing season.

This 1960's wood beauty had recently come into the yard, its sturdy mast was not yet mounted and lay on the ground nearby. The proud new boat owner had attached two American flags to catch the breeze. I was attracted to the various reds on the paint as the morning sun came over the hill and through the trees. This spot was in full sun and the reds appeared more orange with the yellow cast from the afternoon sun light. This beautiful red sailboat will catch a lot of attention in the water, I hope to see it in action soon.

New Old Sailboat, pastel 12.5x9.5 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hazards of plein air

I painted yesterday at the yacht club in the shade of a docked sailboat. A worker inside attached the boat battery and the auto-bilge kicked on and dumped a winters worth of antifreeze, diesel and fungi on me, my painting and easel. Fortunately I moved before it started pumping the rest of it. Stinky, and the guys there will have a funny story for years to come. (they were very apologetic to me, but I can hear them laughing in the future anyway). My painting has interesting waterproof speckles, not sure if I will keep it.
Art news & pictures at

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Niagara River Paintings

I just posted 13 new paintings on Facebook, linked HERE, it has been a wonderful Spring for painting as my painting friends seemed to have scheduled all the nice days.

These two were painted by inspiration. I usually carry my plein air supplies in the car, even when I transport passengers and luggage there is a tiny watercolor set ready to capture the moment.

I had run my Niagara Falls errands when the 'big magnet at the Falls' lured my car there...for just a Spring peek. It turned into a long afternoon on a bench and I am so glad I went. It seems like I paint this scene every year but it looks different every time. The bushes and trees on the islands had not filled in yet and I could see between them.

Buckhorn marsh is a lonely place to paint, in fact Spring is probably the best time to go, I can see so much further without trees full of leaves. I knew it would have more people exploring on this fine warm Spring day so I felt safe and headed out for the afternoon. The combination of warm air and cool water created a soft mist on the river, I could barely see the Skylon tower or tall buildings. Although some bushes have sprouted, the cattails and marsh grasses are still asleep.

Interrupted by Spring-the Curve, 12x16, pastel c. 2012
Buckhorn's Island Bridge 4x6, oil c. 2012

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My most recent art show!

 Burchfield Penney Art Center invited area member artists to display their creative art work, naming the show 'Artists Among Us'. 669 responded to the call for work and a great opening night on May 18th featured crowds of artists and guests from one end of the huge building to another. Both Carl and I are included in this show, due to stay at the museum for a few months.

I took the pictures before we found our pictures, my tall vertical composition 'Shadow on the Pulpit' is nearly visible in the second photo bottom right, next to the portrait. Carl's digital collage, 'The Path' is right around the corner attracting a large crowd of admirers!
K. Schifano 'Shadow on the Pulpit'

Monday, May 14, 2012

Titan Arum Flower at Niagara Parks, Canada

Kath Schifano painting the Titan Arum background
On May 4, I drove to Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse in Ontario, Canada, to sketch the giant Titan Arum that was about to bloom. It is commonly called a 'Corpse Plant' because while it blooms it smells like rotten meat to attract insects. There were tables nearby, so I sat with my travel watercolor set and visited the wonderful bulb, observing some of its expansion and swelling as I opened later that evening and the giant stinky bloom lasted just the next day. Painting, I was able to watch the ribs expand, showing more red undercolor by the time I left. There is a second bulb behind it which will open soon and has been moved to the front. They have a wonderful step by step blog with photos here, the first one reached 95" in height. It was on the news so many visitors came in while I was working, sometimes I had to wait until the crowd thinned to see the flower. Placing the man taking a photo with his phone was so easy, as he walked away, another came to look and take the same photo.

One of the nice things about the Floral Showhouse is the resident birds, they have hidden birdhouses indoors and there are many songbirds of various colors for entertainment, at first I thought it was a recording. My two photos are only 30 minutes apart, look carefully and see how the base is expanded in the second photo. I probably missed the opening by only 2-3 hours, but I plan to return for the second one. These are very rare, the 150 pound bulb was planted in January and grew a few inches each day. If you choose to go, it is just upriver from the Horseshoe Falls, near Dufferin Islands, not at the floral clock or butterfly conservatory.
Kath Schifano, photo

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Serendipity Success

Kath Schifano, orchid painting
c. Kath Schifano 2012
Different in technique from other Botanical Gardens paintings, this orchid spray deserves an explanation. The orchid room is attractive and comfortable for painting because of the variety and profusion of colors and textures with dramatic lines. The room also has left and right areas to set up where there is less traffic.

However, there is a persistent loud fan that drives me crazy, so I often choose to work in other rooms. Not this time. A dramatic orchid was placed in front of deep dark large leaves to emphasize its subtle shapes and dramatic beauty, I could not resist. Unfortunately, the heat and cold and weather changes in the humid environment create artistic hazards. In this case, big fat plops of condensation on the window grid above started to drip, spread the colors and splash. Well, the fan noise was already driving me batty, so I packed up and went home, where I continued to work on the ruined sections with a wet brush and a careful hand. I liked the effect, so I continued to paint with water as well as dry pastels and decided to go no further with the background. I like the 3-D effects of the plant and the mystery of the purples. I would love to have a stem of these cymbidium orchids in water in my home, it lasts for months.
Orchids on the Endcap, 18x12 pastel, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Light & Shadow on a Niagara Falls Closeup

c. Kath Schifano 2012
The first official NFPAP paintout may well have been the best weather of our paint season. It was brilliantly sunny and close to 80' in Mid March, although it was cooler working next to the water.

Studying the rocks and water from above Luna Island, I  painted two pastels, one early before the sun shined on the water and rocks, and the second in afternoon sunlight. All the tourists kept asking about painting the rainbow when it moved with the sun's motion from the lower left corner, up and to the right, until it went out of my sightline. I gave it a try and this is the first rainbow that I have tried that is believable, it does not look like an artificial afterthought. Agree?

c. Kath Schifano 2012
Roiling, pastel 12x16, 2012
Roiling PM, pastel 9.5x12.5, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

A favorite spot at The Falls, 132 years apart

 I went to paint at Three Sisters because I had seen this painting by William Morris Hunt in the Ball State University Museum, in Indiana. I wanted to paint the same view but the first bridge was built right where Hunt stood and the view was blocked. No way would I stand in the water to make my painting match his. Although the water is but a trickle now it is illegal to enter any of the waterways in the state park, it is a sure way to guarantee drowning or jail. I did take photographs. You can see the painting that resulted in my March 2 post, a scene off the second bridge.

This is the Hermit falls, the center distant treeline in WIlliam Morris Hunt's powerful painting is now a parking lot on the end of Goat Island, a walking path and a tram follow the water. The major rocks can still be seen on the east side of the bridge. The third picture, my photo, shows the scene in February as I reached my camera around the edge of the bridge. The water diverted for  electric power would have scrubbed away the small plants and bushes with a much higher water level and pressure. Soon there will be trees in the water's crevices.