Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Urban Sketching

 On River Road, across from Smith Boys Marina.

 Urban sketching is actually internationally recognized as a form of art. Working in a small sketchbook, with the time that I have, I capture whatever is in front of me. These are permanent and archival pen drawings, embellished with a bit of watercolor. Neat, clean, easy to store.

A friend's hollyhocks against the house.

Across from Bidwell Market.

Lewiston Art Festival 2017


On my way, packed safely and ready to go. This car is a bit smaller, by about 1/3 than my previous SUV so the tent, display walls and art is here, but our chairs, side tables and rain umbrellas are in Carl's car.

The whole shebang, on Saturday at a quiet moment. This picture is often difficult to take as the crowds in Lewiston fill the street. On Sunday we rehung the left and right walls by switching them.
My favorite wall! I did a series exploring color combinations. It started in a Marla Bagetta workshop but I kept painting the same scene, limiting my palette to a very few pastel shades and tints. 8 of these little paintings are the same composition!

Billy Wilson park

Peaceful days in the park create memories. This outing was a return to Billy WIlson Park, a marshy and wooded wetlands with wonderful boardwalks about 4 feet above the forest floor. It is a great place for a peaceful walk, a stroll with children or to stop and paint. There is an occasional bench as well as wide areas to set up an easel. Geese cackle and squawk and lift off with loud splashes from the pond to fly in great circles overhead.
This is a very symmetrical depiction of the walkway from the grassy area. I was attracted by the green grasses of this year pushing up between long golden grasses of fall's stalks, their reflections in the water and the distant light on them.

plein air in the park, trees frame a picture, green and blue
Bridge at Billy Wilson Park, 9x12 oil on canvas panel c. K Schifano 2017

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer Tourist trapped!

Kathy Schifano
Friday on the Overlook
I stole an afternoon and paid the dollar entry fee to paint on the overlook bridge by Prospect Park at Niagara Falls with Rachelle. Apparently a zillion tourists had the same idea.

We nestled against the tower elevator wall, out of sight to many and out of everyone's way as well but they found us. As usual, kids had the most interest and were often pulled away by parents eager to see the waterfalls but not interested in leaving their children behind. 

Rachelle Duzynski at work with pastels
One particular family spent time watching, asking questions and sincerely admiring Rachelle's pastel of the American falls. She hadn't painted in a very busy public area before and wasn't hearing the conversation, I wasn't aware how intense the crowded bridge was for her. The Granddad said his 42nd anniversary was coming and wanted to buy her (very unfinished) painting as a gift. Suddenly aware, she thought he wanted mine. It wasn't until the child was sent to get money from Grandma that the reality set in. What fun, first time in a crowd and her first sale off the easel! 

Afterwards, I added a bit of warm color to the river and the mist, not shown in the first photo. And yes, the Maid of the Mist is that small by the tremendous Niagara Falls.
Our view of both waterfalls from our spot
Rachelle Duzynski"s painting, sold to a Texan tourist.

Urban sketching at Bidwell Market

I went to the Bidwell Saturday market and bought a fruited ice tea and some vegetables and looked around for an inspiration. It turned out to be Cafe Aroma and Talking Leaves Books across Elmwood Avenue. I had new waterproof fadeless pens and a sketchbook set in the car. A large tree provided shade for my chair.

The farmer's booths were closer to the park's edges so I wasn't in a busy spot. As I drew, people came in and out of the cafe, some seated outside, bicycles and dogs, carriages and wheelchairs were all in and out, giving me choices. The curve of the building was an interesting challenge, windows were varied, and there was a lot of detail at the first floor roofline such as columns, brickwork, decorative plaques, lamps and signs. 

The best part of my day was an itchy feeling on my heel by my shoe strap which I ignored at first. Suddenly it was painful, like a cat digging claws in hard! I looked down at a cicada attempting to crawl my lovely leg while I painted watercolor on the picture. They have huge sharp grabber feet to climb trees. Having lots of cicada experience on Long Island, I removed him or her to the tree trunk, where it began a long climb up the ragged bark. At about 4 feet, it began to molt, I forgot to look at the bug's progress before I left, but I am sure the shell is still on the tree. I didn't hear it fly away and regret not looking back. As more land it developed there are fewer cicadas, their 13 or even 17 year wait to come out of the ground has been abbreviated by humanity.


A new site!


Reinstein Woods in Cheektowaga is simply another WNY jewel. It is tucked between several popular roads but seems like it is in the midst of a wilderness. Even the approach to the park is rural, the parking lot has a huge solar panel in the middle to power an information board. The visitors building is a short pleasant walk from the car.

Several paths led to water or woods and I met up with East Aurora and NFPAP painters on a path between two water features, a marsh and a pond. I didn't go any further than this turn in the path, it was so tranquil and rustic. this was my first time here and I will return next time a paint out is scheduled.

As quiet as the park is, several young groups came through on tours, couples walked dogs, photographers quietly snapped nature. It's fun to be an artist as people comment as they pass and then they return to see how much more has been painted. 

Path at Rienstein, 9x12 oil on birch c.2017

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Beaver Island lagoon

 Our painters met near the sledding hill of Beaver Island Park on a weekday morning. I chose to capture the lagoon instead of the mighty Niagara for several reasons. I had painted a similar scene here last year, early in the Spring. It was a lovely misty morning and the silver maples in the distance glowed light blue from across the lagoon. I was working a bit larger that day last year and I didn't finish it due to wind and weather. I had returned afterwards but so much had grown in that I would have changed the entire painting, and additional misty spring mornings had eluded me. It remains incomplete.

This time, the day was bright and the wind was a breeze. Fish were spawning along the edges of the shore and I painted to the sound of loud and frequent splashes and the sight of fins and tails writhing in shallow water. The shoreline was muddy and the current ran to the river, ringing the area with tan.

There is a camera mounted on the perch centered in the lagoon and apparently herons are nested there. Other than an occasional car, it was a silent morning, interrupted by those crazy fish splashing in the shallow water. Wish I knew if they were salmon!

Calm in the Lagoon  9x12 oil on canvas panel c. 2017

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

House Portrait with TOO MANY LEAVES!

This post starts with a review. In the Spring, I was painting outdoors in Houston and was commissioned to paint a home a few blocks from where I was working. Here is an earlier post about that day in March  and the painting I worked on then , helped by both Ian and Amelia, plein air artists in training.

Step by step, this is the house portrait in progress as I worked on it this Spring in my studio. The owners had asked me to include some particular details and some fall decor from a photo they showed me.
commission painting, house portrait
Partway through I needed more information on the structure of the house, my photos were taken in early March when the leaves were starting to fill in, she photographed in April and this is one of her photos, taken as I instructed. Oh my.
Obviously I didn't get much info about the roof or dormer as the trees had fully filled in, so I worked with the various photos I had taken in March. Notice there is stained glass upstairs, a cat in the window as well as USA and Texas flags. 

Spring Into Fall, 12x12 oil on wood, c. 2107


Thursday, June 15, 2017

It's a long story

This is "America Rocks in Sunrise". It's a view of the American Falls in oil, 24"x24 and had been purchased by Ilse Franklin for her husband Tom. She selected this one from a group of my larger Falls pictures. They placed it on the fireplace mantle, with a lovely spotlight on it and I was floored the first time I saw it displayed there, I was at their home with my book club. The large windows in this room face the gorge of the lower Niagara River but the picture is the new centerpiece, as far as I'm concerned.

The title refers to 'America Rocks' in a good way, including the music that I paint to, and the Falls' light and shadow as the sun rises in the morning. 

Now this story continues.

A few weeks ago an artist friend held a 'paint night' in their Lewiston neighborhood and both Tom and Ise went. He loved it, his painting had been hung on their wall and I was pretty impressed that it was a paint night that used the river for its subject. It was a true plein air experience as well as a paint experience for the group. His painting was actually quite well expressed, various colors were in the sky as well as reflected on the water, the green trees and lawn were varied and the trees and stone wall looked pretty spiffy as well. I told him I was impressed and he was emphatic that he wanted to paint again, he really enjoyed it. I have to thank Gabe Porto for being such a great paint teacher, especially when I learned they had just the 3 primary colors to work with. Tom must be a good listener because he had learned so much about process and color mixing.

He didn't have to work hard to convince me to come back the next week. I had been wanting to paint their spectacular view of the Niagara river and Canada for a while.  I packed a portable easel, some acrylics and various panels for him as well as my oil pochade but Tom was a little upset when I arrived. He hesitated to tell me he wanted to make a copy of my painting instead of the view, "I've been studying how you did it, I get up close, keep looking and think I can do it, I hope you don't mind, I really love the Falls" 
I thought we would work together to paint the same landscape and I would pass along some hints and techniques to add to his earlier experience in the neighbor's yard. Well, I'll still paint the scene outside and he can copy my painting, no problem there! 

After a fun career teaching art and solving other people's color and composition problems I considered giving workshops or having students but quickly decided I just wanted to paint. For me. To push paint around, start and stop on my own schedule. Everyone knows I'll answer paint questions, give advice and critique but choose not to take students, give classes or accept most workshop offers. Suddenly, I had a student copying a picture, but I still wanted to paint my own plein air. [To my artist friends, I had 3 trees, a cliff and forests in Canada across the river to paint in oil and was trying to guide him with acrylic paints and completely different colors and scene. I almost had a brain fog trying to keep the two separate in my mind and my oil brush out of the acrylic palette. No surprise that I had a margarita for lunch.]

The day was a success, I had to finish mine later in my studio, but Tom's second painting ever, of the American Falls came out quite well. I think we have one more candidate for our Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters, he just needs to do a little shopping for paints and a brush. 
Tom with his copy of my work, and the original painting on the mantle
My plein air of our view
Calm on the River, 12x16 oil on birch panel, c. K. Schifano, 2017



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright in Buffalo

Wright house Buffalo, Schifano Pastel, Schifano house
The Darwin Martin House on Jewett in Buffalo is a world renowned example of Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic prairie style. It rests there so naturally. This respected old neighborhood, full of graceful and decorated turn of the century and Victorian architecture recognizes this amazing icon as one very spectacular Buffalo building.

After $50 million in renovation since 1993, including a guest reception building of glass, replacement of the original pergola, and connection to the Barton House, we eagerly await landscape restoration. Soon, the  massive stone planters will contain tall prairie grasses, and graceful trees will frame the campus. The entire renovation project will be complete in 2018.

This pastel was completed in my studio after a plein air paint out. I stood across the street protected under a massive maple. As I drew I continued to marvel at the mathematical proportions, twos and threes, thirds and halves, repeating patterns and long horizontals, it wasn't too difficult to consider the brains of the master architect as I worked. In the studio I corrected some angles and lines and worked the painting to the edges, using my notes and memory.

Darwin Martin & FLW, pastel, 12x18 c.2017

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Buffalo Psych center becomes the Henry Hotel

I made it to HH Richardson towers yesterday to paint with NFPAP, in the driveway saw 5 painters buried in their work. I drove all the way around to the new Henry Hotel side and painted a pastel of the new and old entrance.

I went around the building late for lunch and the painters were gone. It had become difficult to work in the cold wind and they had decided to go home. It seemed much more breezy there compared to the Buff State side.  I had seen patrons and workers entering the massive doors and knew the hotel was beginning to host guests. Bravely, I entered the building, walked around, tried out the elevators, admired the fresh clean spaces and artwork; what a change from the scrappy paint peeling filthy garbage strewn floors of my last visit.

I had taken a class of high school students in the 1990's, we were investigating the building for a potential adaptive reuse with an architect. At the time, it was being considered as a magnet school. We still called it the Psych center and it had been vacant for decades, a victim of time and neglect.

The memorable part of this earlier trip was gaining entry to the highest towers, a barn sized space, almost scary dark with high windows shining into the dust laden air. There was dated graffiti from the early part of the century and a huge Bible nailed to the floor. This massive medina limestone building is a jewel of Buffalo architecture, about to fill another century with history.
Buffalo famous buildings, SchifanoMy painting needs a little more work to brighten the windows, correct some perspective and give more emphasis to the new glass entrance, but I am pleased with how I captured the late morning light on the curved facade. Just a few minutes in the studio and it will be grand.

Henry's New Hotel 12x9 pastel c. 2017

Miebohm Gallery accepts a window view

Grace Meibohm, East Aurora gallery 

After a lovely long season of plein air painting outside I was attracted to making a larger painting indoors. My corner windows in the gallery room look upon the woods and a huge set of 5 trees in the neighbor's yard which lean over the property lines and shade the roof for half the day. The long tall windows frame ever changing views in all seasons and distract me every time I pass the door. 

Using the window as a frame for my composition I moved my big easel from the studio and set it on a drop cloth to capture the colors of autumn as they rotated from green to yellow, orange, red and brown. 

This painting has been selected by Grace Meibohm into the Meibohm Gallery on Main Street in East Aurora. She is mounting a juried show of 'The Art of Native Plants' to benefit the Western New York Land Conservancy.

The exhibition is up now, the reception is June 10th and will be there until July 29. Half of my commission will go to WNYLC.

Lights of Fall, oil 30x15x3 c. 2016

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rochester Pastel Workshop

Each morning of this 3 day pastel workshop named "Color Confidence" began with a demonstration by presenter Marla Baggetta. It was a pleasure to get to know her, the creator of a series of paintings that I have admired in several magazine articles. (photo 2 shows the composition she created 100+ times)



This last one is my first afternoon's experience with crazy color experiments using structured color combinations. I later used similar restrictions in a series of Niagara Falls' Horseshoe, all 5x7. 

This workshop was a bit of a challenge to 'stay on task' and 'follow directions' but that's what I paid for and appreciate the experience and opportunity to work with Marla Baggetta. After years of NOT attending workshops I find I can always add to my repertoire of skills by listening, trying new approaches and learning from painters that I admire.

Buckhorn emerges from Winter

Pastels are so satisfying. Making marks with richly pigmented sticks makes a subtle sound on the drawing surface. The colors envelop each other, layer upon layer bits of pigment wink and chortle from beneath and add a dimension not possible with other media.

 A Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters outing to Grand Island's Buckhorn State Park contains more sights and compositions than many other locations. A simple bridge over the creek, White and Grey Herons, fishermen, wooded areas and flowering fields, the canoe launch and the wood deck can all be captured with camera or brush.

This tree is across from the canoe launch and the mild weather barely moved the water, allowing the reflections to barely ripple. I've painted this mighty oak in the brilliance of Autumn but this is the first time I considered the elegance of the bare branches.


Genuflecting to Woods Creek, 12x9 pastel c.2017

Artists Group Gallery BNAA

The Buffalo Niagara Artist Association Spring show is at Artist Group Gallery this year. I've prepared two water paintings, the smaller one is the edge of the Horseshoe Falls while the larger one (Also on the postcard) is 'my jetty' in Long Beach. Don Siuta judged the show and hung it in the two gallery rooms. My two paintings were displayed a few feet apart, the photo here is just a quick snapshot outside my studio.



Cool Mist, oil on panel 16x20 c.2016
Slack Between Tides 30x30 c.2016

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!