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!

Late Fall at Niagara

painting Niagara Falls, American Falls

Last November, I joined Jacq Baldini at the overlook bridge to paint the Falls. It was a true Fall day, chilly, breezy and a bit of rain as well but we were able to set up behind a glass windbreak wall on the bridge that didn't impede the hardy tourists who joined us. 

The first picture shows my picture on the easel on location with my view. The second is the painting in proper lighting, we were in a corner. I am so happy with my painting that I chose it for my new business card. Not every painting is a 'keeper' but once in a while I feel I have made an exceptional beauty.

kschifano, painting Niagara, American falls

Power, 12x18 pastel on Wallis, c.2016

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Garret Club

Invited to display paintings at the lovely Garret Club in Buffalo, I was given two walls to show work near the grand piano. I chose to use one for botanical images and the other for local scenes and landscapes. This was a good opportunity to talk with groups of people who appreciated art and had interesting questions and comments. It was particularly nice to carry less home than I brought to the club. They asked me to leave the work up for more than a month. I like to have a group of paintings out at the same time, it leaves me a bit of room in the studio to reorganize and rearrange. I have a rule, no nail shall stand alone, so every lonely nail is given a new painting.

The Plein Air Force Houston

Houston artists

If you have heard me talk about the lack of unique character in suburban Houston, you have probably also heard me say that a painting can be found anywhere. This is just around the corner from Robin's street, a wide greenway lined with a row of evergreens. I have sketched here before as it is an outside street of a planned neighborhood and a good place to practice perspective; trees, houses, powerlines, parked cars, and the street all converge at a single distant point.

After a neighborhood walk the afternoon light was right and I brought my half French easel out to the shady corner, followed soon by Ian and Amelia with paper, lap desks, drawing supplies and their FURNITURE for comfort. It is humbling to be reminded that kids have no limits, no worries about appearance or rules, they just get involved. Hearing the chairs drag down the sidewalk, seeing them scramble to hold their artist odds and ends and grinning and eager to work with Grammy, I wish I had that picture. We all worked in the quiet, greeting occasional neighbors checking us out, dog walkers,  and cars slowing.

Amelia painted with her set of new brush markers and left sky holes in the trees and light marks on the tree trunks. It wasn't because I did this, it was because she was looking at what was in front of her. A lesson well learned. She wasn't sure what to draw and I said "just do whatever you are looking at."   
One of my very best days.

The Trees Across the Street, brush markers  9x12 c. Amelia

Across the Street @10x12 oil on Arches paper 
I titled this post Plein Air Force because there is a movement of that name to get everyone involved, to get people out, to try drawing and painting from life.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Carnegie Workshop

The Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters created a workshop to educate the public about plein air and encourage more to share our activities, enjoy outdoors and create paintings. Even before the scheduled start time, interested  people were looking around, asking questions and collecting handouts as well as Plein Air magazine and the Liliedahl video catalog, both donated by the publisher for our event.

My talk was about various ways to pack and organize, how to eliminate extra weight and pare down the amount of supplies to paint outdoors. The display included a half French Easel, Guerilla Boxes, Laptop Pochades and even a tiny oil color set in a doll size suitcase box. People enjoyed seeing box adjustments including handles, brush holders, strategic holes drilled and different ways to organize for pastels and paint.

Waiting for Warm, Late Winter Plein Air

Perhaps life gets hectic when the weather warms. At least, I think it does, but winter has its own slower pace. Right now I am ready for the busy painting schedule that NFPAP has put together, so I have been playing with a variety of different materials.

The first painting is from an upstairs window view. A little bit of snow and a lot of sunshine inspired me to capture the blue shadows of the biggest cottonwood tree I have ever seen. It is at least three times the height of a two story peaked roof. About 100-150 feet away and across the street, if it ever came down we would have a huge mess and a bit of damage. I see this tree out of every window in the front, and it fills my view from bed as well. This was a pastel experiment, the paper had too much texture for me, perhaps I should have used the back. I think the same painting in oil would be more successful.

The second is a front seat in the car painting. I parked along the Robert Moses, recently renamed the Niagara River Parkway. A fairly gray and quiet day, the Niagara plume hovered in the gorge making the buildings of Niagara Falls Ontario appear to float or sit on the mist.  A famous chimney has been moved to the river side of the road and was given its own parking lot as well. It is a good place to just look and think.

Shadows of My Dreams, pastel 9x12 c.K Schifano
Niagara river, kath Schifano, Niagara Falls
A Chimney's View watercolor 6x9, c.K Schifano

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The March Exhibit announcement

The Dispatch posted this about the show. We just returned from Houston so I hadn't seen the paper on Friday, but on Saturday morning it was the subject of yoga class. I guess they recognized my photo even though we usually are upside down or have our eyes closed. Thanks to the paper for printing this announcement from the library.

Naturally, Grand Island

Living on an Island? Surrounded by water, and blessed with two state parks, overlooks and rural areas,  and some interesting views make it very easy to display a collection of Island paintings. There are nearly 30 paintings in this show at Grand Island Memorial Library and all of them represent Grand Island scenes. Except for the two florals every picture was made outdoors, between the bridges.

I couldn't help but title this exhibit "Naturally, Grand Island". I am so blessed to have so much beauty to surround me. Although a few paintings are from close to home, I could fill another exhibit with works that show the changing seasons right in my own yard. Missing a few labels and the sign, this is how the paintings look this month on the day they were hung.