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