Thursday, August 31, 2017


 Wow. I saw pictures on FB, a lovely color spread in the Buffalo News, how could I resist? 

A few weeks ago my favorite painting of sunflowers was purchased for a presentation at Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center. When I saw photos of this field I knew it was time to paint more sunflowers. A chance to see another field involved several hours of driving so I didn't go. Now I could find one 15 minutes from home in Sanborn.

This field was just an idea last year, farmland owner Louise thought planting sunflowers would be novel but had no idea it would turn into a media event. I met her kids and friends as well as dozens of people stopping on the road to take selfies and family photos, a pro photographer was shooting a model with reflection umbrellas and Channel 4 news appeared. (I was interviewed) Cars lined both sides of the street and the mood was jubilant, how could one not be overjoyed to engage with acres of yellow?

Yellow isn't a common color to use  a lot on my palette when Plein Air painting, yellow items often look more tan unless it is fall leaves. This was an opportunity to collect all my out cool and warm yellow sticks, some hot golden orange with some purple for shadows, light blue to capture the leaf lights. Why ever I selected terra cotta red for my background is unknown but I love the contrast. 

This pastel painting is still taped to the board, waiting for the decision, stop now or keep working. It's looking pretty fine in my house right now.
Louise, responsible for this lovely event.

 A panorama that doesn't do justice to the size of this field of flowers. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Carl Judson visits Niagara Falls

Guerrilla Painter and Judsons Art Outfitters are well known suppliers of plein air materials. Judsons is a family businesses, you deal directly with them when you place an order. Carl Judson often travels to conventions, art events and paintouts in his very cool personalized truck. Several years ago I invited him to stay with me and speak to NFPAP while he was in the area, visiting Hyatts and Partners in the Arts. He joined us again on this trip east. We were lucky to meet Sarah this time, she had joined him for part of his trip.     

The evening they arrived, we took a walking tour of Niagara Falls to see the nightly fireworks. It was a warm and misty summer night and the occasional breeze from the east brought a soaking mist which left us fairly drenched at the Horseshoe Falls. The air was filled with static and our hair stood up straight, except for Carl Judson who was smart enough to wear a hat.

Carl and Sarah Judson, Me, Carl Schifano
The next morning, Kelly Buckley hosted us at the radio station for her WJJL talk show and WNY heard about his roundabout experiences leading to the design of his first plein air box, or pochade. It is always a treat to talk to Kelly, on the radio and off and I am glad this opportunity occurred.

Carl Judson at WJJL interview
That afternoon he gave an art talk at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center. He presented many slides of new and familiar painters and the styles they used, talking about expressing personal vision and showing plein air as a natural progression in art history.

It was a day of torrential rain and my phone was texted, "our car turned around with a broken wiper" and "I can't get through the deep water on my street". I think our enthusiastic but wet crowd of 25 might have been much larger without the unusual weather. Driving with Carl in his truck, there were moments of no visibility even at very slow speed. After the presentation there was an interesting question and answer discussion.
Charlie Hunter's painting made an appearance
Before the Judsons left, we talked a bit about my own work, this oil painting was displayed in my hallway and it went with them to Colorado. One of my favorites (I have many favorites), it is "From the Porch at 39 Ohio".  After a week of painting ocean and jetty paintings I was charmed by this morning view of sunflowers across the street. It inspired me to make one last painting on the day we left the beach. Returning there this year, there are only two sunflowers left, a lawn was planted and all that remains is this picture.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Calendars return for 2018

Surprise! They are back. In 2006 I printed 50 calendars for friends and I sold some to help pay my expenses for the cases and the print shop. For the next ten years Carl continued to layout 12 new images to publish and many were purchased for gifts or personal use and others I gave to repeating customers and friends and family. The number of printed calendars went up through the years and they were sold in gallery and museum shops.  No one is going to get rich doing this but it is a pleasure to share my paintings and hear what people like.

I decided to skip the year 2016 and was surprised by some very upset people! Actually I missed having the calendar myself and used a 2006 set again as the dates matched this year. Some people mailed requests for refills and I had to send them the 'no calendars' message. 

January shows my favorite new Falls painting, a pastel named 'Power' which I also put on my new business cards.

If you are interested I am ready to fill orders. $12 for a refill, or $14 for a calendar in its unique stand up case. Text, email, call or comment!

Finding quiet on the Richmond roundabout

 Kleinhan's music hall, Symphony Circle, Olmsted Parkway system, where am I? 

Behind the big old First Presbyterian church with a recently restored bell tower is a secluded entrance. A small garden was growing near the sidewalk. The elegant birches growing against dark medina sandstone bricks stood out like spotlights and the stained glass glimmered a bit from the interior lights. It was so peaceful away from the traffic circle. There was even a table for me to settle my art supplies. So that is where I chose to paint, at peace in the midst of the city.

Keystones at First Presbyterian, 12x16 oil on board, c.2017

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