Tuesday, December 30, 2008


After a December Open Studio, two extra events at which my work was featured & a house full of cookies, sweets & family, I find that my recent artistic output has been limited - mostly food & decorations. A large painting of the Polechetti's pink house at 555 Pine Ave in Lockport is still in progress & has benefited from the extra time for evaluation & reflection.

I think this is the 25th year creating our Christmas cards. At first it was difficult, as we had to convince our little kids to do line drawings of Santa or trees that could be reduced & copied on the technology that was available-copy machines, one step up from a mimeograph. Color copies were next, but we could only choose ONE color! Collages, paint, glitter, photos of artwork, screen prints, individual collages, we did it all as a family each year. 25 years ago boxed envelopes came in two sizes-legal & letter, all in white. Using digital cameras with Photoshop & Adobe InDesign our cards became totally professional, we have several friends who still don't know we send them 'homemade' Christmas cards.

One thing we try to do is make card sending fun, so they often come late. Fine with me. This year is particularly busy, so although all the components are ready, the art is printed & the draft is prepared, cards are still here-for at least a few more days.

Tangled in celebration 8x6, oil 2008 - Schifano Christmas card

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dave's Painting-Niagara Falls Carnegie

This is the original Niagara Falls Carnegie library, commissioned by Dave Young as a gift for his sister, a 'Carnegie Library fan'. Carl worked here for many years & the location of my first Niagara Falls art exhibit when it was the Niagara Arts Council. 
Ever since this was commissioned, I sought other Carnegie libraries in my travels, including a trip to Pittsburgh, home of the Carnegie University & library system. One of the best examples around here is the Art center in North Tonawanda, on Goundry Street. The center entrance has a long walk & it is in a park setting with large green space on the west side.
This was a challenge because the trees & the nearby buildings made it difficult to see the entire Carnegie. Waiting for Fall, leaves fell & the structure appeared. True to my new 'tradition' one of the big trees growing there is not painted, it covered too much architecture. I tried new paints & mediums on this painting, they took forever to dry, but I was able to develop the shadows with layers of glazes in a traditional Renaissance style of application.

Niagara Falls Carnegie, oil 8x10, 2008

Open Studio Show Report

They were absolutely the coldest days of the season so far, every time the door opened the candles quivered in the wind, but it was warm around the fire & in the studio. Friends, neighbors & coworkers came to see the results of three years of painting, & proved that my customers & friends have very good taste in art. Several of the most loved Niagara Falls paintings as well other plein air from the local area went to new homes. Diane Brady found the little  jewel 'Biggest Tree in Buckhorn' on the studio shelf. I learned that a favorite subject, the Falls area, is the first choice of most everyone. At the end of the weekend there are few large Niagara Falls painting prints available. I keep my editions of prints to 10 or less copies so I will have to go & paint some new original pictures, or choose different paintings to put into a print edition.

Thank you to everyone who braved the cold, it was wonderful to hear your comments & answer questions about the art of artmaking. The wet paintings showed artistic process involved, working on large works takes two to three months while the small plein air paintings are much faster to complete. I enjoy having my studio in my home because I can pick up a brush at anytime, & also have the opportunity to bring works in progress into my living area to evaluate & fine tune the elements of art before it is finished.

Call to make arrangements to visit the studio if you were busy, all the work is available onwalls for viewing, there just won't be so many cookies!

Buckhorn's Biggest Tree, oil, 8x10, collection of Diane Brady
Niagara's Morning Mists, pastel 12x18, collection of Barbara & Dick Brzyski
Sunday AM Falls, oil, 16x20, collection of Mary Marcinkowski

Monday, November 24, 2008

Niagara Falls Teachers-Show & Sell event

We had a 'show & sell' at the Como restaurant on Thursday, and the food was spectacular, the guests were friendly & the displays were terrific. This is Dick Brzyski checking out prints with Sharon Fundalinski to his left. I shared a table with her so we could confuse everyone about our work, but they figured us out, our work is different enough & they were paying attention!
You can see the Twist O the Mist, Carnegie Library, Frontier House & 'Niagara Morning Mist' paintings.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

New paintings in Niagara Falls

Niagara Arts & Cultural Center's Winter Show opens next Friday Night with a big red door & red balloon celebration, a Hell's Kitchen cook preparing food, violinist playing to the crowd, open studios and prizes. Carl and I are each represented by two artworks.
and Kate Koperski.
The forsythia painting had won the pastel award at Market Street Art Gallery in Lockport in the Spring.

Spring Gold 2007  12x18, pastel  2007
Winter-EastWest Road in Buckhorn 22x30 oil, 2008 [formerly titled 'The Road to Work']

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Family Justice Center, Buffalo NY

One's pastel, the other is oil, both were painted on location with the Fairweather Paletteers at Thursday paint outs. They were donated to the first juried art show & auction to benefit the Family Justice Center of Erie County. The benefit was held at Asbury Hall [Ani DeFranco's The Church] last Tuesday & I am pleased to say that my two paintings were among the sold ones at the end of the night. It was a lovely affair, wine & food, live music & a lot of excellent artwork on display. Burchfield's Future Trees, although purchased, will remain at the FJC offices until May 2009.
Burchfield's Future Trees,  pastel 8x10 2006
[Buffalo] Botanic Garden Orchids, oil 20x16 2007

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Impact Artist's Gallery Fall National

Houston Texas pastel apartment Kath Schifano Kathy  night PaintingA juried exhibition involves submitting artworks by slide or CD to a judge, who chooses the artwork for the walls, declining some & keeping others, depending on the space. After the selected art is delivered, the judge looks over the exhibit to see that the work reflects what was submitted initially. At this time, prizes are awarded, often 1, 2 & 3 & Best of Show. Sometimes additional prizes are given for different categories as well.

In the case of this show, Holly Hughes, curator at Albright Knox in Buffalo judged it. This painting was selected as well as two of Carl's digital collages. It has been a pleasure to go to art openings where both of us are selected to exhibit work. The art opening is a public party - and very social - & the prize winners are announced at  that event.
Impact Art Gallery is in TriMain Center, 2495 Main Street, Buffalo, suite 545. The opening reception for the Fall National Show is from 1-4 on Saturday November 8. Join us!
My painting is a 'southern January night' plein air, seen from Robin & Jeremy Simon's 3rd floor porch, using the living room light to keep colors straight. The view is down the road & outside the complex, before they moved to their house.
Houston Night Lights [From the Porch]pastel 11x14 2007

Monday, October 13, 2008

First colors of Fall 2008

Niagara Frontier Plein Air painters [NFPAP] met at Burchfield Nature & Resource Center in September & I was determined to find the end of summer & first blush of Fall. On the turn of the Buffalo RIver, reflecting into the shallow water, this tree insisted on being my subject that day! 

This lovely cliff clinging tree is directly across the street from the home of artist Charles Burchfield which happens to be for sale. The large studio in the back makes an attractive workspace to me, but my upstairs studio here works just fine for late night adventures with paint & brush.
First Color at Burchfield '08, oil on panel, 14x10 2008

Grand Island yardwork

It's called 'Indian Summer in Buffalo', but I prefer the term autumn. The lovely 70 degree days of the past week have me hurrying to finish outdoor work, including painting the final Damar varnish on  my older-at least 6 months old-paintings. Now that the oil is thoroughly dry, this archival preservation step finishes them. As I prepared to bring the still tacky paintings indoors before the humidity got to them, I snapped this picture of my artistic buffet on the patio. I took advantage of every horizontal surface, including the grill and hose caddy, to let the varnish dry. 

There is an enormous feeling of satisfaction to finish this final step; sometimes I am ready to do the project but cannot because it is wet, windy or buggy outdoors. Spending a morning with rags, face mask and chemical mixes isn't particularly healthy, but I get a chance to reconnect with the surfaces of previously painted compositions. Many artists consider final varnish an optional step, but I believe in professional materials & archival preservation.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Saved in the camera

Doesn't 'Pots at the Pool' look like a lovely plein air? It is a close up from the right side of 'Summer on the River', below. The section was developed more in the fence area, shadows & flowers as well as the background, but it was my favorite expressive section while it lasted.
'Pots at the Pool' ~ close up of 'Summer on the River' about 8"x10" unfinished oil paint

Monday, October 6, 2008

Birthday Bash

Karen planned a great surprise party for John-She booked the New Polechetti family band {formerly known as the Billy McEwen Band}, tents, lots of food, assorted cakes, bounce house, party lights and an outdoor bar. Oops, John remained in Batavia to finish his laundry. He made it, a tad late & boy was he surprised.

There is a painting here, waiting to be discovered!

Grand Island Painting

Kath Schifano oil painting, 36x48 Grand Island NY
Nearly finished, this is a 'grand' island painting, as I have been painting it pretty steadily for two months. I put off plein air days with my NFPAP & Paletteer friends to get it painted, but attention was needed! It turns out that choosing this house view included detailed background, middle & foregrounds & broke all the rules I usually paint with.

Whenever I went to shoot reference photos the guest house & pool were in use, people were having fun & using the space. That influenced me; as an 'architecture portrait' artist I wanted to include all the important details. The owners have restored, planned & organized their home & gardens carefully, even the paths work well to connect the areas. What could I leave out?

A grand part of this is the canvas size, at 4 x 3 feet it was like having another person in the studio. I had to walk around it, address its location with the lighting & my paints, get away from it to evaluate from a distance. I especially enjoyed my heavy wood easel & the wheels on my chair as I rolled back & forth to the palette. When it is completed & mounted in the frame it will be 5 feet wide by 4 tall.

Summer on the River  36" by 48" oil on gallery mount canvas

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A painter in Italy with whom I share membership in International Plein Air Painters posted an essay about why painting is a miracle & why we put a brush to canvas. Link to his complete essay on www.about.com. I understand & agree with him, but when he linked to my close-to-favorite-painter-&-artist-writer-philosopher Robert Henri I knew we were on the same page.

Robert Henri
American 1865-1929
SNOW IN NEW YORK, 1902, oil on canvas
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

The Real Reason We Paint ....."when we make a mark on a canvas, it becomes possible not just to create a thing, but to become a human being. It becomes possible, then, not simply to make a picture of something, but to create ourselves. That is the miracle. That is the reason we paint......to make a mark on a canvas is to open the door of possibility of being moved profoundly and to move others. That is what painting is all about. That is the heart and soul of painting." Jerry Fresia

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Formerly Niagara Falls High School

The NACC celebrated with the Italian Festival on Pine Avenue last month, I painted this corinthian capital while the music played on the steps & the sun descended in the sky. Using the NF colors, red & grey, with yellow & brown for LaSalle, & of course the Trott red & white this painting named itself.

Unusually, I mixed the paints with extra oil, so it took forever to dry enough to photograph without glare!

History of the NACC oil 8x10 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Music is Art in Buffalo

Yeah, it rained, but hardy umbrella toting families crawled the grounds of the Albright Knox Art Museum on Saturday, September 13. It was successful for me, I met new people, heard great music & comments about my work & shared my concepts with new patrons. My favorite moment of the day was when a Dad said 'My son said he wanted to own this ship when he was six'  referring to this 'ghost' ship painting of the former giant floating casino/cruise ship wannabe in the inner harbor. He brought the print home as a gift for his son, now grown. I think that print found a wonderful & appreciative new home, & the family will get lots of laughs over their memories. I hope the other pictures find joy in their new homes, too!
It was wonderful that the Robby Takac Foundation provided tents, table & chairs for this event-no walls to dry tomorrow, and a lot less work to pack & do this show. I painted a soon to be dry architectural piece of the AKAG, too.
Once shown at Art Dialogue Gallery, the original is a record of a ship now gone. It was loved or hated but never ignored. This was a very ambitious early plein air-even before I turned to oils.

Ghost Ship  16x20 acrylic 2006 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Music is Art at Albright Knox Art Gallery

This Saturday---I'll be there with my artwork. Bringing prints & cards & a few originals for the walls, but mostly I am looking forward to a chance to paint outdoors at another festival.-find me with the artists on the Lincoln Parkway side-11am until the music stops.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More water

Standing on the overlook between the American Falls & the Rainbow bridge to paint this, large groups of tourists would occasionally pass by-walking in cadence. The bridge would vibrate with the impact of their footsteps, & remind me of my precarious perch, easel leg wedged into a hole in the deck, my back to the crowds. However, it is an awfully nice vantage point.

We passed the cashier with a 'Hi, we'll just be going up to paint.' It seems if I act like I know what I am doing, then I can get away with whatever I choose. Life is Good. This was an early evening painting, before the glorious sunset when the sky lit up in all the colors of the rainbow, from gold to violet, one at a time.

Sensational Falling 11x14 2008

Monday, September 1, 2008

An apple a Day

The title is only relative to the fact that it is the night before school starts, and all over teachers & students are flipping in their beds, trying to get that important 'good night's sleep' before the big day. Not me. I do have several important responsibilities tomorrow, but I will make every effort to have a-perhaps-final swim as well as a bit of massage therapy. AHHHH, summer continues for me.

Jay & Kathy at Sheepshead Bay

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer Street Project

1. Developing the perspective and selecting the light for this Summer Street painting turned out to be the easy part.

2. My photo references were in brilliant sunlight with dappled shadows from tall trees in neighboring yards, so I established the lights & darks & placed the various plants and objects.
3. Starting to paint the assorted plants, I faced a real challenge-green. My first view of this house, several weeks ago at the Buffalo Garden Walk, I exclaimed about the front of the house-the green of the house & the Hydrangea leaves coordinated to emphasize the flowers. Now that I was painting the greens, I wanted to find differences. Kitty had used blues & light green leaves in her garden, but the light on the building had already created a variety of greens for background. I love a challenge, but this one took a while to work out!
SUmmer Street Buffalo Kath Schifano Kathy Painting
4. Thank goodness for flowers! Notice the white lilies & the begonias on the porch rail, the blue hosta.
I continue to wonder if it is harder to grow & maintain a garden, or to paint it--as my own has overgrown in this sunny-& rainy-summer as I painted in the studio upstairs.
Chasing the Sun on Summer Street, oil 11x14 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New painter in town

It took until after 1 am to arrive in Buffalo, but Sandi & Bobbie were here for the weekend. They left the bad weather in NYC to enjoy blue skies & barbecue here. We took Bobbie to the airport today, but Sandi will be staying through the week. Tomorrow she will paint plein air after a morning visit at Riverwood.
Jet Blue adventure, August 2008 [photo by BTP]

Friday, August 15, 2008

Torrit Grey Competition

An annual painting contest limits artists to painting with white, black & the annual 'Torrit grey'. It is created by the Gamblin company by cleaning the filters of accumulated gook & giving tubes away at art stores. It is a 'green' use of mixed paints that would otherwise be garbage. This is my 2nd time entering the Torrit competition, the first was in 2006. The scene is from Buckhorn, a late snow on budded trees. Click here for details, you can see last year's entries.  Gamblin Artists Colors: Torrit Grey Competition

Spring Interrupted by Snow, 8x10 oil

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

402 Summer Street

NFPAP artists visited the cottage district again this year for one of our summer paintouts, with GVPAP.

I had walked the area on the weekend with Carl, discussing several options for painting on Tuesday. However, we were there in the afternoon, and the light was reversed & all wrong for me on the second morning visit with paint & canvas. This spectacular painted brick cottage had caught my eye-the green of the house behind the hydrangea leaves made the lavender & pink snowball flowers look like fireworks in the garden, & the morning light made it even better. Fortunately, there was a little shade tree across the street for me. Peggy Walker & Joan Shaw were painting close by & the homeowner, Kitty has a lovely daughter, Emma, who engaged us all as she painted her own first plein air of a newly planted street tree.

Although this is basically a plein air, there were so many details and architectural delights that it took three sittings to complete. If you think this house is sweet, go to the Buffalo cottage district-one house after another is a delight!
Summer on Summer Street  oil 11x14 2008

Monday, August 4, 2008

2009 Calendar Goes to Press

The calendar went to the printer today. There were a few glitches along the way-my errors, because the screen images could not match the proofs. Of course, I knew that, screens are backlit with light & paper proofs are ink on paper. I guess that's why they make proofs. Everything is fixed, thanks to Carl's endless patience with my impatience.

What was the hardest part? Choosing January. I just could not decide how the year should start, but my interest in night pictures caused me to paint this one...just a few weeks ago. As soon as I had it half done, I knew it would be right for 2009. There are actually 4 paintings from Niagara Falls again this year, they just are not as obvious.

If all goes well, there will be calendars at the Lewiston Art Festival this coming weekend!

Backpage, 2009 Calendar

Thursday, July 31, 2008

7-7-77, 9-15-95

A house is just a building, but when does it actually become a home? Capturing the shadows on the porch, rear dormer, power lines and the side entrance fence are reminders of independent features. The size of the trees, seasonal colors & light on the windows invoke memories. Painting a house captures it at that particular time, as a home it is subject to constant change.

The corner at 91st & Jayne oil 8x10 2008

Lewiston Art Festival

Lewiston Council on the Arts sponsors an annual juried fine art show. Nothing is to be mass produced, commercial or less than best quality art. 
Text from their website...

The Council's original event, the annual  Lewiston Outdoor Fine Arts Festival  (now in its 42nd year), will be held August 9 & 10 this year, and has become the premier show in Niagara County.  Festival attendance is estimated at 30,000 with over 170 participating artists from the U.S. and Canada.

My art tent-space #222-is  in Academy Park, halfway between Tops market and Hibbard's Ice Cream. It's the same location as last year, with a bench & shade. The park lot will be open to cars----you can park on the grass again there this year.

I plan to release my 2009 calendar next week at the art fest, as well as many new paintings of the area. Be sure to say hi, Carl & I are looking forward to seeing lots of friends strolling among the tents next week.

Historic Frontier House, 1824, Lewiston, NY oil 16x20

Bursting Bud

Lifted from the Perry, NY website-with permission, of course, this is the rose bursting out of it's borders at the Perry Chalk Festival July 12.

Click on the link above to see more images from the festival.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Perry Chalk Festival

July 6 Buffalo News stated that the July 12th Perry Chalk Festival was a 'best bet' in entertainment for the day. The Central NY Times & Perry News both published lengthy articles that included my pictures & photo. Having been selected as 'master pastelist' at this festival kept me busy preparing a sketch, a plan and a presentation. In addition, I brought my tent and some prints & cards featuring my pastel art in particular.
Perry is a lovely small town, nestled in a particularly pretty area of rolling hills, near the center entrance to Letchworth State Park. They have a particularly nice bookstore in the center of town-good books, excellent magazines, assorted books, fresh coffee & pastries.
The fest featured 20 adult artists chalk painting on the street & about 10 teens on the sidewalks and was accompanied by the Saturday morning farmer's market, two live bands, some crafts & food tents. Everyone was very friendly & interested in the artworks.
The morning setup was bustling with volunteers & the sun was cooperative, too. It got ridiculously hot on the asphalt, so the shade of my tent was welcome to many. I painted a demo square using a rose closeup; not bound by any rules, petals & stem spilled out of the frame. This was a technique the kids always wanted to do at Lewiston Chalk Walk & couldn't because of their rules.
Returning home from an overnight in Perry, I had a jar of local honey, cherries, and a bag of vegetables to add to my art experience.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Letchworth State Park Paintings

So many beautiful days to make paintings & other public art responsibilities in such a short time set my paperwork, record keeping & photographing back a bit, so here are the late  Letchworth pictures-finally.

1. Letchworth Falls & Train Trestle, watercolor 5x8

2. Clearing Behind 'A' Cabins, oil 16x20

3. Early Morning Cabins, oil 11x14

4. Old Gorge Staircase, pastel 12x9

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Featured at the NACC

Click here--
The NACC - Niagara Arts and Cultural Center
That's my painting, 'Youngstown Secret Garden', featured on their website & in the press release for their annual 'Beyond the Barrell'  show!

Secret Garden 12x24 oil, 2007

Positively Main Street

All day Saturday, people were smiling & visiting on Main Street of Niagara Falls from Cedar to Chilton for art, music, food and entertainment. I set my tent up with only two walls showing some representative work, cards and small prints.

Since this was the first event of this kind, I also brought my easel & was able work on a small painting of City hall. It took all day due to the fact that it was nearly impossible to see the building with all the trees around it. It is possibly the best collection of elegant full size trees outside the parks & cemeteries in one place in town. 

Carl & I sat in the shade in our new 'art chairs' with pockets, water bottle cooler & attached table & enjoyed one of the nicest days of the year so far. It was great to see so many familiar people come out for the beginning of the renaissance in Niagara Falls-you think??

City Hall from Cedar 8x10 oil, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

NACC press release features KS painting

My painting, 'The Secret Garden' was selected to head a press release for the NACC summer exhibition 'Beyond the Barrel'
Go here to see it.

East Aurora NY weekend art show

It was called the 55th East Aurora Art Association Show, but I would call it a rainy weekend. Friday, June 27 Carl & I set up the tent and on Saturday morning after the rain it was still dry inside. We had about two hours of dark clouds and a deluge on Saturday the 29th, then on Sunday the threatening clouds really acted up from about 3:00-a noisy rain event that filled the street to the curbs continued until we were packed & gone. It was lovely the rest of the time & sunblock was needed, too. 
Only problem is the wet tent & walls that still need to be aired before being packed-for next week in Niagara falls.
I was pleased to be awarded a Merit ribbon in Oil for my painting-Seven Apples & the Light-which is near the tent pole. I was situated next to Sharon Fundalinski [white skirt], & Peggy Walker is seated there too. They are the two best painting buddies I have-my Thursday artists. That's my back at the easel-there was a lovely old oak tree trunk in front of the red bricks that I was able to work on.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

June at Niagara Falls

There was a chance of showers, but the sun was out, so I headed to the State Park to challenge the rapids. The 2006  'Islands in the Curve' was purchased by staff at the State Parks, I especially liked the painting-it is July on the calendar, so I decided to try the composition again. The islands have grown, and the weather was sometimes overcast-in addition there was a misty breeze swirling that kept me, the painting & palette slightly damp. The photo was taken by a California tourist. I gave their daughter a business card to look up the painting when it was complete. Dad took the picture & used my address to send it. A few plein air painters don't enjoy interruptions, but not me. It is a chance to look away from the subject and the paint & look back with a 'fresh eye'. Most people are cautious & wary, they just want to see real art, murmur 'lovely' or 'so talented' & walk on. Kids pay attention to the palette, the brushes & process. So many say they paint at home & school. Life is good, so I stayed to paint a close-up of a dent in the Falls further to the right side-a rock & it's splash. While working on the second painting, the first blew over-the dark spots in the cataracts are not fish, that is plein air painter's dirt, stuck to the oils.
'New Curve of the Falls-2008' 8x10, oil on panel 2008
'Horseshoe Divot' 5x7 oil on board, 2008