Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Stir in the Mist

A Stir in the Mist has been out for a few months now, it is the wonderful hard cover cookbook published by the Niagara Falls Boys & Girls Club. I am proud to be a part of such an ambitious project, the committee was aware of every facet of cooking, writing and printing this lovely book.

My painting, 'Masterviews' was selected for the sidebar of the menu pages, and it was purchased by Diane Cimino at the cookbook kickoff last November. In the cookbook it is printed in blue as a screen. A few minutes later, I had another customer wanting the same painting for an out of town gift-for a former Niagara Falls resident. It is entirely unusual for me to paint a copy of my works, and the original was purposely softer in contrast to allow cookbook comments printed over the mist. I told the Koester family that their 'copy' would not be the same, it would have different color and less mist. Also different in balance of the composition, I am surprised how close the two paintings are. It will be a lovely addition to its new home in Missouri.

Click on A Stir in the Mist to see the book and turn the pages. I also drew the illustrations of food and provided Niagara Falls paintings for the divider pages.

Masterviews, 24 x 8, oil 2010
Masterviews Too, 24 x 8, oil 2011

Giant Croton captures me

Spring comes first at the Botanical Gardens, the cactus start to swell and palms put out huge new branches, ferns thicken and unfurl from their centers. Intrigued by the changing leaf colors as winter wanes, I found a crowd of colorful Croton plants and moved them around a little to isolate this one.

There was a lot more color after studying the plant, and this painting took longer than I expected. 'Some green, a couple of orange, a bit of yellow, leaves aren't that hard.' Or so I thought. The light on each waxy leaf created new hues and shades, the shadow of one leaf onto another created more.

I was positioned in a narrow aisle and the best moment of the day was a toddler who considered pebbles on the raised beds delicious. His stroller brought them right to his reach; he waited until Mom admired the Venus Fly Traps and grabbed a handful. We warned her, but he was determined to have his souvenir. Apparently he had been practicing this grab for a while, not a healthy place to eat, and he probably went home with a bit of extra weight.

Greenhouse Croton, 12.5 x 16.5 pastel 2011

Begonia in bloom

Thursdays at The Botanical Gardens continue to attract me....and my pastel boxes. As the winter flower shows were removed, and few Amaryllis remained, the begonia room's incredibly diverse leaf shapes and soon-to-be exploding flower buds were attractive, but not as interesting to me as the fish. I spent a day sketching the huge koi as they lazed in the waterfall's ripples, but soon realized that they were not going to stay still. As soon as I chose a fish, he hid. Frustration! I went home with many drawn pages of incomplete koi in my sketchbook, all in conte crayon.
The following week I went back to the begonias and found this brilliant orange bud bursting open, surrounded by vari-colored leaves draping themselves like servants to the royal bloom.

My drive to and from the gardens includes the Skyway. It's my favorite road here, with views of downtown Buffalo, huge ships below, the lake and Canada, leading into active and abandoned grain elevators, ice fishermen, Tifft Preserve, marinas and finally South Park.

I don't actually look at the street when I drive, I can see over the guardrails and I swivel like a bobblehead to look out in every direction. Here are two videos I found of my drive-with too much road, not enough lake.

Long Leaf Begonia, pastel 9.5x12.5 2011