Thursday, March 29, 2012

Serendipity Success

Kath Schifano, orchid painting
c. Kath Schifano 2012
Different in technique from other Botanical Gardens paintings, this orchid spray deserves an explanation. The orchid room is attractive and comfortable for painting because of the variety and profusion of colors and textures with dramatic lines. The room also has left and right areas to set up where there is less traffic.

However, there is a persistent loud fan that drives me crazy, so I often choose to work in other rooms. Not this time. A dramatic orchid was placed in front of deep dark large leaves to emphasize its subtle shapes and dramatic beauty, I could not resist. Unfortunately, the heat and cold and weather changes in the humid environment create artistic hazards. In this case, big fat plops of condensation on the window grid above started to drip, spread the colors and splash. Well, the fan noise was already driving me batty, so I packed up and went home, where I continued to work on the ruined sections with a wet brush and a careful hand. I liked the effect, so I continued to paint with water as well as dry pastels and decided to go no further with the background. I like the 3-D effects of the plant and the mystery of the purples. I would love to have a stem of these cymbidium orchids in water in my home, it lasts for months.
Orchids on the Endcap, 18x12 pastel, 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Light & Shadow on a Niagara Falls Closeup

c. Kath Schifano 2012
The first official NFPAP paintout may well have been the best weather of our paint season. It was brilliantly sunny and close to 80' in Mid March, although it was cooler working next to the water.

Studying the rocks and water from above Luna Island, I  painted two pastels, one early before the sun shined on the water and rocks, and the second in afternoon sunlight. All the tourists kept asking about painting the rainbow when it moved with the sun's motion from the lower left corner, up and to the right, until it went out of my sightline. I gave it a try and this is the first rainbow that I have tried that is believable, it does not look like an artificial afterthought. Agree?

c. Kath Schifano 2012
Roiling, pastel 12x16, 2012
Roiling PM, pastel 9.5x12.5, 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

A favorite spot at The Falls, 132 years apart

 I went to paint at Three Sisters because I had seen this painting by William Morris Hunt in the Ball State University Museum, in Indiana. I wanted to paint the same view but the first bridge was built right where Hunt stood and the view was blocked. No way would I stand in the water to make my painting match his. Although the water is but a trickle now it is illegal to enter any of the waterways in the state park, it is a sure way to guarantee drowning or jail. I did take photographs. You can see the painting that resulted in my March 2 post, a scene off the second bridge.

This is the Hermit falls, the center distant treeline in WIlliam Morris Hunt's powerful painting is now a parking lot on the end of Goat Island, a walking path and a tram follow the water. The major rocks can still be seen on the east side of the bridge. The third picture, my photo, shows the scene in February as I reached my camera around the edge of the bridge. The water diverted for  electric power would have scrubbed away the small plants and bushes with a much higher water level and pressure. Soon there will be trees in the water's crevices.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Changing light, changing water

Painted just one day apart, these paintings show the wetlands out back in the afternoon. The top is an ATC, the larger is only 4x6 and is going to the Brooklyn Art Library.
The photograph was taken a few days later in the morning. Living on the edge of nature, we don't need to wait for seasons to change, just a few hours alters the light and shadows and even the water level. My distant view is diminishing as buds expand and trees thicken, slowly closing in until it will be a wall of varied greens and leaves.
My collection of backyard paintings of these woods through the years are a living record of nature's changes and my skills, whether from the patio, lawn chairs or upstairs from my large studio windows.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A day like today

A free hour in my day became an opportunity to walk the paths at the State park. Splendid light flickered on the mist and ripples, rainbows angled in every direction around Niagara Falls and I mentally planned at least three dozen new paintings.

Last Fall I painted a little bit of gorge wall at Letchworth during our artist camp days. This week, I varnished it after 'watching paint dry' for nearly six months. It had been near my easel in a ridiculously gaudy frame which I happened to fancy. Now that the dry areas are restored and the colors are back to brilliant I see this little jewel for what it is, spectacular. A memory of a lovely day as the sun settled behind trees and headed for the hills, and I observed and colored as fast as I could to capture it, keeping the sun out of my eyes with a side sitting hat brim.

It was a bit like today, warm and nourishing in the sun, refreshing in the shade, a good day to be an artist.

Friday, March 2, 2012

A winter workout

With rare snowflakes and instant melting, this has been a poor season for winter paintings. They look just like early Spring and late fall without snow or ice instead of winter in western New York.

One fine day in February, it did snow and the sun came out as well. I hurried to the Falls with my supplies and set up on the second of the Three Sisters bridges. By the time I arrived most of the snow cover had already melted but I braved the cold and was rewarded with some remaining snow mounds on the shore. They melted as I painted, a problem that plein air painters often experience. Nature does not stand still, shadows slip from one side to another, mist disappears, rain happens and occasionally a car or truck parks right in front of your subject. On this day, snow melted, the sun went behind clouds and wind picked up as I was finishing. I had to chase a few pastels as they rolled on the bridge as I packed my supplies.

It was a good day to return to a giant mug of hot tea and cozy afghan blanket.

Not So Rapids, pastel 9.5x12.5 2012