Monday, December 23, 2013

More than just cookies

poinsettia in oil
Merry Christmas in paint
December is a time of wonder, the first snow, decorations, great music and joy. I spent a quiet day, early in the month, surrounded by an acre of poinsettias. This is probably only possible because they have no scent! I snuggled next to a particularly pointy leaf variety and used my palette knife to capture the angular shape of the leaves. If you find some time to visit a Botanical Garden it will pleasantly reward you with new views every time.

I think we made 9 varieties of cookies this year, it was an ongoing project for the month and just as satisfying as painting is at this time of year. Come January, there will be lots of time to work in the studio.

Merry Christmas, may you share your days with your friends and family and find the joy in each moment.

Poinsettia with points, 5x7, oil

Friday, December 20, 2013

464 Gallery Show

Bond Lake Park
Bond's Reflections, oil 5x7, c. 2013
Fireman's Park, Ontario
Three Trees, 10x8 oil, c. 2012
464 Amherst Street is the home of 464 Gallery. Most exhibits there are a week long and feature individual artists. This month, a large number of artists and artworks are displayed, salon style, with three or four in a column, covering all the walls in the front and more are in the back room.

These three paintings are displayed there, perfect for the fall loving local art lover. The top was painted at Bond's Lake, right at the beginning of Fall and I used a palette knife as my hand was in a brace. I have used the knives more often lately as it is easier on my grip and a bit of a challenge, as well.

The next two were painted last Fall. 'Three trees' is also plein air, in the lovely Fireman's Park right across the Whirlpool Bridge in NF, Canada.

I am showing the barns here with and without a frame. Sometimes it is amazing to see the difference a frame makes, this little painting becomes a jewel with a carved and decorative gilt edge.

LMR, Fall painting
Eye Candy on LMR, 5x7, framed

Fall Painting
Eye Candy on LMR, 5x7 oil, c. 2012

Thursday, November 7, 2013

2014 Art Calendar

Although I usually have a fistful of my new calendars in the car, I don't see everyone who wants one.  They are sold in several convenient locations for $12, but you have to see me or use Paypal on my website to get the refills.

Castellani Art Museum Gift Shop at Niagara University
The Book Corner, Main Street Niagara Falls
Studio 1, Niagara Street, Niagara Falls
Serene Gardens, Grand Island Blvd, Grand Island
Quaker Bonnet on Allen in Buffalo
464 Gallery, Amherst Street, Buffalo

Oops, this is a 2012 image, but it shows how the case stands on a desk or counter.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Open Studio Event

For the fifth year, I am opening my studio for a festive weekend in November. Arranging artwork in new ways each year is a fun challenge that takes me several weeks. Sometimes the color or style of frames help determine arrangements, other times layouts are determined by color or subject. Moving pictures around gives me insights on a year's efforts.

This year I have expanded into the next room, where most of my Niagara Falls State Park paintings are now displayed together. Although there is a lot of green, and browns and golds, the blueish painted walls intensify the feeling of mist, water and WET in there.

Come on over, November 16 & 17 from 11-4, I have a gift for all visitors.

Friday, November 1, 2013

On the French River

Kathy Schifano, cabin painting, oil painting
French River, 15x30 oil, Kath Schifano
Kathy Schifano,
Two Paintings? The top picture shows the painting nearly finished, before some areas were adjusted, notably the large yellow tree and the ground of the wooded areas. The second has varnish on it, several months later. I include both so you can see the difference a final coat makes to the colors.

I always like a single commission on my easel, but just one at a time, for when the weather is dreadful or I want to paint late into the night. Having several to do creates unnecessary pressure!

Some paintings take longer than others due to detail or size, how much time I have, or perhaps just my mood.

Commissions usually require working from photos, the better the light, the better the painting. My client brought a strong selection of absolutely brilliant Fall photos from a variety of angles and directions. Her plan is to give it as a gift as this family cabin has been the source of many years of pleasure. As I painted, I imagined their summer activities, using a magnifying glass to create the painting, I observed the benches, burn barrel, the outdoor lights, the combinations of rocks that provide supports and markers. I found windows on the roofline of the boat garage, as well as 'before and after' pictures of the new door. I recall she said it was about 4 hours drive north of Toronto, then a 45 minute boat ride to access the cabin. A long trip, but a spectacular place to be.

This was a pleasure to paint, using vibrant colors, finding the reflections of the opposite shore in the windows, majestic super tall hardwoods. I am so proud of how this oil painting looks, cobbled together from 3 photos taped together, with references taken from several more. I love having a challenge on my easel, this challenge includes everything I like to paint, water and reflections, rocks, trees and a slice of life. While I start my next studio painting, another architecture portrait, this one hangs on my wall. It leaves me soon to become a family heirloom.

French River 15x30 oil, 2013

Why two Paintings? The top picture shows the painting nearly finished, before some areas were adjusted, notably the large yellow tree and the ground of the wooded areas. The second has varnish on it, several months later. I include both so you can see the difference a final coat makes to the colors.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Poetry & Art, and Interchangeable Impressions

Stuck in an arm brace for several weeks, I could not hold or maneuver my favored pastels, which probably were the cause of my wrist and thumb issues in the first place.

Not using pastels, limited to oils this summer and fall, I devised a few new ways to wield brushes. Working on treated wood boards gave me more control. Using a palette knife helped cut down on my repetitive motions, and working smaller, with its own particular challenges, limited additional stress on my damaged tendons. I would not give up creating!

While painting with Sherrill Primo, she told me of a poem by Richard about the single red tree of a new fall, a clarion of the season. Hence this lovely bit of Buckhorn State Park, across from the fisherman's dock and its title.

Clarion for Autumn, 7x5, oil 2013

A Published Painting

My painting, 'Coffee Time, Long Beach Morning' is featured this week in 'Why This Works' by Jeanne Mackenzie. Click HERE to see the article published in an international online magazine.

Part of the pleasure of being a plein air painter involves crawling websites for great new artwork, sharing ideas and techniques with other artists and discovering how much wonderful art is being produced worldwide under the banner of 'plein air'.

Weekly letters and magazines, blogs, personal websites, journals and social media keep us connected. I have been fortunate to know painters all over the country, to meet and often paint with my artist friends at parks and vistas wherever I travel. The Publisher's Invitational event in the Adirondacks is one of the best places to meet new people and share experiences as artists. I joined them the inaugural year and returned to attend 3 times, the 4th event coming in 2014 may be the first I miss. However, my friendships are permanent. One site I was introduced to there is at, an online weekly magazine that features events and people, which chose this painting for a feature.

KAth Schifano Long Beach painting
Coffee Time, Long Beach Morning, oil 10x20 K. Schifano

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sunny afternoon in Texas

Outside Austin, Texas at Maxine Price's painting studio, a wonderful native rock wall encloses a lovely yard of Texas treasures, including sculpture, plants and majestic live oaks.
An afternoon of plein air combined with visiting  and artist conversation turned into this little oil of a prickly pear cactus half immersed in front of the wall.

A Little Texas Sunlight, oil 10x8

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Painting for Preservation, Delaware Court

Super Saturdays! About once a month, Sara Zak invites artists to join her to bring attention to an 'endangered' or at risk building in Buffalo. Delaware Court, on the corner of Delaware and Chippewa in Buffalo was our most recent event. It may be replaced by a modern steel and glass tower, but no building would have the character and beauty that is on the corner now.

The curved facade gives the appearance of a building that goes on forever, decorative plaques are embedded on the pilasters and in the top molding, bump out 2nd floor balconies increase the visual delight. The group was gathered by Spot Coffee for a kiddy corner view, but I choose to sit across the street in the sun on a crisp fall morning on the patio of an obliging restaurant.

Sara Zak
  Carol Case Syracuse
Painting for Preservation
Delaware Court, oil on oil paper 11x14, K. Schifano 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Adirondack painters, the first group photo

This photo is from June 2011, and was left as a draft. Today it got noticed and I 'undrafted' it, and instead of landing in the June 2011 calendar, it published today. I guess if I want something to be in order I need to post it on time! At the time this was the largest gathering of plein air painters painting at one time, this has since been eclipsed by the PA convention groups and the two subsequent Publisher's Invitational Plein Air Paintouts, both of which I have attended. Simply an amazing experience.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A unique art studio and a wonderful friend

Frances Gaffney is a long distance buddy who I don't see nearly often enough. Check out her boat residence on the west side of Manhattan.

Hear Frances, See the video on

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Long Beach, Long Island Paintings August 2013

Kathy Schifano, oil paintings
Coffee Time in LB, AM., oil on canvas board, 12x24
Maybe this seems a little dark, but morning on the ocean is hazy and peaceful. The tide came in, swirled around my ankles sinking the easel supports just as I finished.

beach oils, Kathy Schifano
Living the Salt Water Life, oil on board 8x16
Beat flat by Hurricane Sandi in September 2012, the sand dunes along the beach were plowed back and planted with hardy beach grasses. The light on the dge of the dune stopped me right on the street. It will be interesting to see how much more has grown by next summer.
beach oils, Kathy Schifano
Observation, oil on canvas board 8x10
Love these rocks! As the tide and sunlight changes, the green starts to glow on these boulders, nearly underwater during high tide, but full of swirling water, shells and bubbles the rest of the time.

I painted this jetty angle twice, the more abstract of the two remains in Long Beach, collection of Francis Marion.

beach oils, Kathy Schifano
Slack, oil on canvas board, 9x12
Perhaps my favorite of the week, this is the same composition I painted with pastels last year. No matter how devastating the storm was to homes and the city of Long Beach, these boulders were impervious, stalwart in their assigned locations. The title comes from slack tide, when the incoming and outgoing forces of tide water is fairly even.
beach oils, Kathy Schifano
Summer's Missed, oil on BFK paper 8x22
This panorama is emotionally charged, a Labor Day painting symbolizing the end of summer lifeguards and lazy days as well as beach and salt water time I gave up by moving off Long Island and across the state. I miss the ocean, but not much else.
beach oils, Kathy Schifano
Van Gogh at the Beach, oil on board 5x7 
After completing one of my 'stand up at the easel' oils, I sat on the blanket as the waves came in right at my eye level. I took a few photos, but realized that I wanted to paint this power, and I had a spare little board with me. Trying to catch this enormous power right in front of me, I poured on the paint, frequently using a painting knife to sculpt the color.

Silo City, Buffalo

Light in the Tunnel Kathy Schifano
Light in the Tunnel
As much as I love natural landscapes, and often omit buildings, powerlines and other built elements in my landscape paintings, preservation of historic structures remains important to me.

I have created a series of drawings and paintings that chronicle endangered buildings in Buffalo, on Saturdays with Sara Zak's Painting for Preservation initiative. Her work on behalf of architectural gems keeps in mind the history of our city, formerly one of the largest in the United States, the gateway to the west for wagons, boats and trains.

Silo City, location of 'City of Night' and other public concerts and events is in Buffalo's Old First Ward, is rocks and gravel, weeds and massive impressive grain elevators, some still in use, all awe inspiring. Having annually painted this area from the other side of the river with Sharon Fundalinski and Margaret J Walker, working on the grounds with the Preservation group during a convention of out of town visitors was a fun challenge.

One of the huge open indoor spaces was converted to a meeting area while caterers provided buffet food and drinks on the waterfront. Painters scattered around the site as convention 'entertainment', and talking to people from across the country about our unusual location was energizing. The huge scale of the silos is enough to challenge understanding of the purpose and investment that originally created this modern concrete playground, more than a century ago.

This long alley was partially out of bounds for the conventioneers, I was intrigued by the natural  landscape framed by the overhead walkway as well as the tiny bright red folding chair waiting for a guard or perhaps a graffiti artist. Capturing the curved sunset shadows before the entire area was in shade was the challenge here.

Light in The Tunnel oil, 20x16, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Wine on Third

Kath Schifano NACC donation
What does one do on the most lovely of summer evenings in Niagara Falls? Why not sit around with a glass of wine on Third Street. How about adding my french easel full of oil paint and a bunch of other artists working together for a NACC fundraiser.

The Niagara Arts and Cultural Center will be auctioning donated art this fall and a group of artists got together to create the work for that evening.

It was time for me to do a summer nocturne and all the stars were aligned. At least the stars were, the nearly full moon did not appear over the restaurant until about a half hour before I completed this plein air. Such serendipity!

I am wondering if this will be my donation, looking at it, I can still hear the music that livened up the night for me. The wine, food and music at Wine on Third is always excellent.

Wine on Third, oil 12x9

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A series of oil waterfall paintings

Wolf Creek Moment, 16x20 
In response to a long distance prospective customer, I posted this series of paintings based on some of her criteria. She eventually selected a 24" tall, 12'' wide painting of a section of the Horseshoe Falls, a prominent rock that creates rooster flares of water, right at the precipice. It had an abstract quality that was similar to some of the paintings she originally selected from my website,

It was interesting to find waterfalls in my collection without including large pastels, it is a whole new way of looking at a series for me. Here are 15, selected because they are waterfall themes and none of them are smaller than 10x14, all will be wall enhancing beauties!

All of these are OIL paintings. Most are painted on canvas mounted on a panel, a few larger ones are on canvas mounted on stretchers or a panel, but all have similar textures of paint on the surface. I tried to post the same sizes together for comparison, size determines the cost. The sizes on the screen are not to scale here, so look at the size listed underneath. Colors on the screen will not be exact as every computer is calibrated different. Some colors may not be as bright-or dark- as they look here. Framing can be arranged.

Interested? Comment below or my email, which is  ks [at]

Peace at Blossom Falls, 16x20 

Steps of Niagara, 16x20
Noise, 16x20
Rush, 16x20

November Plume, 18x24 {On Easel}

 Dam Leaves 12x18

Morning Light on American Falls 24x24
Rainbow Bridge & Mist, 24x24

Rock Of Ages, 24x12
Riding the Middle Falls, 12x24 

International Mist 12x24

The Horseshoe from 3 Sisters 12x24
Composition With Ice, 10x14

After the Rain, 11x14 

The 'shoe, 18x24

Sunday, August 25, 2013

First Prize

I enjoy the challenge of painting water.

Once in a while a plein air show is juried. Our NFPAP annual show is an art exhibition, but this time the Impact Artist Gallery put a call out for plein air art work, to be judged for entry as well as for prizes.

I spent quite a while deciding which paintings I should put in, frequently changing my mind, until I determined to choose these favorites, as neither had been shown before.

Lo and behold, at the reception I was awarded First Place, with a prize of a solo exhibit for my ocean panorama, but also was given Honorable Mention for my flume. This was the pastel I did in the rain, standing on a huge round boulder, surrounded by poison ivy. When the water seeped through the fabric of my umbrella I realized I should get out of the rain and poison ivy and dry off, preferably in a safer spot as the water coming down the creek was steadily increasing. Quickly finishing the forms was all that was necessary in this Adirondack scene frequently painted by the Hudson River School Painters.

This Long Island jetty was my subject for a week last summer, and the fisherman was there whenever the tide was right for fishing. The largest work I completed in oil, it has a calm but humbling mood to it. When he saw my painting, he offered his lunch to me, sticky rice and seasonings wrapped in a leaf and tied with thread and was quite tasty. I gave him some of mine, which was probably PB&J. We didn't share languages but had a fairly good conversation about the day, our camera and painting. And then I took a first prize for my experience.

Slippery When Wet, pastel 12.5 x 9.5
FIshing for a Big One, oil, 12x24

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Youngstown Yacht club 'Art on the River'

Last week, the Youngstown Yacht club hosted 'Art on the River'. I often paint there, so I joined the event with some samples and had a lovely evening. After setting up I took a little cruise along the river to find a new spot to paint a sailboat commission. I'll be back next week to do that, and next year to set up at the club!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

2014 art calendar

The annual assembly line was hard at work last week, the newest calendar pages were printed and picked up, and we had three days before the Lewiston Art Festival 'unveiling'. 

All I needed to do was assemble 14 pages in backwards month order, open the calendar cases by the dozen, insert the packs of pages, close the cases, insert into the celo envelopes and rip the glue cover off, fold the seal and stack. Kind of easy, but it took all day, thanks to a lot of dealing pages and collating by Carl I am ahead of schedule. In the foreground is October, the blue ones are January, ready to be packed. If you follow me online, you can order by mail through my website,  Locally they will be available at Castellani Art Museum, The Book Corner, Studio One, Quaker Bonnet, and 464 Gallery.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Allentown Association Art Exhibition

The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site preserves the elegant Ansley Wilcox house  on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. There is also a lovely restored carriage house which will showcase paintings of the Allentown area in early August, with a reception on Friday, August 2. This show is sponsored by the Allentown Association for its 50th anniversary and includes works of the area's features by artists who live, work or paint in Allentown.

One of my two paintings is this driveway side view of an elegant victorian home on Pearl Street, just a few buildings down from Allen Street. Painted this year, I was intrigued by the tans and browns of the structures hi-lighted by the forsythia bush and its glorious yellow presence.

I like to feature yellow flowers in paintings, it is a challenge for me, but it also holds its own on some of our drearier days, the yellow in nature paintings sparkles through the gloom of a long winter afternoon.

The second painting in this show is a colorful blue corner porch with morning glories winding up the column. It is a pastel, framed to 20x16. Pretty little bits of Allentown are making their way back to Buffalo from Grand Island for this exhibit.

Pearl Street Spring 14x11 oil,  2013

2 Paintings in North Dakota

Bismarck Art & Galleries Association sponsored a Square Foot Show in their gallery for the second year. These two paintings were sent to North Dakota for the exhibit which runs from August 6 to 30. If you happen to be in our nation's breadbasket, the BAGA opening reception is at E. Front Ave from 5-7 pm. Let me know how the show looks and if I have a nice location for my work, I have to be here to paint in Olcott!

They are on 12" by 12" stretched canvases and the 1" deep sides are painted to continue the image around the corners. This is often called Gallery Wrap. Each is a wonderful painting and I am proud to have them represent me there.

oils to No. Dakota gallery show
Both of these florals were completed in the studio, started from my drawings on location. The rose was painted from a conte drawing I had wanted to use in a painting, while the peonies were started en plein air at my picnic table and brought indoors for development. The flowers changed as I watched, and the breeze moved the flowers and branches just enough that I kept losing my place in the big bush. There are so many flowers this year, I am hoping the farmers have as much success with their fruits and vegetables as I am having in our lush gardens.

Summer Glory 12x12x1 oil, 2013
Peony Riot 2, 12x12x1 oil, 2013