Sunday, December 27, 2015

Orchids at the winter display

Unfinished 10 days ago, I added a bit of color to the wall and played with soft and hard edges when the pace of the Christmas holidays finally slowed. It didn't take long so I wonder why I waited, I want art work completed rather soon. This pastel painting nearly finished itself because there was so little to do when I returned to the studio. 

Brighter Than White Orchids, pastel 9x12 ©2015

Friday, December 18, 2015

YYC, Summer's ending

How do you get 30 foot sailboats out of the water? 

With real big straps,  a hoist and this hook. The Youngstown Yacht Club is one of my favorite spots to paint, the people are all happy, they are glad to see us and there is something to capture in every direction. 

With a bit of whimsy, I turned away from the water to see this HUGE ball and hook gently swinging from a crane. I knew it would be in use soon and painted quickly. The weight of it pulled the cable roll tighter; as I worked my model slipped from an overhead view to almost eye level. In the background is the building Babs Damesimo lived in years ago, back when when we were both other people.

Ball and Hook 12x6 oil on gessoboard

The Carnegie in North Tonawanda

A long time center for art, home of many great exhibits, as well as kids and adult classes is reviving itself. After being vacant, and missed by many, a recent fundraiser gave the new board and supporters a great start to reviving this jewel of a building.

Several months ago, artists were asked to contribute 5x7 images to be sold for $20. At the evening event the volunteers came from all the facets of art, besides artists I saw gallery owners, collectors, business people , printers and students all working to ensure the Carnegie's success.Over 300 pieces were donated, unsigned, and hundreds of shoppers showed up for first choice on the huge wall of images. Holding #52, I watched as our first choices were taken off the wall, but not concerned because so many wonderful artworks remained to choose from. The pace became a little frantic and Cindi O'Mara was my 'runner' volunteer when my number came up. I came home with a little jewel of a collage by Joyce Hill as well as a stained glass apple composition (apples, I love) by May Beth Lee. Both pieces are joining our western New York artists collection.

The Niagara Gazette posted this photo of Cindi handing me the collage. Notice the people, the entire building had a crowd as dense as this. Good Luck Carnegie Art Center, we missed you!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Back to the Botanical Gardens

The orchids are stunning at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens. Plein air painters have moved indoors for the winter and the changes at the gardens are mind boggling. Two greenhouses are closed for their renovations, completely sealed for lead abatement and replacement of the glass in the domes.

The decorations for Christmas are everywhere, little snowglobes are ready for wish-making, the giant train set is tooteling, ribbons, lights and snowflakes hanging and brightening every corner. This orchid, identified only by a number and no name, beckoned me. I had pastels but started my painting with black sharpie underpainting to intensify some of the dark areas. On the way home I was tempted to stop at Hyatt's to buy new intense colors but I'll have to consult my charts and pastel drawers for some elusive shades, then open my wallet.

It was a treat to be out with pastels, the oil tubes have been my steady companions this year. As I was working on this my brain was considering how it would be different if I had brushes and canvas instead. I wasn't working as close as the photo shows, I put the picture into the display to use the camera, my seat was in the greenhouse aisle.
Not yet titled, unfinished in the photo.
(In progress)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

And the winner is....

Sheila, the winner of the painting with Kath
  I do few public events that are not gallery exhibits each year. Three times I was at events where I heard many lovely comments about this painting. Clients in the studio all hoped to win it. It was my 'gift' to customers, for every sale their name was entered into a drawing which was held after the Knox Mansion Holiday showcase. Sheila Petrocy Green is the new owner of 'Botanical Garden Gifts', a 16x12 pastel under glass. 

The Buffalo Botanical Garden has an amazing floral display and any seat in the greenhouses includes a 360 degree view of holiday splendor. From a bench I could see beyond the tower of poinsettias and was attracted to their huge Christmas tree, blazing with giant golden globes and mini white lights, surrounded by extravagant wrapped gifts. Most of this painting was completed at the Garden, I later spent studio time working the golden ornaments and the wrapped packages.

I was so pleased to have Sheila, a jewelry artist, win the painting. She was genuinely thrilled to take it home to her family. Her website is, check it out!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Painting in Cuba!

I'm going to paint in Cuba!

I was young when the Cuba blockade started and wondered if families would go hungry and what would happen when people needed things, I worried the kids would not have games and toys. I continued to be interested in the politics and events and now I am finally going there. I will soak up the culture and energy of Cuba as I paint, morning, afternoon and evening.

A bit of my letter from the publisher of Plein Air magazine, Eric Rhoads:

"We'll be among the first to paint the beautiful and interesting people and scenery of Cuba as they are today, before the big-city developers come in and turn the island into a modern tourism capital."

I was an original 'Adirondack School Painter' when the first Publisher's Invitational was formed and I was fortunate to be an attendee for 3 summers and stop in at the 4th. They were rich experiences in the Adirondack mountains dedicated to painting sites familiar to the Hudson River School of Painters. I know that this Cuba trip is an opportunity to capture the flavor of old Cuba and experience the friendly people and dramatic architecture. My 'Painting for Preservation' experiences will be enhanced by this trip. (but I won't miss the cold and windy Saturday mornings in Buffalo when we painted out to bring public attention to neglected historic and endangered buildings) 

I hope my work there will have an impact on the need to preserve old Cuba, to glorify and celebrate the past rather than raze tired but lovely buildings to establish modern hotel chains and restaurants. I am prepared to turn my clock back 50 years.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Painting what I want to paint

Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters choose beautiful locations as a rule. I go to paint the water, the majestic trees or lovely homes and get inspiration from another direction. Several of my paintings have 'Turn Around' in the title, the result of going somewhere special and painting something entirely different by turning around. Lately I've turned away more often from lovely scenes to capture day to day views. Something about my Painting for Preservation interests and maybe a bit of interest in rusting infrastructure?
In this painting, before I did my turnaround, my goal was to paint the Niagara River from a lovely park.

Mississippi Mudds oil on board 9x12

I posted this earlier, in progress before it was complete. I went in early evening to capture 'Wine on Third' but the trees had grown too large and the building was nearly covered. Across the street there are views of several early 20th c. buildings of local iconic status. Normally I would not have noticed the signs, but there have been years of discussion about the lack of directional signs in Niagara Falls. Nope, not anymore.

Route 62, oil on board 12x16

'Cool Mists' at 24 th annual Regional Artists Exhibition

The annual Regional Artists Exhibition is a juried show, judged from original work, and all of it is delivered in a two hour period on a Saturday. By arriving during the second hour I can see many of the 'hopeful' paintings. The walls were covered, the floor had layers of paintings and the competition was fierce, so many great works waiting to be judged by the new curator in town. Always pleased to be included in this show at Artists Group Gallery in Buffalo.

Kathy Schifano, Niagara art
Cool Mists 18x24 oil

4 paintings move to a new address

The 4 smaller plein air paintings shown had been in Austin, Texas, displayed at an even height around a sitting room on two walls in a ranch home. They looked great there.

Then, the four paintings were moved and hung at new address, still in Texas and beautifully reframed to bookend the large painting already on this wall.  I like them even better here. I didn't realize how well they would work together. The central painting is a family heirloom, my smaller ones probably are going to be heirlooms as well. Two are 16x20, the others are 11x14.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Channeling Magritte?

Saturday isn't my favorite day to paint because it interferes with my morning yoga class. This Saturday paintout was in Niagara Falls, Ontario, with Jacq Baldini and Kathryn McMahon. We had been trying to get together to paint for a few years, and this was a perfect day. I had never been to this Canadian overlook as a tourist or a painter, it is the terminus of the Spanish aerocar which crosses over the Whirlpool rapids.

When I stood back to evaluate my painting the sun seemed to blind me but I realized that the setup of my easel and the view were in pretty good alignment. Looking into the iPhone view window to take a photograph the image it was nearly impossible to see in the sunlight.  I seemed to have done a pretty good job of matching the shapes. THis was a good reason and a good day to skip yoga class.

A recent series of end of year paintings have evolved into realism, this is an example. Close up, the painting has a lot of abstract areas but it sure matches the scenery in the photo on the easel.
Kathy Schifano, river painting, Autumn Niagara
Whirlpool from Ontario 12x16 oil on birch

Friday, October 9, 2015

American Falls from the base

Going back to this site, if I could reproduce the day, I would make my 30 seconds of video quite different. Alas, this is what I did, and here are the two paintings, still wet, that I completed at the base of the American Falls.

My year has been good for painting, although I have thought my work would be a bit more abstract by the end of this season, realism creeps back in by itself. I call myself a Realistic Impressionist.

WIth friends in town to ride the Maid of the Mist I paid my $1 to go down the overlook elevator and set up beyond some massive boulders while they appreciated the park. These garage size rocks stopped most of the mist from landing on my palette. Although some mist doesn't particularly affect the picture, if enough gets on the painting the brush starts to slide and paint will not stick. It only took a moment to decide to omit the staircase and tourists in blue plastic raincoats who can climb to meet the water. It seems that leaving out the manmade structures is usually my first reaction in nature. They just would have been tiny bits of brilliant blue slapped onto the cliff edge, this waterfall is respectfully massive, dwarfing all scale references.
Looking up at the American Falls, Morning light 8x10 oil

Looking up at the American Falls, Afternoon light 12x16 oil
That's my umbrella, and I am standing back to check my painting from a distance. Photo from the cliff above by Darice Lang.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Buffalo's China Light

Buffalo marina, k Schifano

I have been here before and I have painted the lighthouse several times. It is the China light lighthouse in the canalside area of Buffalo. The shape is the same. the horizon is the only item in the view other than the lighthouse, yet each painting captures another day, another weather, a different sky. In particular, this does not have a light in the beacon area, nor is there glass. The giant lamp was being retrofitted to have a light, but not to be a marker for ships in the lake. It no longer correctly marks the Buffalo harbor on ship maps, there are smaller buoys to mark channels and safe areas.

The day after I painted it, the lamp and windows were returned to the top. I had considered going back to paint the new top but have decided that my plein air painting captured a particular moment.

'A Day Before the Light' 16x12 oil on birch

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mississippi Mudds on the river

plein air river food, Niagara Street

A favorite summer spot for a fun meal, Mississippi Mudds had a sign stating it would close at the end of the month. I had gone there to paint on the riverwalk, but the colors of the restaurant would be gone soon. I turned my chair to face the road, my back to the river. THe more time I spent on this painting, the more detail I saw, the ice cream cone lights, the flags on the terrace, power poles and various colors in the windows. Observers were all surprised to notice the lighthouse top in the painting, they had never noticed it on the building. It was partially obscured from my angle but out in the open from every other direction.

As I painted this in the morning, there were few people at the ice cream window to model for me, but as I finished, the lines had started and customers ordered fun meals for a late summer day. Oh well, next year I will start later, or perhaps I will choose Old Man River, or even the river!

Mississippi Mudds,  9x12 oil on birch, © 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Looking For Colors in the fog

Kath Schifano
Painting shows the fog lifting a little after I arrived

photo taken when I started my painting

The day after I returned from a 5 day NYC art trip a paintout had been planned at Bond's Lake. Although I was not entirely ready to start painting right away, I still had art to unpack and put away, I went. Sherrill Primo had graciously offered to pick up my paintings from the NFPAP show at 464 Gallery and had them in her car.

As I drove north, a dense brown cloud appeared across the horizon, as I got closer to Lewiston I saw it was low to the ground right where I was headed, making a right turn, I drove right into intense fog, which appeared gray white from the inside. Again, I hesitated to continue, knowing that it was too dense to find my artist friends in the desolate park. I continued and realized the opportunity the fog presented in a painting, plus, I found them all easily at the end of the park road.

Glad to have my pastels, I set up quickly and made color notes on the lightly sketched page so that I would have the colors established as the fog lifted. The distance was invisible, just a shadow on the sky, and the middle ground alternated between fuzzy and gone altogether. This was a fairly quick plein air and I am so pleased that the fog remained when I needed it. As I finished the fog lifted and an amazing set of early fall colors appeared in the island in the distance. So glad I didn't see them earlier.

Looking for Colors in the Fog 9x12 pastel c. 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

New York art season.

 A long weekend in NewYork City during the opening of the art season resulted in miles and miles on my step tracking app. The Gagosian Gallery's Roy Lichtenstein Green Street mural reconstruction was a gift to see, the accompanying images by Roy showed how he used icons of American advertising to develop paintings and find graphics for his work. A marble notebook in a showcase was open to pages scotchtaped with newspaper line drawings for ads to buy mixers, luggage, home products and furniture. 
 Stepping into the Shepard Fairey show at Jacob Lewis Gallery was an adventure in itself, packed with people on two floors. Fortunately they were all chatting so I was able to see most of his controversial art, some of it displayed salon style. Laurene Buckley and I wondered which one in the crowd was Fairey so I looked him up on Google images. As his face appeared on my phone, he walked towards us, turned 180' and walked away, smiling, as he saw what we were doing. A moment later he watched us through the gallery office window, I think I saw a smirk and a wink. Wearing a crisp blue oxford shirt with carefully turned sleeves and dress dockers, he wasn't quite what we expected. Neither did he fit into the crowd of hip city folk in edgy fashions and attitude. I went home with a few 'Obey Giant' stickers to share in WNY.
Much of the work at this exhibit was directed at corporate America, in particular oil barons and waste producing unhealthy products. THe litho plates were mounted, along with prints, paintings and embellished works of the same images, most of it in the red/black/warm color schemes of this work. Loved the show!

So, the weekend also included revisiting the 'Sargent and Friends' exhibition at the Met and MOMA's Picasso sculptures, a few other galleries, lots of walking and meeting artist friends and ended with packing my solo show of ocean, jetty and water scenes in Long Beach, where they have been hanging for the last three weeks. 15 paintings, carefully packed, fit into my big leather carryall and I was able to squeeze it through the security lines at JFK as a carry on. Did I mention how much I love this job?

Monday, September 7, 2015

#30. The final painting

When I posted 30 paintings in 30 days I was also touching up the large picture 'Glory's Bath Takes Too Long'. The final was posted earlier. These images show the progress of that painting which actually spent several months on my easel, a good bit of that time was 'thinking' or evaluating the progress, how the colors should look, the proper perspective and light for the space, how edges could soften or be sharp. The slump of the back, expressing the difficulty of waiting until the washing machine would finally finish is the most obvious difference, but the hair and legs and the facade of the machine also changed. 

Glory's Bath Takes TOO Long, 48x24, oil

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Summer Plein Air

Kathy Schifano, Buffalo plein air
Allentown garage in Arlington Park, Buffalo

Kath Schifano, painting at festival, street flowers, flower garden
Center and 7th in Lewiston, NY

NACC, Kathy Schifano, Niagara Falls painting
Considering a Cruller, the Niagara Falls Hiker

Summer is outdoor painting season whenever there is time and decent weather. Each of these three paintings had a different reason to be made. The 'Fairweather Paletteers' of East Aurora met up with Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters in Allentown for the garage view.  It had a red tricycle in the driveway but the scale was wrong, so I overpainted it and hope to find another tricycle to put it back, larger this time.

The second was a demonstration painting at the Lewiston Art Festival, a view of their wonderful street gardens. It took two mornings to get the light right as I was facing west and the sun moved the shadows quickly.

The last was painted in the park across from the NACC in NIagara Falls, included two well known landmarks. Freddie's Donuts has been there longer than I have lived in this area, and the Hiker was placed early in the last century, at the corner of Portage and Main Street. I hope no one decides to clean up his gaudy blue patina.

Allentown Garage, 11x14 oil on canvas

Center and 7th, 7.5x10.5 oil on Arches Huile

Considering A Cruller, 9x12 oil on Arches Huile

Friday, September 4, 2015

Third Street mashup

  Annually, the NACC has a fund raising auction of paintings created on selected Sunday evenings at Wine on Third. This year I had planned to capture some of the building architecture up close but when I arrived the tents were up and the sidewalk was full of painters and friends as well as patrons. I decided to work across the street.

Originally interested in the perspective view of Third Street, I became attracted to the signs. As long as I have lived here, there have been complaints about signage, especially for tourists. This was my view and the painting in early progress. It is a sanded canvas, originally a picture of Chautaqua Lake swimmers and boats which I turned upside down-you can see a boat and docks where the 2 hour sign will be, and a bit of the tree line on the bottom of my painting. Fortunately I was across the street from the crowd. People who saw this work in progress were quite confused about me and where I was headed with 2 pictures happening on one board. Not every painting is worth keeping and my power sander helps me reuse those boards.

KAthy Schifano, Niagara Falls downtown, Wine on THird I am considering a few details yet, such as larger bolts on the signs and maybe some of the reflected light on the signs. Or maybe not.

Falls View 12x18 oil on board  c.K Schifano

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Falls at Water Level

Kath Schifano, plein air Niagara Falls, niagara artist

I discovered a new access to the water level of the lower Niagara. Close by parking and no climbing necessary, I expect to paint here often. Perhaps in early Spring we will have a larger glimpse of the Horseshoe Falls, the trees and leaves will not be as dense on the cliffs but I will have to bundle up. The lower river stays full of ice and very cold water for quite a while.

This is at the winter dock storage for the Maid of the Mist ships. The seasonal docks are just beyond the trees. The water here is the Horseshoe Falls.

At Water Level, 11x14 oil on birch panel

My beach paintings go on exhibit, 9/1-9/20, 2015

I currently have a display of 15 plein air beach paintings in Long Beach, 250 East Park Avenue. Galleries for practicing artists are rare on Long Island as people can purchase art in nearby NYC (or else WalMart). Last year, the curator for The Coffee Nut saw my work, so I am pleased to have my paintings selected for the busy end of the summer season crowd.

These photos show some of the paintings that are on display September 1-21. This is where they belong, in the salt air where they were born. All are Plein Air and all have lightweight frames as I will be bringing them home as carry on luggage when the exhibition is over. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Youngstown Yacht Club, 'Art on the River'

I think I return to this show just for the spectacular view of the lower Niagara and entry of Lake Ontario at sunset. The event is only a few hours, on the Thursday evening before the Lewiston festival, but my table has views up and down the river with unbelievable sunsets and light. They always manage to have great weather.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Adirondack getaway

A quick trip to the Adirondacks to visit Frances Gaffney involved several walks to Antler Lake, a bit up the road from her home. It is just stunning in all directions, we went one morning to paint and I chose the blue canoe in the third picture. Unfinished, I need to complete the painting in the studio, right now I am considering adding Dexter, her visiting grand-dog.

Antler Lake Reflections

Big Sky, Green and pink.

Turning around from the lake, some temptations

wonders of nature

The Lewiston Art Festival

As a rule, I only sell my work at one weekend outdoor major street exhibition, the Lewiston Festival of Art. The emphasis is on fine art and it is a juried event. I did break my rule this summer by doing the Niagara Falls Music and Art Festival. I am not planning to do that again, indoor events at local venues are so much better. This was my 9th year at the Lewiston Art Festival and I was pleased to be featured twice in the NFP newspapers, one image before the event of my tent last year and another this year when I was painting there. Thanks to Larry Austin for some fine photos! And yes, I will be back there as long as the judges jury me in.
2015 demonstrating plein air

2014 photo used to advertise this year's event

the tent set up August 8 & 9, 2015

Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters Exhibition

One more show.

Summer has been a season of painting and exhibits, at one point in June I had work displayed in 7 different galleries and venues and the absence of all those paintings gave me a bit of breathing room in the studio/gallery.

Today, I picked up the last two paintings from the Beyond the Barrel Exhibition at the NACC in Niagara Falls and am looking forward to a group show my plein air painting friends will have at 464 Gallery in Buffalo.

Be there. Or Be Square.

Below are the two paintings from the NACC show, '8,000 Cubic Feet a Second', oil, 16x20 and 'Mist Over Three Sister's Bridge', pastel 18x24