Sunday, January 3, 2016

December Solstice

The change of seasons is always a good excuse to paint. This December was ridiculously warm and I brought my smallest paintbox to the Falls to celebrate the sun's solstice. Being the shortest day of light wasn't a problem, it was overcast and the light stayed the same until it suddenly darkened and the rain started.

I had not actually planned to paint, it was a last minute choice to grab the paintbox, I had on my good 'going out to dinner' clothes and jacket. Normally a neat painter, I had no apron, no chair and not much to lean on so I stood and balanced the open box on the overlook bridge railing which happened to be diagonally sloped and very round and slippery. The next issue was this tiny box has no lid hinge, I usually use it on my lap in the car, the steering wheel is a great support for the lid.

Picture this. Dressed nicely, I am holding a cigar box open, the lid at 90' resting crooked on the rail, two wet brushes and a palette knife in my hands and I need to open the tube of white paint. Foolishly, I tried that trick. A favorite brush loaded with color did a cartoon like swirl up in the air when my sleeve knocked it out of the other hand. Of course it striped down my my coat as it frisbeed in the air, but my concern was to keep the brush from rolling off the bridge and into the Niagara River, headed for Ontario and the north Atlantic. Got it.

And then it started to pour. There was fresh wet oil paint on my sleeves and coat, 2 brushes wet with paint, palette knife, wet painting, open box and mixed paints, open tubes. I skedaddled the 1/4 mile into the visitors center with everything askew. The lovely ending was a vacant table near a window where I cleaned up the messes, touched up the picture and dried my gear out. It really was a lovely day, I love this little painting and celebration of the Winter solstice. I'm ready for longer days. And sunshine.

blue and brown painting, winter solstice, Niagara falls art

Despite the Rain, oil, 5x7 c.2015

Grand Island Memorial Library

Soma Cura. So many meanings.

I've been going to Soma Cura for lunchtime yoga classes for a few weeks and enjoy working with the new teachers and atmosphere. Several other members are acquaintances and I received a commission because seeing me gave Pat an idea for a painting. A week after we met at yoga she called me to paint the Grand Island Memorial Library building for a gift from the Library Board to the departing director. He was instrumental planning the new building so I felt pressure to get the details right. Commissions are always a bit more difficult than going out to paint 'something or anything'. Having built a house and collaborated on the new Niagara Falls High School I know what goes into planning construction, the director would be aware of scale, size, textures and colors.

The format of the building is 10 times wider than the height so it demanded a very wide canvas. On my phone I made a collection of library photos for references. A printed photo also hung near the easel. I kept flicking the phone screen back and forth to check scale, window details, brick colors, tree branches and more. It was pretty easy to pull up a photo to answer questions about the details and shapes by sliding and enlarging images with my finger. Having a 24 inch canvas of details to work on involved sliding my chair left and right to correct perspectives and shadows. Then, on occasion I also put my hand up to the canvas to slide it left and right. Fortunately only twice did I wreck wet paint and have to correct my swipe. Meanwhile, the phone also collected paint. I need to adjust some things in the studio.

Back to Soma Cura to find that peace again.

Here is the painting, nearly dry and ready for the presentation January 7.

painted building, Kathy Schifano, commission painting, Grand Island artist

A Life's Work, A Memorial Library, 8 x 24 oil on gallery wrap canvas ©2015