Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Serious bidding at 20th Century Club

The exquisite 20th Century Club is a Buffalo jewel. I have painted their gardens and been to events but this time was special. The Artist's Group Gallery annual October fundraiser there utilized three rooms as well as numerous sitting areas for the bidders. The art display room was very well lit, the cocktails area was elegant and the dinner was wonderful.

This photo shows one of the silent bidding tables which were busy all evening. I donated a small pastel, 'Complementary Niagara', a view of the Horseshoe Falls. Last I looked, there was a long line of bids placed and I am not sure who took it home.

A lovely evening!

Explaining where I live

The American Falls and Bridal Veil
The Horseshoe Falls

Well, yes, this is Niagara Falls and that IS A LOT OF WATER! Lake Erie ends in Buffalo and the neck of water named the Niagara River is technically not a river. It isn't long enough at 35 miles and just connects two lakes, it also is the natural boundary between the USA and Canada. It ends at Lake Ontario. 

Many areas of this river are nearly a mile wide. After Buffalo, and before the famous Falls attraction, an island is formed where the river splits. At that point it is usually called East River and West River and I live there along with about 20,000 others, in Grand Island. The Niagara Thruway bridges are our only access roads and the first was built in 1939. Before that, it was mostly a summer residence and party place, students who lived year here round took a ferry to the mainland for school...unless it was frozen over. 

The larger island here is Grand Island and the smaller, uninhabited one is Navy Island. Navy was once considered as a location for the United Nations and belongs to Canada. My home is at about 8 o'clock in the picture, near the speck of island to the left of the bridge. There are two state parks here, one at each end and much greenspace as the residents mostly live along the water. The waterfalls are two miles downriver, out of the picture. This is a view looking south toward Buffalo, you can see the expanse of Lake Erie at the top. Needless to say, the fury of the river make it a poor choice for swimming.
Thank you to James Cavanaugh for permission to use this unique Grand Island photo, we usually see if from the southern view. More of his dramatic aerial photos are at

Merit Award in Buffalo

Last winter was dreary and gray and had little appeal to convince me to paint outdoors. The thing about this area is, if it is winter and the sun is shining then it is really very cold. Those mild temperature days are due to cloud cover holding in heat and there seemed to be an overabundance of sunless afternoons.
BNAA,Merit Award, Winter Shadows,winter painting
Winter Shadows, oil, 12x16

purple painting, winter art, K Schifano
Merit Award for 'Winter Shadows'

Last February, a blazing sun cast deep dark shadows in the backyard woods. Lazily, I set up an easel and paints in the dining room window to capture that view. Not quite true plein air, but painted in the spirit, and I finished it at the window in a long single sitting and I let it be. Prettiest day of winter 2017-2018!

The BNAA fall show is at Buffalo Artist Studios in Trimain and the awards reception was during the Trimain and BAS Fourth Friday event. I am pleased to have been awarded a Merit Award from the juror, George Grace.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Infringement on Allen Street.

Kathy Schifano

What started as an oversized plein aire took two weekends sitting on Allen Street and a lot more time in the studio. It’s a lovely painting but my original idea didn’t resemble this. The details grabbed me by the throat and screamed 'PAINT ME". So, instead of a loose and painterly view in Allentown I have a pretty accurate rendition of the street on a weekend morning. But I like it.

It is now showing at Buffalo Arts Studio in the Buffalo Niagara Art Association juried exhibit, prizes and ribbons will be awarded at Trimain's fourth Friday event.

Infringement on Allen Street, 18x24 oil c. 2018

A bit of Magritte

The artist Magritte played with images, some serious, others were whimsical. My favorites are when he has a painting overlapping a picture, the image behind the canvas is on the canvas. I tried it. 

This is a view and of the lower Niagara River on my easel, painted from Canada overlook by the Whirlpool. I lined up the painting with the view.  It’s harder to photograph than it looks. The painting is the image on this month's calendar page.

This is a sample of painting by Magritte, all of it is paint, including the easel and curtain.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Winning is wonderful, but I forget to share it!

Two years ago I participated in a week long plein air event in Westfield, NY. During that week I stayed with friends and spent most of each day painting, there were several evening events for the artists and a lovely weekend art exhibition.
While there, I discovered the local bakery, Portage Pie where you preorder dessert pies or take a chance they have an extra. I left a fun painting of the Portage Pie shop with my hosts. The next year, the building which had been blue for as long as anyone remembered, was painted brown. Just another example of a plein air artist capturing an image that doesn't last.

Nearby Barcelona Harbor, which is along the nearby seaway trail has an eclectic collection of new and vintage boats including liveaboards on shore and rusting hulks in assorted places. I was attracted to a majestic sailboat in the harbor; while I painted a gentleman sat quietly eating for a long time so he was added to the boat portrait. Later I met him and thanked him for eating his lunch so slowly.
"Lunch?' he said.
"I only had a donut."

At the Riverwalk Exhibit in Tonawanda this summer that painting was selected to win an honorable mention. The announcer prefaced the prize  announcement with "This painting is of my favorite places, Barcelona. We are thrilled to be headed back to Spain next Spring."
Sheepishly I informed her that it was the Barcelona on Lake Erie and we all had a good laugh. So pleased to have had such a successful year with my paintings. I need to keep up with this blog better, the paintout was two years ago and the River Art Gallery sponsored prize awarded two months ago. Old news can still be good news.
2 Masts In Barcelona, 20x16 plein air oil

In progress, a season of sunflowers

Not titled yet!!! c. Kath Schifano

This fun old truck is parked at Sunflowers of Sanborn to add to the collection of curiosities that make a visit here special. The painting is in progress here, wet and on the easel.
The view from my parked car. 'Best parking space view' award.

Inside the field, you are surrounded by the joy of happy visitors and the sunny faces of the plants.

‘Calm’ A pastel at Tifft preserve.

Calm 12x16 pastel Kath Schifano
Beautiful, lush, quiet, peaceful, and natural Tifft Wildlife Preserve is a jewel of a place, formerly a massive and useless brownfield in South Buffalo. It used to be a busy railroad terminal for industry, full of crisscrossing tracks and the junk associated with a zillion old trains. With a great deal of help from  the community and government it is now a large sanctuary open to hikers and interested people. Nature has totally reclaimed this place. A few years ago you could see rust and grain elevators in the distance, as trees grow, that view disappears.

Love to paint here, I think some of my most peaceful moments painting happen here, every painting has a story. Ask me about the turtles. This calm pond sometimes has egrets and herons on the shore, it always has ducks and turtles and fish. Bring the kids, find peace.

Farm to Table in North Tonawanda

Partner's Flowers, 9x12 pastel c.2018

Who can resist an evening paintout? These are marigolds and coleus in a window box in front of Partners in Art, North Tonawanda. The Farm to Market dinner was happening in a few hours and I was assigned to paint outside of Partners in Art. I had planned to include the majestic marquee from the restored Riviera Theater in my plein air but didn't have a clear angle of view. I sketched several historic buildings across the street but was still not inspired. However, when the music began I was suddenly sure of my subject-the huge planter of glorious red and yellow on the sidewalk by the shop. 

A lovely dinner on the Webster Bistro patio and a perfect evening with artist friends finished with a visit to where Ylli Haruni was painting. Graciously, he stopped painting his own picture to sketch me while Caedyn and I chatted. What a treasure, he flattered me by eliminating about 30 years. I even approve his adaption of my all day in the sun hat hair. I hope that the joy he captured in this picture comes across to everyone I meet.
Kath in pencil,  by Ylli Haruni 

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Playing in the Sunflowers

We decided to call it Tailgating at Sunflowers of Sanford with a number of other painters Arriving all morning. Arriving early, we backed our traveling studios to the fence and painted away on another spectacular WNY summer day. As part of my process I changed a photo to B&W to check the balance of values. I touched the painting up a bit after I came home; driving home with windows wide open isn’t a great idea with a pastel painting in the back.

Wind Dancers, 12x9 pastel c. 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

Bonds Lake and Kayakers

Familiar with kayakers frequently entering the water at Buckhorn, a pair of visitors from Canandaigua entered the water at Bonds Lake when we first arrived. Sherrill Primo and I were mentoring a new plein air painter and we drove further into the park to a quiet view of a smaller lake, a few fallen trees and the richness of nature.
IMagine my surprise when the kayak couple entered this water as well. I had taken photos of them earlier, planning to use them if needed. This time, the lady kept her boat still for me to observe it in scale with my picture. I wound up turning her around, because who wants to see a painting of someone paddling out the right corner of a picture?

The drama of the day was during clean up. My very wet and globby palette took a dive, face first right into the painting. A great deal of thick paint-red, orange, yellow- stuck itself to the water  areaas well as extra speckles all through the picture. A palette knife comes in handy-scrape it off!

I did get home later than I planned.
Perfect Kayak Day, 9x12 oil on birch c.2018

Same old angle, new view

Rainbow Mist, looking towards Canada
I can walk along the Niagara River and see views of the mist rising from the bottom of the gorge for close to a mile. It never fails to amaze me and I have painted it from slightly different angles in different sizes and media.
This particular painting is unusual as I included the skyline of Niagara Falls Ontario. Usually, manmade structures are omitted or barely visible.
Rainbow Mist, 9x12, oil on birch panel c. 2018

Buffalo Garden Walk in the Community Gardens

The annual Buffalo Garden Walk is one of the 'must do' things in WNY. Instead of working in a private garden with tinkling waterfalls and spectacular floral and fauna, the Buffalo Society of Artists sponsors a community gardens paint in for kids, mostly kids anyway. Paints, paper and shade are ready in this neighborhood garden where anyone who wants or needs fresh vegetables can pick them. The cherry tomatoes I chose were turning color as I worked. What a nice way to experience nature.
Vermont Street Tomatoes, 16x12 pastel, c. 2019

Gallery windows in Buffalo

Two adjoining galleries wrap around North Street in Buffalo to Linwood Street. Art Dialogue Gallery has a window facing the street that is always interesting to view. I had parked in front and took this shot of Bill Wilson's sculptures. 
While I was there, Don Siuta asked if he could use my painting in the North Street windows of Artists Group Gallery. Leaving, I took this photo of it at the very moment a cyclist rode by and her reflection landed precisely on the beach of the painting. Coincidentally, it is titled "That Moment" which was meant for the moment of sunrise on the ocean horizon. This picture caught another 'moment'.
Art Dialogue Gallery, Bill Wilson sculpture, Donald Siuta

That Moment, 40x20, oil on canvas, c.2015

Frank Lloyd Wright Boathouse

The start of a painting is a drawing - this is on a black toned canvas and it is in the shade of a building
Note how the light and shadows change, especially on the boathouse.

The Wind At FLW Boathouse, 12x16 oil

 I chose to leave the foliage off the tree to keep emphasis on the building.
Note how the shadows are longer in this afternoon photo and there is no light on the front. The wind is evident from the furled flags.

Wind at FLW Boathouse, oil on canvas 12x16 c.2018

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Buckhorn! Again! Summer!

 Look very carefully, the right side of the photo at top shows the tree hanging over the creek. Taking the photo together with a painting uses a different vantage point and size relationship than my eyes see as I paint. Watching this tree slowly melt into the landscape over the years has been interesting. It is indeed slowly breaking down as it had several trunks in my first painting years ago. That was a fall scene from the opposite side of the creek. Kayaks were unloaded near my vantage point and I decided to add one in.
Another Buckhorn Day, 12x16 pastel. c. 2018

Burchfield Nature Park

Buffalo Creek and Burchfield, 9x12 pastel c.2018

Sharon Fundalinski and Peggy Walker introduced me to this park at least ten years ago and every time I return it is a lovely day with slowly rippling water, little kids with grandparents, people walking dogs and peaceful nature sounds. Many of the stately trees are gone as the creek has the potential to become fast and furious and the trees roots are eroded, year by year as they age.

There are still a few massive trees that may have been painted by Charles Burchfield. He lived directly across the creek from this one.

Fort Niagara Lighthouse

This is my view of
the lighthouse, about 5 minutes into my preliminary drawing, when the buses arrived.  Not interested in using yellow I decided to paint the upper part of this lighthouse. It was a scorching hot day and there were no trees so I had set up in the shade of my car, with the back extended and a shade umbrella attached with bungie cords.
I met so many nice people, tourists from all over were on vacation and headed to Fort Niagara. Best part was espying a revolutionary uniform or other traditional dress as colonial actors reported for work
lighthouse painting, Fort Niagara, old lighthouse
The painted view above the buses
North By Northwest, 12x9, oil on linen panel, 2018

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Another Buckhorn Painting, Spring with a bit of snow.

From the canoe launch on the south side of the park, there is a small inlet that connects to the creek. I painted there on a sunny spring day with ducks and herons and fishermen all around. As I painted, the little bits of snow remaining from a late storm melted.

Spring Equinox, End of Winter, oil on canvas, 9x12 c.2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Burchfield Penney Saturday still life

Two fun Saturday afternoons at Burchfield PenneyArt Center in their first floor classroom
involved an art project with unusual still life set ups by invited artists. I like to work with real objects outdoors, but these were so different that I kept smiling as I painted. It was difficult to choose a particular part of these unusual structures to work with because there was so much going on in each still life.
Saturdays With Myles

Watching the museum's schedule for additional opportunities to do this challenge, I am disappointed that these two paintings will stand alone. There is no way I could put up a crazy still life like either of them for myself. I have to laugh that I did this for my students regularly. Because the setups were completely my choice I didn't have the perspective of strange and new objects. Planning the shapes and colors gave me an unfair advantage. At this moment I want to apologize to all the art students who were overwhelmed by art room still lifes in Niagara Falls High School. It took me quite a few years, but now I know how you felt.
Both paintings are 12x9 oil.  My Guerrilla Painter pochade box worked well on the classroom tables.
Critters With Eyes

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sitting here to paint these rocks=Perfect Day!
 This is just one little piece of the fabulous Niagara Reservation State Park. Three small islands in the upper rapids provide spectacular views of the rapids, but sweet views are abundant as you walk across each of the bridges. Check my post on 3/23/2012 for another island view. I've painted, but not posted, this same boulder several times. When I returned a week later the bushes in the foreground had grown so much that this view was no longer visible. This is one of Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters favorite painting spots. I schedule us there every year.
In progress 'Between Bridges"

plein air niagara, rushing water
Between Bridges, 16x20 oil c. K Schifano 2018

Always nice to win!

Nice coverage of the NACC prize in the Niagara Gazette!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wilson, NY with NFPAP

white building, boats in water
Lighthouse Tower, c.K. Schifano
A group appointment to paint together on the shore of Lake Ontario means I can buy fresh vegetables on the way home. The nice bunches of asparagus I saw on the roadside were gone by the time I was finished, but the garlic sign was up. The garlic farmer gentleman cutting the grass was fun to talk to but unfortunately the garlic isn't ready until July. He said I could come back and paint there...and bring my friends. Angled trees and various sculptures added to the charm of his multiple farm buildings and gardens.
I wanted to paint the Wilson Restaurant but did not have a vantage point to see it from the public area and the homeowners were not around to give permission. I did have a nice view of this new building which is actually a residence and hotel, there is also a marina gas pump nearby. The boats along the front changed frequently as they filled up. The one I painted was pretty big and took a while to fill the tank. I cannot imagine what their bill is to fill it, probably they could afford this painting for that price; the painting would last a lifetime while the gasoline is just a memory.

Lighthouse Tower, 12x9, oil on linen

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A NACC Art Award for Plein Air

Infrastructure, abandoned building, rust painting
The Light in the Tunnel, 20x16, oil on canvas
Award for Excellence in Plein Air Painting

street scene, NYC tavern, city pastel
Pete's Tavern 18x12 pastel on Wallis 
The annual Niagara Arts and Culture Center's summer exhibit "Beyond the Barrel" is always a fun event and a chance to catch up with artists in the center, two gallery shows and friends who hibernate the cold months. These pictures were my two entries, and both were accepted. I try to apply for this show every year, in 2018 the show was appended "Inspire".

At the reception 'The Light in the Tunnel' was awarded the Vjolla Cela Award for Excellence in Plein Air Painting. The certificate hangs by the painting throughout the exhibit and I also received a cash prize. This lovely show of mostly WNY artists will remain in the Townsend Gallery until July 29th.

The Sunday Niagara Gazette published an article and a photo that you couldn't miss in the Night and Day section. These kind of recognitions are flattering, but also reinforce my dedication to creating art that says something, that contains the spirit of the place it is produced. 

The saying 'paint 1000 pictures before you are a painter' is true. Check.

A favorite painting finds a new home

schifano, powerful painting
3 Sisters in Sunlight 12x24 oil on canvas c. K.Schifano
This is perhaps the most powerful painting I will ever do. In fact, it is. I had drawn and painted it several different times from various directions but was aware that a north-northeast facing orientation would rarely have sun or shadows and the work would look flat. Considering this issue, I realized that the late Spring sun would shine on the stone early in the day and I made plans to catch that light. This is a pedestrian bridge to Three Sisters Islands in the Niagara River rapids, very close to Niagara Falls. The name comes from the daughters of General Parkhurst Whitney who settled here in 1810.

When I arrived with the sun low in the sky, it was still in the shade, so I planned the layout on my canvas and began to paint the water and lower part of the canvas, the tree trunks and sky. Finishing those areas I was eager to paint the bridge stonework. However, I had come too late in the season as the leaves on the tree in the right side cast heavy shadows. Sunlight wouldn't touch this bridge again until the next Spring and before leaves opened. 

At that moment....
That tree crashed down, right into the water and the smashed branches and leaves all covered...only the lower area that I had already captured with paint. People and Park workers converged on the area immediately to see what the crash was about. The tree had just broken and fallen at the moment I was wishing it was not there.

That is powerful plein air power.

It actually glowed and I think I was the only one who kept doing what I had started before the crash. Of course, I was slightly shocked, and in awe, but accepting the event as some sort of omen. Just keep painting.
This was several years ago and other paintings of this area have been purchased and loved by their owners. Although several clients held this painting and nearly purchased it, it was always put back in exchange for a different scene. I believe most of them were overwhelmed by the power in the story of this picture, and two people admitted that to me. I decided to keep it in my studio.

Last week '3 Sisters in Sunlight' left me to a new home. I am so pleased that Theresa was immediately attracted to the painting and also loved the story. She spent time looking through many other paintings but this one stayed with her. I am so happy to send it away to someone I consider a friend and who loves the picture for its power like I do. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Mother's Day Rose collection In progress

A stunning double order of varicolored long stem roses came from Monica's daughters with both our names on the card. There were so many that we used two vases for them.  Peach, lavender, pink and shades of those colors were all represented.     The smaller of the bouquets made its way into the studio and I have been working on a rose painting for more than a week.  I added forsythia  branches and plum blossoms from the garden to the composition.  Roses open fairly quickly so I worked on them first.  Although unfinished, the wilted roses are still in the studio as the branches and leaves still serve as a reference when I need it. It is unusual for me to tackle a project like this but I am finding joy in the challenge and am probably honing skills for a future picture.
I have taken pictures several times and turned them black and white in order to see the values as I was working. It helps to choose emphasis areas as well as my use of dark and light colors.

The entire time I have been working, which is significant with a painting such as this, I have endured the company of a critic, a visiting resident cat, Chiquita. She wants to be close as possible to me and the stool in the picture isn't close enough for her. She would paint with her nose if I let her. She would be in my lap if I was not standing to work.

Chiquita the critic also likes to rearrange my set up.