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. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

On the street 186 Linwood

Buffalo, a mecca for great architecture and architects is full of variety and details. Every street has unique buildings no matter the economics of the area. Lovely Linwood Avenue is tucked between Main Street and Delaware Avenue and was on the Thursday NFPAP paint schedule. A short walk up Linwood after parking and there were multiple opportunities to choose from, this house was painted partly because of the large shady area across the street.
The challenge here was to capture the soft light bluish-gray white color on the first floor. Of course the front door was purple!
In progress, turning the easel to keep sun off the canvas
It is a wide street with stately homes and mature trees. People were walking dogs, getting exercise and running errands. It is so nice to be in a walking area of Buffalo that is also residential. I smelled laundry, heard birds and vehicles. I felt the occasional breeze and flickering sunshine. Mostly, I saw a very cool Sears and Roebuck plan house that I needed to put on canvas. Oh. what fun Spring is!

purple front door, house in Buffalo, plein air architecture

"186" oil on canvas, 12x9 (c) K.Schifano 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Italy in 2019, Exhibit in 2020

Based on my posted art work and not a proper application, I have been invited to be the resident artist at Borgo Santo Pietro in Italy for a month next year. It is an elegant 14th century manor expanded and updated to be an exclusive hotel in the hills of Tuscany.

It is nestled near Sienna and Florence and I am provided with a lovely glass walled studio surrounded by gardens, water, farmland of grapes and vegetables, flowers and history. I plan to be outside painting en plein aire but have the studio to retreat to if the weather should be windy or too rainy.

This has me very excited and already doing some long range planning. It will be a welcome interruption to 2020 exhibit preparation, Trilogy XXX with Karen Foegen and Carol Case Syracuse at Artists Group Gallery. That will involve the three of us Plein Air painting in many of the same places over the next two years. Our exhibit will feature our three paintings of the same locations as well as sketches on site and possibly some studio work from the Plein airs. This will be intriguing and interesting.

These two special events were recently confirmed and, as things happen in threes, I’m waiting patiently for the next big one!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Cherry Blossom Festival in the Japanese Garden

Each May the Buffalo History Museum presents a week long festival when the Cherry Blossoms in the Japanese Gardens open and celebrations of the Japanese tea ceremony are held as the cascading flowers fall to the ground. Parades, boat rides, music and painters, cosplay actors, bonsai, free admissions and spring bring out crowds of happy visitors and many cameras. 

In progress.

This year I decided to choose a close up of the pink tree flowers. After drawing the plan for this in a sketch book I decided to paint the Cherry Blossom flowers horizontally. My selected bunch were right in front of me and a bit above. Mild breezes kept moving the branches and I managed to keep from getting dizzy by not looking up until the breeze slowed.

The final painting. 'Early blooms in the Japanese Garden ' 9x12 oil

Photo (with my French Resistance pochade by Judson’s Art  Outfitters) by Diane G. My pink hat draws the most comments during this event. 

Billy Wilson Park

Although there is a lot of grass in the photo, this early Spring painting has such a little bit of green in the scene that I viewed, in the moss on the logs and a bit of skunk grass starting across the pond.

Annual early Plein Air events at places like these are the perfect way to welcome Spring. Ducks and geese and turtles abound, the sounds of toddlers in the new playground nearby and expansive views of the wetlands all combine to celebrate the new season.

I’ll edit this and add the final photo soon.

Buffalo skyline At Paint The Town (edited)

I had an unusual opportunity to paint from the top floor of the iconic Electric Building in Buffalo before the adaptive reuse was completed. The top floor was designed as the corporate offfices of the electric company and was paneled with carved and detailed wood, elegant doors were disguised in the walls and great windows opened in every direction from the empty round space. The first long distance transmission of DC electricity was sent from Niagara Falls to this building.

The views extended for miles in every direction to Canada, Grand Island, and the Falls as well as the challenge of looking down onto streets in a radial grid designed by Frederick Olmsted for Buffalo. I chose a window facing southwest through the First Ward, past the grain elevators to the wind turbines in Lackawanna and beyond to further shores of Lake Erie. The dome on the right is the Buffalo Sabres ice arena.

Perspectives were altered by looking down, and the clarity of the air made distant details easy to see. Truly, it would be a pleasure to access those windows again! 

"Paint the Town" is an annual fundraiser for the Buffalo History Museum and I have donated paintings there for several years; the generous patrons have bid the prices high enough to make my work valuable to their endowments. I chose to give them this skyline painting because patrons are familiar with these buildings and the location, I think it should bring them a good price. 

I am asked for donations frequently and carefully choose organizations that I wish to support and which will benefit most from a work I am willing to part with. Artists are asked to subsidize clubs or donate too often, to support all sorts of endeavors and fundraisers but their work may be auctioned or sold for low amounts and without benefit or value to the artist. The public is often unaware of the difference between a print and an original painting. For these reasons, I investigate requests and try to match my life interests with their needs and the quality of the invent. Years ago I was told by a potential client 'I won a $350 painting for $40!”.  Shame. 

Be generous. Support your local museums! Paint The Town event is May 17 this year.

'Where I Like To Paint, Buffalo '. 12x24 oil 


The painting was placed in the Live Auction and was one of the last to be featured, so it earned the museum a great price. I was thrilled to see it front and center for the event, and more thrilled to watch the bidding. The new owner invited me to see it in his home, he was excited to have won it.