Saturday, December 5, 2020

Finally Paintng at Knox Farm State Park

Knox Farm is a fairly new state park, in East Aurora, New York. This was the Knox family home and farm. That's the family of the original Albright Knox Museum and former owners of the Buffalo Sabres. It was a perfect day to wander before I painted, there were so many directions to face, buildings and fences, paddocks, gardens, and fields. I eventually returned from my walk and chose this view which is near the parking lot and the car. 

My painting has a LOT of sky, actually too much, and I wasn't about to add birds or storm clouds that I dd not see.  However, I was asked if the image could be 'borrowed' for the park's Facebook page and omitting some of the sky to fit the circle worked well. Next time I will spend more time on my planning and hold the canvas horizontal for a scene like this.

It's always an honor to see my work used, one way or another. As I recall, the hills and distance beyond the buildings were part of the attraction to me, it felt like we were closer to the sky. I will go back.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Some really are taller than others, generally around 5-6 feet tall, there is an occasional plant 12 or 15 feet tall. I love how they demand attention. I created a collection of paintings over the years at Sunflowers of Sanborn but this may be the first that includes a group of buildings and the field. Mostly, I like closeup views of flowers in various positions. 

Some Are Taller Than Others, 12x16 pastel

Unity Island

Drive down bumpy Niagara Street towards downtown Buffalo, find the elusive Unity Island entrance, wait your turn for the one way railroad bridge (5mph, please) and there it is. Before I entered the quiet park I knew this would be my view. I was attracted to the water seen under the bridge, and the shore of Canada across the river. These little ink drawings colored in with my travel watercolor set are fun and good for the spirit. I took photos of everyone else to post on the NFPAP blog, Diane took a photo of me.

International Plein Air Painters Worldwide Paintout 2020

Morning Rapids 12x30 oil 

The grounds crew cleared brush and low bushes beyond the paths on the Three Sisters Islands at Niagara Falls State Park. This gave us a wide open view of the Niagara River approaching Goat Island, headed for the precipice, eventually reaching Lake Ontario. Walking there last week I knew I would return for this painting. I decided to do it on the Worldwide Paintout weekend.
Feeling ambitious, I brought a larger gallery framed canvas to 3 Sisters. It had rained hard the previous two days and the rapids were particularly loud. There was a lot of water furiously headed for the falls.  I set up at the edge of the second bridge, leaving room for the occasional tourist and looked to the east. The gates of the Canadian water authority was the only built structure besides the distant communication towers, so this would be perfect. It became a study in soft colors, churning water and a slightly gray sky loaded with clouds. Having an overcast day meant that without strong light the scene would not change much as the day progressed.

Here is the BEFORE picture, with colors on the palette and blank canvas, my view is the far background. Most of my paintings use a limited palette, unlike all the masters and videos demonstrate on their palettes, I don't need or want every color available for every picture. My warm colors are on the left, cool on the right and neutrals in the center. I left out the overhanging branches as well as the two boulders on the right. 


"Twenty Minutes From Everywhere"

 Thrilling! A goal achieved, a significant gallery exhibit of plein air paintings. Two years ago, Carol Case Siracuse invited me and Karen Foegen to organize an exhibit of locations in plein air at Artists Group Gallery. The idea was accepted by Director Donald Siuta and scheduled August 2020. We created a list of places to consider painting together. We wanted the same scene interpreted by three artists. Life intervened for all of us but we managed to paint some places together, and others we visited on our own time. What a great collection of art was made and exhibited!

This year, we became concerned that due to Covid we may not have the show or have to be virtual, using technology. Fortunately, we became the first Gallery show to open and people were thrilled to have a safe place to see art. After 5 months of 'lockdowns' the gallery doors were held open for a no touch entry, touchless sanitizer and no touch temperature taking all insuring safety. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

A true nocturnal painting

moon painting with oil paints in the night sky

As the seasons change on a particular day, a solstice or equinox, I try to paint outdoors. This nocturne painting has been photographed dozens of times, to capture the crimson glow in the horizon sky as well as the blue of the moonlit evening sky. 'The camera never lies' does not apply here as the camera has not been able to capture the truth for nearly three months. This is a summer equinox painting and it has a gloss on the surface that my paintings do not normally exhibit without varnish. Perhaps working in the dark has mixing color problems? The canvas has a more even blue shade across the top of the sky.

Settled on the porch, facing south, trees blend into the colors of night while the sky glows overhead. Studying the night sky values ahead of time and careful color arrangements on a palette made this a fun challenge. Every month the full moon has a name. June's name is 'Strawberry Moon' the time when the berries are ripe and sweet. All summer we have enjoyed the distant planets in our night skies.

Saturn, Jupiter and Strawberry Moon, oil on panel 9x12 c.2020

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Artists in Masks-an entertainment

This short little film is "Artists in Masks" compiled by Burchfield Penney Art Center. Besides changing  attitudes to our 2020 created art, we have also changed our appearances this year. A collection of selfies and portraits in masks as well as film of Stitch Buffalo artists making masks, it is a sweet statement about NOW. Find me at the end, the only one painting, but also the only one with hands on that mask. That was a super hot day at Reinstein Woods Park. I was alone in the shade of a tree but kept my mask close for the walkers who might want to get near me painting. 

 Artists in Masks

 This is "Artists in Masks" by Burchfield Penney Art Center on Vimeo, the home for high quality videos and the people who love them.

Big thanks to the Burchfield for this project, keeping us all in tune with the times and connected to our museums and history.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

This photograph is close to where I stood for the next picture, my 'downtown painting day'.

With so much to see and interpret, I am amazed how much I did include. This was drawn and painted from the back of my car, I use the open trunk to provide myself some shade.

 Under the Skyway 6x8" pen and watercolor ©2020

Two Trips to the outer Harbor of Buffalo

Paulette Jurek suggested painting at RCR Boatyard this summer. I was overwhelmed on arrival by the expansive vista, boats, buildings, rusted infrastructure to the south, the water on both sides, city skyline and trains. I decided to draw with ink and color in with watercolor on this first visit but planned to return.

'Buffalo Smells Like Cheerios', 8x6 pen and watercolor ©2020

Two days later I came back with pastels to work larger. Here is the initial underpainting, when there are only shapes laid in.
My view, there is a bit of city hall behind the central buttress. I put it into my painting.

Route 5 Meets Buffalo, 12x16 pastel on Pastelbord   ©2020

Monday, August 24, 2020

Adirondack Plein Air Festival

After months of Covid 19 lock down, I was crushed to have my acceptance and first appearance at this prestigious outdoor competition cancelled. However, it was changed to a virtual exhibit, so the artists who could come to the park had three weeks to paint alone and submit their work digitally. With the gracious hospitality of a good friend available, I quarantined before my trip. No way would I want to bring the evil virus to the pristine air of the Adirondack Park. A five hour drive there was liberating after being mostly cooped up since early March. I relished the pine air, clear skies and dramatic mountains. I didn’t see any other painters and we all missed the celebrations, dinners, client parties and seeing each other's Art. But I painted in the mountains and found great joy there. These are my three submissions. 

'Pine Carpet in the High Peaks, (Keene)’ 9x12 pastel. A high altitude view of other mountains. 
‘Adirondack Rocks', 16x12, pastel painted during the heavy rains of hurricane Isias-from a porch
'North of North Creek', 10x20 oil. The water is the Hudson, way up where it starts

Three good examples from a great summer gallery show

The Artists Group Gallery show, "Twenty Minutes From Everywhere" features images of the Buffalo area by three artists working in Plein air. Carol Case Siracuse's dramatic watercolors and ink, Karen Foegen’s dreamy oils as well as paintings in oil and pastel by me fill both rooms of the gallery. Sure hope you went to see the show! See these three, framed and properly displayed in this exhibition curated by Donald Siuta until August 28. 

'Hermit Falls in May', 9x12 pastel. This is the waterfall right at the first bridge at Three Sisters Islands

'Ancient Dancers in Springtime', cherry trees in bloom during the History Museum festival 12x16 pastel

'Under the Horseshoe' 11x14 pastel, before framing in a very lovely frame


Three artists Paint one scene. Sort of.


Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Darwin Martin House Pergola

pergola painted by Kath Schifano

Darwin Martin chose Buffalo for his business selling soap. He became the first paid employee of the Larkin Company, worked his way up, innovated record keeping, and was instrumental in getting Frank Lloyd Wright to design the famous Larkin Company office building, open, airy and worker friendly space. The Larkin Company provided household items like soap which came with points or certificates. Households would exchange the certificates from the laundry soap and other purchases for various items. It expanded and rivaled Sears and Roebuck. I have a faux pearl necklace my Mom ordered with coupons from there.

Martin supported Wright during Wright's lean times and had him build his home on Jewett Parkway in Buffalo, as well as Greycliff in on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie in Derby, NY.  

I have painted the front facade of the Darwin Martin House before; this is the side and back view, just part of the long pergola that extends to the back of the property and attaches to the neighboring Barton home of his sister.

Since 2002 the entire complex, including the demolished gardeners cottage and the conservatory and pergola have been under restoration, now completed. The gardens are recently restored, sculptures have been placed in the lawn but the whole complex is now closed due to Covid 19. I'm hoping to see crowds return here soon. I did enjoy the quiet on the morning I painted this from the side street.

The Pergola at Darwin Martin House, pastel 12x16

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Miles of Pink Lilies

Although I had been painting previously at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve, I had never walked the pond paths. They were bursting with pink lilies and the only thing I needed was some shade to set up my easel. If working from pictures was useful to me, I could use my photos for months. Instead they are here for you to enjoy.

 The light changed and shadows moved aftervthe start of my picture, it had been brilliant on the trees in the distance when I started this. The glowing tree attracted me to the outlet from this pond to the next lily pond.
Lily Pond at Reinstein, 12x16 pastel Schifano

Monday, June 29, 2020

Gratwick Park

Along the Niagara the view is often the water, some weedy things and the flat land across the river. It isn’t inspiring without an effort to find an interesting view. This hot June day required shade-no trees were there but a clamp on umbrella from the car works well when there is no breeze. I found large rocks along the shore and cattails shining in sunlight to paint and this is my setup.
I really enjoyed the shade and cool air off the river while painting on this beautiful day. People can come here and just relax during the quarantine, there is a great deal of space at Gratwick Park for walking, kites and bicycles.
Ducks and Geese made their appearances and I managed to add a few slow ones by working quickly. Those rocks I saw? Mostly bird pedestals on this day.
Goose Snooze,  9x12, pastel

Feels like summer

Diane caught me painting on my lap

The evolution of a shack into Casey's Cabana in Ferry Village, Grand Island is an interesting story. Several local High School entrepreneurs transformed this little historic shack into a cool little take out restaurant. It is at the end of the street perched on the Niagara river. They added a wonderful new dock with picnic tables and umbrellas which dwarf the tiny cook space and everyone loves it. We like to stop by for a tasty lunch or a quick dinner with that million dollar view over the Niagara River, with miles of shoreline and the bridge in the distance. The food is Delicious.
With schools closed this Spring for social distancing they were able to open early this season. I happened to meet two artist friends there and we all painted the building from different angles. A graduating senior purchased my painting, something she will always have as an heirloom memory of a great and successful undertaking. The name came from Mr. Casey, the business teacher at the high school who was an inspiration and supporter to these kids for several years now. What a guy! This painting is going to college outside Boston with its new owner this Fall. 

Casey's Cabana, oil, 11x14

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Bringing Spring indoors

An unusually early Spring brought out glorious flowers that lasted weeks longer than usual because it didn't get hot. The Forsythia bloomed for at least a month and the huge yellow bush out back reflected yellow into every window. We had planted 3 of them in one spot and it is about 10 feet tall and 15 feet wide, a haven for birds waiting their turn at the feeders. I have planted lots of yellow daffodil bulbs over the years but the majority have turned themselves into these orange centered daffodils.

This is a traditional still life with soft pastel sticks and it was a very happy project as long as the flowers lasted in my studio.

In progress

Bringing Spring Indoors
Bringing Spring Indoors, pastel, 20x16

Friday, May 1, 2020

Covid 19 Time out.

Two months indoors? What ever have I been doing? Along with the rest of the world I have caught up with a bazillion plans, sorted places I hadn’t paid much attention to and painted some challenges. I am so fortunate to have my art studio/gallery in my home. Here is a sample of what else keeps me busy. 
BAKING. This is an Irish bread from an old family recipe which I have discovered must be made with only the freshest ingredients to have it taste like Aunt Rose's. She made several large loaves weekly and brought them to the firehouse in Locust Valley NY. And 2 loaves to visit as I was growing up.  Plus some oatmeal cookies since the ingredients were out. I’ve baked more different things these days than I usually do all year, except Christmas.

RESURRECTING PAINTINGS. Not every painting is perfect the first time around so I have sorted through 15 years of work and discarded some more (I have a 'to be burned' pile) and reworked others. This needed more pastel color, it’s pretty big and the balloon which is the subject had faded in storage. There are more paintings to tackle and correct, so both oils and pastels are out in the studio.

MEMORIES. I found this on Facebook from 2011. I still have everything in the, pants jacket and hat are all useful painting clothes. Except the car. This had a good back deck for protection from rain and wind, and occasionally snow. I require a lift back so I can use the car as a mobile studio and have shade or protection. I can’t wait to get back out! 

Monday, April 6, 2020

A story of two paintings.

Several years ago I was invited to participate in the Westfield NY Plein Air Event, a week of painting at various sites, meeting artists, some get-togethers and dinners and a final public exhibit and sale.

A day was scheduled at Johnson Estate Winery. In the morning I trekked the tractor path up a hill and painted a lovely barn scene surrounded by the vineyards. After lunch I settled my easel under a sour cherry tree in deep shade, so cool on that hot summer day. For several hours I worked on a painting (framed, below). Although it is a lovely memory and a fair painting I continued to have concerns about it-was it too realistic, too hard edged, not painterly, well, just too something to me which I couldn't define clearly. 

With all the studio time we have now (as I am social distancing) I felt I should tackle my problem. It turned out that I probably won't ever change the first painting since the composition is okay and it is a lovely close up of the tree. 

I decided to repaint it as an experiment on an old canvas, a hard edge abstract that I don't remember painting. After sanding the old painting a bit I sketched the cherries a bit closer and oversized. The canvas is twice the size of the original. With some serious planning and evaluation I adjusted leaves, added fruit on the top right and poured on paint with large brushes and bravado, mostly using old paint tubes of odd colors. After all this was an experiment on an expendable surface as well as rejected tubes of colors.

I love the results of this experiment!  Reused canvases, painted over failed pictures, practicing new skills...and coming up with a fine painting on top of a discarded image is a welcome result. I can't actually regret painting on old canvases when the new picture turns out well, because the colors underneath probably influenced the new image. That is one more reason I always prefer to paint onto toned backgrounds.

Sweet Sour Cherries 16x12 oil on birch, © 2016

Sweet Memories 22x18 oil on canvas © 2020

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Figure drawing

The Carnegie Art Center has begun scheduling figure drawing opportunities in the evening. As much as I love the practice and challenge of figures I am a bit lazy about driving a distance after a long day. The Carnegie is significantly closer to drive than other spots and I plan to join them as the schedule is released. 
I arrived after the warmup speed drawings. For the remainder of the session the artists chose a long pose, on a stool, seated on her bent right leg. In the first drawing I dealt with a difficult foreshortened leg. For the second I moved myself to a side view for a quick sketch. This model maintained great posture throughout the pose which encouraged me to sit a bit straighter. Artists used a variety of media and views. I used 18x12 pastel paper with soft pastels, having fun blending values and color. 
Kath Schifano
About an hour with short breaks
20 minutes, I moved to the side for this one, basically unfinished.

Nice film about the Castellani show

The WKBW link (which may have an ad)

Here is the YouTube link.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Castellani Museum Reception

Kath Art
20/20 Vision:Women Artists in Western New York at the Castellani Art Museum contains work by 186 artists from five WNY counties. I am so pleased to be represented in this amazing exhibit which will remain until August 26. My painting 'Beyond the Rock of Ages' is on the Tops Gallery wall. It is 15"x30", an oil painting that shows the talus being pounded at the base of the cataracts. Many of these rocks are as big as a bus, I chose this because of its power. All the art works are arranged alphabetically in the main rotunda as well as the large gallery you can barely see over my shoulder.

We visited a few days before the reception, so this is BEFORE
and this is AFTER!

 The reception at 5:08 pm, it opened at 5:00 and people kept arriving until the last minute. What a crowd and a great opportunity to meet artists and guests. 
 Interim Director Michael Beam, NU professors Amelia and Marian and I found a moment to celebrate with a rare selfie.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Castellani Art Museum 20/20 Vision

I am so pleased to be included in this comprehensive exhibition of art representing women artists from counties in the western part of New York. 
The Castellani Art Museum exhibition '20/20 Vision' reception will be on February 20, 2020 at 5pm-7. I expect a crowd! Nearly 200 artworks by Western New York artists are displayed through August. The large central gallery room as well as the double gallery on the north side will be filled with examples from women of varied styles and levels of expertise.

My painting of the American Falls from the hurricane deck is included in this comprehensive exhibit. Most of the artwork is for sale and in support of women, and businesses run by and supported by women have been  requested to support the artists by purchasing work.
Be there, 02/20/2020
Castellani Art Museum at Niagara University

Castellani Art, Niagara University, American falls
Beyond the Rock of Ages, 15x30 oil on canvas