Tonawanda News

Canal Fest

July 21, 2013

Chasing light, catching shadows

Plein air artists work on scenes from Tonawandas in first Canal Fest Paint-Out

— — There are life lessons in plein air painting:

It's all about location. Life keeps moving. Travel light. Embrace imperfection. Roll with the punches (and the weather).

And sometimes, you just have to watch and hope it all doesn't go in the water.

Local artists braved the heat and easel-endangering gusty breezes Friday to take part in the first Canal Fest Paint Out, sponsored by the Carnegie Art Center in North Tonawanda. The Carnegie's building on Goundry Street served as a home base of sorts for artists, providing parking, a bathroom and a place to sit down while they scouted out painting locations throughout the area.

Plein air art is work created "in open air," and the location of the Carnegie Center gives artists many subject choices within walking distance, said Cindi O’Mara, Carnegie board member and chair of exhibitions.

"This neighborhood is so beautiful, and the Canal Fest gives us more options," she said. "We just thought it would be a good way to link ourselves more with Canal Fest and the city. Being close to the canal, I thought it would be perfect."

For her subject Friday, Jean MacDonald of Grand Island choose the DeGraff Mansion at Payne Avenue and Goundry Street, settling in on Payne Avenue to sketch a segment of the 1880s brick home with all its intricate detail.

MacDonald, a member of the Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters, studied the house for several minutes before starting to sketch. A big part of plein air painting, she said, is just finding the right spot.

"In a couple of hours, all this is going to be in the shade," she said. "That's another thing plein air painters deal with. Everything is moving."

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