On Friday, MacDonald worked with pen and ink on a sheet of paper, planning to add in touches of watercolor later. Once working, she said, she starts to notice even more detail and angle and light.
"The intricacies are what attract you in the first place, but once you start to draw them, then you realize how much more there is than what you saw in the first place," she said. "Everything today is so instantaneous. When you sit there and draw something, you see so much more. And years later, when you look back at it, you remember so much more. Because you took the time to sit and study and paint it.
"You don't want a photographic reproduction. You want something that shows the character of what you're drawing. We always say, 'If you want it to be perfect, take a picture.' "
On the other side of the canal, right under the Tonawandas Gateway Harbor sign in the City of Tonawanda, Stephen Caruana of Snyder set up his oil paints and easel to capture a segment of the Canal Fest midway on canvas.
"I'm trying to get the sense of what Canal Fest is all about," he said. "This is one of my favorite times of the year."
Caruana, who has been painting for more than 30 years and also does wood-carving demonstrations at the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, worked in the bright colors and the shapes of the midway — concessions for chocolate-nut sundaes and pizza and other festival food, tents, the "Freak Out" ride (then quiescent) in the background and flags flapping in the wind.
He started by just getting the lights and darks down on the canvas, he said, painting in more as the painting progressed.