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


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"Now, I'm going to detail," he said, as passers-by stopped to watch, "describing the mood of Canal Fest."

Caruana had to catch his supplies and easel several times as the wind whipped around his little corner of the festival. Over on the other side of the canal again, artist Kath Schifano was also fighting the elements, steadying her easel and the canvas — attached by bungee-cord — on which she was working.

Many plein air artists, she said, have seen a painting go flipping down the street after the elements snatch it away.

"You just watch it and hope it doesn't go in the water," she said. "Any plein air painting will often have bugs and pieces of grass in it."

Schifano, who has a studio and gallery at her home on Grand Island, is also a member of Niagara Frontier Plein Air Painters. Attracted by the red flowers in front of the building Friday, she set up her easel by the canal in North Tonawanda, where she worked on a painting of the Remington Tavern.

"I love this spot. I keep coming here," she said. "There's always something to paint. But today my priority was to be in the shade."

Echoing MacDonald, Schifano noted the importance of capturing the light and shadow in a painting of this sort, in which time is of the essence and artists must work quickly.

"When you paint en plein air, you have to catch the shadows," she said. "You have to take mental notes of where the shadows are and drop them in really fast — and then don't change them. Or you'll have morning and afternoon in the same painting."

While the paint-out itself is over for this year, the art produced Friday will be shown in a Canal Fest Wet Paint Display from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Riviera Theatre, 67 Webster St., North Tonawanda.

Mary Simpson, director of the Carnegie Art Center, said the center's arts & crafts show information booth will also be at the Riviera this year for both days of the show.

"Before we were under a little white tent," she said. "Now we're under a really big marquee."

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