Tonawanda News

May 31, 2013

City resident painted river, canal every day for a year

By Danielle Haynes danielle.haynes@tonawanda-news.com
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Two and a half years ago oil painter Linda Banas began a project that even her teacher, Joan Horn, was wary she’d be able to complete. 

Some 377 paintings later, Banas’ series of daily 5-by-7-inch paintings of the Erie Canal and Niagara River, and 12 larger, monthly paintings of the same subject have culminated in one show at Partners in Art Gallery where all the artworks will be on display at the same time for the first time.

“I have never seen the whole thing all together,” Banas said. “I’ve seen them a month at a time but then they went in a shoebox. I can’t wait, myself, to see what the whole project wll look like on the walls.”

The City of Tonawanda resident began the project Jan. 1, 2011, after her teacher at Partners in Art, Horn, suggested a student paint the river and canal area each day for a year.

“Every day I drive through the park and drive down Niagara Street and I see the river every single day and every single day it tells a different story,” Horn, co-owner of the Partners in Art complex, said. I told my class, “Somebody should paint this every day so you can see what it does different days ... different seasons.”

“It’s the kind of project that you expect somebody to start and peter out on so this was a very pleasant surprise,” Horn added.

Banas lives in the city, just where the Niagara River and the Erie Canal meet, a perfect location for having easy access to the water on a daily basis. She spent anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours on each painting, using the alla prima, or wet-on-wet, method because she has to work so quickly.

Some paintings are more detailed than others, some are mere impressions of what she saw.

Banas said that as the project went on, she felt she grew as an artist and even tackled a long-held desire to paint using a palette knife.

“I think the palette knife really lets you capture, in landscapes, the movement of the river or the shape of a cloud,” Banas said. “You can capture them in broad strokes almost like little sculptures.”

She said she also began to feel comfortable painting more loosely, more a impressionistic manner than before. That willingness to let go allowed her to grow tremendously as an artist, Horn said.

“It’s not like your goal is to do a finished painting every day ... they’re studies,” Horn said. “You have the freedom to try different things. so she wasn’t afraid to experiment.”

“She wasn’t afraid to have paintings less than beautiful,” Horn added. “Even the ones we would probably call ‘failures’ were learning experiences.”

And it’s not just in technical execution where Banas said she has grown and changed since that New Year Day she began this project. By painting the same scenes at different times of day and year, she said she became “more more aware of all the little changes.”

“One day I’d look at a tree and there’d be a bud there and then a week later a little berry, things I never noticed before,” she said. “I developed such an appreciation for such a beautiful area we live in. It was such a meaningful thing.”

She hopes the show, which opens Saturday, will give viewers that same appreciation for learning to look at things differently.

Each of the 377 paintings on display will be available for purchase.

For more information about the show, visit www.partnersinart.net, or call 692-2141.

IF YOU GO • WHAT: A Year on the Corner of Erie and Niagara: An Oil Painting Adventure with Linda Banas" • WHEN: Saturday through June 29; opening reception 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday • WHERE: Partners in Art Gallery, 74 Webster St., North Tonawanda • MORE INFORMATION: Call 692-2121 or visit www.partnersinart.net

Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116, or follow her on Twitter at @DanielleHaynes1.