Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Trees Capture the Spirit of Autumn

Photo by Deborah Goemans from Tully, NY.
This is the time of year when you stop everything you are doing to gaze at the beautiful colors of the  changing trees.

I am always mesmerized by nature during the fall season!

For the Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge, I ask you to go outside and hunt for the those trees that truly capture the spirit of autumn.

What am I looking for my next 3 selections? 
Here are some suggestions:

- fall colors,
- apple trees, cranberry trees, pine trees, etc.
-trees located in Skaneateles, Baldwinsville, Manlius, North Syracuse, East Syracuse, and LaFayette.

The deadline is October 31 so don't forget to send me your pictures for consideration at for a chance to win the 1st limited edition print of the painting based on your photo and written credit!

The Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge is an interactive art project made possible by the Individual Artist Commission grant from CNY Arts.

Now it's time to share with you the great photo submissions I have received so far:

"I'm sending you a few pictures of the giant possibly 400-year-old Sugar Maple (possible Military tract Survey Witness Tree) in the Liverpool School Maple Grove near Liverpool High School, this time in full leaf."

"I am sending you 4 more pictures of great old trees in Onondaga County. The first 2 pictures are of another big charismatic Sugar Maple in Liverpool School Maple Grove - this tree has a trunk over 40 in. diameter and is about 120 ft. tall, and most likely over 300 years old.

The 3rd picture is of the Baum red Oak in the Wizard of Oz Memorial Oak Grove in North Syracuse.

The last picture is one of the tall ancient White Oaks of the tiny (1 acre) but beautiful North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove. It is the densest stand of old growth trees I've ever been to in eastern North America, and it is behind the South Bay Rd. section of North Syracuse Cemetery. This White Oak, with a trunk about 2 ft. in diameter, is about 300 years old and 110 ft. tall. 

I'm very happy to give the presentation on Onondaga County's old and important trees on Mar. 14."

- Tom Howard     

 Next are the photo submissions of Angela Warren:
Syracuse, NY.
Green Lakes, NY.

Green Lakes, NY.

Green Lakes, NY.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Painting in Tully, NY.

On Saturday, September 20th I drove down to the visually stunning town of Tully, NY. 

During my driving from East Syracuse to Tully, I was so inspired by the beautiful hills along the way that I decided to have the Tully's residents focus on recreating their textures and blue colors on the mountains in the background of the painting of the Community Symbolic Tree.


My first artist was Sonya Shepherd, and she did a nice job in adding the colorful wild flowers and the blades of grass near the tree.

 Then, Brianna Darling added the tree-texture on the hills in the background. She did so by adding little paint strokes of dark blue paint to recreate the idea of trees.

 Photographer, Deb Putman, stopped by for a quick visit and took a picture of me and Brianna working together on the Community Symbolic Tree.

My last resident was Isabella Puentes, a high school student with a lot of artistic talent. She helped by blending in the texture of the trees in the background by using a technique called "la velatura" an application of semi transparent light blue color over the little dark blue brush strokes created previously by Brianna.

It was a truly amazing and fun experience and I can't wait to continue this work on my next session at the Central Library, tomorrow!

I am looking for 3 Onondaga County residents, who enjoy painting, to get involved in the creation of the Community Symbolic Tree, an interactive art project funded by CNY Arts.
This Saturday, I will be at the Central Library on 447 S. Salina St., in Syracuse, NY and I have 3 booking sessions of 25 minutes for each participant starting at 10.30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 11.30 a.m. It's free!

What are the benefits of this project? 

Your creative energy is an essential element in the creation of this community painting, and
you are helping creating something meaningful, beautiful and lasting that celebrates our culturally rich community!

This piece will be shown along the 8 paintings based on the Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge at the Onondaga Free Library during the month of March 2015. The unveiling of the Community Symbolic Tree will be on Saturday, March 14 during the reception from 12.30 p.m. to 3.30p.m. This communal painting will be donated to the hosting library and the name of each participant will be on a bronze plate next to this piece. 

Email me at if you are interested in participating.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

September: A Creative Month

The past two weeks were very productive:

the painting inspired by the photo of a Dark Cherry Tree from Camillus, NY by Dan Elsbey was finally completed,

I finished 6 small nature-inspired paintings in acrylic on canvas that celebrate the importance of contemplation and silence,

 I started Steve Marrone's Willow tree from Tipp Hill, in Syracuse, NY for the Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge,

and the sky of the Community Symbolic Tree was successfully blended and finished thanks to the fabulous painting job by Ellen McCoy and Phoebe Vitharana on Saturday, September 6 at the Manlius Library!

There is still so much more painting to do and I need your help!

My next  Community Symbolic Tree's event is this Saturday, September 20 from 10.30 a.m. to 1.00 p.m., it's free and open to all Onondaga County Resident 16 years and older.

Contact me via email at to book a 25 minutes painting session, your creative energy will be an essential element in the creation of this painting, plus you will gain some hands on experience on how to paint in acrylic!

More events:
  • Central Library, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 27,
  • Petit Library, 11.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. Nov. 1.

Friday, August 29, 2014

As the summer goes by

Hello, all!

It has been a while since I wrote on this blog but now that the summer is ending, I'm back with many things to share with you.

First of all, I would like to thank Debbie Fratter, Paulette Quinn and Stephanie for their contribution in the creation of the Community Symbolic Tree's painting at the Marcellus Free Library on Saturday, July 19. Debbie and Paulette focused on painting the blades of grass in the foreground, while Stephanie blended the sky with a a big brush and a rag.

On Sunday, July 20th my husband had an accident where he fell from a ladder 16 feet high above the ground. After 2 surgeries to fix his fractured sacrum,  his left pelvis and his right hill, Dan is doing better everyday.

The healing process is long but the good news is that, after a month spent at the hospital, Dan is finally back home to his family. 

A big thank you goes to the doctors and nurses at Upstate University Hospital who took great care of Dan and to our family and friends who sent their support, positive energy and prayers to our way.

Due to this accident I had to cancel all the Community Symbolic Tree events during the month of August, but I am back on schedule starting on Saturday, September 6 (10.30 a.m. - 1.30 p.m.) at the Manlius Library. 

If you would like to participate write me an email at or call me at 315-720-9026 to book your 25 minutes session. It's free, it's fun and you only have to bring yourself. 
It's that simple!


On another note, here it's an update of the painting development based on the photo taken by Dan Elsbey of a beautiful dark cherry tree from Camillus, NY. His photo was selected as the 4th winning photo for the Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge.

I also want to announce the 5th winning photo for the Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge. A big thank you goes to Steve Marrone for capturing this beautiful willow standing tall and proud on Burnet Park near Tipp Hill, in Syracuse, NY. I can't wait to start this painting!

 And I can't wait to see more of your photo submissions, you have until October 31st to send your photos to me for a chance to have your picture selected to represent the Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge, and to win the 1st limited edition print of the painting based on your photo.

To learn more about these art projects read this article written by Melinda Johnson from
Artist invites everyone to help paint 'Community Symbolic Tree' at weekly sessions

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Maria Rizzo

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Exchanging Knowledge, Techniques, Stories and Laughter.

The further the creation of the COMMUNITY SYMBOLIC TREE develops, the more I realize the mutual and beneficial connection I'm making with each participant member of our community: exchanging knowledge, techniques, ideas, stories and laughter. It is a truly enriching experience. 


The following photos summarize what happened in the past three sessions.

At the East Syracuse Free Library, Onondaga Art Guild president, Angela Arrey-Wastavino added beautiful field flowers to the grassy hill using a palette knife to apply the colors on canvas.
At the LaFayette Public Library, Connie Marion helped refining the blades of grass in the foreground. She was very kind and showed me her book, which include trees she painted throughout her life accompanied with her memoir.

At the DeWitt Community Library, Nick Lozoponi senior and junior helped painting the section of the hill near the roots of the tree. They applied thin coats of dark and light greens to create the effect of lights and shadows. 

From 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, I will be at the Marcellus Free Library, 32 Maple St., Marcellus. I will bring the 48-inch by 36-inch canvas and acrylic paints.

I can accommodate 2 signups. Participants must be 16 years and older. To signup email me at Participants don't need to be experienced painters, I will give some instruction in painting to each painter during his or her 25-minute session.

More upcoming sessions:
  • Marcellus Free Library, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. July 19.
  • Petit Library, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. July 26.
  • Jordan Bramley Library, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 2.
  • NOPL at Brewerton, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 9.
  • NOPL at Cicero, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 16.
  • NOPL at North Syracuse, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 23.
  • Manlius Library, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 6.
  • Tully Library, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 20.
  • Central Library, 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sept. 27.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Linked by a Common Purpose in Art

Reception for painting exhibit entitled "Linked by a Common Purpose in Art"

 at the Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee St, Utica, NY 13501

Exhibition Dates:  July 3rd to July 29th, Mon. - Tues.  8.30 a.m. - 8 p.m., 

Wed. - Fri.   8.30 a.m. - 5.30 p.m., Sat.   8.30 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.

Maria Grazia Facchinetti and Maria Rizzo will exhibit their acrylic paintings in a two-person show July 3-29, 2014 at the Utica Public Library, 303 Genesee St, Utica, NY. A reception honoring these artists will be held on July 15th, from 5.30 p.m. to 7.30 p.m., and is free and open to the public.

Both from Carnate, Italy, these artists are linked by a lifelong friendship and a common purpose in art: creating resonant pieces of work that speak to our humanity.

Maria Grazia Facchinetti is an established Italian artist whose paintings explore the use of light in an innovative combination of classic and modern materials. Facchinetti uses a special resin of her own invention to enhance her abstract artworks and to create new concepts of painting itself. To see her unique work visit

Maria Rizzo is a published artist whose paintings depict trees as emotional self portraits: the contorted trunks represent Rizzo's scoliosis; a severe condition that affects her daily life. The background represents Rizzo's point of view: attitude makes all the difference in life and focusing on the good things helps her live a better one. Observing nature gives her a sense of contentment and inner joy. The same feelings arise when she paints these elements on canvas. This year, Maria Rizzo received the Individual Artist Commission Grant from the CNY Arts 2014 Decentralization Program to engage Onondaga County residents in an interactive art project that will promote nature appreciation and community involvement in artistic creation. To learn more about this project visit Rizzo's website at

Maria Grazia Facchinetti and Maria Rizzo share a passion for the arts, strong talent, and unyielding professionalism in doing what they love. The exhibition "Linked by a Common Purpose in Art" brings their paintings together for an explosive combination of light, color and symbolism.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The making of the Magnolia Tree

The painting of the Magnolia Tree is part of the Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge, an interactive art project funded by the individual artist commission grant from CNY Arts where I ask Onondaga County residents to capture the best trees they can in our county find and send their photo suggestions to me at Starting in March 2014, every month I pick one winning photo that I use as an inspiration to create an acrylic painting. Throughout the year I will choose 8 photos and create 8 paintings. The submission deadline is October 31st. The 8 winning contestants will receive written credit and the 1st limited edition print of the painting based on their photos.


The photo of the Magnolia tree from Tully, NY was taken by writer, Deborah Goemans and it's the 3rd winning photo selected for this challenge. Below you will see the development of this painting,  step by step and how my social media followers played a big part on the final result of this acrylic painting.


The steps in approaching this piece were as follow:

1) I drew and blocked in the shapes of the branches and flowers with Raw Umber;

2) I painted the background with a couple of coats of mid-dtone color. Instead of using the traditional  brown color (Burnt Umber) I decided to recycle a color I had left in my palette from a previous painting, a mixture of 25% Cadmium Red and 25% Raw Umber, 25% Gel matte medium, 25% water ;

3) After the surface was completely dried (circa 5 min.), I blocked in the top portion of the sky, which was made with 80% titanium white, 5% Windsor blue and 5% Ivory black, 5% Gel matte medium, 5% water.

4) I painted the biggest flowers and the top flowers with a light pink tone made with 40% Cadium Red,  30% Titanium White, 20% Raw Sienna, 5% Gel matte medium, 5% water;

5) I painted the branches with 70% Raw Sienna, 10% Winsor Blue and 10% Primary Magenta, 5% gel matte medium and 5% water, and I introduced some lighter values to build dimensionality;

6) I applied the darkest hue of the flowers and to achieve that color I used 40% Primary Magenta, 40% Windsor Blue and 10% Raw Umber, 5% gel matte medium and 5% water;
7) I applied a pink mid-tone color to the flowers and added lighter hues on the end of the petals by glazing transparent coats of 30% Veridian, 20% Raw Sienna, 5% Primary Magenta, and 15% Titanium White, 15% gel matte medium and 15% water;

8) I coated the branches with transparent brushstrokes of green (40% Veridian, 40% Raw Sienna, 10% gel matte medium and 10% water).

9) I continued painting the sky on the left lower side and I gradually increased the blue.
10) I highlighted all the branches on the background with 70% Raw Sienna, 10% Winsor Blue and 10% Primary Magenta, 5% gel matte medium and 5% water, and I defined the branches on the foreground.
At this point, I was stuck.

 I really liked the red on the background but it looked unfinished that way.

I thought about covering all the red and just create a copy of the photo (boring, right?) or about saving the red, somehow. Creating a more surrealist and dreamy piece.

So I asked my faithful friends and fans on facebook what they thought I should do.

I received many responses and they all had the same answer: KEEP THE RED.

So, I did.

I left my perfectionist, kind of tedious way of approaching a painting to embrace a looser, more enjoyable painting style. Instead of copying exactly the photo, I listen to my gut and this painting took a truly distinctive direction.

I created glazes of 15% Windsor Blue, 25% Titanium White, 10% Primary Magenta, 25% gel medium and 25% water to build a misty effect.

I will share a couple of comments I received on facebook:

"STUNNING Maria! Best ever......"                -Clare Willson

"Love the colors, wants you to walk beyond the flowers to see what's on the other side"   -
Patrice Soltau

Deborah Goemans will receive written credit and the 1st limited edition print of this painting on Thurday, December 11th at the opening reception for the exhibition "Symbolic Tree" at the Onondaga Free Library. This art show will display the 8 paintings inspired by the Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge and the Community Symbolic Tree.