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.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Creating something Meaningful and Beautiful Together

Saturday, June 14th I set the easel and the art supplies at the Baldwinsville Public Library's community room for the creation of the Community Symbolic Tree, a painting that has been capturing the creative vision of Onondaga county residents since April 2014. 

 My very first resident of the day was artist, Maryann Guinta who added blues and pink hues to the sky. Thanks to her beautiful color applications, now the tree stands in a beautiful and calming sunrise.
The next person in charge of the painting was my great artist friend, Steve Nyland. He is a great advocate for the local art scenes and an awesome blogger. Steve meticulously added fine details of tall grass in the foreground.

My last Onondaga county resident was Jeff Madison, an amazing photographer and graphic designer, who continued Steve Nyland's mission to apply green texture to the hill.

Overall it was an amazing experience to see the slow transition from a gray underpainting to a colorful and vibrant painting. A transition that has been made easy thanks to all the hard work of previous residents who put their time and energy in creating the foundations of this piece!  I am grateful to the continuous support I receive from family and friends, and from Cny Arts who believed in this project form the very beginning. Last, but not least, a big thank you goes to the Onondaga county community who is working together to create something meaningful and beautiful to be shared with many generations to come.

I'm always looking forward to more creativity and inspiration; the next event is tomorrow at the East Syracuse Library, join me there!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Best Onondaga County Trees Photo Challenge - June 2014

Clare Willson - Cemetery in Dewitt, NY

This year, I received the Individual Artist Commission Grant from the CNY Arts 2014 Decentralization Program to engage Onondaga County residents in an interactive art project that promotes nature appreciation and community involvement in artistic creation. 

The Best Onondaga Tree Photo Challenge is the first part of this art project. My goal is to emotionally engage the community by asking Onondaga County residents to go into nature, find the most beautiful trees in our county, and send their suggestions to me with a photo.

I select eight trees from those sent to me and I paint them in acrylic on canvas. 

This deadline is October 31, 2014.

Evey month, I pick one winning photo that I recreate on canvas. During the process, I visually document the different stages of my work in progress, and I post the development of my body of work through social media.

Below you will see the most recent photos of trees submitted to me, and tonight at 6 p.m. I will announce June's winning photo!

Below, Dan Elsbey captured many angles of a unique, old tree located in Camillus, NY.

Ross Getman found a lot of  tree texture and colors at the Beaver Lake park.

Thomas Howard is a member of the Native Tree Society, one of the world’s leading Internet tree study groups. In the body of the email he sent me for the photo challenge he wrote some interesting facts about some of the trees in Onondaga county:

"In the northern suburbs stand some of the county’s greatest trees and old growth forests. In North Syracuse where I live are 2 rare old growth oak groves, with oaks over 200 years old, and 110 feet tall. One of these groves is named the Wizard of Oz Memorial Oak Grove as it is a likely inspiration for L. Frank Baum’s Great Forest of Oz; Baum grew up nearby in what is now Mattydale, and he knew the owner of the grove. The other oak grove, the North Syracuse Cemetery Oak Grove, is an utterly primeval stand of ancient oaks east of North Syracuse Cemetery on South Bay Rd.

Another old growth site, the Liverpool School Maple Grove, is near Liverpool High School, and contains what are most likely the tallest (up to 127 feet) and oldest trees in northern Onondaga County. The largest tree in the grove is a Sugar Maple 54 in. dbh (diameter at breast height or 4.5 feet above the ground, a standard forestry measure) and nearly 120 feet tall. This tree could be close to 400 years old; it may be the only surviving Military Tract Survey Witness Tree in NY. Military Tract lots were surveyed for Revolutionary War veterans around 1790, in an effort to encourage settlement in this area. A Witness Tree was marked by a surveyor with an ax – the scarred tree would mark a lot line boundary. There was a Military Tract Witness Tree, a Sugar Maple, on this spot, and this great old tree still bears what appear to be the scars made long ago by the surveyor. It is a healthy tree and has leafed out this spring. It is also the largest Sugar Maple I know of in Onondaga County.

I am submitting 3 photos of this great old Sugar Maple for your consideration. Please find these photos as attachments.The first 3 photos are of the Sugar Maple.

I am also submitting 1 photo of the largest tree in the Wizard of Oz Memorial Oak Grove near North Syracuse Junior High School, the L. Frank Baum Northern Red Oak, 49 in. dbh, over 117 feet tall, and over 140 years old."

Pamula Picciano sent photos of this very old sugar maple tree located in Tully, NY, that still faithfully offers maple syrup every year. Did you know that the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) is  the official tree of New York State?
Photographer,  Heidi Vantassel took some breathtaking pictures of a Magnolia tree in Manlius, NY and created some visually interesting black and white photos of trees in Pompey, NY. Check out her website at

If you want to participate in this challenge, I am always looking forward to see more photo submissions of the very best trees of Onondaga County! Email your photos to me at with your name and the location of your tree subject. Good Luck!