Award-winning artist (and five-time Dan’s Papers cover artist) Gia Schifano has done it again with this week’s cover, “East End Bounty,” honoring Dan’s Harvest East End, the can’t-miss food and wine classic held this Saturday, August 20, at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue.
Known for her sense of composition and realistic style, Schifano has a deep passion for the year-round beauty of Long Island’s East End. This exceptional, nature-driven painter tells us about her process and what inspires her creativity.
What was your process for creating this Dan’s Harvest East End cover?
This piece was so much fun to do because it wasn’t really planned. To play with the theme of the event I started with the lobster and bottle of wine, and then I just thought about the farm stands, and things in my East End kitchen. I started pulling food out of the refrigerator, and Googled images of vegetables to reference. I had no idea from day to day what I might add next. Other than the lobster, there was really no sketching—it was just diving into whatever element drove me that day. The two forks were the last props added to represent the island. I enjoyed the spontaneity of the piece. I’ve never done a painting before where I didn’t know where each element was going to be, and what colors would be used. This piece was built like a collage, and was a surprise each day. It challenged me from beginning to end, but in a good way. I hope to do more like this.
What is it about Long Island’s East End that inspires your work?
The atmosphere on the East End is the complete opposite of where I usually live: closer to the city and with no water views. When I’m going to my house in North Sea, the moment I cross over the Shinnecock Canal I can feel everyone just decompress. We’re almost never in the house, except to sleep. We’re kayaking, floating in the cove, or just chilling on the deck. We even eat differently out there. We rarely go to the supermarket, and just stop by the Clamman and farm stands. I can take the kayak to places that most people don’t get to see, where it’s just me, and the nature of it all. Most of my pieces are inspired by kayaking and walking around Towd Point and Conscience Point in North Sea, but any day, anywhere, where the water is still and the sky is blue is usually just fine with me.
What do you enjoy the most about painting?
I love that I know exactly who I am when I’m painting. I love learning, pushing myself, the possibilities of the blank canvas, the smell, the feel, and the feeling you get when you know you’ve finished—it’s a moment so clear and so satisfying.
You’re a five-time cover artist for Dan’s Papers and the recipient of the Best of the Best Cover Award in 2011. What do you enjoy about being part of Dan’s Papers?
Dan’s Papers was always a part of my East End experience for as long as I can remember. It’s such a thrill to see my work all over the Hamptons after years of admiring all the work that’s been on those covers. Known and emerging, Dan’s keeps the local arts alive. I’m so grateful.
Dan’s Harvest East End hosted by Geoffrey Zakarian is this Saturday, August 20, at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. (See related story on page 47.) VIP tickets are $285 and offer entry at 6:30 p.m., access to the VIP lounge with special pours, VIP gift bag and more. Early Access tickets are $199 and offer early entry at 6:30 p.m. General Admission, from 7:30–10 p.m., is $135. To purchase tickets now visit DansTasteofSummer.com.