Tonawanda News — Believe it or not, Kathleen Dworak’s detailed paintings of motorcycles aren’t made with oil paints, acrylics or even pen and ink. She said her artwork is often even mistaken for photographs, but no, she uses watercolors to create the gleaming, reflective chrome of assorted Harley Davidsons, Vulcans and other motorcycles.
“I think people have this idea in their mind that watercolor is very watery with faint colors and pastoral subject matter,” Dworak said of the medium. “They’re seeing these bold colors and bold designs and they don’t believe it’s watercolor.”
If seeing is believing, art appreciators will have a chance verify the authenticity of Dworak’s watercolor paintings starting today at the River Art Gallery at 83 Webster St. in North Tonawanda.
Dworak, who is a member of the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society and the Buffalo/Niagara Arts Association, has been practicing the technique of capturing the reflection of motorcycle chrome for about six or seven years, since shortly after she took a class on painting glass and mirrors.
“I came home (from the class) and I showed my husband what I had done and he said, ‘Do you think you can paint chrome on a motorcycle?’ ” she recalled. “The next sunny day he pulled his motorcycle out onto the driveway and I took some photos.”
Since then she’s been making painting after painting of motorcycles, and making her living selling prints and originals at festivals across Western New York. She said it takes time, sometimes close to half a year, to perfectly capture light and reflection off the chrome of a motorcycle.
“Because I’m doing a piece of machinery, it has to look functional and very precise. The drawing and the layering of the color take a long time because I’m not using big expanses of washes. It is very detailed work and very time consuming,” she said.
And when she completes a motorcycle drawing, she takes a little break to spend some time on her favorite subject: flowers.
“I always love flowers. After spending months on a motorcycle, I like to give my eyes a rest,” she said.
A few paintings of flowers — irises are her favorite — will be on hand at the gallery showing.
But that’s not to say that Dworak doesn’t appreciate the motorcycles her husband, Bob, so dearly loves. In fact, she’s grown to appreciate them even more over the years.
“I sort of sit on the back of Bob’s motorcycle with clenched teeth and fear,” she said with a laugh. “I learned to appreciate the beauty in the bikes.”
River Art Gallery is teaming up with charity group the Hogs and Heroes Foundation, which raises funds for public safety, military and Wounded Warrior charities. The gallery is planning to raffle one of Dworak’s pieces with proceeds going to Hogs and Heroes, said Kelly Buckley, of the River Art Gallery.
Dworak’s works will be on display at the gallery through Oct. 31. Prints and originals will be available for purchase.IF YOU GO • WHAT: "The Art of Motorcycles," watercolors by Kathleen Dworak • WHEN: Today through Oct. 31; artist's reception 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 6 • WHERE: River Art Gallery, 83 Webster St., North Tonawanda • MORE INFORMATION: Call 260-1497 or visit www.riverartgalleryandgifts.com Contact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.