by Kristin Serafini
30 September 2007
acrylic and pencil on canvas
16″ x 20″ plus frame
The perennial need to shovel out my studio with a backhoe so I can at least have room to open the door is what prompted this painting. Sure, sometimes the motivations for some of my projects are very profound, but not this time. I guess the reason I was cleaning my studio in the first place is a good one, though. I was getting ready to paint “Ressurection Breakfast”, which is a 60″x30″ canvas. My studio was the only place big enough, so I had to make some room. In the process of cleaning, I found about 11 canvases with awful paintings on them from just after college when I thought oil painting was a good idea. It’s not. At least not in my case. Nobody should see these paintings, ever. So I took the canvases out in the back yard, grabbed the hose and some GOJO pumice scrub, and went to town with a drywall screen. After scrubbing as much of the oil paint off the canvas as I could, I let it dry outside, and then put a couple of fresh coats of gesso on it. Some of the phthalo colors, perticularly a red near what is now the top of the canvas, stained through. But that’s okay – we can work with that.
While I was busy pondering what to paint on these recycled canvases, Gabriel came into my studio to show me a monarch butterfly wing he had found on our front steps. Excellent idea! Why not make a series about metamorphosis? I painted the wing that Gabriel brought me, but it looked pretty morbid just sitting there on the canvas, but I also didn’t want this to just be a glib picture of a butterfly. So I decided to compromise and just sketch in the rest of the monarch. To set off the sketch, I added the layer of “basement mold”, which is basically a subtle enrichment of the surface. I like the delicate ghosting effect on the sketched-in wing. When I was thinking about which way to orient the canvas, I again wanted to avoid just putting a picture of a nice little butterfly in the middle of the space. So I chose to have the butterfly clinging to the top of the frame. It sets up an appropriate amount of tension, I think. It turned out that the red bleeding through from the old painting makes a lovely pink phthalo halo effect around the top edge of the painted wing.