Serena’s new show at Gallery 114 in Portland, Oregon starts October 6, 2022. Here’s the information:
To see the show online, go to the gallery site.
Artist Statement: Serena Barton
In the Zone
Having ADHD means that I can be easily distracted; but my kind of brain also gives me a super-power. I’m able to hyperfocus on subjects that intrigue me. I see patterns in and remember details about information I devour, even though the rest of my life is spent searching for lost objects.
I have relied on my hyperfocus on my special interests to keep positively engaged with the world, despite the stress of years of fraught politics and the pandemic. This body of work is a salute to mud-larking* videos, Jane Austen’s work and books, podcasts, and videos thereon, British history, art restoration videos, streaming Scandinavian mystery series, and deep dives into neurodivergence and current events.
My aim in this body of work is to express the essence of my passions and the excitement of learning itself in visual form.
I paint in oil mixed with cold wax medium.** I use palette knives, rubber squeegees, and household tools such as bowl scrapers, combs, and coffee sleeves. I build up layers of paint, creating a complex and nuanced surface. I reveal parts of the previous layers by incising and scraping back areas of the painting. Building these abstract pieces is a delicate balance between spontaneity and knowledge of the materials.
Painting allows me to share what I can’t say in words, allowing each piece to tell its own story.
*Mud-larking: Searching for vintage and antique objects in river mud, such as the Thames foreshore.
**Cold wax medium: A paste of beeswax and odorless mineral spirits
Serena’s work is included in Abstract Sanctuary 9 presented by Verum Ultimum Gallery in Portland, OR. You can see the exhibit online, including a virtual gallery. The show runs through May 2022. Gallery owner Jennifer Gillia Cutshall writes of this exhibit:
Creating Space & Creative Spaces: this 9th Annual Abstract Sanctuary
And we meet again! This time to celebrate the energy, the creativity, and the beauty created by the 53 artists selected for this show. The theme and phrase “Abstract Sanctuary” evokes a vision of space. Space to imagine, space to feel, space to be inspired, and in that way signifies the power and perpetual drive that is art as revelation.
I often describe Verum’s Abstract Sanctuary as the more Zen-like of all of Verum’s abstract offerings. It is the quieter show with muted tones and more subtle variations. This year was no exception, however there are a few wild cards in the mix! These works pepper the exhibit with a carnival of color (and dynamic expression) while trading beats with the more customary meditative melody.
Portland Open Studios
Introducing Serena Barton
June 29, 2017
I spent a lovely hour today with Serena Barton, artist, art instructor and therapist specializing in creativity issues.
Making art was her favorite thing when she was a kid and then she switched over to doing local community theatre. Luckily she had the chance of expressing herself at home and at nursery school a few days a week. As she got older she took art classes in school, “but my water color always dripped, and I’m not good at exact things at all and so when we cut out snowflakes, mine would be a mess, and paper dolls wouldn’t stay together. And I kind of got the idea over time that I just wasn’t any good at art.” So she became an ‘appreciator’. She tried making crafts, but found it too exacting. She started painting on muslin which she used to make pillows.
Then came Italy. “When I was 47 I went to Italy for the first time and it was the first time in my life I felt like the sky opened, and oh my gosh, the sky, the art, the peeling buildings, and I thought, I have to be an artist, I have to figure out how to do this. Then I came back and I taught myself, a lot from reading books, but mostly by looking at my favorite artists – I was working in a more representational style then – and it was like, I finally found my thing. It took me that long to find what I’d been looking for, and so to pick up where I left off when I was a child.”
She started working with acrylic, then oil, (renaissance inspired with a modern twist), and, about four years ago, started with cold wax. I’m just now learning about cold wax, so I found this interesting. She created a picture as we talked, (see below)
which was really instructional. Her creative process is also interesting. “I make intuitive abstracts. I may have an idea at the beginning and it turns out very differently, but often I don’t have any idea at all, or I might just have an overall thought. With cold wax you just start building layers, scrape back, scribble around with oil bars and add some more layers, then maybe use some solvent to wash some of it back. I usually don’t know what’s going to happen. Challenging, interesting, sometimes frustrating, but I think I turned a corner lately. I don’t mind anymore if I have to start over, or keep going – it’s kind of like life in some ways. There are always do-overs. You have to get out of your own way and pretend you don’t care.” Sage advice.
She has so much good advice – a born teacher. I asked if it was difficult to create art if you aren’t in the right mood. “Then you paint not being in the right mood. The important thing is to keep going – understand that getting blocked is a part of the process and it’s going to happen to you sometimes One thing I finally learned is that no matter how bad it is, I’ll come through it.” She has noticed that “Before I have some kind of shift in my art there’s this period of angst, where I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m only creating ugly stuff, but I just keep painting, and you can always paint over it once you’ve turned a corner, but it’s a weird process.” After the period of angst her art usually changes in a way she likes, “but there’s always a spiral, going over to the dark side of things, before you come over to the next rung. It’s not true for everybody, but I think it’s true for a lot of people. Especially if you work intuitively, because you have to wait until your intuition catches up with where you are.”