Three years ago I went to an art demo at the local art league where we were shown how to make a shape or texture on a canvas board to give dimension to an abstract painting. So I came home and textured-up two canvas boards hoping to produce a piece for an annual show.
I did some painting on each one. On one of them, what I expected to be a lily of some sort, soon looked more like a starfish than a flower. I thought, okay I can do mixed media and add some small real shells to the piece. I also put in a second starfish embracing a scallop, which will be its dinner.
So I’m painting along and decide to add a few red beads, because the fresh-dead starfish I had found on my last shelling trip had raised red bumps on its arms. I also added some highlights with small pieces of foil that I had torn off a container I opened at breakfast.
I wanted to add some dark areas behind the big starfish so it would stand out. The texturing I had started with was covered with a coat of matt medium as the demo artist had done, saying that the acrylic medium would allow the paint to be removed for highlights. Every time I tried to add another layer of dark paint, the brush would instead pick up the layer I had just put on.
Frustrated with the process, I decided to try a stencil effect using a rubbery scrap of those things you put under rugs so they don’t slip and slide. It didn’t work so well as a stencil, because the rubber absorbed the paint. I liked the color so much I decided to adhere the rubber mesh to the painting with a clear gel medium.
Then, I wanted to add a few more red beads. They were in a narrow glass tube that had been my mother’s. The cork in the tube crumbled when I opened it the second time, and I found myself trying to separate the cork crumbs from the beads. After a few minutes, I thought, why am I standing here picking out the cork? Just throw it on with the beads—no one will even notice!
At some point in all the above, I had actually looked at the starfish and counted the arms. Seven. The starfish I collected in the Bahamas has five arms. Was there such a thing as a seven-armed starfish? Google informed me there was. It is called Luidia ciliaris, it lives in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea, and it is red.
The painting didn’t get accepted in the show I entered. I never got around to working on the second textured board. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get around to doing something with that this year.