Barton does not choose to replicate the subjects or styles of the cave artists but sees a relevance to modern abstraction in certain elements of their paintings--such as spattered dots, which she thinks might suggest their response to their clear view of the stars. "In making my own marks and surfaces," says Barton, "I likely was motivated quite differently than the Paleolithic art makers. I was reaching back to the wonder and joy I felt first in mark making and painting as a child, when my scribbles brought me joy." In responding to the Paleolithic artists, Barton ponders their motivations, asking why they drew and painted human-animal hybrids, asking whether their art might have been part of a sacred ritual, or might have been fueled by hallucinogens as some scholars have suggested.
I’m interested in history, nature, and humanity and what lies beneath the surface of what is immediately visible," says Barton. "Oil and cold wax medium allow me to create multiple layers of texture with palette knives, rubber squeegees, and a variety of household tools such as basting brushes, rubber jar openers, plastic combs, pastry blenders. and coffee sleeves." She adds that she paints abstractly and intuitively, building up many layers of paint mixed with cold wax, creating a complex and nuanced surface. "I reveal some of what came before by incising and scraping back areas of the painting, allowing each piece to tell its own story."
Serena Barton teaches oil and cold wax painting at her studio in Portland and has taught workshops in France, Italy, and around the U.S. She also will be teaching a class in Ireland.