“Where’s Papa going with that ax?”
The title’s quotation came into my head the other day. It is the first sentence from E.B. White’s book, Charlotte’s Web. The child, Fern, notices her father heading to the hog house. Her mother says that a litter of pigs had been born the previous night and the runt “will never amount to anything,” so Fern’s father “has decided to do away with it.”
Wilbur’s fate is not to be killed (at least not then), and a classic tale of friendship unfolds.
What made “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” pop into my head? I was headed to the cellar to choose a painting, say good-bye to it, and use the support to make a new piece. There would be no Fern chasing me down the stairs sobbing, “Please don’t kill it!”
Writers “kill their darlings” when they revise by deleting favorite images, phrases, sentences or even chapters. Artists paint over pieces that do not seem as strong or successful as when they were first created. My motivation to select a “runt” is storage space that has begun to look like an episode of Hoarders.
Previous selections for the ax have been on canvas or board, but this time I went for something from my “Autobiography” series (Judy’s Journal, 2011 September). A special challenge presented itself because the transfers included in each composition were encased in polyurethane, as were the inked and penciled portions.
How was I going to remove these protective layers without destroying the clay board surface? I asked my neighbor, who is a woodworker, what he would do. Using mineral spirits or stripper might destroy the inked sections and even the clay board itself. He suggested trying to lift the transfer with an exacto knife.
I returned to my studio and ended up using a single-edged razor blade because of its broader sharp surface. Much to my delight, the transfer peeled off, and so did the polyurethane layers over the inked patterns. It was a slow process, but it all came off! Now, I was ready to see where this “rebirth” would take me.
Hours later, this is the result which I have named “Reboot #1.” Sounds like a series? I think it will be.