I wanted to create a picture of a woman floating in water with portions of her anatomy rising slightly above the water line. The ease of internal reflection is naturally enhanced for one floating in a pool. With eyes closed and blissful smile she would be satisfied with her self-awareness, of her perfect appearance, looking inward… slightly indifferent. It is essentially a dance pose sustained by floatation, accommodations made for the effect of buoyancy on flesh.
The shape that results when fingers touch toes, leaning backward struck me unexpectedly… as similar to a butterfly wing and she was already in flight.
The idea started as a sketch of course, white conte’ pencil on black paper then onto canvas. My hopes and anticipation grew exponentially. I imagined cobalt blue water deep below and fluctuating lighter cool hues on the surrounding surface. The pallet of cool ultramarine, Prussian and manganese blues, viridian and cadmium green would compliment the warm flesh tones, the mood of the picture was solidifying in my mind.. But as anticipation built I needed this picture to be more than oil on canvas.
One can paint the illusion of space or one can carve real space. I would do both simultaneously with Madame’ Butterfly. Since I was imagining water and figure very realistically and in detail, a shallow description of space and light no matter how perfect would not suffice. So I began devising another approach, which would more closely reproduce the appearance of a woman floating in water.
With palette knife in hand I began sculpting the figure up off the canvas by applying hard modeling paste (many layers alternated by sanding). This process required 10 months and a number of other paintings intervened, but I continued to observe, dream, plan and apply the marble dust/polymer paste, constantly sanding. I decided to immerse the figure in crystal clear casting resin, which would be poured directly over the painted and sculpted surface. Her shoulders chin, cheekbone, breasts and thighs would be above the water (resin) level, the balance of the figure below. Her alizarin crimson hair both on the surface and submerged.
It was spring in New York, and butterflies were flitting across my view while running Central Park, I had entirely new interest in them. I procured a species of red African Butterfly (ahhh the internet) that would strategically land in the water (resin) surrounding her(immersed in resin, permanently protected) .
The picture is framed in aluminum, which encloses the depth of the canvas and one-inch of clear casting resin.