Through a glass, backward

From a distance, they appear to be expressionist paintings of musicians and marine life. But upon closer inspection, light reflects off the dual-pane window and exposes a crisp image — looking as if it were a print on glossy paper.

Huntington Beach artist Joshua Serafin's oil paintings on recycled glass, along with canvas-based work, will be featured in the upcoming Sunset Beach Art Festival.

Serafin, along with almost 200 other artists, will showcase his art pieces along the Sunset Beach green belt from 6th Street to Broadway (14th Street) on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival has been a Mother's Day tradition for 46 years, according to Sunset Beach Community Assn. President Mike Van Voorhis, whose organization co-sponsors the event.

The art festival is put on by the Sunset Beach nonprofit Las Damas, which helps those less fortunate in the area, Van Voorhis said. Money raised at the event will help art programs in Huntington Beach and neighboring cities, as well as charities such as Casa Youth Shelter and the Illumination Foundation.

Serafin has participated in the event for the last eight years and likes seeing all the up-and-coming artists from around the area.

"It's a great tradition for the Mother's Day weekend," he said. "It's also a good cause. It benefits the art programs and school. On top of that, it helps the mentally ill and homeless families."

The 39-year-old painter has regularly painted on canvas or birch veneers during his 18-year career, but has experimented with glass for the last three years.

"Everything is reverse-painted," he said. "Everything is painted in reverse when I'm painting on the glass."

Painters will traditionally apply their brushes or palette knife to the front of the medium they're working on. But Serafin takes a different approach when he paints on glass.

He adds a layer of paint on the back side of the glass and, with his arm wrapped around the back of the piece, either adds paint or scrapes some away until he gets his desired shape. He will continue this process multiple times, adding numerous layers of paint to the glass.

"I'm learning how to do a little bit more without looking," Serafin said. "I'll add some foundation, turn the piece over and won't look at it for a while, and then I'll start working on it."

Serafin got the idea when he was cleaning one of his small glass palettes. As he scraped the paint off the glass and lifted it up toward an open window, he was inspired by the abstract image shown before him.

"It was a mess of paint, but clean [looking]," he said. "Then I said, 'Dude, that is insane.' "

From there, he's painted on recycled windows and even sliding glass doors. Serafin said it's been a hit with collectors from around the country.

"I can sell these big ones for like $3,500," he said. "Everything has kind of escalated with those, but I will always paint on canvas and birch [veneers]. It's just a new medium."

If You Go

What: 46th annual Sunset Beach Art Festival

Where: Sunset Beach green belt; from Sixth Street to Broadway (14th Street)

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Cost: Free


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