Unlike oil and acrylic, watercolor can often feel like it has a life of its own. And while some artists find this aspect of the medium challenging, others find the unpredictability a source of creative inspiration. Painter Ali Cavanaugh harnesses these mysterious qualities in her series of exquisite watercolor portraits, which capture different subjects in moments of introspection.
Cavanaugh received a degree in painting from Michigan's Kendall College of Art and Design, specializing in oil. It wasn't until 10 years after graduating that she fell in love with watercolor. “For me, there was a sharp contrast between the two mediums,” Cavanaugh tells My Modern Met. “Watercolor is light and airy. I have more control. [Additionally,] because the visual effects are weightless and ethereal, watercolor created a wonderful balance to the serious and sometimes somber expressions of my figures.”
Cavanaugh's watercolor portraits depict people that are a part of her life. “Certain moments jump out to me and those are times that inspire me to paint,” she continues. “There is a look, or composition, or feeling that comes over me…and I know it needs to be painted.” Each subject floats in a delicately-made composition, shrouded with layers of pale, translucent colors. Their enigmatic expressions are hard to pin down to one emotion. And since we can't determine what the figures are thinking, they make us reflect on ourselves and how these pensive, gauzy worlds make us feel.
Scroll down to see more of Cavanaugh's amazing watercolor art. You can purchase original paintings and signed prints via the artist's website, and keep up to date with her latest work by following Cavanaugh on Instagram.