Saturday, July 17, 2010

Featured Artist - Ali Cavanaugh


"in this moment, i wait #2"
6″ x 6″ fresco

It is always a huge honor for me to feature other artists on my blog.
This particular artist is especially exciting for me because I have admired her work for years, and even own a print. [Some day I hope to own an original!] I first discovered Ali Cavanaugh on Daily Painters and immediately fell in love with her talent. The way she captures light is impeccable, and anyone who can paint the human form as well as she does has some serious talent. It's not that her paintings look like photographs:
They look BETTER than photographs.
I hope you will be as inspired as I was after reading the following interview:


When did you recognize your talent as an artist?
I remember my talent being affirmed early in elementary school. My teachers would ask me to use my artistic abilities on their bulletin boards or if any illustration needed to be done. I specifically remember a yearbook cover competition for my elementary school yearbook. I wanted to win so bad….I was disappointed when I lost to a 6th grader …I was in 3rd grade at the time. I remember thinking “I’ve got to work harder!”

What is your favorite medium?
My favorite medium is watercolor for sure. I’ve tried everything under the sun…even medium that is not categorized as art material. It seems that watercolor is the best medium for translating my artistic voice. It does exactly what I want it to do. I was an oil painter for 15 years and I really love oil…. the vibrant luminosity that it holds, but it just doesn’t work for me.

Do you support yourself with your art? (Is it your vocation?)
Yes, I do support myself with my art sales. I don’t live an extravagant life or anything, but I am able to pay the bills. I view my vocation as family. I look at life through the lens of eternity and I know that I will be judged on my faithfulness as a wife and mother, not how many paintings I produced or how successful my art career was.

Tell me about your process when starting a new painting?
I have several phases or layers in producing my work. First and foremost I view my work as an entrance into the mystery of thought and contemplation, human existence, and the complexity of the human conscience. With this platform in mind I photograph my figures in times of isolation. The solidarity produces a feeling of transience. I like to emphasis these contemplative moments by placing the figure in direct light. I have catalogued thousands and thousands of photographs. Some series will never be painted and other series I seem to return to over and over as I try to master a certain light or texture of fabric.

Do you have a favorite painting you have done?
A collector asked me this question a few months ago. It is hard for me to pick one favorite painting. I have several that I feel are monumental in my growth as an artist. I call these ‘breakthrough paintings” either I discovered a new technique or expounded deeper into a concept.
My most recent favorite that I actually decided to keep for my own private collection is a simple profile study of my daughter. She is my muse and is the model for about 80% of my work. I recently painted an academic, not conceptual, piece that will be featured in a step by step demonstration in Artist’s Magazine early next year.

"Profile of Neve”
12” x 12”

”I see you in the best light”
30” x 30”
In this painting I pushed the lighting on the figure and discovered beauty in the reflective objects.

"there is a gentleness in your light”
24” x 24”

In this painting I started using a whole new palette of colors that I am still applying to my current paintings.

Do you have a studio? Tell me about your workspace.
My workspace is very simple, a room in my home. Since I have three children, one being a 6 month old I have to keep my space kid friendly and very accessible.

What is your main inspiration?
I have a multi-faceted source of inspiration: devotion to the Blessed Mother, re-experiencing my own childhood through the experience of mothering my daughter, and my own spiritual development in the way that is it always refining who I am.

What artist (past or present) most influences your work?
My favorite artists and the artists that I believe influenced me the most are Andy Warhol, Alex Kats, Ingres, and Andrew Wyeth.

What is your dream goal for the next 5 years--where will you be and what will you be doing?
This past year has been a big one for me. I had a baby at 36; just one month after my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I have come to realize that it is good to take one day at a time and enjoy the moment. I try to put my all into each week and not put too much weight on long term goals. Goals are good things, but the journey is more important.

What is the most encouraging advice you have received as an artist?
Know yourself.

What is YOUR best advice to offer someone who wants to be an Artist?
Prioritize your life
Be humble and accept criticism
Work extremely hard and
Know yourself


Find more about Ali and her amazing work on her website


  1. Great interview! This lady is going places.

    Man, those two sunglasses have been favorites of mine for a while. I'm glad the artist agrees!

  2. She is amazing! I thought they were photographs at first. It's so much fun to see such talent.

  3. I have been following Ali, I think she is an amazing artist.