Overview: This is a review of Consume, an original watercolor by Ali Cavanaugh. The piece measures 12" x 12" and was purchased in May of 2016.
Final Score: 9/10
Pros: A stunning piece of watercolor. Visually raw, yet nuanced in its execution, it carries the full wight of modern symbolism with all the character and beauty of romantic realism.
Cons: A smaller study, not a full piece, it lacks the scale and detail of her other work.
My art credentials do not extend far beyond a degree in Fine Arts and career in Commercial Design, but I have spent a few years meditating on this particular painting now, and I consider myself informed enough to give it a formal review.
The painting stares intently back from a bare white wall in a simple wooden frame, protected behind museum class.
The richness of the watercolor is in its subtlety. The gentle hues and soft colors shift and blend in a way unique to the medium.
Cavanaugh's unique approach is apparent from the surface quality of the paint. She uses a wet kaolin clay instead of paper, which is why she terms her works "modern frescos" instead of a watercolors. The result is a smooth, almost translucent surface.
Commenting on her work, Cavanaugh writes, "I strive to paint not only the delicate features of the external person but to capture the tender unseen presence that transcends understanding in the depth of a soul. In my experience in working with the people that I paint, I repeatedly discover the profound mystery of existence."
I find this meaning, and much more, when I look at this child's face rendered in delicate shades of pink and blue.
Two years after purchasing Consume, I was fortunate enough to meet Ali Cavanaugh at NeoCon 2018, and express my appreciation and thanks for her artwork. It is my hope that her talents, character, and unique approach to the medium will continue to gain recognition in the art community, and I look forward to her next works.