Dreamy watercolor portraits capture subjects in moments of introspection

Unlike oil and acrylic, watercolor often gives the impression of having a life of its own. And while some artists find this aspect of the medium difficult, 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 earned a painting degree from Kendall College of Art and Design in Michigan, specializing in oil. It wasn’t until 10 years after graduating that she fell in love with watercolour. “For me, there was a stark contrast between the two mediums,” Cavanaugh told My Modern Met. “Watercolor is light and airy. I have more control. [Additionally,] because the visual effects are light and ethereal, the watercolor created a wonderful balance between the serious and sometimes dark expressions of my characters.

Cavanaugh’s watercolor portraits depict people in his life. “Some moments jump out at me and those are moments that inspire me to paint,” she continues. “There is a look, or a composition, or a feeling that invades me… and I know it must be painted.” Each subject floats in a delicately crafted composition, topped with layers of pale, translucent colors. Their enigmatic expressions are difficult to pin down to a single emotion. And since we can’t determine what the characters are thinking, they make us reflect on ourselves and how those pensive, vaporous worlds make us feel.

Scroll down to see more of Cavanaugh’s amazing watercolor art. You can purchase original paintings and signed prints through the artist’s website and keep up to date with his latest works by following Cavanaugh on Instagram.

Artist Ali Cavanaugh creates expressive watercolor portraits of introspective subjects.

Watercolor Portraits by Ali CavanaughWatercolor Portraits by Ali Cavanaugh

She turned to watercolor painting after many years working in oil paint.

Watercolor Portraits by Ali CavanaughWatercolor Portraits by Ali CavanaughWatercolor Portraits by Ali Cavanaugh

Cavanaugh’s watercolor portraits depict people in his life.

Watercolor Portraits by Ali CavanaughWatercolor Portraits by Ali Cavanaugh

“Some moments jump out at me and those are moments that inspire me to paint,” she told My Modern Met.

Watercolor Portraits by Ali Cavanaugh

“There is a look, or a composition, or a feeling that invades me… and I know it must be painted.”

Watercolor Portraits by Ali CavanaughWatercolor Portraits by Ali Cavanaugh

Their enigmatic expressions are difficult to pin down to a single emotion.

Watercolor Portraits by Ali CavanaughWatercolor Portraits by Ali CavanaughAli Cavanaugh: website | Instagram | Patreon

My Modern Met has granted permission to feature photos of Ali Cavanaugh.

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