Is it possible to pinpoint when straight and curved lines were invented? The contours of ancient rock paintings give us organic lines and line is evident in the motifs of early Greek vessels and Egyptian Funerary art. Renaissance artists were lauded for their invention of perspective, a system contrived of straight lines that extend to infinity. Modernists isolated and formalized gestural line as subject. I strive to extend this conversation by painstakingly mixing and repeatedly laying down up to 100 gradients of color in my attempts to contemporize line.

Philadelphia Open Studio Tours - Saturday, October 13

Please join me when I open my studio Saturday, Oct. 13 from Noon to 6pm. This is my fifth year at the Crane Old School and in honor of this milestone, for the first time ever, I'm offering a discount of 30% on all paintings in my studio through October 14. This includes my very affordable works on paper. If you can't make it to POST, you're welcome to schedule a private studio visit and shipping is available. Adult refreshments and beverages will be available. Many studios and galleries will be open at the Crane Old School and Crane Arts. I hope to see you there! For more information: and


Notes on Spain

Dear Friends,

By the time you receive this newsletter, Jim and I will be on our way home from Spain where we visited Granada and Seville, then toured the Picasso Museum, Gaudí destinations, and Basilicas in Barcelona. Travel and history have been catalysts for artists’ work for centuries, and I’m excited to return to my studio fueled by all that Spain offered.

In Seville and Granada, we toured Alcazar and the Alhambra, where we were surrounded by the influence of Islamic art and architecture on the Moorish culture; their most striking feature was the absence of human and animal imagery. In the Quran, humans and animals are sacred; thus, their visual reproduction is forbidden. We did find a couple of narrative paintings in the Sultan’s private quarters. The Sultan hired a Flemish painter to make the paintings and circumvented the Quran by commissioning a Christian to create the scenes.

If humans and animals are forbidden, what exactly adorned the walls of Alcazar and the Alhambra? The golden reliefs and silk tapestries that once graced these palaces were pillaged long ago, but their mosaics and plaster reliefs remain as excellent examples of Islamic art. Plaster reliefs filled with Arabic calligraphy and intricately cut mosaic patterns line the walls of Alcazar and the Alhambra. The written Arabic language, comprised of densely compacted, sweeping lines, graces these walls with writing from the Quran. For an artist who studies the history of line, this is fascinating fuel for paintings and drawings, especially the allusion to movement these lines create within a dense, compact space.

Having soaked up calligraphic imagery and mosaic patterns in the south of Spain, we moved on to the Picasso Museum as well as Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Família and La Pedrera where we were presented with epic examples of historic reference in art and architecture. Gaudí’s architectural style, drawing inspiration from the natural world, is a highly personalized modernist remix of Gothic style. His most famous work, the Sagrada Família Basilica, was initiated in 1882, and its completion, in 2026, will commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death. Many architects and sculptors have continually worked from Gaudí’s architectural drawings long after his passing in 1926 to bring his vision for the Basilica to fruition. At Sagrada Família, one sees traditional Christian themes sculpted with simplified planes, doors inscribed with the Lord’s prayer translated into fifty languages that welcome all, and traditional Gothic columns replaced by columns constructed with tree-like branches that support the ceiling’s weight with futuristic efficiency.

While Gaudí’s style blends gothic architecture, Catalan modernism, and natural forms, Picasso’s mature paintings deconstruct historical painting. At the Picasso Museum, I was most struck by Picasso’s study and reference to Velazquez’s painting, Las Meninas (1656), which served as the catalyst for 45 paintings of various sizes from large to small created by Picasso between August and December of 1957. Here, we see Velázquez’s sepia-toned Las Meninas deconstructed and recreated in primary colors, presented from multiple viewpoints with fractured cubist forms and heavy lines that give the paintings a raw and bold new energy. The child, Margaret Theresa, is often extracted from the narrative altogether and brought to the surface of the painting as its sole subject with bold, colorful planes.

Picasso’s deconstruction and reference to historic painting and Gaudí’s personal, seamless blending of styles exemplify masterful use of the past in capturing the zeitgeist of the present and, in some cases, even the future. Their work, invoking a sense of awe, challenges me with many questions and suggests new ways of working. The calligraphy, pattern, and Moorish style of southern Spain offer linear formations as well as movement to study and better understand. With line and historical reference paramount in my own work, I am leaving Spain fulfilled and excited to return to the studio.

Warm Regards,


"Arrangement" and "Insomnia" at the Delaware ContemporaryI'

I'm honored to announce that Arrangement and Insomnia were selected by Michael Kalmbach for "Strong Lines" at the Delaware Contemporary with esteemed, regional artists Brian Conaty, Phyllis Gorsen, Suzy Kopf, and Gregg Morris.  Please join us for the opening reception May 4, 5-9pm.  Exhibition continues through July 28, 2018.  You can read the press release and learn more about the Delaware Contemporary here:

  Arrangement,  Oil on Canvas, 48 x 48 inches, 2017

Arrangement, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 48 inches, 2017

"One Eyed Fiona" selected for "Dig"


One Eyed Fiona, Oil and Graphite on Linen, 60 x 48 in, 2014

I'm happy to announce that "One Eyed Fiona" will be exhibited in "Dig" at the Hamilton Street Gallery in Bound Brook, New Jersey from March 18 to April 26.  "One Eyed Fiona" was awarded an honorable mention by Lydia Panas in the GoggleWorks 2016 Annual Juried Exhibition.  It is a part of the "Darkness Project" and it represents some of my earlier explorations in abstraction.


Transforming Jazz - A Visual Journey - Art Gallery at City Hall


Havana to Key West, Oil on Linen, 36 x 24 inches, 2017

I'm excited to announce that juror, Leroy Johnson, selected "Havana to Key West" and "0078" to be a part of "Transforming Jazz - A Visual Journey" in the gallery at Philadelphia City Hall to celebrate Jazz Week.  The exhibit will be open March 28 to May 4, 2018. 

In "Havana to Key West," I strive to simultaneously subvert the seascape and linear abstraction.  The catalyst for this piece was digital music composed by musician and art theorist, Janet Brooks.  Janet's digital compositions include jazz and latin components that I visualized and transformed into line for "Havana to Key West."  While Janet's song is titled, "Havana to New York," my painting is informed by my childhood experiences of visiting relatives in the Florida Keys and hearing tales of travel to Cuba prior to the travel restrictions imposed by the United States Government in 1963.  

Introducing "Variable"

"Variable" is my most recent, 48 x 48 inch, oil painting on canvas.  "Variable" is comprised of a single, continuous line that changes color and connects back to itself.  Variable is concerned with the divisions of the canvas and variations within them.  To make these paintings, I mix 80+ colors that I arrange in close gradations on my palette.  Next, I lay the colors down next to each other, on the canvas, one brush stroke or line segment at a time, carefully judging where the colors are going.  The objective is to line the colors up strategically on the canvas so that the hues alternate, pop, and eventually connect back to the same color.  

"Variable," Oil on Canvas, 48 x 48 Inches, 2017

Copyright Paula Cahill 2018. All rights reserved.