Current town: Philadelphia, PA
Job description: Painter of Continuous Lines
Bio: Paula Cahill studied the figure for many years before transitioning to complex, abstract paintings. Her linear abstract compositions are often comprised of a single, luminous line that meanders, changes color, and seamlessly connects back to itself.
Originally from Detroit, Michigan, Paula pursued an education in the arts after relocating to the Philadelphia area. Paula’s new 2019 paintings were exhibited in the two person show, “Sacred Geometry,” with Phyllis Gorsen at Hot Bed Philly earlier this year. Works on paper from her “Current Series” are presently included in “The Universe, How Vast, How Small” at Arete Gallery, Brooklyn, NY. Seraphin Gallery hosted a solo exhibition of her paintings at the Yard in Center City, Philadelphia and she was also awarded a solo exhibition through Abington Art Center’s competitive Solo Series program in 2018. Cahill’s paintings are held in private, public, and corporate collections including Temple University, Capital One, Aramark, MM Partners, and PNC Bank Corporation. Her studio is located in Philadelphia, PA.
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Upcoming projects: During May, I will be the Visiting Artist at the Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. The students and I will create a large scale work that will become a part of the school’s permanent collection. I’m very excited to meet the students and get started.
Select links: paulacahill.com https://www.instagram.com/paula_cahill_paints/
Describe your work: My paintings are comprised of a single line that changes color and often connects back to itself. To accomplish this, I start out by spending a half day or more mixing up to 100 gradients of color that I lay down repeatedly, one brush stroke at a time.
What themes and concepts does your work generally revolve around?
While the overarching goal of my work is to extend the historical conversation with line, I use a variety of concepts as catalysts for individual paintings. These include geometry, art historical reference, and the relationship between line and meaning.
What materials do you work with? Oil paint, sharpies, pencil, gouache, and ink.
What are you currently working on? Right now, I’m very busy getting ready for the Westtown School’s Visiting Artist project. I’m also in the process of finishing up five paintings.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have? I have a cycle that goes like this: 1. Arrange canvases in the studio, usually 10 to 12, and create studies to scale. All of this is hung on the walls and assessed. 2. I actually make the paintings. 3. Once the paintings are finished, I’ve created a huge mess to clean up. I re-organize the studio and then, I can’t wait to start all over again. Being in a clean, freshly painted studio makes me very excited to paint.
What’s your art background? I came from a family of meager means. Art supplies were hard to come by, but I was always making and arranging things with scraps and found objects. I didn’t call it art, but now I realize that was my childhood art. My undergraduate degree is from Tyler School of Art and I attended PAFA for graduate school. I also spent a year at Parsons School of Design at the New School in New York City as a transfer student. Prior to that I studied at the Art Students League of New York.
What’s inspiring you? Very often, art history, geometry, and linguistics.
Do you have any future or past exhibits you’d like to mention? I was particularly pleased with “Sacred Geometry” at Hot Bed Philly. It was an honor to show my work there along with Phyllis Gorsen. The people at James Oliver Gallery and Hot Bed Philly by Bryan Hoffman have created an important and vital space for contemporary art in our region and I was thrilled to be a part of this.
Is any of your work political? My work is political in that it offers a contemplative respite from many of the issues that plague contemporary society. It makes me happy when I see someone standing in front of one of my paintings, moving their eyes and head along with the line. I sense that they’re immersed.
What are you trying to communicate with your art? My futile attempts to contemporize line and extend the historical conversation with line. I say futile, because I’m not sure it’s possible.
What is one of the biggest challenges you face as an artist? I have more ideas than time.
How has the meaning of your work changed over time? The paintings have become more precise and complex.
What do you dislike about your work? I love to paint, but I become frenzied when I’m confronted with the need to wipe out large areas of a painting and repaint them for some reason that only exists in my head. This often leads to very late nights in the studio.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet? Taking this body of work off of the canvas and into a three dimensional realm.
What is your dream project? An exhibition space filled with continuous line paintings and sculptures – Maybe even a video!
Are you involved with any organizations? Yes, InLiquid, CFEVA, and Toastmasters.
Do you collaborate with other artists? I collaborate with other artists to write essays about their work. I publish the essays online to introduce them to collectors, curators, and other artists. I have also collaborated for exhibitions.
What are a few of your favorite spots in your area? The Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Foundation, James Oliver Gallery and Hot Bed Philly, Lockes Gallery, the Crane Buildings, Brooke Lanier Fine Art, Automat, Carpenter 1421, Painted Foot Studios, Fleisher, Temple Contemporary, PAFA, and The Michener to name just a few. Really, we’re very fortunate because we have so many world class, contemporary art destinations in the Philadelphia area.
Favorite artists and why? People in your field whom you most admire:
Right now, I’m fascinated and enamored by Pablo Picasso and Hilma of Klint. It’s so interesting to read about their lives, their art, and the culture of their time. How did all of these factors come together to support or not support the great bodies of work that they produced? I also have great respect and admiration for anyone who launches a new organization or entrepreneurial endeavor in relation to the arts.
What are you reading? Picasso Challenging the Past.
What are you listening to these days? Anything that involves music or
meditation. I also listen to Sirius XM when I’m driving.
What was the last show you attended? The Decemberists.
What was the last exhibit you attended? The Armory Show.
What was the first piece of artwork you bought? Do you buy a lot of artwork? My first purchase was a handcrafted Art Nouveau table. I have a cherished collection of purchases, gifts, and trades by local artists.
Your website: paulacahill.com