Ali carefully layers watercolor pigment on a wet kaolin clay surface using synthetic brushes. Her methods of layering translucent pigment on the white surface give the paintings a sense of being backlit. The iridescence that she achieves with her stacking of color is unparalleled. The luminous quality is often described by collectors as being transcendent or sublime and the detail and light can only be experienced in person. She has spent the last ten years developing her inimitable process and refers to her paintings as "modern frescoes" because they are so uniquely different than what we know of as traditional watercolor paintings. Her paintings are most similar to fresco-secco paintings, but she uses all modern materials; hence, modern frescoes. The panels for Cavanaugh's paintings are constructed with tempered hardboard that is treated with an archival coating and finished with a kaolin clay veneer.  This archival clay coating is delicate to the touch but very durable to the watercolor medium. The finished painting is varnished with a UV coating and does not need to be framed behind glass.  Ali uses Holbein and Golden's QoR watercolors.

The Assistant in process

The Assistant in process