>Fallen Debutantes…..October 2010


Stage One the gesture and foundation of the painting. Painted with charcoal powder and gesso.

I love to paint the figure, and more often than not the gestural under painting is the stage that excites me the most. It is the core of the emotion that moves the piece forward and in a way it is the foundation on which the other stages, layers, and marks will rest.  I am working on this particular painting as a triptych, 3 panels of gallery wrapped canvas each being 48 inches by 24 inches in size.  The figures will be slightly smaller than life size, so I don’t intend to include the entire body on any of the panels.  The thought process behind these paintings is that I want to create three distinct figures that are unique in character but are not defined by detail.  It is in the painting of the details that often we lose the thrust of a painting. I feel that if I give too much detail or information that I will limit the amount of room I leave for a viewer to inhabit the painting.  In simple words I want the painting to be relative or to resonate with the viewer and not be a specific person or place or time for that matter.  I want the figures to relate to one another as well, not only in form but in some lyrical way that will unite them and give them a presence that sets them apart from other pieces in Medusa Complexities Exhibition.  

Stage Two below gives the first layers of paint on top of the gestures in stage one. Adding acrylic paint to the mixtures of charcoal powder and gesso at this point.


Stage three the design and palette are being established. Redefining the shapes as well as working on the design of the environment or backgrounds of each piece.

I began to add some different hues to the paintings, I have been quite enamored with the using hues of orange  and have found it cropping up in my work recently.    I like to sully my orange with other pigments to give it a character all it’s own, I almost never use tube colors by themselves.  I choose my palette for each piece of work, but often I use the same palette for years adding and subtracting only one or two hues at a time.  I think many artist do this and it gives their work uniformity to some degree, it also just feels very comfortable and forces you to create new and interesting colors by mixing instead of buying every tube color that comes on the market. I used gesso as my white paint at this point, but in the later stages will switch to white acrylic paint.  I am trying to think of ways to relate the three figure shapes and make them work as one painting, yet still retain enough strength to stand alone as three separate paintings as well.  It is at this point they are looking like figures at a dance to me and I am thinking that could be the relationship for them.  They appear solitary in each panel giving them  a formality,so I think I will put gloves on the hands, no wait; I will put long gloves on them as this feels unusual and even more distinctive.  I am thinking this will be a commonality that will serve to link them together. I then begin to think about gloves and their significance or relativity to my life, now the story is beginning to gel and surface behind these figures.
The Deep South is where tradition runs deep in the arteries and veins of many women and is taken very seriously, and it is only as I have gotten older  that I look back on many of these traditions and wonder how they ever got taken so seriously.  I remember back to a time when many of my friends made their debuts and had their coming out festivities and Debutante Dances. I was not in that particular segment of society that was expected to  perform this act, but I knew how important it was to the girls that were in it; and how much fun it was for them to don their white gowns and white gloves and partake of the societal games in which their predecessors had before them.  This piece will be a bit of a play on societal games and social mores.  I feel like at this point in my life, I see with much more clarity that we often perform acts just to conform to what is deemed as proper.  There must be some point at which we have to recollect and wonder, how much of this is truly important in the scheme of our short lives .
  I have my thoughts firmly stated so I am now ready to proceed further with this piece.  I choose to make the gloves black, instead of white to give this a more intense feeling, it adds a bit of mystique to the whole debutante concept and the dark mystery of history and the relevance  of this performance.  The position of the hands is important to me as they are quite literally dancing across the canvas each in its own expressive cotillion of  movement of shape.  I like the feeling the piece is getting at this point but I have to sleep so I will let the paintings rest for the night and approach them tomorrow with new eyes.  I awake to see the girls still lurking in my studio black gloved and featureless but familiar and hauntingly interesting to me.

Stage 4 and the shapes of the figures are being refined and finessed as the piece progresses.

In my latest series; The Medusa Complexities, I have taken many liberties with  shaded eyes and the anonymity factors I employ in my figures.  This triptych that  I am working on now is yet another in the series and will be included in my solo show in November 18, 2010 at Jackson Street Gallery in Ridgeland, Ms.  In this piece I am working on painting the figure  with more anonymity than the earlier paintings, all the while keeping them solid in  form and giving them the movement that I am trying to portray in them.There is much more work to do to get to the final stage of the painting.  The  later stages of my work  are ones of adding layers and taking layers off  paint in places and more or less refining the paintings to a point that gives them the strength and intrigue that I believe are my goal in my art.  In the last stages of each piece there is a slow pace, consisting of much less painting and much more analytical looking and thoughtful decisive moves based on design, format, and the intentions of the painting, it is at this point that to any observer I am dragging my feet but in reality I am overclocking my brain with decisions and revisions.  I don’t take many photos at this point as I am in another mode of operation and the camera is not involved at this stage, it would only prove to be a distraction.

Debutantes in the final stage ready for varnish.

 The painting has reached a point where I feel anything more will diminish my original feeling for the painting.  I am deeming it finished (for now).  A few points to note:I added the white bar as a nod or reference to the white dresses and gloves of a traditional debutante and to lend the figures a stability shape which serves to link them as well.  I changed the shapes up in subtle ways, mostly in the head shapes and torso shapes, yet I retained a uniformity to the figures as well as their environments.  I used a varied palette of hues, but I was careful to use hues in all three of the paintings giving them a harmonious relationship to each other.

I hope this blog will be of some interest and will give you some insight into my process and the upcoming exhibition of my work.


*All artwork and text included in this blog is copyright protected by Cathy Hegman and should not be reproduced in any form or fashion or used without the written permission of Cathy Hegman. All text and artwork included in this blog are solely the thoughts and original art of the artist, Cathy Hegman, unless otherwise noted, and are meant only to be guidelines and thoughts for others to read.my blog.
*All photography is copyright protected by Thomas Hegman and should not be rep

About Cathy S. Hegman

Art, much like a road links people together both visually and mentally. One can attain a glimpse inside the artist’s soul by studying the artist’s work, and perhaps find something that links them to the artist and the art. A work of art has the ability to resonate and touch the emotions without regard to age, gender, race, or religion through the application of pigment to canvas or paper. Art can be the voice that cries out without limits, or sometimes whispers the thoughts of the creator. Art speaks silently, yet conjures up feelings and gives satisfaction that is undeniable, and yet intrinsic. It validates our need to learn about ourselves, and gives us freedom to search for our own identities. The road is long and often dusty, but always renewing the spirit with inspiration. It is my hope in this lifetime to give a part of what I have learned through and on my journey with others. The deepest form of us is revealed in our thoughts and my art is the translation of my thoughts to paper and canvas. I paint layers of color and line to create a history of marks that will guide the viewer into my world of thought and engage them in the process. I embed personal symbols throughout my art to give it deeper meaning. I encourage you to think about life in a visual way and to contemplate our connections with each other and the world we share.
This entry was posted in cathyhegman, figure, painting, triptych. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to >Fallen Debutantes…..October 2010

  1. Chris says:

    >Hi Cat! Beautiful, beautiful paintings. Thank you for sharing your thought process, you are very inspiring to me. Dang the day job, I'd rather be home painting!!

  2. Cathy Hegman says:

    >Hey Chris and thank you so much…with this economy keep the day job and paint at night! Perhaps the economy will turn around soon, I am starting to be a truly starving artist these days! LOL Thank you again!

  3. CMC says:

    >They're wonderful, Cathy.

  4. Cathy Hegman says:

    >Thanks Cheryl…hope buyers feel the same way! :0)

  5. >Cathy – Thank you for sharing the process on this. It's really inspiring.

  6. >Very enlightening blog, I now have a better appreciation of them. I only saw them briefly up in my room when I was back. I really like the debutant concept with the black gloves and the bar of white as a nod. That is a really neat touch to it. Infact I'd be tempted to add a small description below the paintings if you put them in a gallery. That will help someone casually viewing appreciate them much more!

  7. Cathy Hegman says:

    >You are probably right Thomas…I should do that! Thanks for the comment and reading the blog too! love you!!!

  8. >Cathy, once again you've created beautiful images. However, the depth of the triptych, each with it's own power and synergistically more so together, is truly thrilling.I am so excited for you about the solo show. How's the work going?

  9. Cathy Hegman says:

    >Thank you Karen!! The show is coming along nicely I have made two hauls with paintings to the gallery a 1 1//2 hour drive each way and still have maybe three more van loads to take! I have worked on this show for most of this year so I have many paintings in it. I am excited, exhausted, and thrilled, I cannot wait for the show to be up and see all the work as a whole body. I will post you all about it!

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