This body of work began sometime in the mid 1990's, as an experiment, seeing if I could adhere a dress to a canvas and create a painting over all the textures. "Dress painting" is a term I came up with to explain these when I simply couldn't think of anything better. Over the years they have evolved, with new elements of collage being added. Dress patterns, photographs, and embroidery all appear from time to time, as well as lino block prints, rubber stamps and gold leaf. I will use this space to explore the beginnings of this series, as well as showing my latest work. If the piece is available for sale you'll find the price at the bottom. Free shipping in the U.S. Contact me at kallencole@aol.com to purchase.

Would you like to see my full website? Head over to KathrineAllenColeman.com

Monday, January 23, 2012

A confession

My name is Kathrine Allen-Coleman, and I am a serial brush abuser. These are not the grungiest brushes I could find, these are just a few currently sitting in the water bucket. You see, if you leave brushes in water, the wooden handles swell up. This causes the varnish to chip, and the little metal band that holds the bristles in will even stretch, unually just enough to make it wobble a bit. And, if you leave the brushes in water, the bristles will also swell, and permanently bend, and split into multiple directions. I have convinced myself that this makes for a nice if not somewhat unpredicatble line.

Now if you are working with acrylic paint and you choose not to leave your brushes in water, you'll get an even more irritating alternative. A brush that has all the softness and flexibility of a stick. This is because acrylic needs to stay wet, because it dries to a nice hard plastic.

Yes I could try harder to be a good brush steward. I could run in to the house and wash my brushes every hour or so, (yeah right.) I even try really hard to make this happen, I have that little conversation in my head whenever I find a "virgin-ish" brush, especially a little tiny one that still has a point. "I will clean this, just use it for this little bit, and then clean it." Plop, into the water bucket, and I find it in a week or so. Dead as a doornail, or at least all bent to one side.

Now my husband, Scott, is a watercolor painter. And watercolorists are borderline fanatical about their brushes. They buy these $50 brushes made of very small animals, and treat them very kindly. The first time I met Scott (he was teaching a watercolor workshop in Southern France) he scolded me for leaving my brushes soaking in water beside me as I painted. I couldn't bear to tell him that not only are these brushes sitting in water, but about 6000 miles away in my studio at home, there are other brushes sitting in water too. They had developed a rather fetid odor by the time I returned home, in case you wanted that information.

There really is no point to this, no lesson to learn. I deal with this handicap by buying packs of brushes, the crappy kind. Just one step above those horrible plastic things they put in paint by numbers kits. (What kind of cosmic joke is that anyway?) And if I need a reliable little point, I look for a good one, sacrafice it to the water jug and move on.

Thanks for listening, I feel much better.


  1. Thank you for this confession, as I too am guilty of this.
    I too feel so much better!


  2. Your confession reminded me of my best friend's similar treatment of her brushes. She'd leave them for weeks, even months, in a water jar and then beg her husband to clean them with some sort mechanic's fluid.
    I confess to be just the opposite of you.

  3. I try really hard to keep them clean. I've managed to at least clean at the conclusion of each session......but that means my guest bath sink is yukky. I've got a lot of sad sad brushes......

    We need a group for this. Lowering my eyes in shame......

  4. Ok so I fessed up to my mishandling of my brushes and then the other day I remembered how dear my Purdy Cubs are and how I am so careful to take good care of them. Oh how swiftly I bagged on myself when in reality, I coo-coo those cubs. They are large enough and just right for blending.......get them at Home Depot/Lowe's . And I give credit to Chris Cozen and Julie Prichard for turning me on to these brushes. They really are worth the effort.