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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

Caught In The Headlights – Abstract Painting

Updated: Mar 21

Aesthetically, I really like how this abstract painting turned out - I'm very happy to have it hanging on my dining room wall. I think it’s the simplicity, in terms of colour palette and the design, which allows the boldness of the marks to have their full impact.


Many of my abstract paintings are created with layers, upon layers of thick, bright and contrasting colours and small splatterings of paint heading in all directions. They are a rich tapestry of sensory stimulus, which is appropriate given my intention was to explore the topic of cognitive overwhelm. They are loud and overwhelming – that’s the point. But aesthetically, they are not so pleasing.

This painting, on the other hand, has a stillness to it which makes it easier on the eye. It represents the moment of calm after an intense period of stress, when everything seems to be moving in slow motion, sounds become muffled and you suddenly start to notice individual details in hyper reality. It's not about control - it's about "channeling the chaos" by focussing on what is important / essential and forgetting all the other distracting elements. It’s the moment you walk on stage for an important performance, after sitting back-stage for half an hour practicing breathing exercises to calm the anxiety which has kept you awake all night. When the adrenaline kicks in, the crippling anxiety releases and it feels like you are floating – allowing you to focus exclusively on the task in hand – without all the background noise and textures. That’s what this painting is about – the relinquishing of that fear – so, I’ve titled it, ‘Caught In The Headlights’. 


I actually finished the painting at the end of 2023, but the oil paint splatters are so thick it has been immovable from my attic studio until now. It is not fully dry yet but I was able to get it down the ladder and hang it on the wall without causing further damage (one of the splatters unfortunately got smudged when I accidentally knocked it a few weeks ago).


It’s a 100 x 80cm, oil on canvas (the largest size I’m able to work on in my attic). The base layer is created with thick, sweeping brush strokes in jet black and I love how the subtle texture of the background reflects the light, creating glistening white streaks on the black surface. The splatters are laid down in intersecting sections; blue, purple, pink and green which are combined with white and orange/red combined with yellow – thrown down with great force, to create dynamic and chaotic marks on the canvas.

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