Rhea Dennis graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She worked in oils and gouache for many years but has developed a very unique way of working with artist’s handmade paper. She fuses the art of papermaking with her sensibilities as a painter.

To create her paintings, Rhea uses layers of pigmented wet pulp to form a base sheet. The pulp is usually a combination of cotton linter and abaca fibers. At times she works directly on the mould or on pellon (a fabric liner used by sewers) and then transfers her design onto Plexiglas. Using various methods, such as stenciling and pulp manipulation, she is able to add or subtract shapes and colors. Only archival materials are used in this process. Often ground mica is included in the pulp to make the colors shimmer. To add pulp paint, pigmented pulp is used and applied to the wet base paper with a syringe. Many times, once the paper has dried, she paints on top of the dried paper with gouache. The matte finish of the gouache against the dried pigmented paper produces a vibrant color.

Rhea’s work is intuitive, intricate, spontaneous and deeply personal. She finds meaning in the sometimes random patterns made by the manipulation of the pulp. As a never-ending source of inspiration, nature plays a significant role in the symbolism found in her paintings. While inspired by nature, she does not choose to replicate it. Rhea has created a private language of personal line and color. As a painter she feels that the surprises of her “happy mistakes” keeps her work fresh and vibrant. Images flow from her thoughts creating bright, bold forms and colors. 

Rhea is also greatly influenced by the spontaneity and innocence of children. She is inspired daily by their fearless and pure approach to art making. She is also drawn to indigenous cultures and Outsider Art for the very same reasons. She feels that there will always be a need for tactile art, especially in our computerized society. 

Third Street Gallery
Paper Guild
No Name Art Group