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Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast features local artist Rena Doud 

Grayish, dark blue strokes of watercolor seem to have been scrawled on a canvas. Or, maybe, they originated from a splash of a watercolor drop, which landed on the upper right of the canvas.

A splash or not, these strokes are not ordinary; they form unusual shapes like the face of a pondering man, vivid swirls of brilliant colors, and a broken heart emerging from the head of an enigmatic figure. These are the paintings of abstract expressionist artist Rena Doud, who will be featured in an art exhibit hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast (GALA) starting mid-August. 

Although Doud didn’t start painting until her sons entered high school, her work is still an accumulation of 50 years' worth of experience with emotional expressions and perspective. On her website, the Morro Bay resident describes how she works: “I paint in a symbolic and abstract manner so that the viewer’s first impression is a non-personal one. Then they bring their own thoughts and feelings to the viewing.”

These thoughts and feels can be seen in the vibrancy and visual strength of her paintings. In glowing orange, red, and yellows, Doud renders the striking image of a ghoulish man, not unlike a haunted version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, in her painting A Pollack Night.

“I work in an exploratory manner which can be both frustrating and very rewarding,” Doud says on her website. “After laying down a stroke on paper or canvas, I view it from all four sides to see where I want to go next. Sometimes my second stroke makes me think I’ve ruined a good possibility, and I also know that there are other thoughts ahead, so I press forward.”

Additionally, Doud explains that her paintings can reveal something about herself.

“Without anything in mind, I start to paint,” she describes. “The exciting part is not knowing where I am going with it. The painting reveals to me parts of my life and background that have long been submerged; my heritage, religions, lifestyle, and observations long forgotten.”

Her exhibit will run from Aug. 17 through Oct. 17, at the GALA Center at 1060 Palm Street in SLO. There will be two receptions, on Sept. 5 and Oct. 17, where arts lovers can meet with Doud and discuss her paintings.

For more information, visit

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