Do habits help (or hinder) creativity?

Do you stick to certain daily habits?  Would you think that habits help (or hinder) your creativity?

This might surprise you, but many creative people have strong daily habits.  And we go to enormous lengths to maintain them.

Habits allow our mental bandwidth to be channeled to create new stuff (art, music, computer programs, legal strategies, etc), rather than being wasted on the mundane (for example, which route should I take to work?).

If this topic fascinates you (as it does me), you might like to check out the highly rated book ‘Daily Rituals: How Artists Work‘ by Mason Currey.

One of the conclusions of ‘Daily Rituals’ is that there is no set of habits that is best for creativity.  But when we develop habits that suit our values and lifestyle, we are setting ourselves up for success.

Some of my habits include eating oatmeal for breakfast every day (all 7 days of the week, all 52 weeks of the year, with very rare exceptions), and heading to my studio to start painting as soon as my sons leave for school.

One of my habits is eating a bowl of oatmeal every morning. I vary the extras (strawberries, nuts, cinnamon, coffee, hot chili pepper, . . . ) but the oatmeal stays the same.

One of my habits is eating a bowl of oatmeal every morning.
The extras vary (strawberries, nuts, cinnamon, coffee, hot chili pepper, . . . )  but the Quaker Oats stay the same.

I have some other daily habits (bad ones) that I’m trying to kick and that do not contribute to my creativity – like eating far too much chocolate.  But that’s a subject for another time.

What daily habits do you find most helpful?

 

At cocktail parties and other fun social events, people often ask me questions about life as an artist. They are answered in my ‘Top 50 Questions’ list. This blog post is the latest addition to my Top 50. To see the other questions & answers, click here.

 

What’s your work-day like?

In “Top Fifty Questions”, I’ll answer the questions I’m most frequently asked as an artist (usually at cocktail parties and other fun social events).

What’s your work-day like as an artist?

Some of you have been curious about my work-day as an artist. Believe it or not, I’m working more hours per week now than I did in high tech.  (I left a fun and fulfilling career in high tech for an even ‘funner’ career as a full-time artist.)

I have a home studio, and am in the studio painting every day from 8 am til 3 or 4pm. Every day. (Well, every weekday, and sometimes on the weekends.)

Chuck Close, a famous American painter, offers a great perspective on this. “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. . . . All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”

I buy into that. Through the process of painting every day, I challenge myself to create my very best work. And to keep learning and experimenting.

An artist’s job is not done when the art is created. Part of the role is running your own art business, with your website, blog, marketing, galleries, exhibits, etc.

I try to dedicate my daytime to painting, and take care of the business stuff in the evenings. (When my sons are doing their homework, I’m doing mine!)  This takes many hours, on most days. Having come from a long business career, I like this part of the job too.

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

What’s up with all the nests? (Video)

In “Top Fifty Questions”,  I answer the top 50 questions I’m asked as an artist (usually at cocktail parties and other fun social events).

I’ve gone crazy for nests. Well, really I’ve gone crazy for eggs and nests and what they represent.

All my paintings with nests are meant to express the boundless possibilities and opportunities we have in our lives, and are part of my “Possibilities” series.  Larger-than-life eggs and nests symbolize the promise of our own capabilities, to be nurtured and explored and stretched to their fullest potential.

My intentions are given away by the titles of some of the paintings – Possibilities in Full Color, Unlimited Possibilities, and Possibilities Abound (winner of the California Statewide Painting Competition).

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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Do you do custom paintings (commissions)? Video

Yes! I do custom paintings.

In fact, I just delivered a custom painting to a new collector, and this is what she had to say –

“You perfectly transformed my dream into a stunningly beautiful painting. I am deeply grateful.”

Wow, I feel so honored. That made my day (my week!). Thank you Sue!!!

I love creating custom paintings. Good thing, because I’m currently working on 6 of them, ranging in size from 16 inches wide up to 80″ wide. That’s wider than you are tall!

If you’d like to learn more about custom paintings, click here (hollyvanhart.com/commission-painting/) . (They make great gifts, and come with a 100% money back guarantee.) Or email me at holly@hollyvanhart.com.

Whether you’re interested in commissioned paintings or not, thank you for your interest in my work.

— Holly

P.S. If you want more info, check out more testimonials and pics of paintings installed in collectors homes.

P.P.S. My custom paintings were awarded Best of Houzz. Check out the details here.

What’s the best thing about being an artist?

Collector of Holly Van Hart's oil painting, commissioned for her living room

Meet Diane F
Adventurer, Mom, Retired Sales Executive
A collector of my art, and now a friend

What’s the favorite part of your job? Whether you’re a banker, lawyer, stay-at-home parent, or an artist, we all have something we love most about our jobs.

The favorite part of my job is . . . you!

Really. The absolute best part of being an artist is that it gives me an excuse to get to know you better. I feel honored to know you, and to keep in touch with you.

(Plus, as you may have guessed, I love playing around with gorgeous, buttery oil paints all day long.)

So, today I’m featuring Diane F, a fascinating and accomplished woman, a collector of my art, and now a friend.

Here are some of the many things that are totally cool about Diane –

  • As a sales exec in the electronics industry, Diane aimed to retire by the age of 45 and succeeded.
  • Last year, Diane became a Mom of an amazingly adorable son.
  • She holds a Masters degree in Computer Education
  • While in college, Diane led a group of 50 teenagers on a bus tour across the US.
  • As a world traveler and adventurer, she has (in her words) “seen half the world, and still has half to go”.

Diane recently remodeled her home, and commissioned me to make a painting for her spacious living room. In honor of Diane’s cool accomplishments, the painting is named ‘Dreams within Reach’.

Video – The making of Diane F’s custom painting
(Link to all videos on Holly’s YouTube video channel)

It’s a privilege to know you Diane!!!

[Top 50 Questions] How long have you been painting?

In “Top Fifty Questions”, I’ll answer the top questions I’m asked as an artist. (These questions are usually asked at cocktail parties and other fun social events.)

Question #4 –  How long have you been painting?

I’ve been painting my whole life, with one hiatus while in college.

As a girl I made many types of art . . . I painted, made ceramics and did crocheting and calligraphy.  My Mom was an artist; she gave us lessons and let us use her top-quality art supplies.  (Thanks Mom!)

In college, studying engineering was all consuming and my art was put on hold.

After graduating, I worked in high tech and pursued painting passionately as a hobby – taking dozens classes, reading thousands of books and articles, forming an art critique group, and painting every spare minute.

Now, as a professional artist, I paint every day, all day (every weekday + some weekends).  And every day I learn something new.

My art education will never be done. That’s a huge part of the fun 🙂

 

btw, the above painting is Amid the Scent of Roses. Interested in seeing how it was made? Here’s a short video for you . . .

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

[Top 50 Questions] Do you use photo references?

Yes, I use photo references for most paintings. Typically I’ll use 3-5 photo references as input for a single painting. The photos help me better understand the shape of the subject, its highlights, and shadows.

Often I’ll start a painting by creating a realistic rendering of the subject. Once I’m pleased with the design and the how the subject looks, then I put away the photo references and the real fun begins! I crank up the music, get loose, use my imagination, and start introducing exciting not-found-in-nature colors and shapes and rhythms. This is where the ‘abstract’ of my ‘abstract nature paintings’ comes in.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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Did you always want to be an artist?

Abstract flower painting by Holly Van Hart | Blue, red, orange | Inspired by poppies

Dreaming in Full Color
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

When we’re young, most of us have big dreams for our lives. Have your dreams changed over time? Do you find that some doors have closed, but other (perhaps better) doors have opened?

Do you dream in full color?

My long-term dream of being a professional artist has come true, and my sons are turning into fine young men, but many of my other dreams have slipped away. Or maybe they just haven’t happened yet (like my dream of exercising consistently).

At the age of 15, my older son Skyler dreams of being a pediatrician, a software developer, or an ‘IT guy’. Erik, age 13, wants to be an architect or engineer or inventor like his Dad. At this age, all doors are open. Anything is possible! They are, as they should be, dreaming in full color. Isn’t that grand?

In this painting, ‘Dreaming in Full Color’, the flowers represent our dreams, shown in their full glory. The flowers are dancing around through the turbulence and beauty that we call life. Some dreams won’t survive this turbulence, but others will become bigger and stronger.

When it comes to your dreams, here’s wishing that your most color-full ones come true!

Your friend,
Holly

P.S. This post is based on one of the Top 50 Questions I’m asked as an artist (usually at cocktail parties and other fun events). To see the Top 50, click here.

Tell me about the texture in your paintings

s and eggs) and emphasize their rhythm.

Most of my texture is created using heavy acrylics in an underpainting. That is, my first step is to apply acrylic paints to the stretched canvas (usually red paint, applied thickly), and let that dry before starting the first layer of oil paints. The textured swirls are made using a variety of tools; my favorites being a painting knife and a hair comb. (You can see a video demo of the texture process here.)

The texture sometimes aligns with the subject of the painting, and sometimes goes against the natural lines of what’s represented in the painting. That’s on purpose. It mirrors the complexity of our lives.

Thanks for your interest!

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Have a question to add to the top 50?  Ask away  (in the comments section below or send an email to holly@hollyvanhart.com).

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