Why do we love birch trees so much?

Do you love birch and aspen trees as much as I do? They are so darn gorgeous. These days, I’m happily immersed in autumnal birch tree forests.

Here are some details from my in-progress painting, Autumn Dance (48 x 36″) –

Abstract Birch |Aspen painting by Holly Van Hart, detail

Abstract Birch |Aspen painting by Holly Van Hart, detail

Abstract Birch |Aspen painting by Holly Van Hart, detail

There’s something about them that seems to be universally appealing. For one thing, they are so darn gorgeous.

Birch and aspens look very similar to each other, so I had to look up what the differences are. If you’re curious, here are the highlights –

  • Birch are famous for having bark that peels back like paper; aspen bark does not peel.
  • Birch trees grow in the eastern US and Canada, while Aspens are found all over North America, Europe and Russia.
  • And, amazingly . . . each ‘colony’ of aspen trees actually shares a single large root system. The root system can be huge, covering multiple acres, and can be thousands of years old. As old trees die off, the root system sends up new trunks. Incredible!How about you . . . what are your favorite trees?

btw, here’s the completed painting –

Birch aspen forest tree painting by Holly Van Hart | abstract | autumn | orange brown yellow gray blue black

Autumn Dance
48 x 36″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
Purchase (email Slate Art
or holly@hollyvanhart.com)
Buy a print

And here’s the completed painting hanging on my living room wall (left) –

Abstract-Nature-Paintings | Autumn Dreams | SummerSparkle-AmidTheScentofRoses-by-HollyVanHart | Installed paintings | Living Room

‘Autumn Dance’ ‘Summer Sparkle’ and ‘Amid the Scent of Roses’
They are hanging in my living room, but they could be in yours 🙂
For details, please email holly@hollyvanhart.com

[Top 50 Questions] Are you worried about oil paints being toxic?

I’m not worried about oil paints being toxic. Oil paints are toxic if you eat them. Otherwise, they are fine.

Paint solvents, thinners, and thickeners are often toxic. I don’t use any of these, except for turpentine to deep-clean my brushes (which I do outside).

Oil painting mediums (such as thickeners and thinners) tend to be an artist’s best friends. I had some favorite mediums that were toxic, but after some intense experimenting around, I found and fell in love with two that aren’t – walnut oil to thin the paints, and Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel as a thickener.

And I try my best not to eat the paints 🙂

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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Have you ever tried meditation?

Have you ever tried meditation?

I’ve tried it multiple times, including a 2-day class in Indonesia, but failed miserably each time. I can’t calm my mind in that way.

On the other hand, the act of painting has a meditative quality to it that I love.

Painting can completely absorb me and transport me to a different place.

My paintings often go through a bunch of twists and turns before they are done.  Sometimes, by the end of all that, I don’t quite remember how things progressed along the way.

‘Alternate Reality’ (shown above) was a painting that was totally absorbed me like that.

It felt so refreshing. Lucky me.

Do you have a meditation practice, activity, hobby or job like that?  If so, lucky you!

What inspires you to paint?

This is one of the top questions I get asked as an artist!

I am inspired by . . .

– the painting process itself – creating something new and different using canvas, pigments, and my imagination

– the idea of communicating ideas and feelings and energy to other people through the finished work, and

– seeing the paintings resonate with you, the viewer. This is one of the very best parts!

What inspires *you* and keeps you invigorated?

 

To see how I answered this question in my ‘Talk Art’ TV interview, click here.

 

This is one of the top 50 questions I get asked as an artist.  Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions (with answers!)

 

[Top 50 Questions] Can I mix styles of art in my home?

oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Palm Winds (detail)
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart
See full painting here

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

Can I mix styles of art in my home? Yes!

Combining a mix of art styles in your home shows off your unique tastes, life experiences, and creativity.  It personalizes your home, makes it even more interesting, and opens up whole new conversations.

That’s my humble opinion 🙂   To look at some ideas from professional interior designers, click here.

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

 

[Top 50 Questions] How does living in Silicon Valley impact your art?

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

Silicon Valley, in northern California, is a hotbed of technology innovation. It is a place where anything is possible, and failures are just stepping stones to the next success.

I love this part of the culture, which played out in my life every day for 20 years as a Silicon Valley-based high tech exec, and now in my art.  My whole ‘Possibilities’ series is rooted in the unrelenting optimism of Silicon Valley.

You can read more about my Silicon Valley experience here on LinkedIn.

Not everyone loves Silicon Valley as much as I do. Have you lived or worked here?  What’s your take?

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

[Top 50 Questions] How much time does it take to complete a 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.)

How much time does it take to complete a painting?

For me, it takes 4-6 months from start to finish (elapsed time) to complete an oil painting.  This is mostly because I paint in layers.  Each painting has five to ten layers of paint, and each layer takes a week or so to dry.

Plus I need extra time at the end to reflect on the (almost) finished work and make any last improvements. Sometimes what seems like a minor improvement will make me soooo much happier with the end result.

The actual working time on any one painting is typically 60 – 120 hours. And sometimes more. It varies greatly by subject matter, size, and style. It also varies by how much I’m stretching myself into new territory; the more experimental, the longer it takes.

 

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New Book! Top Paintings paired with Favorite Inspirational Quotes.

Click here to preview and download (free!)

[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.

 

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