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Amazing Portrayals of Light

If you look at a painting of a mountain or lake or sky and then gasp because of its beauty, it’s often because of an amazing portrayal of light.

Two of the all-time masters at portraying light were JMW Turner and Claude Monet. You’ve probably heard of them ¬†ūüôā

“Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight”, JMW Turner, 1835

Turner was known as ‘the painter of light’, and was one of the greatest British landscape painters of his time. ¬†In the above work, take a look at Turner’s portrayal of the moonlight on the clouds and in the water, and the firelight and its reflections. Amazing!

“Haystacks (Sunset)”, Claude Monet, 1891

Twenty years after Turner’s death, Claude Monet founded Impressionism. Impressionism was all about the portrayal of light, and Monet would sometimes work on a dozen paintings a day; each one depicted a slightly different aspect of light.

Monet would continue working on these paintings over the course of days, switching from one painting to the next when the time and light were just right.

“Haystacks (Sunset)”, above, is one excellent example. What do you think of those sunset purples and reds? They just take my breath away.

“Morning Light”
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)

This last work (very humbly put after the two above it) is mine. It is here as an example of a painting that was intended to capture the morning light over a beautiful little lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.

Painting light was (and is) the focus of a great many artists.  Other masters include Vermeer, Valazquez, and Rembrandt.

Who are your faves? Drop me a line at and let me know.

New Tree Painting Inspired by a New York Forest

Here’s the story of the inspiration and making of a new tree painting named Summer Sparkle –

Inspiration for Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | son | Forests Trees | New York

Erik (our younger son) gave me a tour of the lush New York forest. He drove my Dad’s ATV. I sat behind him and snapped photos.

Inspiration for Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | son | Forests Trees | New York | Photo

One of the 100+ photos I took while on the ATV that afternoon.

In keeping with my theme of limitless possibilities, I’m inspired by subjects that reveal life and growth and abundance. In this case, lush green trees were everywhere. I also like the sense of motion in this pic.

Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | in progress painting | Forests Trees

Back in the studio . . . the start of a new forest painting, ‘Summer Sparkle’

Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | in progress painting | Forests Trees

In progress pic of ‘Summer Sparkle’ (detail)

Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | in progress painting | Forests Trees

In progress pic

Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | in progress painting | Forests Trees

In progress pic of ‘Summer Sparkle’ (detail)

Summer Sparkle
48 x 36″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Abstract-Nature-Paintings | Autumn Dance | 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 :-).


This story was first published for my VIP subscribers. If you would like to be first to see new paintings, please become a VIP.

To see all tree and forest paintings, click here.

Free eBook – Triton Museum of Art Solo Exhibition (Instant download)

Holly Van Hart: Possibilities Abound catalog for Solo Exhibition at Triton Museum of Art

‘Holly Van Hart: Possibilities Abound’ book for Solo Exhibition at Triton Museum of Art
Free Instant Download
No sign-up required

This 28-page full color book accompanies Holly Van Hart’s Possibilities Abound solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art.

Van Hart’s oil paintings feature larger-than-life birds’ eggs and nests to symbolize the promise of our own capabilities, to be nurtured and explored and stretched to their fullest potential.

This book features beautiful color plates of Van Hart’s richly colored paintings.

It includes essays by DeWitt Cheng, art writer for Art Ltd, Artillery, ARTnews and Visual Art Source, and Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator at the Triton Museum of Art. Van Hart has been featured in the Huffington Post, The San Jose Mercury News, and on Silicon Valley Talk Art Cable TV.

Free! eBook of Holly Van Hart’s¬†Solo Exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art (Instant Download, no sign-up required)
Click here to buy the paperback version on Amazon

“It is work that is powerful in its simplicity and message of human connectivity.” – Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator of the Triton Museum of Art.

“Van Hart‚Äôs hard-won painterly skills are undeniable and compelling. Her naturalistic yet symbolic paintings . . . present their enigmatic subjects with both beauty and conviction, memorably. – DeWitt Cheng, Art writer for Art Ltd, Artillery, ARTnews, and Visual Art Source.



Nestled close to our loved ones

Nestled is about the warm feelings of being nestled close to our loved ones. The variety of the twigs and branches in the nest symbolize the variety of personalities and habits and desires we have within our own families. They are all intertwined.

When you click on the image to get a larger view, you can see some of the texture that underlies this painting. This is meant to convey the complexity and nuances of the interactions in our families, oftentimes unseen to the outside world.

Gallery Wrap side view of "Nestled"

Gallery Wrap side view of “Nestled”

Originally published in 2013, and updated with info on prints

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Afternoon Light, abstract nature painting by Holly Van Hart

Afternoon Light
24 x 18″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart
View from the side
Purchase Info

Here’s an interesting question for you ¬†. . . ‘What advice would you give to your younger self?’

If you feel like sharing your answer, please drop me a note at

After giving lots¬†of thought to this question, and tossing aside a¬†few false starts, I found my answer . . . ‘To be successful in your career, you need to work smart, work hard, and add a healthy¬†dose of self promotion.’

In the past I was pretty good at the 1st two (working hard and smart), and totally oblivious to the self-promotion part. ¬†I’m starting to get better at it¬†now (if I didn’t, no one would know my art existed!), but¬†still have plenty to learn.

Do you have any tips?¬†I’m all ears!


Afternoon Light, abstract nature painting by Holly Van Hart

Afternoon Light
24 x 18″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart

P.S. ¬†Speaking about self-promotion, the painting shown above is named¬†‘Afternoon Light’ and it’s¬†for sale ūüôā¬†The price is $1,500, including shipping within the¬†US. If you live nearby, I can come to your home or office and hang it on the wall for you. ¬†If you’re¬†interested, email me at

Leaves & spiders!!!

See Purchase Info and call/email, (650) 646 5590.

To see more pics and articles on ‘What Inspired This Painting?’, click here.

[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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‘Into the Light’

I wanted this painting to capture our attention with its warm autumn colors, and to tempt us to walk toward the light at the end of the path.

What’s down that path? There’s only one way to know. ¬†Come with me, let’s go for a stroll!


btw, on a topic related to color . . . are you moving into a new home, remodeling, or just freshening up a room? Are you wondering how to use color successfully in your home or office? If so, you can get a Free Color Guide by clicking here – ‘The Top 7 Designer Secrets for Adding Color to Your Space‘.

Let’s stay in touch! ¬†Learn more

Wishing you a fabulous day!

Abstract nest painting by Holly Van Hart | Nest, eggs | Brown, blue, white | Oil painting

Soft Start
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

Wishing that your day will be as full of exciting possibilities . . .

as the eggs being incubated in this cozy feathered nest.

(Do any birds’ nests actually look like this? Well, yes, kind of . . . learn more here.


P.S. Soft Start was featured in my solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art. ¬†Would you like to know more about the show? You’re invited to read my interview in the Huffington Post, or to view the pics and videos from the museum exhibition.



Have you ever left a safe harbor?

Painting by Holly Van Hart

Voyage to the Possible
30 x 40 inches
Oil, acrylic, and silica sand on canvas
Commission a painting similar to this

Have you ever left a safe harbor & sailed away without knowing what’s on the other side?

How did that feel? ‘Voyage to the Possible’ is meant to capture the sense of wonder and excitement (and fear) associated with the launch.

The ‘voyage’ moments that stand out the most in my life are –
* having children (I really had no idea what was in store),
* starting my art career (lots of lessons learned in that leap),
* some of my new jobs while in high tech, and
* heading out on a 6 month-around the world trip (without hotel or other reservations, we simply showed up in 15+ South Pacific and Asian countries, backpacks on our backs, and winged it).

I’m curious . . . what were the top ‘voyage’ moments in your life? ¬†Would love to hear back from you on this (email me at



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