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[Top 50 Questions] Will this painting look good in my home?

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

Will this painting look good in my home? Great question. Here’s my take . . . if you fall in love with a painting, you can almost always find the right spot to hang it in your home. You may have to move another painting or a mirror or a print. But if you love the new painting, it’s worth the effort.

If you’re interested in one of the paintings here on my website, but are not sure if it will work in your living room, dining room, etc, please email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com. If you live locally, I can take the painting (or a few paintings) to your home and we can try them out. If one works, great. If not, no worries.

To see related advice and ideas from interior design professionals, click here.

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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

Open Studio Event (ongoing)

Hello art lovers!

You’re invited to my (socially distanced) Open Studio solo exhibition. Please join me at my home gallery and studio in Saratoga, California for this ongoing exhibition.

Dates:   By appointment  Email holly.vanhart@gmail.com or call 408 309 5564 and let’s make a date.  (The format is changed due to the pandemic. We will wear masks and stay socially distant.)
Location:  20830 Boyce Lane, Saratoga, CA 95070

Come visit and say hello!  Enjoy browsing through my home gallery and studio.  Bring your friends and family.

More than twenty new abstract nature paintings will be on display and for purchase – forests, fields, flowers, nests, landscapes and more.  Smaller paintings, prints and notecards are also available for purchase.

Plus you’ll see some brand new experimental work that is only available in my studio.

Abstract-Nature-Paintings | Birch Aspen Trees Roses | Autumn Dance | Summer Sparkle | Amid The Scent of Roses-by-HollyVanHart | Installed paintings | Living Room | Oil and acrylic paintings

The Open Studio event includes a tour of my home gallery as well as my home studio.

Seeing art in person is the absolute best way to experience it. Please take this opportunity to visit!

This exhibit is part of Silicon Valley Open Studios.

Make an appointment and add it to your calendar today.  See you soon!

 


For news on upcoming open studio and gallery events, sign up for my mailing list. (One email every 2-3 weeks.)


Birch Trees in the Fall – ‘Autumn Reds’

'Autumn Reds', Oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Autumn Reds
30 x 24″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print
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The other day, a friend asked why I had started painting birch trees. One reason is that they are so darn gorgeous!!  (I get reminded of this just about every day, because we have a lot of birch trees here in Saratoga.)

Birch tree trunks are highly textured and have a wide range of values, from white to very very dark in the shadows. And the leaves, in an autumn setting, offer a huge range of warm colors to work with – reds, oranges, yellows, golds.  An artist’s dream!

 

Click here for more forest paintings.

If I were an egg

Hi there. Meet ‘Possibilities on High’.

In the upper right of this painting, you can see a big and colorful bird’s nest.  It’s sitting up high on the branches of huge magnolia tree, on a warm summer day.

The nest looks peacefully and securely settled in the tree.  At the same time, it is quite exposed.

If I were an egg, I’d love to live in this nest in a magnolia tree (despite the risks of exposure).  Would you?

(If you’re wondering “What’s up with all the nests?”, click here.)

Originally published in 2013, and just updated and republished

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  🙂


“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 holly.vanhart@gmail.com and let me know.

How much time does it take to complete a painting? (Video)

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.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

 

New Book! Top Paintings paired with Favorite Inspirational Quotes.

Download here (free!)

How do sunsets make *you* feel?

Abstract Nature Painting by Holly Van Hart, sailboat, harbor, sunset, blue, pink, orange

Sunset Glow
30″ x 40″ oil painting on canvas (sold)

‘Sunset Glow’ is about the stunning beauty of the sky and water at sunset, especially its glorious colors. It’s also about the exciting reflections in the water, which amplify the colors and the take-your-breath-away feeling of sunsets like these.

If you look carefully, you can see some swooping textures underlying this painting (under the water, on both sides of the painting); on the left side, the texture runs from the water, through the docks, and into the horizon line.

What’s this texture about? It represents things that might not be so wonderful about this scene. Mostly the things we cannot see but can only speculate about, or the things we would need to have prior knowledge about.

For example, this harbor looks beautiful on this evening, but just 8 months prior, it had been completely ravaged by Hurricane Sandy. There’s always more to the story than meets the eye.

The artist creates the painting, and the viewer (that’s you) completes it with their personal interpretation.  What’s yours? Email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

Originally published in 2013, and just updated

For more “What inspired this painting” articles, click here.

White roses and school soccer

What do school soccer and ‘Threshold of Miracles’ have in common?

Inspiration is everywhere!

The inspiration for this painting was a big bush of white roses planted at a local high school.  The roses were brilliantly lit in the afternoon sun.  I noticed them during the half-time break from my son’s soccer game, and couldn’t resist snapping a bunch of photos.

Using my computer, I tried a few combinations of photos until one stood out as the best design. Then I set to work in my studio with paints and brushes and lots of excitement!

This painting is called ‘Threshold of Miracles’.  It symbolizes all the amazing things we can do with our lives (and the miracles we can create) when we keep our eyes open.

Wishing you lots of sunshine and miracles in your life!

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.vanhart@gmail.com).

Does drinking help with creativity?

Question #23   Does drinking help with creativity?

For me, the answer is both yes and no.  With a glass of wine or two, my mind sometimes opens up to new ideas.

But if I have a drink and then try to apply paint to canvas, mostly I make a big mess.

So, the trick is to harness the ideas without messing up any in-progress paintings!

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Have a question to add to the top 50?  Email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Abstract landscape painting – Sky Song

Sky Song is my latest abstract landscape painting. It’s full of heavily textured oil paints, which have a gorgeous sheen.

The distant mountains are gray and pink and purple and blue, and have an air of mystery.

The sky is alive with light. It’s singing a song. Can you hear it?

Here’s a flyover of ‘Sky Song’, so you can see the buttery texture of the oil paint –

To purchase, please email holly.vanhart@gmail.com. Purchase details

If you live in Silicon Valley, delivery and installation are free. If you don’t, shipping is free!

Would you like to see this painting in person?

Try Before Your Buy program

New! A Deep Breath

As you scroll down, you’ll see the progression of a newly released painting called ‘A Deep Breath’.

But first, I’d like to share this quote because captures my inspiration for this painting . . .

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” — Alice Walker

Starting a new forest drip painting. After failing at a bunch of earlier drip paintings Im determined to approach this differently | Holly Van Hart

One cool way to make a perfect, imperfect painting is to rely on lots of drips. That’s what I’ll do here.

Forest landscape painting in progress | Holly Van Hart

The drips can look like trunks, and branches, and, well, drips.
In the art world, when you can clearly see signs that something is a painting (and not a photo and not a photorealistic painting), we call this “painterly”.
This will be painterly.

Detail - A Deep Breath - Mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart - 48 x 48

Here’s a detail view.
The closer up you look, the more painterly it gets!

And (take a deep breath) here’s the finished painting . . .

Abstract landscape forest painting by Holly Van Hart | A Deep Breath48 x 48 mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart$6500 | Brown white blue

A Deep Breath
48 x 48″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
$6500

Installed painting - Landscape forest - A Deep Breath - Mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart - 48 x 48 INSTALLED (Custom)

‘A Deep Breath’ is hanging in my entryway.
It could be hanging in yours!
Purchase info here
To purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com

To see all newly released paintings, click here.

For more paintings & inspirational quotes, click here.


Guess what . . The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art has an amazing show called Detritus. An image of my studio wall is included!Posted here from Instagram

Adding some sparkle to your day!

My intent for Winter Sparkle was to create a winter scene that draws you in.

The sky had to be sparkly, and give the effect of light shimmering through the trees. (Turns out this required about 20 layers of light blue, yellow and pink paints.)

I wanted the path to be inviting.

The painting was intended to give the feeling of one of those cold, wintry days that makes you feel so alive!

This painting is inspired by the same forest as my painting entitled Summer Sparkle. Same forest, different season. To see the latest spring, summer, fall, and winter forest paintings, click here.

 

To see all available paintings, click here.

Purchase details

Try Before Your Buy program

 

 

Possibilities Alight

Meet “Possiblities Alight”. This painting features a bird’s nest resting in the middle of brilliantly lit branches and flowers.

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.

 

Interested? For purchase info, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

More info here –
Studio visit
Purchase details
Try Before You Buy program

 

If you’d like to see more available paintings, click here.

Blue is for strength and leadership

When you see the color blue, what do you think of?

In the art world, the color blue represents trust, loyalty, strength, and leadership.

Truth is, when painting How Dreams are Made (above), none of that was top of mind. ‘Dreaming big’ was in my thoughts. Read/see more here

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!)

 

Because of you

Friends,

Thank you!  Because of you, my life is filled with warmth and friendship and color and fun. You inspire me!  Don’t know what I’d do without you and your amazing support.

For a fun flashback, thought you might like to see a few photos from the installation of my 2014 solo show at the Triton Museum of Art . . .

With Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator at the Triton Museum of Art, on day of installation of my solo exhibition. Photo by my artist friend Marie Cameron.

With Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator at the Triton Museum of Art, on day of installation of my solo exhibition. Photo by my artist friend Marie Cameron.

 Preston wrote an essay about my work.  If you’re curious what it says, click here.

Photo unloading paintings from truck

Oh, the glamorous life of an artist! With Bryan Callanta unloading 17 paintings from the Uhaul truck into the Triton Museum of Art. Photo by Marie Cameron.

Feeling gleeful after all paintings were unloaded and delivered unharmed to the Triton Museum of Art. Photo by Marie Cameron.

Feeling gleeful after all paintings were unloaded and delivered unharmed to my favorite contemporary art museum 🙂 Photo by Marie Cameron.

Photos are compliments of Marie Cameron, a wonderful friend, artist and photographer. Thank you Marie!

Videos of the Triton Museum exhibition, an exhibition catalog, and more photos can be seen here by clicking here.

Warmly,
Holly

Aspen painting – A Hundred Yellow Ribbons

A playful and celebratory painting . . . aspens draped with dreamy turquoise and yellow gold ribbons.

Don’t be shy. Call me or email me with questions or for purchase info (408 309 5564, holly.vanhart@gmail.com). Shipping is free for VIP members.

If you’d like to see more abstracted forest paintings, click here.

Related info –

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Commissions
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To see past events, please check out Holly Van Hart’s resume/CV  (includes the most important career highlights such as solo shows, museum shows, awards, fellowships, and press, podcasts, and TV interviews.

Why do we love birch trees so much?

Do you love birch and aspen trees as much as I do? 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 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 –

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’

 

This painting is sold. To see all available paintings, click here.

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Featured on cover of Denver Life Magazine


So excited to open a special envelope . . . it contains my forest painting on the cover of Denver Life Magazine. (As well as a 2-page spread inside the magazine.) Join me! Click on video to view.

Denver Life October 2019 - painting by Holly Van Hart over fireplace

Every Restless Night, 48×48″ painting by Holly Van Hart
Featured on the cover of Denver Life Magazine

So honored to have this painting featured in the 2019 Designer Showhouse in Denver, Colorado, and on the cover of Denver Life Magazine.

Huge thanks to Steve Sonnen of Mirada Fine Art Gallery for this opportunity 🙂

 

On related note, congratulations to Mirada Fine Art for being selected for these prestigious awards –

‘Top 25 Galleries in the U.S.A.’
-American Art Awards, 2019

‘Denver’s Best Art Gallery’
-Denver A-List, 2016, 2017 & 2018

Here are two images of the painting in the magazine –

Questions? Interested? Please contact Steve Sonnen of Mirada Fine Art, (303) 697-9006, info@miradafineart.com or holly.vanhart@gmail.com

Reminiscence – Abstract landscape painting by Holly Van Hart

In Reminiscence, I blended two of my favorite subjects – forests and mountain landscapes – onto one large canvas (5 feet across). This is the first painting of this type.

In my travels to over 40 countries, I’ve seen lots of amazing scenery, and this painting was inspired by an amalgamation of vistas observed in these far-off places.

When you look at Reminiscence, do you feel the crisp air? I’d like to invite you to linger and appreciate the beauty of the distant mountains, the ripples on the water, and the light on the trees.

Are you free later today? Want to head off into this vista with me?

For more landscape paintings, click here.

For more forest paintings, click here.

 

Would you like to see this painting in person?  Email me for a studio visit.

To purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.  Free shipping in the continental US.

Purchase details
Try Before Your Buy program

To see all available paintings, click here.

Birch Trees in the Fall

Abstract nature painting by Silicon Valley artist Holly Van Hart, featuring birch trees in autumn with red and gold leaves

Autumn Gold
24 x 18 oil painting by Holly Van Hart

In the heat of the summer, I was dreaming about the crisp fall days of my favorite season. So here’s ‘Autumn Gold’.

Who doesn’t love the colors of fall leaves? The variety and brilliance are an artist’s dream!

To see more abstract forest paintings, click here.

Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

New Tree Painting – Standing tall

Trees can have a commanding presence, especially when they are tall. Do you love being surrounded by towering forest? I do!

I aimed to capture that feeling here with my new tree painting, Standing Tall –

Here are some in-progress pics for this painting –

Here’s the finished painting –

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