Just wanted to thank you, my friends, collectors, followers, and other art-lovers, for all your support and enthusiasm. You’re awesome. My life is richer because of you!
My husband is a gardener. I feel very fortunate to have his beautiful trees and and flowers growing all around us as inspiration for my paintings.
On my short walk to the studio each day, I pass bougainvillea, roses, amaryllis, daffodils, lemons, oranges, figs and more (depending on the season). Lucky me!
I am also inspired every time I go for a walk in our neighborhood and on local hiking trails.
Let’s stay in touch! Learn more
Some people think that depressed or angry people create better art. Is that true?
Or, can happy people create masterpieces too?
There are no simple answers to these questions of course, but just for fun let’s look at a sample of the world’s greatest artists (my personal faves) and explore the question. Here goes . . .
“The New Novel”, Winslow Homer, 1877
Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was considered the greatest American painter of his time. He created extraordinary landscapes, marine paintings, and figures too. Homer was a recluse and a bit odd, but not depressed, enraged or insane. That’s one point for ‘satisfied souls’.
“Goat Horn with Red”, Georgia O’Keeffe, 1945
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) revolutionized American modern art with bold abstracts, landscapes and flowers. For decades she lived by herself in New Mexico, and sometimes suffered from serious depression. One point for ‘tortured souls’.
“No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue)”, Mark Rothko, 1954
Mark Rothko (1903-1970) was a Russian-Jewish abstract painter who emigrated to the US at the age of 10. He achieved huge commercial success during his lifetime. Rothko was most certainly depressed, drank heavily, took barbiturates, and sadly, at age 66, committed suicide. Add a second point for ‘tortured’.
“Norham Castle – Sunrise”, JMW Turner, c 1835
JMW Turner (1775-1851) was a renowned English landscape painter known as “the painter of light”. Turner seemed like a fairly normal guy. He had plenty of friends, and wasn’t depressed, enraged, or insane. Now it’s even, two points for ‘tortured’ and two points for ‘satisfied’.
“La Grande Vallee XIII”, Joan Mitchell, 1983
Joan Mitchell (1925 -1992) was a prominent Abstract Expressionist who lived in Chicago, Manhattan, and Paris. Mitchell was an alcoholic, often depressed, and described many of her paintings as “violent and angry”. ‘Tortured souls’ lead at 3 points to 2.
This last painting, very humbly put after the ‘greats’ above it, is mine. As for me, am I enraged or depressed or feeling like a tortured soul? No, not especially, but on any given day I may be any of those things. (Just ask my husband and children.) Is my art better on those days? No, but I think it is more experimental, sometimes to better effect but not always.
Summing up this totally non-scientific survey . . . The ‘tortured souls’ are ahead at 3 points (Rothko, O’Keeffe, Mitchell) to 2 (Turner, Homer). Perhaps the conclusion is ‘you don’t have to be unhappy to create great art, but it helps’.
What do you think? Do tortured souls create more expressive art? Leave a comment on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hollyvanhart or Email me with your thoughts – firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of the paintings on this site have been sold.
Request a digital catalog of available paintings
In “Top Fifty Questions”, I answer the questions I’m most frequently asked as an artist (usually asked at parties and other fun events). For the answers, click on the links. Enjoy!
- What’s up with all the nests? (Video)
- What’s your work-day like?
- What’s the meaning of this painting?
- How do you know when a painting is done?
- [Top 50 Questions] How long have you been painting?
- [Top 50 Questions] What subjects inspire you?
- [Top 50 Questions] Are you worried about oil paints being toxic?
- [Top 50 Questions] How does living in Silicon Valley impact your art?
- What is the hardest part of creating a painting?
- Does drinking help with creativity?
- What is success?
- Isn’t it hard to part with your paintings?
- Why do you paint so many aspens & birches? (video)
- Which artists are you most influenced by?
- Tell me about the texture in your paintings
- Where can I get prints of your paintings?
- Have you ever tried meditation?
- Are you glad you became a full-time artist?
- What’s the best thing about being an artist?
- Do your children like art? (Video)
- What is ‘failing toward success’?
- Does it get lonely painting all day?
- Did you always want to be an artist?
- How did you make that painting? (video)
- [Top 50 Questions] Do you use photo references?
- What’s the favorite part of your job?
- How much time does it take to complete a painting? (Video)
- How important are titles to your paintings? (Video)
- [Top 50 Questions] What if you’re not inspired to paint?
- Request a digital catalog of available paintings
- Standing Naked in Front of a Crowd
- [Top 50 Questions] Do you listen to music when you’re painting?
- What do you like most about being an artist?
- [Top 50 Questions] Can I mix styles of art in my home?
- [Top 50 Questions] How are you preparing for your museum exhibition?
- Are oil paintings easy to care for?
- What gives you the most joy?
- What advice would you give to your younger self?
- Free eBook – Solo Exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art
- [Top 50 Questions] Do you ever miss being in high tech?
- [Top 50 Questions] Will this painting look good in my home?
- Free eBook – Top 7 Designer Secrets
- Why do we love birch trees so much?
- Do habits help (or hinder) creativity?
- What inspires you? (Free eBook)
- Can I see your studio? (Video tour + invitation)
- What does ‘vulnerability’ mean to you?
- Do you do custom paintings (commissions)? Video
- What inspires you to paint?
- [Top 50 Questions] Can I see your work in a gallery?
Here’s a video on the making of Paradise Found –
Questions? Interested in hanging this painting in your home? Contact email@example.com. Click here for purchase info.
Hello, my fearless friend.
What things in life fascinate you? What do you really love?
High school starts this week for our sons, so we did some family outings to San Francisco and Santa Cruz. This is us as we walked over the Golden Gate bridge, through a thick fog bank. I really love spending time with these 3 men!
(That’s Erik on the left, and Ike on the right. Skyler snapped the photo.)
|Other landscape paintings are still available. Would you like to see them? Click here –|
|OK, my most amazing friend . . . three cheers to you for following your fascinations!|
|P.S. Into forests or flowers instead?|
|btw, if this email was forwarded to you, and you’d like to get on my VIP list to receive future emails (one every 3 weeks), click here.|
This book includes essays by DeWitt Cheng and Preston Metcalf –
“Van Hart’s 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
“powerful in its message of human connectivity”
– Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator of the Triton Museum of Art
Click for FREE Instant Download
(This book is also available on Amazon for $27)
If you like this book, please share it with your friends!
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 – Isn’t it hard to part with your paintings?
Yes, and no, mostly no.
Every time I set out to make a painting, I’m excited about the potential of it. If (after a few months of work) I complete it and am equally or more excited, than I know it’s done. I photograph the painting, post it to my website and blog, and start exhibiting it. When it sells, I feel a great sense of satisfaction and love the connection it establishes (or strengthens) with the collector.
I’ll make this analogy . . .
* Starting a painting is like having a newborn baby – exciting and exhausting.
* Making a painting is like raising a child – tons of work, challenging and fun.
* Selling a painting is like having your child graduate university and land an excellent job – you’re elated that he/she has successfully ‘launched’ and sad that you’ll see less of him/her. But mostly elated.
That’s my experience. Do you have a similar experience to share?
Get the latest paintings and exhibition info delivered to your inbox! Learn more here.
Yes! Oil paintings are very easy to care for. Here are my top tips for painting care . . .
– Hang your new painting on your wall as soon as you can (to get it out of harm’s way).
– Hang your painting out of direct sunlight.
– Dust it every once in a while.
Oil paintings are very durable too. They can last hundreds of years, maybe longer. This means they can be enjoyed for your lifetime, and then passed on and treasured for many generations to come.
‘Soft Start’ was inspired by the nests of a bird called a swallow. Swallows live on all the earth’s continents except Antarctica. They use the feathers of other birds to line their nests and keep their eggs toasty warm.
Eggs that are incubated in such a cozy nest are surely full of possibilities, but with a softer start than most.
btw, 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 and catalog from the Triton museum exhibition (and get a free download of Triton museum catalog).
“Van Hart’s paintings . . . present their enigmatic subjects with both beauty and conviction, memorably.” – DeWitt Cheng, Art writer for Art Ltd, Artillery, ARTnews, and Visual Art Source
One of my recent paintings took an imaginative and unexpected turn. It started out as one thing, but ended up as something else entirely!
And here’s the finished painting . . .
What does this painting make you think of? I’ve heard many different interpretations from friends and other studio vistors!
* For purchase info, click here.
* Questions? Interested in owning this painting? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 650 646 5590. Your email or call is always welcome.
* See this painting in person with a studio visit or with the try-out program.
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 email@example.com.
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!
P.S. Speaking about self-promotion, the painting shown above is named ‘Every Restless Night’. It is sold, but available paintings can be seen online here. Free delivery for VIP members. Free local installation and hanging in the Silicon Valley area. If you’re interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the tropics!
As you view “Palm Winds”, can you feel the warm wind on your skin? This painting is meant to instill a feeling of peacefulness from the beauty of the trees, sea, and sky. The empty picnic tables are inviting you to sit down and have a meal. It is a hot day, and the wind is offsetting the tropical heat.
The inspiration for this painting draws on my travels to Tahiti, Thailand, Costa Rica and other places of tropical awesomeness. In addition, it was inspired by an amazing photo taken by my friend Veronique Gillard. (Thank you Veronique!)
This painting is sold. For available paintings, click here.
Originally published in 2013, and just updated
The holidays are almost here. Need a special gift for your special someone?
New! Petite Treasures are gift-sized original paintings by yours truly. They are created with the same great care used with my large-scale paintings, and with the highest quality archival materials. Each painting is museum-quality and ready to hang in the finest of homes and work spaces.
Click to see all available Petite Treasures
Treat yourself or a loved one! Click to see all available Petite Treasures.
Originally posted here in 2016, and reposted now in honor of the Saratoga marching band
The amazing Marching Band at Saratoga High School has been selected to march in the 2016 Rose Bowl Parade. Congratulations!!!
In the Marching Band’s honor, I am posting this watercolor painting, ‘Saratoga Rose’, created a few years ago.
Once again, a huge congratulations to the Saratoga HS Marching Band!!!!
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!
Have a question to add to the top 50? Email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear from you.
Yes, I love to listen to music all day long in my studio!
Usually I listen to a custom Pandora station or downloads on Spotify. Some of my current faves are –
Florence and the Machine
Lana Del Rey
Sometimes I need a break from music, and will switch to listening to podcasts. (For my list of top ten podcasts for artists, click here.)
When I need a break from podcasts, then I listen (not watch) Netflix movies. I’m too occupied with painting to ‘get’ the whole movie, but I get enough to make it fun and interesting.
How about you . . . do you listen to anything while you work?
If you’d like to ask a question, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about what inspires me as an artist in this ‘Talk Art’ cable TV interview by Sally Rayn (excerpt).
Sometimes we have to make choices in life . . . it’s this OR that. Here OR there. Tomorrow OR next week.
And sometimes we can do both! This AND that. Here AND there. Tomorrow AND next week. That’s called ‘Embracing It All’ –
Embracing It All is currently hanging in my living room. But it could be hanging in yours! Email email@example.com for details
Today I’d like to share a quote that captures the spirit of a new botanical painting.
“Enthusiasm is the electricity of life.” –Gordon Parks
What are you enthusiastic about today?
When making this painting, I was enthusiastic about the field of dancing flowers I originally saw in Canada.
The colors, shapes, and smells were riveting, and I made a little oil painting on the spot.
Then back in my studio, over a period of years, I continued to revisit this theme in a variety of sizes and media, each time stretching myself in some new way.
This painting is now hanging in our bedroom at home –
Another reason for me to be enthusiastic today is a new relationship with a beautiful art gallery outside of Denver, Colorado – Mirada Fine Art Gallery. So excited!!
Thanks for being here. Shine on, my beautiful and enthusiastic friend!
Funny thing happened the other night. A friend came to dinner and it was the height of the gladiolus season. He looked at my husband’s garden –
and then at this painting hanging on our living room wall –
He pointed to one, and then the other, and asked the question . . . which came first, the flowers or the painting?
Oddly enough, the flowers came from my imagination about 6 months before my husband grew his first gladiolus flowers. But his garden is spectacular and will inspire many more paintings to come!
‘Beckoning’ is currently hanging in our home. If you’d like to hang it in yours, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 650 646 5590.
High quality prints are available here (on canvas, paper, metal, framed, unframed, and so much more).
Treat yourself! 🙂
Question #25 Does it get lonely painting all day?
Nope. I treasure my time alone in the studio, and follow that with lots of time with friends and family. For me, it’s a perfect combination!!!
On a related note . . . on personality tests, the results usually show me to be 50% introvert and 50% extrovert. So it makes sense how this plays out in my work and personal life.
Which are you . . . extrovert or intravert?
btw, if you’re curious, here’s the finished painting . . .
Other questions I get asked a lot –
Fail fast, fail often, fail forward . . . you may have heard these terms before. They mean that you have to fail many times before you succeed.
I prefer the more descriptive, happier-sounding ‘failing toward success’. If you’ve ever had the experience of painting (or any challenging creative endeavor), you’ll know that not every attempt yields success.
Even the most experienced artists create paintings that fail. Lots of them. That’s one way we learn, and it’s a natural part of the artistic process.
Recently I invested in a new digital system that will help me ‘fail toward success’ more quickly, and to create my very best work. Here it is . . .
For now, I use this digital set-up to design paintings, and then use traditional canvas and oil paints to create the paintings. After 3 long months of slogging through user manuals and YouTube tutorials, I’m finally at a place where I can use digital tools to focus on creative design (vs fumbling around with the technology).
‘Your Highest Potential’ (above) is one of my paintings created with this new process. The name is a story in itself that I’ll share with you sometime.
In the future, using these new digital tools may morph me into a ‘mixed media’ artist. But for now I’m still in love with the beautiful, textured, buttery sheen of oil paints and don’t plan to give them up any time soon.
Bet you have have lots of experiences with ‘failing toward success’. What are your most memorable ones? Please email me at email@example.com. I’d love to hear about them.
On a different note . . . are you moving into a new home, remodeling, or just freshening up a room? Are you wondering how to jazz things up with splashes of color (artfully)? If so, you can get a Free Color Guide by clicking here – ‘The Top 7 Designer Secrets for Adding Color to Your Space‘.
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.
This painting is sold, but prints are available here.
Originally published in 2013, and updated with info on prints
Hi there! Thanks for being here to check out my new work. Here’s the latest!
This painting has gotten great feedback & has been featured on the cover of Denver Life magazine.
Questions? Interested? Please contact Steve Sonnen of Mirada Fine Art gallelry, (303) 697-9006, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Vast worlds tumbled around in my head, unfolded through my arm and paintbrush, mixed with gorgeous blue and gray hues on my palette, and landed as an abstract painting on this large 6 foot x 5 foot canvas. Now known as “Vast World’s Unfolding”, this painting is currently hanging in my home, but it could be hanging in yours 🙂
“If not me, who? If not now, when?” These are the words that Dr. Leslie Field asked herself about tackling the huge problem of global warming.
Dr. Field is a prolific inventor, the Founder of SmallTech Consulting, a Consulting Prof at Stanford University, a mom of two, an art-lover, and the founder of Ice911.
Ice911 is a boots on the ground solution to reduce global warming.
In this Facebook Live interview with Dr. Field, we learn more about what inspired her to start Ice911, and the steps she is taking now to slow down global warming.
Click below to listen and to get inspired!
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