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Free Book! Paintings Paired with Inspirations (instant download here)

Best of Houzz Award

Just found out I was awarded Best of Houzz 2017 award for my abstract nature paintings. This is the second year in a row. Wow, feeling so honored!

Silicon Valley artist Holly Van Hart awarded Best of Houzz 2016 for her commissioned nature paintings

Huge thanks to my supporters and collectors and reviewers on Houzz. You are the best!

If you’re not already familiar with Houzz, it is the leading platform for home design and remodeling. It is chock full of awesome images that people use to find design ideas for their homes.

To see what my paintings look like in collectors’ homes, look at the pics below (or to the right, depending on your screen). Here’s one example –

You're InvitedOil and acrylic paintingHung in collector's entryway

You’re Invited
Oil and acrylic painting
Hung in collector’s entryway

These awards were based in part on the many 5-star reviews received on Houzz and other testimonials from collectors.

Thank you to all the reviewers. You made my day (my year!)

 


Just released . . . Free Art Book!

Nature's Inspirations | Top 25 Paintings Paired with Favorite Inspirational Quotes | author and artist Holly Van Hart

See Holly Van Hart’s top 25 paintings, paired with favorite inspirational quotes. Free Book full of exciting images and ideas!

New landscape painting – Grazing the Light

Landscapes are a subject I come back to again and again. Even in the midst of working on a series of forest or flower paintings, sometimes I feel compelled to paint an abstract landscape using oil paints.

With ‘Grazing the Light’, I was aiming to capture the feeling of an overcast day, but with some sunlight breaking through.  Across the expanse of water, we can see mountains near and far. But what is that splash of yellow/orange? Is it man-made or natural? It is meant to add mystery to the painting.

It’s hard to see in this digital image, but etched into the foreground of this painting (bottom left) is part of a poem by Walt Whitman, “Every hour is an unspeakably perfect miracle”.

If you’d like to see a higher resolution image, please lmk.

To purchase, email holly@hollyvanhart.com.  Free shipping in the US.

Purchase details

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‘Building the Future’

'Building the Future' Oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Building the Future
24″ x 18″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
See available paintings here

‘Building the Future’ is about the choices we make for ourselves, and the excitement of preparing for a big life-change.

If the hands in this painting look at all familiar,  it may be because they were inspired by Rodin’s sculpture ‘The Three Muses”.  To see some of my earlier work inspired by Rodin, click here.

This is the first of a few paintings in my Possibilities series that were inspired by Rodin.  Living in Silicon Valley, we’re close to Stanford University and its amazing Rodin Sculpture Garden.  I love any excuse to get back there!  Stay tuned for more . . .

(If you’re curious about the Possibilities series, you can read more here, “What’s up with all the eggs and nests?“)

Comments?

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Leaves & spiders!!!

See Purchase Info and call/email holly@hollyvanhart.com, (650) 646 5590.

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

Can I see your studio? (Video tour + invitation)

Yes! Here’s a video tour video. (Also, you are invited to visit in person. Click for details.)

It’s actually, 3 short video tours –  a partial tour of my home gallery, a tour of the (cleaned up) studio where I paint, and a tour of the (messy) studio a few days before the event.

Want to check it out in person? My studio is located in Saratoga, CA. Please call or email me (650 646 5590, holly@hollyvanhart.com) to make an appointment. Click for details.

Totally cool story about ‘Two Left Hands’

'Two Left Hands', 15“ x 11” (sold)

‘Two Left Hands’ by Holly Van Hart (sold)

‘Two Left Hands’, from my Rodin series, was just purchased by my new friend Elisa. Elisa saw this painting and decided to buy it immediately; she has a totally cool story behind the decision.

When Elisa was growing up, her Mom took her many many times to the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford University. If you haven’t been there yet, it is an amazing place to visit, day or evening or night.

Her Mom loved (and still loves) to look at the hands of the sculptures. Rodin created his sculptures with extra large hands, and they reminded her of her father’s hands, which were also extra-large. He was a professional hall-of-fame football player.

Elisa saw an image of this painting on my phone, and I mentioned the title was ‘Two Left Hands’.  On the spot, she bought it as a gift for her Mom. (Oh, did I mention that her Mom is left handed?)

So many coincidences! Thank you, Elisa, for sharing your totally cool story with us.

Originally published in 2012

What is the hardest part of creating a painting?

What is the hardest part of creating a painting?

The hardest part of creating a painting is coming up with an amazing idea, and then turning that idea into an inspired design.

Producing the painting (that is, putting the paint on the canvas)  isn’t a piece of cake either, but that seems to flow once the first part is nailed down.

 

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).

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’s 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.

 

 

Grand Prize, California Statewide Painting Competition

Originally published in 2014 (and re-published now just for fun!)

San Jose Mercury News

Holly Van Hart wins first place at Statewide Painting Competition

Saratoga resident Holly Van Hart poses with ‘Possibilities Abound’, the work that won her the Triton Museum of Art’s Statewide Painting Competition (Photograph by George Sakkestad, San Jose Mercury News)

Saratoga artist places first in Triton Museum competition

By Khalida Sarwari    POSTED:   01/06/2014

If anyone was looking for Holly Van Hart on Christmas Day, she could be found in the studio of her Saratoga home “painting up a storm.”

Fresh from placing first in the Triton Museum of Art’s 2013 statewide painting competition, Van Hart has been busy preparing for a series of exhibitions this year.

“I have a good idea of how many works I need. I just have to work hard at creating good works,” Van Hart said just weeks after a reception where she was announced as one of two first-place winners in the Triton competition for her 30-by-40-inch painting Possibilities Abound. Along with the work of fellow first-place winner Cuong Nguyen of San Jose, Van Hart’s painting, depicting a nest cradling three eggs, was tops among 92 works that were ultimately selected for exhibition from more than 1,000 entries.

Van Hart’s prize is a solo exhibition at Triton in November. For that, Van Hart is building on the theme of Possibilities Abound, one of several abstract nest paintings she has all over her home.

For Van Hart, it’s the symbolism that draws her to the subject matter. Nests, she said, represent our homes, and eggs stand for lives yet to be hatched and the possibilities they have ahead of them.

Eggs also signify self-invention, a concept that Van Hart applied in her personal life in June 2013 when she quit her job at Microsoft to pursue oil painting full time.

“I was a high-tech sales operations director for many years. I had a really good job and it was fun, but this is funner,” she said with a laugh.

It’s a decision she has not regretted, she said.

“The whole time [I was working], as a hobby I was doing art, drawing, watercolor, acrylics and then oil,” she said. “I always liked it as a hobby, and I got more and more passionate about it. When I thought the time was right, I switched to doing it full time.”

The extra time has given Van Hart the opportunity to immerse herself in her hobby, and although she no longer keeps a strict 9-to-5 routine, that’s not to say she doesn’t work hard at her craft.

“I work every day,” she said. “I paint full time Monday to Friday, all day. On weekends I sometimes paint or do art business stuff.”

Aside from abstracts, she also enjoys nature and landscape paintings. Her past works include figures of people in action and a series of works based on the sculptures of Rodin.

Van Hart’s paintings have been exhibited in Los Gatos. In 2009, the Los Gatos Art Association named her as its artist of the year.

This year will present several opportunities for the public to view her works. In March, Van Hart will display her paintings at Mike’s Cafe in Palo Alto, and in May she will be participating in Silicon Valley Open Studios, an annual event when artists open their home studios to the general public, allowing them to converse with the artists and purchase artworks directly.

Triton’s Statewide Painting Competition is held every two years. This was the first time in the museum’s history that two first-place winners were selected. The exhibition featuring the 92 selected works will run through Feb. 2. The Triton Museum is at 1505 Warburton Ave., in Santa Clara.

 

What do you like most about being an artist?

oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Palm Winds
Detail of oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
See full painting here

In “Top Fifty Questions”, I’ll answer the top 50 questions I’m asked as an artist.

What do you like most about being an artist?

The absolute best thing about being an artist is that it opens up a whole world of connections and friendships. It also strengthens the friendships I already have. I love that.

In terms of my work, I love creating a painting that is a personal breakthrough, or that others really like. (The overlap is not always 100%.) It’s hugely inspiring when a painting wins an award, or is accepted into an exhibit, or is purchased by a collector. These things make me thrilled to be in the studio and painting every day.

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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

Completed painting – 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.

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@hollyvanhart.com. I’d love to hear from you.

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@hollyvanhart.com and let me know.

[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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How did you make that painting? (video)

How did I make this painting? Watch a video here –

 

This painting is sold.

To  see available flower paintings, click here hollyvanhart.com/available-originals

What gives you the most joy?

Abstract nature painting by Silicon Valley artist Holly Van Hart, containing yellow daffodils and red-orange flowers

Your Highest Potential
30 x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart
$3,200
To purchase, contact Pam Regan at Bluestone Fine Art Gallery
or email holly@hollyvanhart.com

Joy, delight, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, rapture.
We want it all!

How do you like to create joy in your life?

If your world is anything like mine, sometimes the days are so busy that it takes conscious thought to make time for life’s most delightful moments.

For me, in any one week I’m abundantly happy when I’ve enjoyed all of these experiences –

  • time connecting with my 3 men (husband and 2 sons), other family, and friends
  • lots of laughter
  • absorbing nature and getting some exercise with hikes and bike rides
  • contributing to an important cause, usually with a focus on children, women, or art
  • feeling that I’ve advanced in life in some meaningful way (relationships, health, career)
  • painting, of course!
  • remembering to be full of thanks, wonder and awe for all of the above

What makes you happy?

 

If you have any tips for creating more bliss in life, please drop me a line at holly@hollyvanhart.com, I’m all ears.

 

Top questions I’m asked as an artist –

How do you know when a painting is done?

How much time does it take to complete a painting?

 

 

Do you believe in fate?

Do you believe in fate? Or in creating your own future? Or a bit of both?

“Actions are the seeds of fate. Deeds grow into destiny.” – Harry Truman.  Seems he was ‘a bit of both’ kind of guy.

This new painting was inspired by the idea of creating our own destiny . . .

To see all available paintings, click here.

You are welcome to come for a studio visit, or to try-before-you-buy.

Awarded Art Fellowship by Clark Hulings Fund

Clark Hulings Fund selects 20 artists for fellowship, including Silicon Valley artist Holly Van Hart

 

I was awarded an artist fellowship by The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists for 2017, and again in 2018, and am feeling very honored.

The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists is an acclaimed national nonprofit organization. It has chosen twenty artist fellows for its Business Accelerator Program, including me 🙂

The selected artists will participate in CHF’s innovative and comprehensive initiative, which seeks to transform the art industry by helping artists better manage their businesses.

 

To read additional press such as the Huffington Post interview of Holly Van Hart by John Seed, and the writings by art critic DeWitt Cheng, click here.

 

 

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!

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.

All the Corners of My Mind

Each of us has so many dreams. If we search in all the corners of our minds, we’ll find dreams for our relationships, careers, homes, travels, and much much more.

The flowers in this painting represent our dreams, shown in their full color and glory. By remembering to give thought and attention to each and every dream, we can live fuller and more abundant lives.

Here’s wishing that our biggest, boldest dreams come true!

 

Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

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 the pics and video of the making of Summer Sparkle, click here.

Larger than Life!

Celebration30" x 40" oil on canvas$2,100Purchase Info

Celebration/Larger Than Life
54 x 72″ Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

The larger-than-life sized nest and eggs in ‘Celebration’ are meant to represent the potential of the human spirit, nestled in nature’s bed. Read more here, “What’s up with all the nests?

There’s also a personal story behind ‘Celebration’ . . .

Birds will build their nests with whatever materials are available to them. One spring when I was a girl, my mother sprinkled snippets of red yarn in the yard near our summer home.  She then encouraged us to see what happened next.  Sure enough, a bird built a nest using the beautiful red yarn.  (Sure wish I had a photo of that now!)

In ‘Celebration’ the birds have built their nest with twigs and ribbons.  To me, ribbons have a celebratory feel, hence the title of the painting.

This painting was created in phases over many months.  It leverages what I learned about painting nests and eggs from the other Possibilities paintings, as well as reference photos for the ribbons.

Are you in the mood to celebrate?

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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

[Top 50 Questions] Can I see your work in a gallery?

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.)

Yes!  Thanks for asking 🙂

My paintings are in a bunch of galleries, listed here.

You can also see my work at my Open Studio and other upcoming events; click here for details.

 

New! Slipping Between the Notes

With this new tree painting Slipping Between the Notes, the “notes” are the leaves on the trees. My intention was to paint a sunny, happy forest that tempted you to come in and play.

Will you please join me here, running around and slipping between the notes?

Here are some in-progress pics for this painting –

Here’s the finished painting –

And here’s how it would look against a blue wall –

Want to see all available paintings? Click here to request a digital catalog.

Our biggest, boldest dreams

The daisies in ‘Dream Field’ represent our dreams, some dreams bigger than others, some growing and developing, others on the decline, and all of them dancing around through the turbulence and beauty that we call life.

Here’s wishing that our biggest, boldest dreams come true!

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