skip to Main Content
Free Book! Paintings Paired with Inspirations (instant download here)

Painting Inspirations Book

 

Free eBook!

Treat yourself to
inspiring art and ideas.

 

Get Holly Van Hart’s
Top 25 Paintings and favorite inspirational quotes.

Free Instant Download. Enter your email here –

(Printed book available on Amazon for $19.99)

 

Color-Full Lives

Possibilities in Full Color is about the lives within these 3 eggs, still to be lived.  They are meant to be ‘full color’ lives, filled with joy and delight and exciting challenges.

This painting is also about the homes (nests) of the baby birds and their parents. Do you see the reds, oranges, greens, blues, and yellows? This ‘full color’ nest represents the unique and wonderful personalities of all the individuals that live within it, as well as the wonderful variety of homes that birds build for themselves.

What do you see in “Possibilities in Full Color”? It’s always fascinating to learn how paintings are interpreted.   I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments (holly.vanhart@gmail.com).

 

Studio visit
Purchase info
Try Before You Buy program

See all available paintings.

Which artists are you most influenced by?

Great question.  I like all artists who push the envelope in some exciting way.

Some of my favorite artistic influences include JMW Turner’s late expressionistic landscapes, Georgia O’Keeffe’s magnified images of nature, Mark Rothko’s color-fields, and Joan Mitchell’s huge abstract expressionist paintings.  I’m also a huge fan of Walt Whitman, an American poet.

How about you? Who are your faves?

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

 

‘Dreaming in Full Color’

The flowers in this painting represent our dreams, shown in their full color and glory.  The flowers (dreams) are dancing around through the turbulence and beauty that we call life.

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

Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

Art achievement award from the National Association of Pen Women

February 1, 2020 –

Today I was just awarded a prestigious art achievement award from the National Association of Pen Women. Feeling so very honored!!

 

Holly Van Hart, art recognition award from the National League of American Pen Women.

At the Celebrity Luncheon for the National League of American Pen Women, about to receive the arts achievement award. (Thanks to Patricia Dennis for the photo.)

 

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.vanhart@gmail.com) to make an appointment. Click for details.

Do Tortured Souls Create Better Art?

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 . . .

Winslow Homer "The New Novel"
“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’.

Georgia O'Keeffe's painting
“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’.

Mark Rothko painting
“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’.

JMW Turner "Norham Castle"
“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’.

Joan Mitchell painting
“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 – holly.vanhart@gmail.com

 

Related links: 

 

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?

Follow Holly’s latest art news, exhibits, and special offers (and get a free eBook)

Learn More

Lessons Learned – Building your own website

Abstract Forest Trees Painting Holly VanHart | Abstract Nature Painting | Inspired by forest in New York state | green red brown blue

Summer Sparkle
48 x 36″ oil and acrylic painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

A couple of years ago, I set about creating a brand new art website (the site you’re on right now). I learned lots, had fun, and am happy with the result. But it took waaaaaaaaay longer than expected.

So that others could learn from my experience, I wrote an article about lessons learned called “Build Your Own Website in 10 Minutes (Not)“. The article is posted on Alyson Stanfield’s art marketing blog, artbizcoach.com blog. Read the article here.

btw, if you’re an artist, I’d highly recommend subscribing to the artbizcoach.com blog.

Do you have any experience with building your own website? If so, we’d love to hear from you – holly.vanhart@gmail.com

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”

This painting is sold, but prints are available here.

Originally published in 2013, and updated with info on prints

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!)

A feeling of quiet and serenity

Painting by Holly Van Hart, landscape, lake, fallen leaf lake, morning, light, reflections

Morning Light
40″ x 30″ oil painting on canvas by Holly Van Hart (sold)

A few times a year my family spends the weekend at or near Lake Tahoe, CA. It’s a gorgeous place, with expansive views of the Sierras just about everywhere you look. And what makes it even more special is enjoying it with friends!

One Saturday morning, before everyone else was awake, I took a walk along the lake and snapped lots of photos. Back in my studio, I painted ‘Morning Light’. Morning is my favorite time of the day, and my aim was to convey a feeling of quiet and serenity.

Gallery Wrap side view of "Morning Light"

Gallery Wrap side view of “Morning Light”

[vc_row full_width=”stretch_row_content”][vc_column width=”1/4″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

Free eBook!

Treat yourself to
inspiring art and ideas.

[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”10278″ alignment=”center”][vc_empty_space height=”12px” css=”.vc_custom_1500857215681{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”][vc_column_text]

(Printed book available on Amazon for $19.99)

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”24px” css=”.vc_custom_1500857222952{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”][vcex_button url=”https://hollyvanhart.com/free-painting-inspirations-book/” size=”medium” align=”center” color=”red” custom_color=”#ffffff” custom_hover_color=”#cccccc” css_wrap=”.vc_custom_1483486607972{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”]FREE DOWNLOAD[/vcex_button][vc_empty_space css=”.vc_custom_1484605228208{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”][vcex_button url=”https://hollyvanhart.com/” size=”medium” align=”center” color=”grey” custom_color=”#ffffff” custom_hover_color=”#7a7a7a” css_wrap=”.vc_custom_1539115931617{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”]Go to hollyvanhart.com[/vcex_button][vc_empty_space height=”16px” css=”.vc_custom_1483468001264{background-color: #ffffff !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text] [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Top 50 Questions I’m asked as an artist

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!

Beckoning (new abstract floral painting)

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 holly.vanhart@gmail.com or call 650 646 5590.

 

To see all available paintings, click here.

High quality prints are available here (on canvas, paper, metal, framed, unframed, and so much more).

Treat yourself!  🙂

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

 

 

New commissioned painting delivered

This new commissioned painting was just delivered and installed in a gorgeous new home in Lake Tahoe, CA.

Thank you Karen & Greg!

“I love it” they both said. Music to my ears 🙂

To see all available paintings, click here.

Commissioned paintings

Purchase details

Studio visit

Try Before Your Buy program

In Our Own Dream World

Come along for a walk into my dream world . . .

 

In Our Own Dream World is currently available. Free delivery in the continental US.

Would you like to see more? Please email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

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

Sweet Escape

We all need to escape sometimes!

‘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?

Purchase
Commission a custom painting similar to this
Give a Gift Certificate

Thank you!

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!

[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

 

Standing Naked in Front of a Crowd

In “Top Fifty Questions”,  I answer the top 50 questions I’m asked as an artist (usually at cocktail parties and other fun social events).

How does an artist feel before a big art exhibition?

Like standing naked in front of a crowd!

Do you know that feeling of creating something new (product, recipe, marketing campaign, etc), and then feeling exposed and vulnerable when you revealed it?

Well, that’s how we artists feel every time our art is exposed to the world . . . vulnerable. It’s true for novice artists as well as the most experienced and even (I hear) famous artists.

Posh, oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Putting on a brave face before my Open Studio event
Behind me is ‘Posh’, oil painting by Holly Van Hart

And the bigger the art exhibition, the greater the feeling of exposure. The reason is that the most authentic artwork will reflect an artist’s deepest feelings and thoughts and ideas.

So when we exhibit our art, it feels like we’re standing naked in front of a crowd. (Or how I imagine that would feel, as I’ve never actually been naked in front of a crowd.)

Holly

 

 

Secrets Within

Here’s one of my latest abstracted forest paintings . . .

 

Secrets Within is currently available. Would you like to see more? Please email holly.vanhart@gmail.com to inquire about delivery (free in the continental US) or to arrange a studio visit.

New eBook!

New Book! Free download >>

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 our most important dreams, we can live fuller and more abundant lives.

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

Here are some details pics –

And here’s the completed painting –

 

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

 

Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

A Full Life

The abstract nature paintings you see on this website are inspired by life’s limitless possibilities!

Each painting is meant to convey a sense of plenty, fullness, color, prosperity, and opportunity. Sometimes we have all of these things in our lives. Sometimes we’re only wishing for them.

But it’s always nice to think and dream about them!

‘A Full Life’ is available for purchase (30 x 40″ original oil painting on canvas, painted on the edges, wired on the back, ready to hang, $3800 + tax). For a limited time, shipping is free for VIP members. Contact holly.vanhart@gmail.com for details.

To see all available paintings, click here.

The land of opportunity

‘Opportunity’ is the latest member of the Possibilities series. When you look at this nest and eggs, can you see the limitless potential of the human spirit? I hope so. (Read more here, “What’s up with all the nests?“)

The colors of this painting are American colors and, to many of us, America (the US) is the land of opportunity. Personally I believe America is an amazing place where, with lots of passion and hard work, one’s possibilities are virtually unlimited.

‘Opportunity’ represents the sense of wonder, potential, and pride many of us feel for our country. Nothing is ever perfect, however; the underlying textures in this painting are meant to remind us of things unseen. We might live in the US and have many of its advantages, but success is not assured.

‘Opportunity’ was created in phases over many months. I started with a black and white reference photo of a real bird’s nest, and from there let my imagination and paintbrush wander (and wander and wander).  Success was not assured.

Some paintings converge quickly and others take more time and iterations. The more a painting deviates from the reference photos, the longer it takes me to complete it. Imagination takes time, especially if the end result is supposed to look like something real but not really.

 

Opportunity was one of the 18 paintings in my solo show at the Triton Museum of Art. For a walking tour video & pics of the exhibition, click here.

 

Back To Top