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

[Top 50 Questions] Do you ever miss being in high tech?

In ‚ÄúTop Fifty Questions‚ÄĚ, I‚Äôll answer the top things I‚Äôm asked as an artist. (These questions usually come up at cocktail parties and other fun social events.)

Do you ever miss being in high tech?

Sure!

I definitely miss seeing my work-friends and colleagues more regularly.  They were/are an amazingly talented and multi-faceted group of people.  Good thing Facebook and LinkedIn give us an easy way to keep in touch!

What I also loved about high tech was the opportunity to constantly stretch myself and learn new things. Luckily I have that in abundance as an artist too.

One thing’s for sure . . .¬†Being a full-time artist feels like what I was meant to do.

To read more about my career move to professional artist, click here.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions.

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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 Рholly.vanhart@gmail.com

 

Related links: 

 

What’s up with all the nests? (Video)

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).

I’ve gone crazy for nests. Well, really I’ve gone crazy for eggs and nests and what they represent.

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.

My intentions are given away by the titles of some of the paintings – Possibilities in Full Color, Unlimited Possibilities, and Possibilities Abound (winner of the California Statewide Painting Competition).

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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

What does ‘vulnerability’ mean to you?

What does ‘vulnerability’ mean to you? Does hearing that word make you squirm and feel uncomfortable? It does that to me!

To put it all out there, my most vulnerable moments are when . . .
* I express love or appreciation to someone, and am not sure whether the feeling is returned
* My art is being exhibited and I’m in a room¬†full of¬†people seeing it for the first time
* I send an image of a new painting to the 500+ people on my email list
* Someone unsubscribes to my email list (ouch!)
* I post a new painting or article (like this one) on this blog
* My work is not accepted into a competition or exhibition
* My sons (now ages 11 and 13) are facing disappointment, and I can’t just ‘fix it’ for them any more

Luckily, from my years in high tech, I had many opportunities to experience both acceptance and rejection. I know how to roll with rejection. Sometimes I might need a few moments or hours or days to catch my breath and recover, but then I do, and life goes on and I can keep making progress. Thank goodness. Without that, life as an artist would be impossible!

 

To see the rest of my top 50 questions, click here.

 

Have a question for me? Click here.

 

Let’s stay in touch! Become a VIP member. ¬†Learn more

 

On a totally different note . . . 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‘.

Above All Things

To live life to the fullest, we’re often told to give the highest value to our relationships. And that things like fancy cars, clothes, homes, TVs, phones, etc give us only very fleeting pleasure.

Do you find this to be true for yourself?

I do, for the most part. Spending time with family and friends is my absolute favorite thing in the world. Hands down. Without question. I value these relationships above all things. (Hence the name of the painting.)

Don’t get me wrong . . . many things give me lasting pleasure too. Mostly visual things. I still love the shape of the wedding ring we picked out over 15 years ago. And the windows in our home that let in lots of light. And some pieces of our furniture. My husband’s garden. The list is very long.

What’s your experience? What do you value ‘above all things’?

To check out more flower paintings and the inspirations behind them, click here.

 

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

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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 Рforests, 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.)


Circling of the Seasons

Hi there! Here’s one of my latest forest paintings (and the first one completed in a square format) . . .

Circling of the Seasons
48 x 48″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
For available forest paintings, click here

Want to see how this painting was made? Here are some pics . . .

And, in video . . .


For more info, check these out –
* Try before you buy program
* Come for a studio visit
* Info on purchasing

To purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.


Want to see more in-progress paintings? Check out these videos http://hollyvanhart.com/youtube-videos

Thanks for being here!

Architect of Peace – Abstract forest painting

Trees and forests can be magical, beautiful and mysterious. They captivate me, and have inspired hundreds of landscape paintings.

With Architect of Peace, I want you the viewer to feel intrigued enough to step into the painting. To explore this new world that shimmers with light and colors and peace. Welcome. Enjoy.

To enquire about this painting, please email holly.vanhart@gmail.com or call 408 309 5564.

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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.

 

Abstract landscape – Following Your Fascinations

Join me on a boat ride over a vast sea. We’ll be following our fascinations. We’re not sure where they may lead us, or how long we’ll be gone.

Sometimes the ocean will be smooth, and other times we’ll hit many waves. But it will always be worth the journey!

Here are some detail pics of ‘Following Your Fascinations’ –

If you’re browsing this website, you’ll see the ocean appear in many of my paintings. I absolutely love the water and the shoreline! I grew up in New York city, and lived in California for most of my adult life, so I’ve never been far from the coast. Lucky me!

This painting is sold, but you can view available paintings here.

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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.

Taking a hiatus

Have you ever taken a hiatus from something you really love?u

Bicycling is something that gives me great joy. I love the thrill of the hills (up and down), the views, the smells, and even the tired muscles. For some inexplicable reason, I let my bike sit idle for the last couple of years.

Have you ever taken a pause like that?  Why do we do that?



Just last month, I started cycling again, huffing and puffing, and slowly getting my groove back. It feels great!!

Over the years, I’ve taken week-long biking vacations in some beautiful places including the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the San Juan Islands in Washington, and the Norwegian fjords. The latter two have inspired abstract landscape paintings such as this one . . .

 

Magnetic Dreams, 48 x 60″ mixed media painting by HVH,
shown hanging in my home.
 

Magnetic Dreams (detail of the sky)
 

Magnetic Dreams (detail of the mountains and water)

To read the story behind the painting, click here –

Story + Completed painting
See more abstract landscapes

To purchase a painting, email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.
Shipping is free for VIP members (that’s you!)

Taking a hiatus is normal and just fine. But having returned to biking makes me wonder . . . what else do I need to get back into?

How about you . . . what do you miss?

Something for us both to ponder.

And now, borrowing a word from an Australian friend of mine  . . .
Cheerypip,

P.S. Into forests or flowers instead?

 

The Secrets Within, 40 x 30″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
See new forest and flower paintings

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.

 

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.

Springing to Life!

Abstract Nature Painting by Holly Van Hart, nest eggs, blue, red, flowers

Springing
40″ x 30″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (Sold)

‘Springing’ got its name because (to me) it looks like the whole painting is springing to life. ¬†A nest with 3 eggs, a tree with dozens of red flower buds, and sweeping textures are all combined to give the painting a certain energy and vivaciousness.

This painting now resides in a beautiful home in the UK. To see available paintings, click here.

btw, if you’re wondering ‘What’s up with all the nests?’, click here.

 

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‚Äôs late expressionistic landscapes, Georgia O‚ÄôKeeffe‚Äôs magnified images of nature, Mark Rothko‚Äôs 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

 

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

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.

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To see all available paintings, click here.

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.

New Abstract Landscape painting – Magnetic Dreams

With Magnetic Dreams, I was aiming for a moody painting. The scene is imagined, drawn from a love of the ocean and memories of many captivating ferry rides.

The calm of the quiet mountains is juxtaposed with the energy of the watercolor techniques and drips. (This is a mixed media painting on canvas, using acrylic paints, but painted with watercolor techniques.)

Here are some detail pics –

To purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.  Free shipping in the US for VIP members.

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The Sun’s Warmth – New abstracted forest painting

Like a cat, I love feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin. Do you?

Come step into this sun-soaked forest . . .

This painting is hanging in my home, but it could be hanging in yours ūüôā

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

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To see all available paintings, click here.

Abstract forest painting – Wandering in Wonder

Does ‘Wandering in Wonder’ make you want to wander through this forest? And take in the wonder of nature and life? Hope so!

Here’s how this painting looks in a living room –

Wandering in Wonder is sold, but you can see available forest, flower, landscape, and nest paintings here.

More info here –
Studio visit
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Questions?  Email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

 

Thanks for your interest!

 

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).

 

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See all available paintings.

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.

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Latest art news – The Two Yvonne’s

Hi there.

Every once in a while in my VIP emails, I feature a collector of my work. Here’s a fun fact. Two collectors of my paintings are both named Yvonne and they are both CEOs of San Francisco-area companies. What a coincidence!

Meet Yvonne Linney –  



Yvonne Linney
CEO of Transcriptic
PhD in Genetics
Mother of 2 happy teenage sons
Collector of my paintings ūüôā


This is the first painting Yvonne & her husband John purchased from me –
You’re Invited, 60 x 40″ mixed media painting.


As soon as Yvonne saw this painting, she knew it would be a perfect fit for her entryway.  She was right!

Yvonne simply radiates positive energy. In addition to being a busy CEO, she is active in our local schools and community. You’re amazing Yvonne. I feel lucky to know you, and honored you’ve chosen my paintings for your beautiful home.

btw, if you’re wondering what’s been going on in my studio lately, here’s a taste . . . 



 
 I’ve been painting up a storm!  To see more, click here . . . 

Brand New Releases


Shine on, my beautiful friend!
 
xoxo


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.



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

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.

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