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Sometimes we need to climb a ladder

Sometimes our dreams are so close we can almost touch them.

And sometimes we need to climb a ladder or a tree (or learn to fly) to reach our dreams. In any case, it’s worth the stretch!!! That was what I had in mind while painting the magnolia flowers and nest in ‘Outside My Window’.

Outside our windows at home, we’re lucky to have an assortment of oaks, redwoods, and other beautiful trees. No magnolias, although there are plenty in our neighborhood.

For purchase info, please email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

 

** Be the 1st to see new paintings, fresh off the easel. Click to learn more. **

[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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Abundant Possibilities

Abundance30" x 40"Sold

Abundance
30 x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

Abundance is part of my Possibilities series that includes nests and eggs as the subject. This painting signifies the abundant possibilities that are available to the little lives that are in this very full nest.

The calm of the surface of the eggs is offset by the variety of colors and complicated weaving of the nest. This contrast reflects the reality of our lives, which are often some combination of calm, colorful, and complicated.

Like most of my work, Abundance was built up using multiple layers of oil paints. The layers give a special glow to the eggs, and extra texture and depth to the nest.

This painting is sold, but you can buy a print here.

Originally published in 2013 and recently updated to include information on prints

Abstract forest painting, ‘Every Restless Night’

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.

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

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

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

West Valley Artist Wins Statewide Painting Competition

Here’s a blast from the past . . . originally published December 2013, and updated afterward with new links –

West Valley Artist Wins Statewide Painting Competition
Former high-tech worker is now pursuing a new career as a full-time artist.

By Rob Klindt , December 19, 2013
Holly Van Hart, 1st place award photo

Artist Holly Van Hart poses with her oil-on-canvas painting “Possibilities Abound.”

A nature painting by Saratoga artist Holly Van Hart recently snagged a first place award in the 2013 Statewide Painting Competition hosted by the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara. Also garnering a first place award for his painting was San Jose artist Cuong Nguyen.

The competition, which was open to just California artists, drew more than 1,000 entries. From those entries, 92 were selected to be exhibited at the Triton Museum.

The winners were chosen by a panel of three jurors from the Triton Museum, including Chief Curator Preston Metcalf, Curator of Education Ester Fernandez, and Registrar/Curator Stephanie Learmonth.

Van Hart’s winning entry, an oil-on-canvas painting entitled “Possibilities Abound,” was showcased at a Dec. 13 reception for the winners at the Triton Museum. The nature-themed painting depicts a collection of eggs in a bird nest.

In acknowledging Van Hart’s first prize, the Triton curatorial team was complimentary of the artist’s style and technique. “Holly Van Hart warmed us with her painting Possibilities Abound. A nest cradles eggs, rendered with a confident, loose brushstroke that evokes a sense that this could be any nest, anywhere . . . We are seeing nothing less than the potential of the human spirit, nestled in nature’s bed,” the team wrote.

Van Hart’s previous awards include 2009 Artist of the Year from the Los Gatos Art Association, and a California State Fair Merit Award.  She is an art docent and volunteer math teacher at Foothill Elementary school in Saratoga.

After working 20 years in the Silicon Valley high-tech sector, Van Hart recently decided to move on and pursue a new career as a full-time artist. “I plan to enjoy a long career as an artist because this definitely feels like what I was meant to do,” she said.

The Triton Museum of Art is located at 1505 Warburton Avenue in Santa Clara, California.

To see the solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art (photos, walk-through video, free download of museum catalog), click here.

New Tree Painting – Standing tall

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

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

Here are some in-progress pics for this painting –

Here’s the finished painting –

Want to be the 1st to see pre-release paintings? Click here to become a VIP member.

[Top 50 Questions] How long have you been painting?

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 –  How long have you been painting?

I’ve been painting my whole life, with one hiatus while in college.

As a girl I made many types of art . . . I painted, made ceramics and did crocheting and calligraphy.  My Mom was an artist; she gave us lessons and let us use her top-quality art supplies.  (Thanks Mom!)

In college, studying engineering was all consuming and my art was put on hold.

After graduating, I worked in high tech and pursued painting passionately as a hobby – taking dozens classes, reading thousands of books and articles, forming an art critique group, and painting every spare minute.

Now, as a professional artist, I paint every day, all day (every weekday + some weekends).  And every day I learn something new.

My art education will never be done. That’s a huge part of the fun 🙂

 

btw, the above painting is Amid the Scent of Roses. Interested in seeing how it was made? Here’s a short video for you . . .

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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(One email every 2-3 weeks.)


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

What is ‘failing toward success’?

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 . . .

New computer, monitor, painting tablet, and painting software - this set-up will help me 'fail to succeed' more quickly

New computer, monitor, painting tablet, and painting software – this set-up will help me ‘fail toward success’ more quickly

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 holly.vanhart@gmail.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‘.

The feeling of being home (and well taken care of)

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

Serenity
20 x 20″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

View video of this painting being created

Every painting tells a story. When we look at a painting, we absorb and interpret the story in our own unique way.

My abstract nature paintings are about the beauty and peace of nature.

This painting, ‘Serenity’, shows 3 robin’s eggs, resting serenely in their nest.  The strong reds in the nest, branches, leaves, and buds represent the fullness of life outside the nest.  The lives of the 3 siblings in this nest are full of possibilities.  When the eggs hatch into birds, they will experience all that life has to offer outside the nest.

That’s my story for ‘Serenity’.  What’s yours?  (Email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com)

To see a video of this painting being created, click here.

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

Originally published in 2013, and just updated

Do you do custom paintings (commissions)? Video

Yes! I do custom paintings.

In fact, I just delivered a custom painting to a new collector, and this is what she had to say –

“You perfectly transformed my dream into a stunningly beautiful painting. I am deeply grateful.”

Wow, I feel so honored. That made my day (my week!). Thank you Sue!!!

I love creating custom paintings. Good thing, because I’m currently working on 6 of them, ranging in size from 16 inches wide up to 80″ wide. That’s wider than you are tall!

If you’d like to learn more about custom paintings, click here (http://hollyvanhart.com/commission-painting/) . (They make great gifts, and come with a 100% money back guarantee.) Or email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

Whether you’re interested in commissioned paintings or not, thank you for your interest in my work.

— Holly

P.S. If you want more info, check out more testimonials and pics of paintings installed in collectors homes.

P.P.S. My custom paintings were awarded Best of Houzz. Check out the details here.

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

Whispered Peace (new aspen painting)

Welcome to my world of Whispered Peace.

The aspen trees in this painting are surrounded by whisper-soft hues of gold, red, green and blue. All co-existing peacefully on three large canvases 🙂

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

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

 

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

 

What is success?

A new article published on The Commissioned!

Meet Holly Van Hart, the Energetic and Calm Artist

Artist Holly Van Hart | Photo by Daniel Garcia of Content Magazine

You perfectly transformed my dream into reality in the form of a stunningly beautiful painting.
— Dr. S. Hall, Ventura, California (a satisfied collector of Holly’s paintings)

One word that best describes your style: Energetic yet calm

1. What does a typical day in your life look like?

I wake up and can’t wait to get painting! Usually I’m in the studio and painting in the early morning, then enjoy breakfast with my husband and sons, then back to the studio for a full day of painting. Evenings are for taking care of the business part of being an artist…updating my website, responding to emails, etc.

2. What does your studio look like?

I have a home studio in a separate part of the house that comfortably holds me and lots of canvases – big and small! It has lots of windows and even a door that is mostly a window.

3. Tell us one unique thing about you and your art.

Collectors tell me they find my work inspirational. I’m honored by that, because with titles like ‘Possibilities Abound’, ‘Larger than Life’, and ‘Dream Weaver’, that’s exactly what I had in mind when painting them.

4. What do you love most about being an artist?

I love how it connects me to people…giving me new friends and strengthening ties with established friends.

5. What are 3 things you can’t live without in a day?

Painting, chocolate, time with my family and friends.

6. Where do you get inspiration when you need it most?

Internally, and from looking around in nature. Also, other artists are a huge inspiration.

7. What does success look like to you?

Making paintings that I’m proud of, and finding collectors who love to have them.

To create a stunning piece of calm and beauty, visit http://hollyvanhart.com/commission-painting .

To see the rest of Holly’s Top 50 Questions, click here.

Consumer’s Guide to Original Art

Whether you own 100 pieces of art or are looking for your first one, this book gives you the info you need to shop confidently (and have loads of fun!). Includes 5 things you must do when collecting original art, and 3 things to avoid.

Free instant download. No signup required.

 
If you like this book, please share it with your friends!

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.

 

Mirada Fine Art Gallery (ongoing)

If you’re in the Denver area, please come see my latest paintings at Mirada Fine Art gallery.

I’m proud to be working with this prestigious gallery. It has been selected for many awards, including American Art Awards “Top 25 US Galleries”.

Click for details.

Directions & Hours

 

abstract tree paintings by Holly Van Hart showing at Mirada Fine Art in Colorado

Vibrations in Time (on wall, right)
Mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
At Mirada Fine Art

Grand Prize Award – California Painting Competition

Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, nest, blue, nature's colors abstracted

Possibilities Abound
30″ x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Grand Prize Award – California Statewide Painting Competition

Originally published in 2013, and just updated with info on upcoming events and prints.

I’m walking on air . . . I was honored to have won Grand Prize at the California Statewide Painting Competition.

The 1st place award was a solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art.  (To see pics and videos of my solo show, click here.)

In the words of the curators of the Triton Museum of Art . . .

“Holly van Hart warmed the jurors with her painting Possibilities Abound. A nest cradles eggs, rendered with a confident, loose brushstroke that evokes a sense that this could be any nest, anywhere. And as with all great art, the metaphor returns the image to contemplations of us, the viewers. Avian becomes human, the unborn promise becomes our own possibilities, to be nurtured and explored. We are seeing nothing less than the potential of the human spirit, nestled in nature’s bed.”

– Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator
– Ester Fernandez, Curator of Education/Curator
– Stephanie Learmonth, Registrar/Curator

Click here for photos taken at the Triton Museum during the 2013 California Statewide Painting Competition Exhibition.

For upcoming events, click here.

This painting is sold. For prints, 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 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

The Boundary of Spring

One of my recent paintings took an imaginative and unexpected turn. It started out as one thing, but ended up as something else entirely!

Abstract landscape painting by Holly Van Hart

I started this painting thinking it would be an abstracted forest. Once the sky was painted, I was going to let it dry before working on the trees and leaves.

New landscape painting by Holly Van Hart

But . . . I was really digging the colors and simplicity of this first layer of paint, and decided to go in a different direction.

The painting would be an abstract landscape. It would need many more layers to give it the depth and glow I was seeking.

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!

New painting in entryway

The Boundary of Spring
48 x 36″ oil and acrylic painting by Holly Van Hart
$4800
Currently hanging in my entryway, but it could be hanging in yours!

More info
* For purchase info, click here.
* Questions? Interested in owning this painting? Please contact holly.vanhart@gmail.com 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.

To see all available paintings, click here.

If not me, who? If not now, when?

“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!

The Year in Review Highlights – 2020

2020 brought us a global pandemic and was a very trying year. There were many hardships but also some bright silver linings. Here are the highlights  . . .

In February, Ike and I celebrated the 30th anniversary of our first date. What a fabulous 3 decades it’s been. Lucky us!!

 

We visited Ike’s Mom in Canada in January. She turned 90 this year! (shown: Erik, Oma, Skyler)

 

 

Did amazing local hikes and met fascinating new friends by joining the San Jose Mid-Week Hikers Group. The group stopped meeting in March due to the pandemic, but a few of us continued to hike together (socially distanced, with masks, in groups of 2 or 3).

 

Spectacular week-long hiking vacation in Death Valley with my friend Adrienne (pre “shelter in place”).

 

Our oldest son Skyler graduated with honors from Saratoga High School. Due to covid, he had a drive-through graduation. Sky then headed off to Ohio to study bioengineering at Case Western Reserve University.

 

With my friend Maria, we did a 2-week road trip and visited 5 gorgeous national parks in Utah.  (shown: Arches National Park)

 

the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution recently gave Holly Van Hart the Women in the Arts Recognition Award, which spotlights women who have made significant achievements in their artistic fields.

Received the prestigious Art Recognition Award from the The National Society | Daughters of the American Revolution.

 

Loved loved loved the bounty from my husband’s garden – figs, tomatoes, persimmons, lemons, cala lilies, begonias and more 🙂

 

Mountain biked in the local Fremont Older Open Space Preserve every week with my friends Ellen and Ying. We usually cancelled when the air was smoky (as in this pic) but sometimes we just needed to get out there!

 

Started mentoring first generation college-bound students. The MVLA Scholars AVID mentoring program is all volunteer and very impressive.

 

At Mirada Fine Art Gallery in Colorado for my solo show. I’m proud to be working with this prestigious gallery. It has been selected for many awards, including American Art Awards “Top 25 US Galleries”.

 

Thanks to great friends, we enjoyed many happy hours and meals outside this year. Socially distanced, sometimes with masks, always super-fun.

 

One last highlight . . . and the most important for 2020 – Our family and extended family remained Covid-free. Knock wood. We have been so very fortunate.

 

All the best to you, my friend, for next year and beyond. Stay healthy. The best is yet to come!

Signature of artist Holly Van Hart

 

 

 

 

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!

New abstract landscape painting – Dreams that Dance

Hi there!

Here’s the story behind Dreams That Dance.  Some of my paintings are designed in advance, and others (like Dreams That Dance) are the result of a more experimental process.

When starting Dreams That Dance, I aimed to push the boundaries of abstraction with a lively and mysterious landscape. I chose the colors (light greens and blues, offset by darker browns) and set off on an adventure, not knowing what the future would hold.

The horizon was demarcated with a straight gray-brown line; then, acrylic paints were used in an experimental watercolor-like fashion to approximate the sky, clouds, land and water. The paints were applied with a brush and allowed to drip in ways that I found pleasing, and then the canvas was lay flat to dry. (The non-pleasing drips got wiped away or otherwise eliminated.) I repeated this with 15 or more layers of paint until satisfied with the overall result.

In my work, I like to balance a feeling of peacefulness with a certain liveliness and happy energy. Does that show through here?

 

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

Prestigious Arts Recognition Award

Los Altos Town Crier

 

 

New!  Arts Recognition Award from the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution in the Los Altos Town Crier.
“The National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution recently gave Holly Van Hart the Women in the Arts Recognition Award.”   Read full article here.

Feeling so honored!!

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 https://hollyvanhart.com/available-originals

Abstract landscape – Sense of Marvel

New!

Some earlier experiments with watercolor techniques (using acrylic paints) have led me to paint a whole new series of abstract landscapes. ‘Sense of Marvel’ is one of the latest paintings in this series.

I’m always pushing myself to paint more abstractly. When you look at this painting, what do you see? Please lmk! (holly.vanhart@gmail.com) I’ve heard many interpretations and don’t want to spoil your fun by listing them here.

Would you like to see this painting in person?

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

Purchase details

Try Before Your Buy program

Does it get lonely painting all day?

Holly Van Hart | abstract nature painting | studio | forests trees birch aspen

Working on Woodland Symphony (almost as tall as I am)

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 –

Do you listen to music when you’re painting?

What is the hardest part of creating a painting?

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