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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 –

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Gallery Exhibitions

My work can be seen in ongoing gallery exhibitions at The Studio Shop, Mirada Fine Art, Dean Day Gallery, Bluestone Fine Art Gallery, JCO’s Art Haus and Slate Contemporary.

These paintings (and more) are being exhibited by these galleries –

Summer’s Lavish Brush – field of flowers inspired by color

Here are some pics of Summer’s Lavish Brush in the making –

To inquire about this painting, email holly@hollyvanhart.com.

To see other available paintings, click here.

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.

What’s the best thing about being an artist?

Collector of Holly Van Hart's oil painting, commissioned for her living room

Meet Diane F
Adventurer, Mom, Retired Sales Executive
A collector of my art, and now a friend

What’s the favorite part of your job? Whether you’re a banker, lawyer, stay-at-home parent, or an artist, we all have something we love most about our jobs.

The favorite part of my job is . . . you!

Really. The absolute best part of being an artist is that it gives me an excuse to get to know you better. I feel honored to know you, and to keep in touch with you.

(Plus, as you may have guessed, I love playing around with gorgeous, buttery oil paints all day long.)

So, today I’m featuring Diane F, a fascinating and accomplished woman, a collector of my art, and now a friend.

Here are some of the many things that are totally cool about Diane –

  • As a sales exec in the electronics industry, Diane aimed to retire by the age of 45 and succeeded.
  • Last year, Diane became a Mom of an amazingly adorable son.
  • She holds a Masters degree in Computer Education
  • While in college, Diane led a group of 50 teenagers on a bus tour across the US.
  • As a world traveler and adventurer, she has (in her words) “seen half the world, and still has half to go”.

Diane recently remodeled her home, and commissioned me to make a painting for her spacious living room. In honor of Diane’s cool accomplishments, the painting is named ‘Dreams within Reach’.

Video – The making of Diane F’s custom painting
(Link to all videos on Holly’s YouTube video channel)

It’s a privilege to know you Diane!!!

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.

The gift of time

Have you ever been drawn to something so strongly that you needed to do it? Even if it was risky and even if you might not succeed, you knew this was the right direction for you?

With ‘Into the World of Light’, I wanted the viewer to feel compelled to enter the painting. To bask in the warmth of the sun. To explore what’s over those hills. To ponder the freedoms that lie ahead.

To find the right direction for myself, I usually need lots of time to think and let my mind wander freely.  Without that, it’s too easy to get pulled into everyday obligations and routines.

‘The gift of time’ is one of the best things I can do for myself. Do you find the same?

Here are in-progress pics for Into the World of Light –

acrylic painting by Holly Van Hart | green brown forest field

The start of the painting. It may look like fog, but my plan is for this to become a well-lit forest.

abstract forest painting by Holly Van Hart | sunlit field branches leaves

Next I painted in the sunlit field and (at the top) some branches and leaves.

mixed media forest painting by Holly Van Hart | watercolor techniques

Here I’m using my new watercolor techniques (but with acrylic paints).

Mountain, tree trunks, watercolor and drip painting techniques | by Holly Van Hart

Close-up of the sunlit mountain.

forest painting | sunlight tree trunks hills field | painting by Holly Van Hart | shown at Desta Gallery solo show 'Embracing the Light'

Finished!
Into the World of Light
48 x 60″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart

 

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

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 (hollyvanhart.com/commission-painting/) . (They make great gifts, and come with a 100% money back guarantee.) Or email me at holly@hollyvanhart.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.

‘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

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@hollyvanhart.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.

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.

 

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

 

Can you feel the ocean breeze?

Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, blue, landscape, palm trees

Palm Winds
30″ x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)

Welcome to the tropics!

As you view “Palm Winds”, can you feel the warm wind on your skin? This painting is meant to instill a feeling of peacefulness from the beauty of the trees, sea, and sky. The empty picnic tables are inviting you to sit down and have a meal. It is a hot day, and the wind is offsetting the tropical heat.

The inspiration for this painting draws on my travels to Tahiti, Thailand, Costa Rica and other places of tropical awesomeness.  In addition, it was inspired by an amazing photo taken by my friend Veronique Gillard. (Thank you Veronique!)

Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, yellow, blue, abstract, circles

Palm Winds
Side view
30″ x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart

This painting is sold. For available paintings, click here.

Originally published in 2013, and just updated

What is ‘failing toward success’?

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
Purchase (email Bluestone Fine Art Gallery
or holly@hollyvanhart.com)

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@hollyvanhart.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 making of a rose painting (video)

Detail shots of ‘Amid the Scent of Roses’ –

Abstact rose painting | Holly Van Hart | abstract red roses with green and multi-color leaves, oil painting, title 'Amid the Scent of Roses'

Abstact rose painting | Holly Van Hart | abstract red roses with green and multi-color leaves, oil painting, title 'Amid the Scent of Roses'

Abstact rose painting | Holly Van Hart | abstract red roses with green and multi-color leaves, oil painting, title 'Amid the Scent of Roses'

Abstact rose painting | Holly Van Hart | abstract red roses with green and multi-color leaves, oil painting, title 'Amid the Scent of Roses'

Abstact rose painting | Holly Van Hart | abstract red roses with green and multi-color leaves, oil painting, title 'Amid the Scent of Roses'

Watch a video of this painting being made here.

If you’d like to see this painting in person, please email me, holly@hollyvanhart.com

Thanks for your interest!

Boundless Promise

My paintings are inspired by life’s limitless possibilities. In Boundless Promise, you’re invited to take a walk down this path with me. Here, we will soak up all the opportunities around us. They are everywhere!

This painting is sold, but you can check out available paintings here.  To purchase, email holly@hollyvanhart.com

Want to see how Boundless Promise was made? Check out these pics and video –

A new forest. My idea for this one is a gorgeous spring day. The type of day that puts you in an instant good mood!

My paintings usually show abundance.

My paintings usually show abundance, in this case lots of trees and (soon) lots of leaves.
It’s a way to remind myself (and hopefully all viewers) that life is abundant and full of possibilities!

This bright green instantly brings me to a spring day

This bright green instantly brings me to a spring day. Does it do that for you?

Close up view. You can see how roughly it is painted at this stage.

Close up view. You can see how roughly it is painted at this stage.

Have you ever noticed how much yellow there is in springtime greenery Trying to get that gorgeous yellow-green in the leaves

Have you ever noticed how much yellow there is in springtime greenery? Trying to get that gorgeous yellow-green in these leaves.

Adding darker leaves, and adding shadows to the tree trunks Adding darker leaves, and adding shadows to the tree trunks

Finished! Boundless Promise, 36 x 48 inch mixed media painting by HVH.

Finished! Boundless Promise, 36 x 48 inch mixed media painting by HVH.

Purchase info is here. To purchase, email holly@hollyvanhart.com

For more paintings and inspirations, please check out my new book, Nature’s Inspirations. Click here for Download here (free!).

Painting Inspirations Book

Free eBook!

Treat yourself to
inspiring art and ideas.

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

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

Free Instant Download. Enter your email here –

White roses and school soccer

What do school soccer and ‘Threshold of Miracles’ have in common?

Inspiration is everywhere!

The inspiration for this painting was a big bush of white roses planted at a local school (Holly Oak Elementary in San Jose, CA).  The roses were brilliantly lit in the afternoon sun.  I noticed them during the half-time break from my son’s soccer game, and couldn’t resist snapping a bunch of photos.

Using my computer, I tried a few combinations of photos until one stood out as the best design. Then I set to work in my studio to make this painting.

This painting is called ‘Threshold of Miracles’.  It symbolizes all the amazing things we can do with our lives (and the miracles we can create) when we keep our eyes open.

Wishing you lots of sunshine and miracles in your life!

[Top 50 Questions] What subjects inspire you?

My husband is a gardener.  I feel very fortunate to have his beautiful trees and and flowers growing all around us as inspiration for my paintings.

On my short walk to the studio each day, I pass bougainvillea, roses, amaryllis, daffodils, lemons, oranges, figs and more (depending on the season).  Lucky me!

I am also inspired every time I go for a walk in our neighborhood and on local hiking trails.

 

Purchase
Commission a nature painting
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Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

Birch Trees in the Fall

Abstract nature painting by Silicon Valley artist Holly Van Hart, featuring birch trees in autumn with red and gold leaves

Autumn Gold
24 x 18 oil painting by Holly Van Hart

In the heat of the summer, I was dreaming about the crisp fall days of my favorite season. So here’s ‘Autumn Gold’.

Who doesn’t love the colors of fall leaves? The variety and brilliance are an artist’s dream!

To see more abstract forest paintings, click here.

Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

[Top 50 Questions] Are you worried about oil paints being toxic?

I’m not worried about oil paints being toxic. Oil paints are toxic if you eat them. Otherwise, they are fine.

Paint solvents, thinners, and thickeners are often toxic. I don’t use any of these, except for turpentine to deep-clean my brushes (which I do outside).

Oil painting mediums (such as thickeners and thinners) tend to be an artist’s best friends. I had some favorite mediums that were toxic, but after some intense experimenting around, I found and fell in love with two that aren’t – walnut oil to thin the paints, and Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel as a thickener.

And I try my best not to eat the paints 🙂

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Want to know what’s going on in my studio? Friend me on Facebook and see something new every day!

[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

 

New tree painting! Mirror World

With this new tree painting, Mirror World, I wanted a feeling of mystery.

The trees in the distance have curiously different colors from the nearer trees. What’s going on there? Let’s take a stroll down this path and see for ourselves!

With every painting, I have an objective for the mood and look of the painting, and a separate artistic objective.

The artistic objective is typically a challenge to myself using new colors or style or different size brushes or canvas.

Here, I challenged myself to paint more loosely, using bigger brushes and with less defined edges. Can you see the difference compared to my other tree paintings? Please drop me a line at holly@hollyvanhart.com.

 

Would you like to see all available paintings? Click here to request a digital catalog.

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@hollyvanhart.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@hollyvanhart.com.  Free shipping in the US.

Purchase details

Try Before Your Buy program

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.

What’s your work-day like?

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

What’s your work-day like as an artist?

Some of you have been curious about my work-day as an artist. Believe it or not, I’m working more hours per week now than I did in high tech.  (I left a fun and fulfilling career in high tech for an even ‘funner’ career as a full-time artist.)

I have a home studio, and am in the studio painting every day from 8 am til 3 or 4pm. Every day. (Well, every weekday, and sometimes on the weekends.)

Chuck Close, a famous American painter, offers a great perspective on this. “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. . . . All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”

I buy into that. Through the process of painting every day, I challenge myself to create my very best work. And to keep learning and experimenting.

An artist’s job is not done when the art is created. Part of the role is running your own art business, with your website, blog, marketing, galleries, exhibits, etc.

I try to dedicate my daytime to painting, and take care of the business stuff in the evenings. (When my sons are doing their homework, I’m doing mine!)  This takes many hours, on most days. Having come from a long business career, I like this part of the job too.

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

New – Cocktail paired with a Painting!

For a holiday party, I paired a painting with a custom cocktail. ‘The Boundary of Spring’ (above) was paired with a cocktail I named ‘Spring-tini’.

Here’s the recipe –
2 ounces vodka
1 ounce pear juice
1 ounce rosemary syrup (I used rosemary from our front garden)
A squeeze of fresh lemon (we picked the lemons from trees in our back yard)
Rosemary sprig, for garnish

Why Spring-tini is paired with The Boundary of Spring

The Spring-tini cocktail has pear juice. Pear is a soft flavor; it is analogous to the soft sky in the painting.

Rosemary has a tea-like aroma and an assertive piney flavor; it is analogous to the stronger color of the green/brown ground in the painting.

Vodka is a subtle but absolutely necessary component of this drink. Similarly, the texture in the painting is both subtle and absolutely necessary to the success of the painting.

 

Enjoy!

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