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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.

 

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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.

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!

‘Safe’

'Safe', Original oil painting by Holly Van Hart

‘Safe’
24″ x 18″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart
Purchase Info

Looking at ‘Safe’ (above), you can see two hands from two different people.  Their right hands are coming together to protect their greatest treasure – a nest filled with eggs.

‘Safe’ is part of my Possibilities series of oil paintings.  It is meant to carry a message of warmth and caring and safety.

To read more about the Possibilities series, click here  –  What’s up with all the nests?)

‘Safe’ was inspired by a sculpture of two right hands created by Auguste Rodin in 1908.  Over the years I’ve made dozens of paintings and sketches inspired by Rodin, including ‘Two Left Hands‘, ‘The Kiss‘, and others  (see more here).

Rodin’s hands are captivating for many of us.  Stanford University’s leading hand surgeon (Dr. James Chang, Professor and Chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery) was inspired to create a fascinating art-science exhibit around them.

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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 –

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 on 1.5″ gallery wrap canvas. The painting is continued around the edges of the canvas. It is wired and ready to hang, and really commands a presence!  It is currently hanging in my home, but it could be in yours 🙂

To inquire about this painting, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com. Click here for purchase details.

Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

Holly’s Video Tour through Triton Museum solo show

Come take a tour through my solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art! Learn the stories behind a few key paintings, and see the exhibition installed in the Triton’s Rotunda Gallery.

Van Hart’s hard-won painterly skills are undeniable and compelling. Her naturalistic yet symbolic paintings . . . present their enigmatic subjects with both beauty and conviction, memorably.” – DeWitt Cheng, Art writer for Art Ltd, Artillery, ARTnews, and Visual Art Source

<!–Special Offer – Choosing art should be easy, exciting and fun. With my new 'Choosing Art with Confidence' cheatsheet, you’ll receive hot tips on choosing art and letting it work its magic on you! Click here for your ‘Choosing Art with Confidence’ cheatsheet – Free!–>

Do you believe in fate?

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

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

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

To see all available paintings, click here.

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

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

‘Saratoga Rose’

Originally posted here in 2016, and reposted now in honor of the Saratoga marching band

Saratoga Rose, Watercolor painting by Holly Van Hart

Saratoga Rose, Watercolor painting by Holly Van Hart

The amazing Marching Band at Saratoga High School has been selected to march in the 2016 Rose Bowl Parade.  Congratulations!!!

You can read more here in the San Jose Mercury News article, and see a YouTube video of this exciting announcement here.

In the Marching Band’s honor, I am posting this watercolor painting, ‘Saratoga Rose’, created a few years ago.

Once again, a huge congratulations to the Saratoga HS Marching Band!!!!

Want to see more flower paintings?
Click here.

For a free catalog of Holly Van Hart’s paintings, click here.

Do habits help (or hinder) creativity?

Do you stick to certain daily habits?  Would you think that habits help (or hinder) your creativity?

This might surprise you, but many creative people have strong daily habits.  And we go to enormous lengths to maintain them.

Habits allow our mental bandwidth to be channeled to create new stuff (art, music, computer programs, legal strategies, etc), rather than being wasted on the mundane (for example, which route should I take to work?).

If this topic fascinates you (as it does me), you might like to check out the highly rated book ‘Daily Rituals: How Artists Work‘ by Mason Currey.

One of the conclusions of ‘Daily Rituals’ is that there is no set of habits that is best for creativity.  But when we develop habits that suit our values and lifestyle, we are setting ourselves up for success.

Some of my habits include eating oatmeal for breakfast every day (all 7 days of the week, all 52 weeks of the year, with very rare exceptions), and heading to my studio to start painting as soon as my sons leave for school.

One of my habits is eating a bowl of oatmeal every morning. I vary the extras (strawberries, nuts, cinnamon, coffee, hot chili pepper, . . . ) but the oatmeal stays the same.

One of my habits is eating a bowl of oatmeal every morning.
The extras vary (strawberries, nuts, cinnamon, coffee, hot chili pepper, . . . )  but the Quaker Oats stay the same.

I have some other daily habits (bad ones) that I’m trying to kick and that do not contribute to my creativity – like eating far too much chocolate.  But that’s a subject for another time.

What daily habits do you find most helpful?

 

At cocktail parties and other fun social events, people often ask me questions about life as an artist. They are answered in my ‘Top 50 Questions’ list. This blog post is the latest addition to my Top 50. To see the other questions & answers, click here.

 

Where can I get prints of your paintings?

New! High quality prints available

Holly Van Hart’s award winning nature paintings are now available as high quality prints. You can shop online here for prints on canvas, framed prints, acrylic prints, metal prints, and more.

Scroll below to see the options, or click for a larger view of available prints. Enjoy shopping!

Running Free

Do you ever feel like leaving all your obligations and routines behind (at least for an hour or two, or a week or two)? Do you feel like running free?

I’d like viewers to look at this painting and get that exact feeling. To get lost in the forest and the light, and to feel completely unencumbered.

Ready?

 

If you’d like to see some in-progress pics of this painting, here you go –






 

 

Running Free is sold, but you can <a href=”https:///available-paintings/#forest-paintings” target=”_blank”>see available forest paintings here</a>.

 

Want to be the first to see new paintings as they are released? Become a VIP! Click for details.

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!)

New botanical painting – I Remember It

Today I’d like to share a quote that captures the spirit of a new botanical painting.

“Enthusiasm is the electricity of life.” Gordon Parks

What are you enthusiastic about today?

 

When making this painting, I was enthusiastic about the field of dancing flowers I originally saw in Canada.

The colors, shapes, and smells were riveting, and I made a little oil painting on the spot.

Then back in my studio, over a period of years, I continued to revisit this theme in a variety of sizes and media, each time stretching myself in some new way.

This painting is now hanging in our bedroom at home –

Another reason for me to be enthusiastic today is a  new relationship with a beautiful art gallery outside of Denver, Colorado – Mirada Fine Art Gallery. So excited!!

Thanks for being here. Shine on, my beautiful and enthusiastic friend!

 

To see more available paintings, click here.

To see more paintings hanging in the homes of collectors, click here.

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

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

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

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

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.vanhart@gmail.com

Thanks for your interest!

Free eBook – Solo Exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art

This 28-page book features the richly colored oil paintings exhibited by Holly Van Hart at the Triton Museum of Art.

This book includes essays by DeWitt Cheng and Preston Metcalf –

Van Hart’s naturalistic yet symbolic paintings present their enigmatic subjects with both beauty and conviction, memorably
– DeWitt Cheng, Art writer for Art Ltd, Artillery, ARTnews, and Visual Art Source

powerful in its message of human connectivity
– Preston Metcalf, Chief Curator of the Triton Museum of Art

Click for FREE Instant Download

(This book is also available on Amazon for $27)

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

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.

A Full Life

Gardenias Nature | Abstract Oil Painting by Holly Van Hart | blue white pink green

A Full Life
30 x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart
$3,800
Purchase Info
Questions? Email Holly

 

My abstract nature paintings are inspired by life’s limitless possibilities!
Each painting is meant to convey a sense of plenty, fullness, color, prosperity, and opportunity.

This new painting, A Full Life, is now available. Contact holly.vanhart@gmail.com for details. Shipping is free for VIP members 🙂

 

 

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

Totally cool story about ‘Two Left Hands’

'Two Left Hands', 15“ x 11” (sold)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published in 2012

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.vanhart@gmail.com.

To see other available paintings, click here.

‘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?“)

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    😍    What fascinates you?    😍

Hello, my fearless friend.

What things in life fascinate you?  What do you really love?

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strong pull of what you truly love.”  — Rumi
My top loves include family & friends, spending time in nature, and exploring faraway places. And, of course, painting 🙂



 

High school starts this week for our sons, so we did some family outings to San Francisco and Santa Cruz. This is us as we walked over the Golden Gate bridge, through a thick fog bank. I really love spending time with these 3 men!

(That’s Erik on the left, and Ike on the right. Skyler snapped the photo.)

 

 

This painting, Following Your Fascinations (oil painting by HVH), is about seeking the things we truly love.

It found a new home this week in Los Angeles. Thank you Fred. I hope it brings you a lifetime of happiness!

 

Other landscape paintings are still available. Would you like to see them?  Click here –

 

Available Landscape Paintings

 

OK, my most amazing friend . . . three cheers to you for following your fascinations!

 

 

P.S. Into forests or flowers instead?

 

 

Spreading Love, 18 x 29″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
Available 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.

 

 

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!  🙂

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