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Free Book! Paintings Paired with Inspirations (instant download here)

Tell me about the texture in your paintings

s and eggs) and emphasize their rhythm.

Most of my texture is created using heavy acrylics in an underpainting. That is, my first step is to apply acrylic paints to the stretched canvas (usually red paint, applied thickly), and let that dry before starting the first layer of oil paints. The textured swirls are made using a variety of tools; my favorites being a painting knife and a hair comb. (You can see a video demo of the texture process here.)

The texture sometimes aligns with the subject of the painting, and sometimes goes against the natural lines of what’s represented in the painting. That’s on purpose. It mirrors the complexity of our lives.

Thanks for your interest!

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Have a question to add to the top 50?  Ask away  (in the comments section below or send an email to holly.vanhart@gmail.com).

‘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

Abstract forest painting – Wandering in Wonder

New!

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 currently hanging in my home, but it could be in yours!

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

Purchase details

Try Before Your Buy program

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!

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.

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

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!

[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
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Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

Sweet Escape

We all need to escape sometimes!

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.

Loaded with lush flowers

‘Possibilities in Full Bloom’ is meant to convey the idea that life is chock full with possibilities.  The eggs in the nest are radiating warmth, and the magnolia tree is loaded with lush flowers.  Life abounds!

This painting was fun to create for many reasons.  One of my favorite parts was leaving the underlying red color and texture showing through  in many places.  (Can you see this?  Click on the image to see a larger version.)   To me, this gives the work a fresh feel.

In case you’re wondering . . . click here to read “What’s up with all the nests?

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

Video by Holly Van Hart – How a painting is created

Many of you have been curious about the painting process, and how paintings are created.  Watch this video to learn my take on this topic.

This is the first of a series of videos I’ll publish on how a painting is created.  Enjoy!

 

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.

Do you dig the warmth of the sun?

If you dig the warmth of the sun (like I do), please step into my forest.

‘The Grand Escape’ is fresh off the easel, not even dry yet!

Additional abstract forest paintings are available for sale here.

Questions? Email holly.vanhart@gmail.com

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.

Award of Merit – California Fine Art Competition

“You too I welcome”
24 x 30″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)

Re-sharing a special moment from 2009 . . . I have some good news to share with you.  My painting “You too I welcome” was accepted into the California Fine Art Competition and Exhibition, and it won an Award of Merit.

The juror was Jack Ogden, Professor Emeritus, California State University, Sacramento. Jack Ogden has received numerous awards and honors over his career, and his work is in the permanent collections of many museums.

Thank you Professor Ogden. I’m feeling very honored 🙂

Standing Naked in Front of a Crowd

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

How does an artist feel before a big art exhibition?

Like standing naked in front of a crowd!

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

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

Posh, oil painting by Holly Van Hart

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

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

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

Holly

 

 

Embracing the Light

Here’s my latest abstracted forest painting –

Abstract landscape painting | forest trees land sky | green blue yellow brown red | painting by Holly Van Hart | Best of Houzz | Architect of Peace

Embracing the Light
48 x 60″ mixed media painting on canvas by Holly Van Hart
$7,500

This pic shows Embracing the Light installed (center) –

Abstracted forest paintings by Holly Van Hart
Woodland Symphony, Embracing the Light, Autumn Dance, and The Stories They Tell

Please contact holly.vanhart@gmail.com or 650 646 5590 for availability and pricing. Your email or call is welcome any time.

Blue is for strength and leadership

When you see the color blue, what do you think of?

In the art world, the color blue represents trust, loyalty, strength, and leadership.

Truth is, when painting How Dreams are Made (above), none of that was top of mind. ‘Dreaming big’ was in my thoughts. Read/see more here

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 www.facebook.com/hollyvanhart  or  Email me with your thoughts – holly.vanhart@gmail.com

 

Related links: 

 

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 hollyvanhart.com/commission-painting .

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

Divulging the Secrets

Living a life of abundance means so many different things. For me, part of the satisfaction of an abundant life includes sharing with others.

I love it when friends, artists, gallery owners, curators and others share their secrets with me. Even after all these years here on earth, I have plenty to learn about life, love, art & everything!

And I’m happy to divulge my secrets in return. (I’m pretty much an open book, so there really aren’t many secrets. But I’m not a chatty person so you might have to ask me to draw them out.)

‘Divulging the Secrets’ is a celebration of sharing!

 

For more info and to purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.  (Also, you can check out the try-before-you-buy program, and purchase info.)

 

To see more flower paintings and read more about their inspirations, click here.

Abstract landscape painting – Sky Song

Sky Song is my latest abstract landscape painting. It’s full of heavily textured oil paints, which have a gorgeous sheen.

The distant mountains are gray and pink and purple and blue, and have an air of mystery.

The sky is alive with light. It’s singing a song. Can you hear it?

Here’s a flyover of ‘Sky Song’, so you can see the buttery texture of the oil paint –

To purchase, please email holly.vanhart@gmail.com. Purchase details

If you live in Silicon Valley, delivery and installation are free. If you don’t, shipping is free!

Would you like to see this painting in person?

Try Before Your Buy program

‘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.

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.

 

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.

 

Best of Houzz Award

Just found out I was awarded Best of Houzz 2017 award for my abstract nature paintings. This is the second year in a row. Wow, feeling so honored!

Silicon Valley artist Holly Van Hart awarded Best of Houzz 2016 for her commissioned nature paintings

Huge thanks to my supporters and collectors and reviewers on Houzz. You are the best!

If you’re not already familiar with Houzz, it is the leading platform for home design and remodeling. It is chock full of awesome images that people use to find design ideas for their homes.

To see what my paintings look like in collectors’ homes, look at the pics below (or to the right, depending on your screen). Here’s one example –

You're InvitedOil and acrylic paintingHung in collector's entryway

You’re Invited
Oil and acrylic painting
Hung in collector’s entryway

These awards were based in part on the many 5-star reviews received on Houzz and other testimonials from collectors.

Thank you to all the reviewers. You made my day (my year!)

 


Just released . . . Free Art Book!

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

See Holly Van Hart’s top 25 paintings, paired with favorite inspirational quotes. Free Book full of exciting images and ideas!

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