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You're invited! Solo show at Gallery South (details here)

Taking a hiatus

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

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@hollyvanhart.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

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Paradise Found

Here’s a video on the making of Paradise Found –

Questions? Interested in hanging this painting in your home? Contact holly@hollyvanhart.com. Click here for purchase info.

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!

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@hollyvanhart.com or 650 646 5590 for availability and pricing. Your email or call is welcome any time.

Our biggest, boldest dreams

The daisies in ‘Dream Field’ represent our dreams, some dreams bigger than others, some growing and developing, others on the decline, and all of them dancing around through the turbulence and beauty that we call life.

Here’s wishing that our biggest, boldest dreams come true!

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Free eBook – Top 7 Designer Secrets

Want to choose exciting colors for your home, but not sure what goes with what?

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How do you know when a painting is done?

When I look at the painting and am pleased with it, then it’s done.

To be pleased with it, the painting needs to convey the desired idea or feeling or mood, be well designed, well executed, and have some kind of pop or surprise or glow that makes it special. If it’s missing any one of these things, it’s not finished!

I sometimes have the feeling that a painting is done, but then after a couple of weeks, decide it needs further tweaks or even major changes.  Then it goes back to the easel.

On rare occasions, I know right away when a painting is done.  It feels like a personal breakthrough, and all the stars and moons have aligned, and I’m really digging what I see in front of me.   Wish I had more of those days 🙂

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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A feeling of quiet and serenity

Painting by Holly Van Hart, landscape, lake, fallen leaf lake, morning, light, reflections

Morning Light
40″ x 30″ oil painting on canvas by Holly Van Hart (sold)

A few times a year my family spends the weekend at or near Lake Tahoe, CA. It’s a gorgeous place, with expansive views of the Sierras just about everywhere you look. And what makes it even more special is enjoying it with friends!

One Saturday morning, before everyone else was awake, I took a walk along the lake and snapped lots of photos. Back in my studio, I painted ‘Morning Light’. Morning is my favorite time of the day, and my aim was to convey a feeling of quiet and serenity.

Gallery Wrap side view of "Morning Light"

Gallery Wrap side view of “Morning Light”

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.

 

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@hollyvanhart.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

Do you believe in unlimited possibilities?

Unlimited Possibilities, 20" x 20"

Unlimited Possibilities
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

“Unlimited Possibilities” is all about the unlimited possibilities of the baby birds, not yet hatched, with their whole lives still ahead of them.

Parallels can be easily be made with our own lives and our children’s lives. No matter what age we might be now, the possibilities ahead really are unlimited.  How exciting!

If you look closely, you can see underlying texture on this painting is oval shaped; this is meant harmonize with the shape of the eggs themselves.

The texture adds complexity to the painting, and symbolizes the complexity of nature and our lives.  We may have unlimited possibilities in our lives, but it’s not always easy to take advantage of them.

Unlimited PossibilitiesSide view20" x 20" oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Unlimited Possibilities
Side view
20″ x 20″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Unlimited Possibilities was one of 18 paintings in my solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art. For videos, pics, and a Triton Museum catalog (free), 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!

    😍    What fascinates you?    😍

    😍    What fascinates you?    😍

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The strong pull of what you truly love<!–


Fellow art lover,

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



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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.

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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.

Adding some sparkle to your day!

My intent for Winter Sparkle was to create a winter scene that draws you in.

The sky had to be sparkly, and give the effect of light shimmering through the trees. (Turns out this required about 20 layers of light blue, yellow and pink paints.)

I wanted the path to be inviting.

The painting was intended to give the feeling of one of those cold, wintry days that makes you feel so alive!

This painting is inspired by the same forest as my painting entitled Summer Sparkle. Same forest, different season. To see the latest spring, summer, fall, and winter forest paintings, click here.

To see the pics and video of the making of Summer Sparkle, click 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.

Birch Aspen Trees and Forest | Abstract Forest Painting by Holly Van Hart | oil and acrylic | gray green yellow

The Grand Escape
30 x 40″ oil and acrylic painting by Holly Van Hart
Purchase

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@hollyvanhart.com

 

Related links: 

 

New landscape painting – Grazing the Light

Landscapes are a subject I come back to again and again. Even in the midst of working on a series of forest or flower paintings, sometimes I feel compelled to paint an abstract landscape using oil paints.

With ‘Grazing the Light’, I was aiming to capture the feeling of an overcast day, but with some sunlight breaking through.  Across the expanse of water, we can see mountains near and far. But what is that splash of yellow/orange? Is it man-made or natural? It is meant to add mystery to the painting.

It’s hard to see in this digital image, but etched into the foreground of this painting (bottom left) is part of a poem by Walt Whitman, “Every hour is an unspeakably perfect miracle”.

If you’d like to see a higher resolution image, please lmk.

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

Purchase details

Try Before Your Buy program

Thank you!

Birch aspen forest tree painting by Holly Van Hart | abstract | autumn | orange brown yellow gray blue black

Autumn Dance
48 x 36″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
Purchase
Buy a print

Just wanted to thank you, my friends, collectors, followers, and other art-lovers, for all your support and enthusiasm. You’re awesome. My life is richer because of you!

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.

Wishing you a fabulous day!

Abstract nest painting by Holly Van Hart | Nest, eggs | Brown, blue, white | Oil painting

Soft Start
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

Wishing that your day will be as full of exciting possibilities . . .

as the eggs being incubated in this cozy feathered nest.

(Do any birds’ nests actually look like this? Well, yes, kind of . . . learn more here.

Holly

P.S. Soft Start was featured in my solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art.  Would you like to know more about the show? You’re invited to read my interview in the Huffington Post, or to view the pics and videos from the museum exhibition.

 

 

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.

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

Did you always want to be an artist?

Abstract flower painting by Holly Van Hart | Blue, red, orange | Inspired by poppies

Dreaming in Full Color
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

When we’re young, most of us have big dreams for our lives. Have your dreams changed over time? Do you find that some doors have closed, but other (perhaps better) doors have opened?

Do you dream in full color?

My long-term dream of being a professional artist has come true, and my sons are turning into fine young men, but many of my other dreams have slipped away. Or maybe they just haven’t happened yet (like my dream of exercising consistently).

At the age of 15, my older son Skyler dreams of being a pediatrician, a software developer, or an ‘IT guy’. Erik, age 13, wants to be an architect or engineer or inventor like his Dad. At this age, all doors are open. Anything is possible! They are, as they should be, dreaming in full color. Isn’t that grand?

In this painting, ‘Dreaming in Full Color’, the flowers represent our dreams, shown in their full glory. The flowers are dancing around through the turbulence and beauty that we call life. Some dreams won’t survive this turbulence, but others will become bigger and stronger.

When it comes to your dreams, here’s wishing that your most color-full ones come true!

Your friend,
Holly

P.S. This post is based on one of the Top 50 Questions I’m asked as an artist (usually at cocktail parties and other fun events). To see the Top 50, click here.

Lessons Learned – Building your own website

Abstract Forest Trees Painting Holly VanHart | Abstract Nature Painting | Inspired by forest in New York state | green red brown blue

Summer Sparkle
48 x 36″ oil and acrylic painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

A couple of years ago, I set about creating a brand new art website (the site you’re on right now). I learned lots, had fun, and am happy with the result. But it took waaaaaaaaay longer than expected.

So that others could learn from my experience, I wrote an article about lessons learned called “Build Your Own Website in 10 Minutes (Not)“. The article is posted on Alyson Stanfield’s art marketing blog, artbizcoach.com blog. Read the article here.

btw, if you’re an artist, I’d highly recommend subscribing to the artbizcoach.com blog.

Do you have any experience with building your own website? If so, we’d love to hear from you – holly@hollyvanhart.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.

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