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A passion for lovely things

Meet “Posh”.  In this swirl of shiny ribbons, three eggs are being incubated by parents who have a passion for lovely things.

We all share a passion for beauty.  Some of us prefer the beauty of nature, others prefer human-made beauty.  And many of us (like the birds that built this nest) seek a big dose of each!

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

 

 

Aspen painting – A Hundred Yellow Ribbons

A playful and celebratory painting . . . aspens draped with dreamy turquoise and yellow gold ribbons.

Don’t be shy. Call me or email me with questions or for purchase info (408 309 5564, holly.vanhart@gmail.com). Shipping is free for VIP members.

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

Related info –

Available paintings
Commissions
Studio visit
Purchase details
Try Before You Buy program

 

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.vanhart@gmail.com

Amazing Portrayals of Light

If you look at a painting of a mountain or lake or sky and then gasp because of its beauty, it’s often because of an amazing portrayal of light.

Two of the all-time masters at portraying light were JMW Turner and Claude Monet. You’ve probably heard of them  🙂


“Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight”, JMW Turner, 1835

Turner was known as ‘the painter of light’, and was one of the greatest British landscape painters of his time.  In the above work, take a look at Turner’s portrayal of the moonlight on the clouds and in the water, and the firelight and its reflections. Amazing!


“Haystacks (Sunset)”, Claude Monet, 1891

Twenty years after Turner’s death, Claude Monet founded Impressionism. Impressionism was all about the portrayal of light, and Monet would sometimes work on a dozen paintings a day; each one depicted a slightly different aspect of light.

Monet would continue working on these paintings over the course of days, switching from one painting to the next when the time and light were just right.

“Haystacks (Sunset)”, above, is one excellent example. What do you think of those sunset purples and reds? They just take my breath away.

“Morning Light”
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)

This last work (very humbly put after the two above it) is mine. It is here as an example of a painting that was intended to capture the morning light over a beautiful little lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.

Painting light was (and is) the focus of a great many artists.  Other masters include Vermeer, Valazquez, and Rembrandt.

Who are your faves? Drop me a line at holly.vanhart@gmail.com and let me know.

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.

New Tree Painting – Standing tall

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

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

Here are some in-progress pics for this painting –

Here’s the finished painting –

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

‘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

Do you like to dream big?

Do you like to dream big?

I do!  As a die-hard optimist, my art (and life) are inspired by the idea of limitless possibilities.

In ‘How Dreams Are Made’, the flowers  represent the colorful opportunities in our lives . . . exciting and bountiful opportunities swirling all around us.

The visual inspiration came during a walk in Saratoga on a windy day. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught some gorgeous yellow flowers getting tossed around by the wind. A quick snap of the camera gave me a photo reference to work with.

Back in the studio, I quickly got to work. I wanted the painting to have a breezy look and lots of movement, like Field of Dreams.

This painting was fun, but it did not come easy!  There were many points when I wondered whether it would succeed.

For some strange reason, a lot of my best work comes after those sinking moments of doubt. I think the uncertainty frees me up to make bold decisions.

Speaking of which . . . bold decisions are exactly what we need to chase big dreams.  Let’s go for it!!

 

btw, you might also be interested in this article How do you know when a painting is done?  One of the hardest decisions in making a painting is knowing when to stop!

 

New Abstract Landscape painting – Magnetic Dreams

With Magnetic Dreams, I was aiming for a moody painting. The scene is imagined, drawn from a love of the ocean and memories of many captivating ferry rides.

The calm of the quiet mountains is juxtaposed with the energy of the watercolor techniques and drips. (This is a mixed media painting on canvas, using acrylic paints, but painted with watercolor techniques.)

Here are some detail pics –

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

New sunflower painting, Embracing It All

Sometimes we have to make choices in life . . . it’s this OR that. Here OR there. Tomorrow OR next week.

And sometimes we can do both! This AND that. Here AND there. Tomorrow AND next week. That’s called ‘Embracing It All’ –

Embracing It All is currently hanging in my living room. But it could be hanging in yours! Email holly.vanhart@gmail.com for details

New! A Deep Breath

As you scroll down, you’ll see the progression of a newly released painting called ‘A Deep Breath’.

But first, I’d like to share this quote because captures my inspiration for this painting . . .

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” — Alice Walker

Starting a new forest drip painting. After failing at a bunch of earlier drip paintings Im determined to approach this differently | Holly Van Hart

One cool way to make a perfect, imperfect painting is to rely on lots of drips. That’s what I’ll do here.

Forest landscape painting in progress | Holly Van Hart

The drips can look like trunks, and branches, and, well, drips.
In the art world, when you can clearly see signs that something is a painting (and not a photo and not a photorealistic painting), we call this “painterly”.
This will be painterly.

Detail - A Deep Breath - Mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart - 48 x 48

Here’s a detail view.
The closer up you look, the more painterly it gets!

And (take a deep breath) here’s the finished painting . . .

Abstract landscape forest painting by Holly Van Hart | A Deep Breath48 x 48 mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart$6500 | Brown white blue

A Deep Breath
48 x 48″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
$6500

Installed painting - Landscape forest - A Deep Breath - Mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart - 48 x 48 INSTALLED (Custom)

‘A Deep Breath’ is hanging in my entryway.
It could be hanging in yours!
Purchase info here
To purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com

To see all newly released paintings, click here.

For more paintings & inspirational quotes, click here.

Does it get lonely painting all day?

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

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

Question #25  Does it get lonely painting all day?

Nope. I treasure my time alone in the studio, and follow that with lots of time with friends and family. For me, it’s a perfect combination!!!

On a related note . . . on personality tests, the results usually show me to be 50% introvert and 50% extrovert. So it makes sense how this plays out in my work and personal life.

Which are you . . . extrovert or intravert?

btw, if you’re curious, here’s the finished painting . . .

Other questions I get asked a lot –

Do you listen to music when you’re painting?

What is the hardest part of creating a painting?

Yellow Passage

Yellow Passage, abstract nature painting, Holly Van Hart, red, yellow

Yellow Passage
20″ x 16″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)

“Yellow Passage” is meant to convey the majesty and mystery a large mountain range. The size and angular forms of the mountains indicate the majesty, and unusual red and yellow colors add intrigue.

This scene was inspired by my time in the Rocky Mountains a few years ago. I used a photograph as a very loose reference for the shapes of the mountains and the lake, and my imagination for the colors and texture.

This painting is sold and here’s how it looks in its new gorgeous home –

Yellow Passage, Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, installed

Yellow Passage, Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, installed

Thank you Susan and Steve for placing my artwork in your dining room. I’m honored! Love how you had it framed, and found just the right spot for it.

For more pics of paintings installed in collectors’ homes, click here.

Isn’t it hard to part with your paintings?

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

Question #4 –  Isn’t it hard to part with your paintings?

Yes, and no, mostly no.

Every time I set out to make a painting, I’m excited about the potential of it. If (after a few months of work) I complete it and am equally or more excited, than I know it’s done. I photograph the painting, post it to my website and blog, and start exhibiting it. When it sells, I feel a great sense of satisfaction and love the connection it establishes (or strengthens) with the collector.

I’ll make this analogy . . .
* Starting a painting is like having a newborn baby – exciting and exhausting.
* Making a painting is like raising a child – tons of work,  challenging and fun.
* Selling a painting is like having your child graduate university and land an excellent job – you’re elated that he/she has successfully ‘launched’ and sad that you’ll see less of him/her.  But mostly elated.

That’s my experience.  Do you have a similar experience to share?

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Get the latest paintings and exhibition info delivered to your inbox! Learn more here.

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

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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.

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.

 

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.

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?

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

“If not me, who? If not now, when?” These are the words that Dr. Leslie Field asked herself about tackling the huge problem of global warming.

Dr. Field is a prolific inventor, the Founder of SmallTech Consulting, a Consulting Prof at Stanford University, a mom of two, an art-lover, and the founder of Ice911.

Ice911 is a boots on the ground solution to reduce global warming.

In this Facebook Live interview with Dr. Field, we learn more about what inspired her to start Ice911, and the steps she is taking now to slow down global warming.

Click below to listen and to get inspired!

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

Abstract forest painting – Wandering in Wonder

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 sold, but you can see available forest, flower, landscape, and nest paintings here.

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

Questions?  Email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

 

Thanks for your interest!

 

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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!!!

The Boundary of Spring

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

Abstract landscape painting by Holly Van Hart

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

New landscape painting by Holly Van Hart

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

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

And here’s the finished painting . . .

What does this painting make you think of? I’ve heard many different interpretations from friends and other studio vistors!

New painting in entryway

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

More info
* For purchase info, click here.
* Questions? Interested in owning this painting? Please contact holly.vanhart@gmail.com or 650 646 5590. Your email or call is always welcome.
* See this painting in person with a studio visit or with the try-out program.

To see all available paintings, click here.

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