skip to Main Content
Free Book! Paintings Paired with Inspirations (instant download 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!

 

This painting is sold, but you can see available forest, flower, and landscape paintings here.  (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.

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!

‘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.

Purchase
Commission a custom painting similar to this
Give a Gift Certificate

Let’s be friends

Learn more

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.

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

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

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

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

And I try my best not to eat the paints 🙂

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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

Nest at Night

Abstract Nature Painting by Holly Van Hart, nest eggs, red, moon

Nest at Night
36″ x 18″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart
Sold
Commission a nest painting

I’d like to introduce you to ‘Nest at Night’, the latest member of my Possibilities series.

‘Nest at Night’ is a more abstracted painting than most of the others in this series.  I was inspired by –
*  the idea (the virtually limitless possibilities we have in our lives if we choose to embrace them),
*  the mood (mysterious), and
* the color (a very deep red).

As I was painting, I got absorbed (and even lost) in the reds.  It took many layers of oil paint (and believe it or not, many different colors)  to achieve the desired hue and depth.   The dark reds and the sliver of a moon contribute to the mysterious feel of this work.

Do you like mystery in artwork?  I’d love to know;  please comment below.

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

 

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.

Walk on the Wild Side (botanical painting)

Walk on the Wild Side
30 x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart
$3800

Interested? Please email holly.vanhart@gmail.com, or call 650 646 5590.

Thanks for being here 🙂

Are we having fun yet?

Having Fun
Oil painting on canvas by Holly Van Hart
(self portrait)
20 x 16″

“Having Fun” was intended to capture an amazing afternoon spent with 3 girlfriends. We went on a huge hike, and at the top of the mountain, took some goofy photos of each other.

A photo was snapped of me. To keep the moment alive, I used it as inspiration for this painting.

A lot of people don’t realize this is a self-portrait. But my intent was to capture the vibrancy of the moment (not the details of facial features & skin colors).

When I finish a painting, I often let it rest out of sight for a week or two, and then take it out with a fresh eye and make some improvements.

“Having Fun” was different. I finished the painting relatively quickly (for me at least) and then felt it was done.  It didn’t get the normal ‘out of sight’ treatment that my other paintings get.

What do you think . . . will this painting stand the test of time?

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

 

Related links: 

 

Top 50 Questions I’m asked as an artist

In “Top Fifty Questions”, I answer the questions I’m most frequently asked as an artist (usually asked at parties and other fun events). For the answers, click on the links. Enjoy!

Paradise Found

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

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

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!

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.

What bird nest was this painting inspired by?

‘Soft Start’ was inspired by the nests of a bird called a swallow.  Swallows live on all the earth’s continents except Antarctica.  They use the feathers of other birds to line their nests and keep their eggs toasty warm.

Eggs that are incubated in such a cozy nest are surely full of possibilities, but with a softer start than most.

 

btw, 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 and catalog from the Triton museum exhibition (and get a free download of Triton museum catalog).

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

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Here’s an interesting question for you  . . . ‘What advice would you give to your younger self?’

If you feel like sharing your answer, please drop me a note at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

After giving lots of thought to this question, and tossing aside a few false starts, I found my answer . . . ‘To be successful in your career, you need to work smart, work hard, and add a healthy dose of self promotion.’ In the past I was pretty good at the 1st two (working hard and smart), and totally oblivious to the self-promotion part.

I’m starting to get better at it now (if I didn’t, no one would know my art existed!), but still have plenty to learn.

Do you have any tips? I’m all ears!

Holly

P.S.  Speaking about self-promotion, the painting shown above is named ‘Every Restless Night’. It is sold, but available paintings can be seen online here.  Free delivery for VIP members. Free local installation and hanging in the Silicon Valley area.  If you’re interested, please email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.


New! Petite Treasures

The holidays are almost here. Need a special gift for your special someone?

New! Petite Treasures are gift-sized original paintings by yours truly. They are created with the same great care used with my large-scale paintings, and with the highest quality archival materials. Each painting is museum-quality and ready to hang in the finest of homes and work spaces.

Click to see all available Petite Treasures

Treat yourself or a loved one! Click to see all available Petite Treasures.

 

Additional info here –  Purchase / Guarantee / Gift Certificates,  Petite TreasuresTry Before You Buy,  Studio Visit

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

What is ‘failing toward success’?

Fail fast, fail often, fail forward . . . you may have heard these terms before. They mean that you have to fail many times before you succeed.

I prefer the more descriptive, happier-sounding ‘failing toward success’. If you’ve ever had the experience of painting (or any challenging creative endeavor), you’ll know that not every attempt yields success.

Even the most experienced artists create paintings that fail. Lots of them. That’s one way we learn, and it’s a natural part of the artistic process.

Recently I invested in a new digital system that will help me ‘fail toward success’ more quickly, and to create my very best work.  Here it is . . .

New computer, monitor, painting tablet, and painting software - this set-up will help me 'fail to succeed' more quickly

New computer, monitor, painting tablet, and painting software – this set-up will help me ‘fail toward success’ more quickly

For now, I use this digital set-up to design paintings, and then use traditional canvas and oil paints to create the paintings. After 3 long months of slogging through user manuals and YouTube tutorials, I’m finally at a place where I can use digital tools to focus on creative design (vs fumbling around with the technology).

‘Your Highest Potential’ (above) is one of my paintings created with this new process. The name is a story in itself that I’ll share with you sometime.

In the future, using these new digital tools may morph me into a ‘mixed media’ artist. But for now I’m still in love with the beautiful, textured, buttery sheen of oil paints and don’t plan to give them up any time soon.

Bet you have have lots of experiences with ‘failing toward success’. What are your most memorable ones?  Please email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com. I’d love to hear about them.

 

On a different note . . . are you moving into a new home, remodeling, or just freshening up a room? Are you wondering how to jazz things up with splashes of color (artfully)? If so, you can get a Free Color Guide by clicking here – ‘The Top 7 Designer Secrets for Adding Color to Your Space‘.

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

Vast Worlds Unfolding

Vast worlds tumbled around in my head, unfolded through my arm and paintbrush, mixed with gorgeous blue and gray hues on my palette, and landed as an abstract painting on this large 6 foot x 5 foot canvas. Now known as “Vast World’s Unfolding”, this painting is currently hanging in my home, but it could be hanging in yours 🙂

Purchase details

Studio visit

Try Before You Buy program

 

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!

Painting Inspirations Book

 

Free eBook!

Treat yourself to
inspiring art and ideas.

 

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

Free Instant Download. Enter your email here –

(Printed book available on Amazon for $19.99)

 

New! Slipping Between the Notes

With this new tree painting Slipping Between the Notes, the “notes” are the leaves on the trees. My intention was to paint a sunny, happy forest that tempted you to come in and play.

Will you please join me here, running around and slipping between the notes?

Here are some in-progress pics for this painting –

Here’s the finished painting –

And here’s how it would look against a blue wall –

Want to see all available paintings? Click here to request a digital catalog.

The Stories They Tell

Did you know that aspen colonies can be thousands of years old? In fact, one of the world’s oldest and most massive living organisms is a grove of quaking aspens. It’s in Utah and it is 80,000 years old.

Is aspens could talk, could you imagine the stories they would tell?!

Studio Visit

Try Before You Buy

New Tree Painting Inspired by a New York Forest

Here’s the story of the inspiration and making of a new tree painting named Summer Sparkle –

Inspiration for Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | son | Forests Trees | New York

Erik (our younger son) gave me a tour of the lush New York forest. He drove my Dad’s ATV. I sat behind him and snapped photos.

Inspiration for Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | son | Forests Trees | New York | Photo

One of the 100+ photos I took while on the ATV that afternoon.
 

In keeping with my theme of limitless possibilities, I’m inspired by subjects that reveal life and growth and abundance. In this case, lush green trees were everywhere. I also like the sense of motion in this pic.

Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | in progress painting | Forests Trees

Back in the studio . . . the start of a new forest painting, ‘Summer Sparkle’

Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | in progress painting | Forests Trees

In progress pic of ‘Summer Sparkle’ (detail)

Abstract Forest Painting | Holly Van Hart | in progress painting | Forests Trees

Completed painting – Summer Sparkle
48 x 36″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Abstract-Nature-Paintings | Autumn Dance | SummerSparkle-AmidTheScentofRoses-by-HollyVanHart | Installed paintings | Living Room

Autumn Dance‘ ‘Summer Sparkle’ and ‘Amid the Scent of Roses
They are hanging in my living room, but they could be in yours :-).

 

This story was first published for my VIP subscribers. If you would like to be first to see new paintings, please become a VIP.

To see all tree and forest paintings, click 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.vanhart@gmail.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.vanhart@gmail.com.  Free shipping in the US.

Purchase details

Try Before Your Buy program

Gallery Exhibitions

My work can be seen in ongoing exhibitions at these fine art galleries –  The Studio Shop, Mirada Fine Art, and JCO’s Art Haus.

These paintings (and more) can be viewed at the galleries –

Back To Top