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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

[Top 50 Questions] What if you’re not inspired to paint?

Yes, that does happen sometimes, unfortunately.

Usually I’m brimming with ideas for paintings, and almost always have a few ideas that are competing for attention on any given day.

But on some days I’m just not feeling it. When that happens, I follow the advice of Chuck Close, an amazing and famous artist, who says “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.”

That’s my experience too.  Once I pick up a pencil or paintbrush, ideas will often reveal themselves.  Then I’m inspired all over again!

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Have a question to add to the top 50?  Please send an email to holly@hollyvanhart.com.

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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‘Safe’

'Safe', Original oil painting by Holly Van Hart

‘Safe’
24″ x 18″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart
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Looking at ‘Safe’ (above), you can see two hands from two different people.  Their right hands are coming together to protect their greatest treasure – a nest filled with eggs.

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

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

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

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

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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
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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?“)

 

What gives you the most joy?

Abstract nature painting by Silicon Valley artist Holly Van Hart, containing yellow daffodils and red-orange flowers

Your Highest Potential
30 x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart
$3,200
To purchase, contact Pam Regan at Bluestone Fine Art Gallery
or email holly@hollyvanhart.com

Joy, delight, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, rapture.
We want it all!

How do you like to create joy in your life?

If your world is anything like mine, sometimes the days are so busy that it takes conscious thought to make time for life’s most delightful moments.

For me, in any one week I’m abundantly happy when I’ve enjoyed all of these experiences –

  • time connecting with my 3 men (husband and 2 sons), other family, and friends
  • lots of laughter
  • absorbing nature and getting some exercise with hikes and bike rides
  • contributing to an important cause, usually with a focus on children, women, or art
  • feeling that I’ve advanced in life in some meaningful way (relationships, health, career)
  • painting, of course!
  • remembering to be full of thanks, wonder and awe for all of the above

What makes you happy?

 

If you have any tips for creating more bliss in life, please drop me a line at holly@hollyvanhart.com, I’m all ears.

 

Top questions I’m asked as an artist –

How do you know when a painting is done?

How much time does it take to complete a painting?

 

 

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!

‘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.

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)
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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.

‘Into the Light’

I wanted this painting to capture our attention with its warm autumn colors, and to tempt us to walk toward the light at the end of the path.

What’s down that path? There’s only one way to know.  Come with me, let’s go for a stroll!

 

btw, on a topic related to color . . . are you moving into a new home, remodeling, or just freshening up a room? Are you wondering how to use color successfully in your home or office? If so, you can get a Free Color Guide by clicking here – ‘The Top 7 Designer Secrets for Adding Color to Your Space‘.

Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

Totally cool story about ‘Two Left Hands’

'Two Left Hands', 15“ x 11” (sold)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published in 2012

Do you believe in fate?

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

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

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

To see all available paintings, click here.

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

[Top 50 Questions] Do you use photo references?

Yes, I use photo references for most paintings. Typically I’ll use 3-5 photo references as input for a single painting. The photos help me better understand the shape of the subject, its highlights, and shadows.

Often I’ll start a painting by creating a realistic rendering of the subject. Once I’m pleased with the design and the how the subject looks, then I put away the photo references and the real fun begins! I crank up the music, get loose, use my imagination, and start introducing exciting not-found-in-nature colors and shapes and rhythms. This is where the ‘abstract’ of my ‘abstract nature paintings’ comes in.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

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[Top 50 Questions] Can I see your work in a gallery?

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.)

Yes!  Thanks for asking 🙂

My paintings are in a bunch of galleries, listed here.

You can also see my work at my Open Studio and other upcoming events; click here for details.

 

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.

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!

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@hollyvanhart.com

 

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All the Corners of My Mind

Each of us has so many dreams. If we search in all the corners of our minds, we’ll find dreams for our relationships, careers, homes, travels, and much much more.

The flowers in this painting represent our dreams, shown in their full color and glory. By remembering to give thought and attention to each and every dream, we can live fuller and more abundant lives.

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

 

Let’s stay in touch!  Learn more

How much time does it take to complete a painting? (Video)

How much time does it take to complete a painting?

For me, it takes 4-6 months from start to finish (elapsed time) to complete an oil painting.  This is mostly because I paint in layers. Each painting has five to ten layers of paint, and each layer takes a week or so to dry.

Plus I need extra time at the end to reflect on the (almost) finished work and make any last improvements. Sometimes what seems like a minor improvement will make me soooo much happier with the end result.

The actual working time on any one painting is typically 60 – 120 hours. And sometimes more. It varies greatly by subject matter, size, and style. It also varies by how much I’m stretching myself into new territory; the more experimental, the longer it takes.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

 

New Book! Top Paintings paired with Favorite Inspirational Quotes.

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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

 

 

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