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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.

What inspires you to paint?

This is one of the top questions I get asked as an artist!

I am inspired by . . .

– the painting process itself – creating something new and different using canvas, pigments, and my imagination

– the idea of communicating ideas and feelings and energy to other people through the finished work, and

– seeing the paintings resonate with you, the viewer. This is one of the very best parts!

What inspires *you* and keeps you invigorated?

 

To see how I answered this question in my ‘Talk Art’ TV interview, click here.

 

This is one of the top 50 questions I get asked as an artist.  Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions (with answers!)

 

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.
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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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[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.

 

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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!

New tree painting! Mirror World

With this new tree painting, Mirror World, I wanted a feeling of mystery.

The trees in the distance have curiously different colors from the nearer trees. What’s going on there? Let’s take a stroll down this path and see for ourselves!

With every painting, I have an objective for the mood and look of the painting, and a separate artistic objective.

The artistic objective is typically a challenge to myself using new colors or style or different size brushes or canvas.

Here, I challenged myself to paint more loosely, using bigger brushes and with less defined edges. Can you see the difference compared to my other tree paintings? Please drop me a line at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

 

Would you like to see all available paintings? Click here to request a digital catalog.

Larger than Life!

Celebration30" x 40" oil on canvas$2,100Purchase Info

Celebration/Larger Than Life
54 x 72″ Oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
Buy a print

The larger-than-life sized nest and eggs in ‘Celebration’ are meant to represent the potential of the human spirit, nestled in nature’s bed. Read more here, “What’s up with all the nests?

There’s also a personal story behind ‘Celebration’ . . .

Birds will build their nests with whatever materials are available to them. One spring when I was a girl, my mother sprinkled snippets of red yarn in the yard near our summer home.  She then encouraged us to see what happened next.  Sure enough, a bird built a nest using the beautiful red yarn.  (Sure wish I had a photo of that now!)

In ‘Celebration’ the birds have built their nest with twigs and ribbons.  To me, ribbons have a celebratory feel, hence the title of the painting.

This painting was created in phases over many months.  It leverages what I learned about painting nests and eggs from the other Possibilities paintings, as well as reference photos for the ribbons.

Are you in the mood to celebrate?

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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.vanhart@gmail.com.  Free shipping in the US.

Purchase details

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New abstract landscape painting – Dreams that Dance

Hi there!

Here’s the story behind Dreams That Dance.  Some of my paintings are designed in advance, and others (like Dreams That Dance) are the result of a more experimental process.

When starting Dreams That Dance, I aimed to push the boundaries of abstraction with a lively and mysterious landscape. I chose the colors (light greens and blues, offset by darker browns) and set off on an adventure, not knowing what the future would hold.

The horizon was demarcated with a straight gray-brown line; then, acrylic paints were used in an experimental watercolor-like fashion to approximate the sky, clouds, land and water. The paints were applied with a brush and allowed to drip in ways that I found pleasing, and then the canvas was lay flat to dry. (The non-pleasing drips got wiped away or otherwise eliminated.) I repeated this with 15 or more layers of paint until satisfied with the overall result.

In my work, I like to balance a feeling of peacefulness with a certain liveliness and happy energy. Does that show through here?

 

If you’d like to see more, please click here to see additional available landscape paintings.

Does drinking help with creativity?

Question #23   Does drinking help with creativity?

For me, the answer is both yes and no.  With a glass of wine or two, my mind sometimes opens up to new ideas.

But if I have a drink and then try to apply paint to canvas, mostly I make a big mess.

So, the trick is to harness the ideas without messing up any in-progress paintings!

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Have a question to add to the top 50?  Email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com. I’d love to hear from you.

Latest Art News – Solo show at Gallery South

Fellow art lover,

Greetings! What are you doing on the night of Saturday November 17, 2018?


Busy getting ready for the solo show at Gallery South in Saratoga

If you live in Silicon Valley, please join me at the grand opening of my show at Gallery South in Saratoga. It’s also the grand opening of the gallery itself!

The party starts at 7pm. Food and drinks are being served. Click for details.

The latest paintings will be on exhibit. Here’s a sneak peek . . .


Relaxing in the Pause
31 x 50″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
Inspired by a local scene in the hills of Saratoga.


Summer’s Lavish Brush
28 x 36″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
A splash of flowers! Inspired by the extended warm weather we’ve been experiencing here in Silicon Valley.


Freedom
10 x 10″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
Returning to a favorite subject – the ocean & sailboats. Gift-sized!


The holidays are approaching quickly.
Why not treat a loved one (or yourself) to the gift of original art?
You deserve it!

Join me!
Solo show at Gallery South
Hope to see you there, my fabulous friend.

xoxo

P.S. Don’t live in Silicon Valley? No problem. Please check out my catalog of available paintings. Shipping is free for VIP members (that’s you!).

Mountains, sea, sky in blue, orange and gray, mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart | abstract flow technique

Magnetic Dreams
48 x 60″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart

Magnetic Dreams
48 x 60″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart
Read the story behind the painting.

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.

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.

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!

 

Ideas Everywhere!

Many many layers (and weeks) later, here is the finished painting . . .

So you can see the details, here’s a ‘flyover’ of Ideas Everywhere –

And here is how Ideas Everywhere looks in my home –

Abstract forest landscape painting by Holly Van Hart - Ideas Everywhere - installed

‘Ideas Everywhere’
This painting is sold. To see available paintings, click here.

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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”

If I were an egg

Hi there. Meet ‘Possibilities on High’.

In the upper right of this painting, you can see a big and colorful bird’s nest.  It’s sitting up high on the branches of huge magnolia tree, on a warm summer day.

The nest looks peacefully and securely settled in the tree.  At the same time, it is quite exposed.

If I were an egg, I’d love to live in this nest in a magnolia tree (despite the risks of exposure).  Would you?

(If you’re wondering “What’s up with all the nests?”, click here.)

Originally published in 2013, and just updated and republished

Why do we love birch trees so much?

Do you love birch and aspen trees as much as I do? These days, I’m happily immersed in autumnal birch tree forests.

Here are some details from my in-progress painting, Autumn Dance (48 x 36″) –

Abstract Birch |Aspen painting by Holly Van Hart, detail

Abstract Birch |Aspen painting by Holly Van Hart, detail

Abstract Birch |Aspen painting by Holly Van Hart, detail

There’s something about them that seems to be universally appealing. For one thing, they are so gorgeous.

Birch and aspens look very similar to each other, so I had to look up what the differences are. If you’re curious, here are the highlights –

  • Birch are famous for having bark that peels back like paper; aspen bark does not peel.
  • Birch trees grow in the eastern US and Canada, while Aspens are found all over North America, Europe and Russia.
  • And, amazingly . . . each ‘colony’ of aspen trees actually shares a single large root system. The root system can be huge, covering multiple acres, and can be thousands of years old. As old trees die off, the root system sends up new trunks. Incredible!

    How about you . . . what are your favorite trees?

btw, here’s the completed painting –

And here’s the completed painting hanging on my living room wall (left) –

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

‘Autumn Dance’ ‘Summer Sparkle’ and ‘Amid the Scent of Roses’

These paintings are hanging in my living room, but they could be in yours 🙂

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

 

To see all available paintings, click here.

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!

Abstract forest painting, ‘Every Restless Night’

Hi there! Thanks for being here to check out my new work.  Here’s the latest!

This painting has gotten great feedback & has been featured on the cover of Denver Life magazine.

Denver Life October 2019 - painting by Holly Van Hart over fireplace

Every Restless Night, 48×48″ painting by Holly Van Hart
Featured on the cover of Denver Life Magazine

Questions? Interested? Please contact Steve Sonnen of Mirada Fine Art gallelry, (303) 697-9006, info@miradafineart.com or holly.vanhart@gmail.com

    😍    What fascinates you?    😍

Hello, my fearless friend.

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

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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

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!

Grand Prize, California Statewide Painting Competition

Originally published in 2014 (and re-published now just for fun!)

San Jose Mercury News

Holly Van Hart wins first place at Statewide Painting Competition

Saratoga resident Holly Van Hart poses with ‘Possibilities Abound’, the work that won her the Triton Museum of Art’s Statewide Painting Competition (Photograph by George Sakkestad, San Jose Mercury News)

Saratoga artist places first in Triton Museum competition

By Khalida Sarwari    POSTED:   01/06/2014

If anyone was looking for Holly Van Hart on Christmas Day, she could be found in the studio of her Saratoga home “painting up a storm.”

Fresh from placing first in the Triton Museum of Art’s 2013 statewide painting competition, Van Hart has been busy preparing for a series of exhibitions this year.

“I have a good idea of how many works I need. I just have to work hard at creating good works,” Van Hart said just weeks after a reception where she was announced as one of two first-place winners in the Triton competition for her 30-by-40-inch painting Possibilities Abound. Along with the work of fellow first-place winner Cuong Nguyen of San Jose, Van Hart’s painting, depicting a nest cradling three eggs, was tops among 92 works that were ultimately selected for exhibition from more than 1,000 entries.

Van Hart’s prize is a solo exhibition at Triton in November. For that, Van Hart is building on the theme of Possibilities Abound, one of several abstract nest paintings she has all over her home.

For Van Hart, it’s the symbolism that draws her to the subject matter. Nests, she said, represent our homes, and eggs stand for lives yet to be hatched and the possibilities they have ahead of them.

Eggs also signify self-invention, a concept that Van Hart applied in her personal life in June 2013 when she quit her job at Microsoft to pursue oil painting full time.

“I was a high-tech sales operations director for many years. I had a really good job and it was fun, but this is funner,” she said with a laugh.

It’s a decision she has not regretted, she said.

“The whole time [I was working], as a hobby I was doing art, drawing, watercolor, acrylics and then oil,” she said. “I always liked it as a hobby, and I got more and more passionate about it. When I thought the time was right, I switched to doing it full time.”

The extra time has given Van Hart the opportunity to immerse herself in her hobby, and although she no longer keeps a strict 9-to-5 routine, that’s not to say she doesn’t work hard at her craft.

“I work every day,” she said. “I paint full time Monday to Friday, all day. On weekends I sometimes paint or do art business stuff.”

Aside from abstracts, she also enjoys nature and landscape paintings. Her past works include figures of people in action and a series of works based on the sculptures of Rodin.

Van Hart’s paintings have been exhibited in Los Gatos. In 2009, the Los Gatos Art Association named her as its artist of the year.

This year will present several opportunities for the public to view her works. In March, Van Hart will display her paintings at Mike’s Cafe in Palo Alto, and in May she will be participating in Silicon Valley Open Studios, an annual event when artists open their home studios to the general public, allowing them to converse with the artists and purchase artworks directly.

Triton’s Statewide Painting Competition is held every two years. This was the first time in the museum’s history that two first-place winners were selected. The exhibition featuring the 92 selected works will run through Feb. 2. The Triton Museum is at 1505 Warburton Ave., in Santa Clara.

 

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.

 

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 🙂

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