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

Abstract landscape – Following Your Fascinations

New!

Join me on a boat ride over a vast sea. We’ll be following our fascinations. We’re not sure where they may lead us, or how long we’ll be gone.

Sometimes the ocean will be smooth, and other times we’ll hit many waves. But it will always be worth the journey!

Here are some detail pics of ‘Following Your Fascinations’ –

If you’re browsing this website, you’ll see the ocean appear in many of my paintings. I absolutely love the water and the shoreline! I grew up in New York city, and lived in California for most of my adult life, so I’ve never been far from the coast. Lucky me!

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

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.vanhart@gmail.com

 

Related links: 

 

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?

In love with aspens – Abstracted forest painting by Holly Van Hart (new release)

Do you love aspen trees as much as I do?

These days, I’m happily immersed in autumnal aspen forests. There’s something about these trees that seems to be universally appealing. For one thing, they are so gorgeous.

Aspens and birches look very similar to each other. If you’re curious what the differences are, 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?

Here’s the completed painting, shown from two different angles –

This painting is hanging in my living room, but it could hanging be in yours 🙂

Would you like to see this painting in person?

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

Purchase details

Try Before You Buy program

 

‘Building the Future’

'Building the Future' Oil painting by Holly Van Hart

Building the Future
24″ x 18″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)
See available paintings here

‘Building the Future’ is about the choices we make for ourselves, and the excitement of preparing for a big life-change.

If the hands in this painting look at all familiar,  it may be because they were inspired by Rodin’s sculpture ‘The Three Muses”.  To see some of my earlier work inspired by Rodin, click here.

This is the first of a few paintings in my Possibilities series that were inspired by Rodin.  Living in Silicon Valley, we’re close to Stanford University and its amazing Rodin Sculpture Garden.  I love any excuse to get back there!  Stay tuned for more . . .

(If you’re curious about the Possibilities series, you can read more here, “What’s up with all the eggs and nests?“)

Comments?

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

Thank you!

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

A Full Life

Gardenias Nature | Abstract Oil Painting by Holly Van Hart | blue white pink green

A Full Life
30 x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart
$3,800
Purchase Info
Questions? Email Holly

 

My abstract nature paintings are inspired by life’s limitless possibilities!
Each painting is meant to convey a sense of plenty, fullness, color, prosperity, and opportunity.

This new painting, A Full Life, is now available. Contact holly.vanhart@gmail.com for details. Shipping is free for VIP members 🙂

 

 

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.

Can you feel the ocean breeze?

Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, blue, landscape, palm trees

Palm Winds
30″ x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart (sold)

Welcome to the tropics!

As you view “Palm Winds”, can you feel the warm wind on your skin? This painting is meant to instill a feeling of peacefulness from the beauty of the trees, sea, and sky. The empty picnic tables are inviting you to sit down and have a meal. It is a hot day, and the wind is offsetting the tropical heat.

The inspiration for this painting draws on my travels to Tahiti, Thailand, Costa Rica and other places of tropical awesomeness.  In addition, it was inspired by an amazing photo taken by my friend Veronique Gillard. (Thank you Veronique!)

Oil painting by Holly Van Hart, yellow, blue, abstract, circles

Palm Winds
Side view
30″ x 40″ oil painting by Holly Van Hart

This painting is sold. For available paintings, click here.

Originally published in 2013, and just updated

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!

In Our Own Dream World

Come along for a walk into my dream world . . .

 

In Our Own Dream World is currently available.

Would you like to see more? Please email holly.vanhart@gmail.com to inquire about delivery (free in the continental US) or to arrange a studio visit.

Leaves and Spiders!

This painting is sold, but you can see the latest available paintings here.

 

To see more pics and articles on ‘What Inspired This Painting?’, click here.

How did you make that painting? (video)

How did I make this painting? Watch a video here –

 

This painting is sold.

To  see available flower paintings, click here hollyvanhart.com/available-originals

Sometimes we need to climb a ladder

Sometimes our dreams are so close we can almost touch them.

And sometimes we need to climb a ladder or a tree (or learn to fly) to reach our dreams. In any case, it’s worth the stretch!!! That was what I had in mind while painting the magnolia flowers and nest in ‘Outside My Window’.

Outside our windows at home, we’re lucky to have an assortment of oaks, redwoods, and other beautiful trees. No magnolias, although there are plenty in our neighborhood.

For purchase info, please email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

 

** Be the 1st to see new paintings, fresh off the easel. Click to learn more. **

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?“)

 

[Top 50 Questions] Do you ever miss being in high tech?

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

Do you ever miss being in high tech?

Sure!

I definitely miss seeing my work-friends and colleagues more regularly.  They were/are an amazingly talented and multi-faceted group of people.  Good thing Facebook and LinkedIn give us an easy way to keep in touch!

What I also loved about high tech was the opportunity to constantly stretch myself and learn new things. Luckily I have that in abundance as an artist too.

One thing’s for sure . . . Being a full-time artist feels like what I was meant to do.

To read more about my career move to professional artist, click here.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions.

 

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!

Do you believe in unlimited possibilities?

Unlimited Possibilities, 20" x 20"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West Valley Artist Wins Statewide Painting Competition

Here’s a blast from the past . . . originally published December 2013, and updated afterward with new links –

West Valley Artist Wins Statewide Painting Competition
Former high-tech worker is now pursuing a new career as a full-time artist.

By Rob Klindt , December 19, 2013
Holly Van Hart, 1st place award photo

Artist Holly Van Hart poses with her oil-on-canvas painting “Possibilities Abound.”

A nature painting by Saratoga artist Holly Van Hart recently snagged a first place award in the 2013 Statewide Painting Competition hosted by the Triton Museum of Art in Santa Clara. Also garnering a first place award for his painting was San Jose artist Cuong Nguyen.

The competition, which was open to just California artists, drew more than 1,000 entries. From those entries, 92 were selected to be exhibited at the Triton Museum.

The winners were chosen by a panel of three jurors from the Triton Museum, including Chief Curator Preston Metcalf, Curator of Education Ester Fernandez, and Registrar/Curator Stephanie Learmonth.

Van Hart’s winning entry, an oil-on-canvas painting entitled “Possibilities Abound,” was showcased at a Dec. 13 reception for the winners at the Triton Museum. The nature-themed painting depicts a collection of eggs in a bird nest.

In acknowledging Van Hart’s first prize, the Triton curatorial team was complimentary of the artist’s style and technique. “Holly Van Hart warmed us 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 . . . We are seeing nothing less than the potential of the human spirit, nestled in nature’s bed,” the team wrote.

Van Hart’s previous awards include 2009 Artist of the Year from the Los Gatos Art Association, and a California State Fair Merit Award.  She is an art docent and volunteer math teacher at Foothill Elementary school in Saratoga.

After working 20 years in the Silicon Valley high-tech sector, Van Hart recently decided to move on and pursue a new career as a full-time artist. “I plan to enjoy a long career as an artist because this definitely feels like what I was meant to do,” she said.

The Triton Museum of Art is located at 1505 Warburton Avenue in Santa Clara, California.

To see the solo exhibition at the Triton Museum of Art (photos, walk-through video, free download of museum catalog), click here.

Have you ever tried meditation?

Have you ever tried meditation?

I’ve tried it multiple times, including a 2-day class in Indonesia, but failed miserably each time. I can’t calm my mind in that way.

On the other hand, the act of painting has a meditative quality to it that I love.

Painting can completely absorb me and transport me to a different place.

My paintings often go through a bunch of twists and turns before they are done.  Sometimes, by the end of all that, I don’t quite remember how things progressed along the way.

‘Alternate Reality’ (shown above) was a painting that was totally absorbed me like that.

It felt so refreshing. Lucky me.

Do you have a meditation practice, activity, hobby or job like that?  If so, lucky you!

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!

 

For more info and to purchase, email holly.vanhart@gmail.com.  (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.

Latest art news: Shhhhh . . . it’s a secret

Hi there. Hope you’re well!

We’re experiencing hot summer weather this week, but it feels like Christmas!

Two new 8″ brushes just came in the mail. (Guess I’m easy to please.)



Big paintings require big brushes. And my previous 8″ brush is worn out.  Can’t wait to dip these babies into some fresh paint!!

In the meantime . . . I’m continuing to work at making my paintings more abstract, as (I hope) you can see in these two sister paintings –

 

Divulging the Secrets (Orange)
32 x 32″ mixed media painting by HVH, Available.
 

Divulging the Secrets (Blue)
32 x 32″ mixed media painting by HVH, Sold.

These inspiration behind these paintings is about secrets, specifically, about sharing secrets.

I’m kind of quiet and not usually very good at sharing things; these emails are a stretch for me. But I’m aiming to get better! To read more, click here –

Story + Completed paintings

What secrets might you like to share?!!

Thanks for being here, my most amazing friend!

xoxo

P.S. Want to see what else is available?

See all available paintings
 

Writing My Own Fate, 48 x 60″ mixed media painting by Holly Van Hart

Writing My Own Fate (above) is sold. If you’re thinking of treating yourself or a loved one to a painting, please click here and you’ll get the best choice (before the holiday rush) –

See new forest and flower paintings

To purchase a painting, email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.
Shipping is free for VIP members (that’s you!)

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.

 

[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

Get the latest paintings delivered to your inbox. (One email every 3 weeks)

Your email will never be shared.

Do you do custom paintings (commissions)? Video

Yes! I do custom paintings.

In fact, I just delivered a custom painting to a new collector, and this is what she had to say –

“You perfectly transformed my dream into a stunningly beautiful painting. I am deeply grateful.”

Wow, I feel so honored. That made my day (my week!). Thank you Sue!!!

I love creating custom paintings. Good thing, because I’m currently working on 6 of them, ranging in size from 16 inches wide up to 80″ wide. That’s wider than you are tall!

If you’d like to learn more about custom paintings, click here (hollyvanhart.com/commission-painting/) . (They make great gifts, and come with a 100% money back guarantee.) Or email me at holly.vanhart@gmail.com.

Whether you’re interested in commissioned paintings or not, thank you for your interest in my work.

— Holly

P.S. If you want more info, check out more testimonials and pics of paintings installed in collectors homes.

P.P.S. My custom paintings were awarded Best of Houzz. Check out the details here.

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’s the favorite part of your job?

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!

For realz. The absolute best part of being an artist is that it gives me an excuse to get to know you better.

So, today I’m featuring a collector of my art and friend, Tamami Honma –

Tamami Honma

Tamami Honma
Internationally acclaimed pianist
Friend and a collector of my art

Here are some of the many things that are totally cool about Tamami –

  • Tamami is an internationally acclaimed pianist who has performed in many of the world’s great musical institutions.
  • Tamami is head of the Saratoga Education Foundation, and (for the last 6 years) a cub scout leader.  Scouts is where we met.
  • She is a mother of 4 gorgeous children. All except the youngest play 2 instruments.
  • If you want to see one of her absolutely breathtaking performances, check out the performance schedule here – www.tamamihonma.com/ .

I’m honored that 4 of my paintings hang in Tamami’s home. The latest is Rose Jamboree –

Abstact rose painting | Holly Van Hart | abstract red roses with green and multi-color leaves, oil painting, title 'Rose Jamboree'

Rose Jamboree
Oil painting by Holly Van Hart
See latest nature paintings

Watch a video of this painting being made here.

 

(Link to all videos on Holly’s YouTube video channel)

It’s a privilege to know you Tamami!!!

Abstract landscape painting – Sky Song

Sky Song is my latest abstract landscape painting. It’s full of heavily textured oil paints, which have a gorgeous sheen.

The distant mountains are gray and pink and purple and blue, and have an air of mystery.

The sky is alive with light. It’s singing a song. Can you hear it?

Here’s a flyover of ‘Sky Song’, so you can see the buttery texture of the oil paint –

To purchase, please email holly.vanhart@gmail.com. Purchase details

If you live in Silicon Valley, delivery and installation are free. If you don’t, shipping is free!

Would you like to see this painting in person?

Try Before Your Buy program

What is the hardest part of creating a painting?

What is the hardest part of creating a painting?

The hardest part of creating a painting is coming up with an amazing idea, and then turning that idea into an inspired design.

Producing the painting (that is, putting the paint on the canvas)  isn’t a piece of cake either, but that seems to flow once the first part is nailed down.

 

Click here to see the rest of the Top 50 Questions

Have a question to add to the top 50?  Ask away  (in the comments section below or send an email to holly.vanhart@gmail.com).

Back To Top