Holly Van Hart
Tell us about your artwork, medium, style, subject matter, etc.
I make abstract nature paintings that are meant to spark new excitement about life’s limitless opportunities. Each of my oil paintings tells a story about reaching for our biggest, boldest dreams.
The subjects in my work are inspired by nature, such as abstracted nests, forests, and fields of flowers. The paintings have titles such as ‘Larger Than Life’ and ‘Flush with Possibilities’.
In the painting ‘Field of Dreams’ (see below), each flower represents a dream. Some dreams are bigger than others, some are growing and developing, and others are on the decline.You can see that one daisy stands bigger, taller, and brighter than all the others. When we reach for our dreams, we get to live large. We get to be that big bright flower.
My art reflects my personal belief system, as well as my love of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley has this unique culture of creativity and unrelenting optimism. New technologies are created every day. People here believe that anything is possible. I love this part of the culture, and it inspires my work.
What are your biggest challenges in creating art?
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 until I’m pleased with the outcome) isn’t a piece of cake either, but that seems to flow once the first part is nailed down.
What is a day of working like in your studio/creative space? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
My daily ritual is giving myself lots of time to create. When my creative time is blocked off from all other commitments, good things happen. So virtually every day, I paint from 8am until about 4pm.
Most mornings I’m totally excited to get into the studio. Even if I’m not so excited, I go to the studio anyway.
I buy into the advice of the famous American artist Chuck Close. He 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.”
When you are in need of inspiration are there particular things you read, listen to, look at or do to help find that idea or fuel your work?
I love to be out in nature, and do many hikes and mountain bike rides with friends and family. I am constantly inspired and surprised by the news things I see and discover, and always bring my camera.
I snap lots of photos, and use these later as a basis for my abstract nature paintings.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Most people wouldn’t know how much I love traveling and learning about other cultures. In fact, I’m doing this interview while on a 3 week trip exploring Portugal.
Before we had our sons (they are now 14 and 12 years old), my husband and I traveled internationally a few times per year. I’ve visited over 50 countries, including spending many months each in Italy, the UK, Sweden, Japan, and eastern Africa.
There are almost 200 countries in the world. That means we have about 150 more countries to go!
What advice would you give others just beginning their creative careers?
Keep making your art, and always be experimenting with something new.
You’ll encounter many obstacles and setbacks in your journey as an artist. Savor your successes, and use these are mental fuel to keep going. No matter what, continue experimenting and continue creating art.