This collection of paintings represents Holly’s adventure into plein air – painting “in the open air” - as opposed to painting in the studio. The practice improves an artist’s ability to paint what the eye (not the camera) actually sees. But the result is generally loose because plein air is a race against the light. Conditions change rapidly and opportunities are fleeting. Plein air studies (boards) are often beautiful and an ends in and of themselves. Taken into the studio without reference photographs, boards can provide the basis for truly amazing studio work that captures the essence and feeling of a beloved place. But it captures something else: the beauty of color and form. By not superimposing a prescribed vision, the paint freely becomes something new and independent.
“To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.”
- Pablo Picasso
En plein air is a French expression which means “in the open air,” and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. The French Impressionists were known for their outdoor work and created paintings with spontaneity and emotion through direct contact with nature. Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, and the Group of Seven continued this movement in North America.
En plein air is a race against the light. When you paint what is before you in the open air, you engage the landscape and interpret it through your own eyes without the camera's frame - without the camera's flatness.
I paint to express Love. I love the natural world. To paint in the open air, to directly engage Nature, and to record my observations with color is exhilarating and challenging. Trudging through the woods in summer or down the hill to the lake in the cold of winter immediately transports you inside the natural world. My stowaways - the trappings of human invention in order to record the visual sensation of the journey - do not lessen the intensity of the return to that which remains untamed and unconquerable. I am there to listen to the sky’s conversation with the lake and with the hills and with the trees. In the open air, I am part of a family again and soaking up every part of the interaction and mood of the family table. I am fully invested in the decisions made at that table and the condition of the family and its members.
The paintings that result from this immersion vary in their success but they are always honest.