Art Talk | Holly Harper
At just twenty two years of age and having only painted for the last three years, artist Holly Harper's paintings show a great level of maturity and experience way beyond her years. We stumbled on Holly's beautiful and delicate paintings on Instagram and just had to feature her on My Design Alley. Holly shares with us her love for painting the human form, in all its emotive and touching glory.
Hi Holly, tell us about when your love for painting was first realised? My love of painting began in my first year of college where I studied some basic visual art principles - I've been painting for 3 years now. I had always been extremely creative growing up but I would hop from passion to passion and I didn’t realise that I was actually searching for my sweet spot the whole time! I grew up in a family full of artists, my grandma has been painting still-lifes her entire life, my dad and his sisters are all artists in their own right.
When I was young my extended family would all travel to the country to my grandparents’ house for Christmas where it would be 3-4 days of constant creating and making - lots of sitting in the studio painting, drawing with my grandma, making music, taking photos and eating litres of ice-cream with my cousins.
Your work is heavily focused on portraits - why do you find the human form so inspiring? There is something about the face that has so much depth of emotion. I don’t mean the obvious expressions like anger, or happiness, but the moments. Whether that be of peace, restlessness, strength, pensiveness or simply being still. I find there's so much power in these moments. When someone comes to me and they say, ‘I don’t know what it is but I feel something’ – this is what keeps me painting.
The light and delicate movement in your paintings is beautiful - how important are these elements to you? I love to portray elegance and freedom through light and movement. It’s all about the feeling. You don’t always need to look in the face of emotion to feel, movement and atmosphere translate so much.
What do you love most about working as an artist? I love the freedom of creating whatever I want. There's something powerful about creating something from absolutely nothing, it is pure creativity and undeniably evidence of who we are inside. For me personally it's an outlet, when life is too much or I’m so happy, it spills out onto the canvas.
Your work uses such soft gentle colours - how do you achieve this? There are so many colours, temperatures and hues in skin tone. It's very challenging but also very rewarding once I see the face come together. The main colours I use in mixing skin tones are; yellow ochre, cerulean blue, viridian, alizarin crimson, burnt sienna, scarlet lake and of course a lot of titanium white. Varying degrees of each colour make for such variation but also a unity in the painting.
Tell us about your love for all things vintage? I love all things old. There is unique femininity in vintage things that is always timeless. We live in a world where being a woman is constantly being challenged and I think it's wonderful to embrace being delicate and unique! Some of my favorite vintage items I have found by accident; jewellery, little photographs of strangers (which I used to love to paint), dresses, furniture, anything with deep tones and a little rough around the edges!
What are you loving at the moment? Cool browns, dried flowers in crystal vases, ginger beer, walking barefoot and black and white film.
What are you looking forward to this year? I'm looking forward to working with some shops, galleries and some exciting new commissions. Most of all I am excited to continue to create a body of work that is uniquely me.