Friday, 25 July 2014

12 Years Later

This title is starting to be more appropriate by the hour, partly because the painting took me a while to do, partly because I am delayed in writing its 'Birth Certificate' and mostly because I first drew the Red House 12 years ago.

See, it all makes sense now.

'12 Years later' 30" x 24"
The Reason (or the starting point).

One of my favourite buildings, lived in by a partial hero of mine, William Morris.

The Setting

A short stay in Essex, not far away from the Red House in Bexleyheath - National Trust card in hand and a summer's day too cold to have a picnic.

The Inspiration

The house itself, its setting, its arts and crafts history, its simple attention to detail. The fact I had drawn it before at school. The beautiful light in the studio, the colour and texture of the brick. The fact William Morris had lived there, the artwork of the man himself and his patterns, patterns, patterns.

The idea behind this painting is as simple as it is logical. A depiction of the Red House and the patterns of the man that lived there (albeit briefly). William Morris's patterns were all about nature, flora and fauna so it seemed only natural that the patterns should be confined to the natural elements of this painting and not the building. The building needed to be more grounded and solid than that to provide a contrast.

The patterns aren't as accurately rendered as Morris would have liked, I am sure, but I wanted the painting to be about me as well and still have a bit of expressive laziness in it.

Hmm - Expressive Laziness. I think I might have finally pinpointed my 'style'.  

Monday, 21 July 2014

Summer Exhibition

I did another new painting at the weekend that I need to write a 'birth certificate' for, I think I shall save that for tomorrow though. Firstly, I have an exhibition to write about; On this past Saturday I went to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy as a friend was lucky enough to win some tickets and I was lucky enough to be invited.

I was quite intrigued to see the work as I had already decided that I was going to try and enter the competition next year to have my work on display. That is the perk of the Summer Exhibition, anyone can enter, unknown and famous artists alike. I was rubbing my hands in glee before we entered, looking forward to seeing some unusual and inspiring work, after all, this is selected from thousands of entries, entries of work never seen before.

I have one word - ouch.

It was not what I expected. There were a few stand out pieces but overall it was massively disappointing. Not only was the subject matter tired, but the quality was tired. What was the criteria of choice based on? I'll be damned if I could tell. Part of the problem may have been that there was so much work on display that it all got lost together and diluted. Part of the problem may have been the prices - there is nothing like seeing a painting, thinking 'that seems mediocre' looking it up in your reference guide and seeing you can own the original for a mere £200,000.


I think the main problem might just have been that the work wasn't very good, or too much of it wasn't very good.

At least if I enter next year and I don't get in, I don't think I will mind too much!


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Hiya Napa

So let's start writing about what I paint here, on this painting, mostly because I had a reason to paint this one and it is slightly controversial, which basically means I actually have something to say about it.

'A Modern Winery' and 'Hiya Napa' 30" x 24"
The Reason (or the starting point).

It all started in a mini bus full of girls - 7 Americans, 2 Brits, oh and the driver, he was a guy.

The Setting

A wine tour, across Napa Valley, California, in late February/Early March. 5 Vineyards, a lot of wine, perfect weather, perfect company, just enough food to stay sober.

The Inspiration

The grapevines, rows and rows of them, endlessly running along the landscape as far as you could see, patterning the fields, altering your perspective, perpendicular to you, lining up with you as you drive past, lines, stripes, greens, blues, browns. White grapes, purple grapes. The vineyards, black stallion statues, archways, picture windows, bars, barrels, deep red wine, art work, Italianate, sunsets, quiet (except for the inside of the mini bus, which got a little louder after each Vineyard visit).

All of these 'things' make up this painting, as well as a cheat, as I have painted the vines fully grown, during the actual visit they were just barely beginning to sprout.

There are two paintings because I couldn't decide whether I had finished the painting or not. The first one - 'A Modern Winery' shows what I saw but the second one 'Hiya Napa' better shows what I felt and finished off 'A Modern Winery' to my satisfaction. So the above, is this paintings birth certificate. Born in the US but with a UK passport.

Monday, 14 July 2014


Before I make a concerted effort to start talking about my paintings, I went to an art exhibition at the National Gallery in London on Thursday. It should have been right up my street as it was all about COLOUR.

Ah, colour. Colour, colour, colour, definitely more than a few of my favourite things.

'Amorphous' 30" x 24"
The exhibition was interesting enough, it was concerned about the production of colour and the use of colour historically and how it ages. For example, a lot of 14th and 15th century works used to use a shade of green as a face base colour to help produce depth and shade and then paint lighter, more flesh like tones over the top. These flesh tones, weren't particularly colour-fast and have deteriorated over time leaving many older portraits with inhabitants with green tinged faces. I personally prefer the thought that people back then were just more unwell (which is possibly also true). Another painting had a big blue tree in the background. Apparently it was originally green but the yellow colour mixed with the blue had pretty much evaporated into thin air. I found this interesting as I would not have wondered why the tree was blue in the first place. I don't know whether this is because I take things at face value or because the tree still fitted in, being blue, it was still tonally and coherently matched to this rest of the painting. Either way it would have been interesting to see before and after views of the paintings, fresh off the easel and then a few hundred years later. It made me realise how much I take for granted opening up my art catalogue and choosing a few manufactured tubes of acrylic paint. Brightness is guaranteed, fastness marked in stars on the side and there is no oil or egg involved, no grinding up of bugs, powdering of stones, or mixing together the colours I need and wondering how quickly they will deteriorate. I live in an easy age.

I find colour an interesting topic as so many artists seem to struggle with it which I don't understand. When I paint I know what colours I should use, I can feel it. I can step back mid painting, look at the canvas and know I need to put some red in it, or touch up that piece with blue, or highlight that bright patch with black. This may just be because I haven't studied colour theory, I don't look at colour combinations and I don't really care. My painting is about me, what I feel at the time and what I want to show. I think sometimes, you can get bogged down if you think too much.

But anyway, the exhibition - interesting if you want to see the technical side of colour and how it is made - less so if you want the theory behind the colour choice.

This one, is your call...

Sunday, 13 July 2014

You paint? I didn't realise....

I realised my blog is slightly strange as it is predominantly set up to talk about my work and yet I hardly ever mention when I have done a new painting. Surely each time something new is painted I should blog about it!? I can't quite decide whether that would be interesting or not, but I suppose as long as I don't make the articles too long or too dry it should be acceptable reading. Maybe I will make a concerted effort to blog about my paintings when I do a new one, from this point forward. (I equally might not as I don't always like them enough to talk about them for a prolonged period (I probably shouldn't admit that)). It would make sense though, after all, what is Laura Hol - who is Laura Hol, without the art?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Red House

Is it obvious I have some time on my hands at the moment!? Three posts in a row...!

At least I have a chance to do some belated catching up. So lets start with a trip I did a month ago (2 months ago? I can't remember) so a while ago I got to visit the Red House, in Bexleyheath, designed by Philip Webb and commissioned, and lived in by William Morris. I was super excited, partly because I love the building, and partly because William Morris is a bit of a hero of mine. His motto "Have nothing in your house that you do now know to be useful or believe to be beautiful" is something that I try and firmly adhere to. I also believe in the ethos of well-made, hand-crafted, unique personal items over any job lot, child slavery made ubiquitous item. Morris is also the god of patterns, which are another one of my favourite things.

I think you can see why I was excited.

Disappointingly though the house is very undiscovered and unfinished. It turns out a lot of the plans Morris had for the decorating of the house never happened as he only lived there for a short period. There are a couple of murals, a decorated ceiling or two, a half finished tapestry and a few hulking items of furniture but I was left wanting so much more! (In fairness, the National Trust have only recently taken over the house so I am sure there will be more later, they are still peeling away paint and shelves to reveal the original decorations.) I was slightly acquiesced by the amusingly painted stained glass windows and the original architectural drawings by Philip Webb, oh, and the studio.

THE Studio.

I am sure the studio was designed for me. A lower ceilinged section with a sweep of desk - perfect for my architectural freelance work and then a larger full height space with such a ridiculously perfect quality of light and space I could have painted there for months on end. I could also carry on painting the ceiling and decorating the walls, as well as creating paintings of the externals of the house.

So maybe disappointing but also inspiring. I wonder whether they need a resident artist?


Monday, 7 July 2014

Please Hold

I am being productive today. My freelance work for the day is already complete, my canvasses have arrived and have been housed in my study/office. Accounts are up to date, messages are up to date, websites are up to date. Now what am I supposed to do? I do have 30 things on my art to-do list and I need to run some renders so I can update my freelance website.

Urgh, when will it end!?

I am dead on my feet today so I think it is time for lunch and then maybe a veg on the sofa with a book. For the next few hours, the number you have dialled has not been recognised....