Thursday, 31 July 2014

Top 10

I am confusing myself at the moment as I keep scheduling blog posts. This is good but I keep writing day specific things, so I am reading it on Tuesday when it is talking about Saturday. I am then wondering what I am talking about or in fact who I am talking about.

I need to catch up with myself, or stop trying to catch up with myself depending on which me you are talking about. Oh dear..... fortunately I am due a break over the next few days so then hopefully I will be back to 'normal'

Before then though I have a couple of things to share with you, one of which is this super exciting email from the recently signed up to They sent this out at the weekend to all their members highlighting me as one the top 10 new artists to watch!! This is the first kind of commercial or artistic recognition I have received, well, formally received at least so I am pretty chuffed! It is also nice for someone else to do some publicity chasing for me as I spend hours promoting to not much visible gain. also set a but of a twitter storm in motion with my latest painting which was also exciting to follow.

Hopefully if I can carry on like I have been, with a little extra help from I can really start to get things moving.....


(Big old email.....!)

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

To Varnish or not to Varnish?

I think I probably need to stop working as I keep forgetting what I am doing. I am sure it is time to call it quits anyway and settle down for some TV and maybe a cider. I have kind of earned it as I have been relatively productive the last few days uploading, promoting, blogging, painting.... I also spent a small portion of the morning researching into varnish and the should you/shouldn't you argument about whether you should varnish acrylic paintings.

It seems difficult to find a definitive answer. Well, unless you go by the manufacturers of varnishes opinion and then it is varnish all the way, many layers, many types, many brushes.

I think it was most helpful looking at the discussion between a selection artists on Fine Art America. (You can see the discussion here). Here you can see the arguments from both points of view without money or promotion being involved and get opinions from artists who do and don't use the v word.

It seems like it is mostly down to personal preference and whether you want a flat unifying surface, a shine, a satin finish...although it obviously does offer some added protection from the ravages of time. I was more concerned by the comments regarding the cloudy leftovers, streaky brush marks and splats left during application. Badly applied varnish has the potential to instantly ruin a painting so then it will last no time at all!

Currently I am going to put my vote in the no varnish box. Acrylics are meant to be more durable and flexible than most things anyway - that was why they were invented. I also prefer the textural finish of the painting as it is, as that is why I did it. I also don't remember noticing varnish in any of the art galleries I have visited, and let's face it, if my work ever becomes valuable enough that it needs to be preserved you can just put it in a frame. Ooh. Problem solved.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Mirror, mirror

Today has not been my favourite thus far. I have been rendering some architectural images to show to a client tomorrow. They had been running for 7 hours and were nearing completion.

My computer just crashed.

So yes, yes, I need to start them all again and it is almost 11 o'clock at night. Hooray. Not. Guess I will be doing slightly smaller, quicker renders then!

I have also managed to do something strange to my wrist in yoga. I have weak wrists as it is but I seem to have tweaked something so moving my hand feels peculiarly warm and uncomfortable.

Two wishes in one! I am hoping all of this has nothing to do with the fact that my mirror fell off the windowsill last night and smashed. I could do without 7 years of this...

In Credit

I am doing some organising today as I am running out of corner protectors - I use them when I am packaging up my paintings to post. I have just bought 100 of them which sounds slightly crazy but actually only equates to 25 paintings. Buying more seemed overly optimistic and the 100 still qualified for a good bulk buy discount. I hope they will all fit where I usually store them! I have also just entered a competition to win an SLR camera using the following photo. Unfortunately entering gives the users permission to use my photograph however they like for publicity etc. for free but never mind. They have to credit me so it would be worth it!


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Do you? Duvet?

I am multi tasking at the moment which I think basically means I am doing too many things at once and it is just a matter of time until I do something wrong. So far, I am adding some duvet covers to society6, posting something random on facebook, uploading my paintings onto a new online sales site called, writing this post and more importantly eating some banana bread/cake I made the other day.

I also painted something new a couple of days ago so I need to put that online everywhere (literally). I also want to join Saatchi online just so I can name drop whilst flicking my hair and saying 'rah' a lot. Darling.

I am not going to remember any of this. I also can't decide whether I should try and do all of it today or whether I should give myself a break. Oh well, I'll guess I'll just see what happens.

Incidentally I did say earlier in the post that I was making duvet covers.

Society6 are both innovative and annoying.

Annoying because I am always tempted to buy everything new they make in my own artwork but that seems a bit egotistical. Sleeping in one of my paintings even if it is in the form of a duvet seems like it might be taking my ego to a new level. I still want one though.

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....

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Special Gust

So the glut of forward post planning did seem to work, it took the pressure off worrying about not posting and gave me something to read. The downside is that I am now even more lost than ever as I don't know what I am meant to be writing about next. I normally try to aim towards something or have something in mind, but I currently feel a bit like I am all over the place!

On the plus side, work is starting to calm down so I feel like I am only trying to hold down one job rather than four. The downside of this is I feel more stressed starting to relax than I did when I was busy! Things are also starting to ache, and man am I tired, burny eyes, burny throat, burny brain.

On the second plus side, I have managed to paint this weekend, narrowly avoiding falling asleep on the canvas mid draw. I have also ordered the 20 canvasses I promised myself earlier in the week although god knows where I am going to put them when they arrive. I have also found out that I am included as a 'Special Guest' (or a 'Special Gust' thanks to a rather unusual typo) for the London launch of the Butcher's Dog magazine.

Hmm, maybe that does all sound pretty busy still. Now if I could just top it off by selling another painting.... I always feel more whole when that happens....

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

3 Stars

I think I might be able to stop forward planning posts after this one....

I seem to have been quite successful recently. Loads of things are happening both art wise and freelance wise which means I am stocking up the world's smallest supply of cash. Some of this is going to go on the 20 blank canvasses I have earmarked for purchase as I currently only have 4 blank ones left in stock. I want to buy them now but I need to wait for when I am actually going to be around to receive them which should hopefully be soon...better be soon otherwise I shall get stressed. I am a 'have things just in case' person.

But seriously, when I say successful I mean I have managed to sell 20 paintings in the last 6 months!! I still don't really know how this has happened but I hope it keeps happening and isn't just a random flash in the pan. I also seem to be doing a good job of being added to people's baskets on Artgallery. This is both promising and frustrating as it would be nicer to be added and then checked out, but at least I am in the running. As they apparently have over 37,000 paintings online this is a feat in itself! I have also become a 3 star rated artist on Artgallery as well as being filed under their 'Best Selling Artists' category. This would be more exciting if there weren't 31 pages worth of best selling artists but I am happy to make the cut regardless.

Things are looking good! I wonder what the catch is.....