ARTIST SPOTLIGHT #8: HOLLY COULIS

artist spotlight Apr 08, 2016

Holly says: “There really isn’t one experience that influenced my work that stands out. It might be more of a series of small things that influenced how and what I paint. The more time I’ve spent looking at paintings, the more time I’ve spent painting, the more tiny shifts there have been in my work.

For example, as a student I didn’t really know how to look at or unravel a painting. I was studying sculpture and painting was very foreign to me. One day I became more interested in the world of painting, but really had only looked at paintings in books or at a glance. The first time I spent time really looking, it was because I was trying to figure out how a certain painting was made. It dawned on me that all paintings tell the stories of their making. They are built from marks, decisions, and concentration. So I was able to bring that back to the studio and use it, to see the paintings as marking time and thought, as opposed to only presenting an image.

One thing I really love about painting is listening to other painters talk about it. Everyone has a very specific set of interests and rules and things they are seeing in their own work, and maybe in other peoples’ work too. And most are very passionate about their approach. Recently, I watched a short documentary by Germano Maccioni called Thiebaud via Morandi. In it, Thiebaud speaks about his own work and about Morandi’s work. It was fascinating. He had so many great observations, but most were things I wouldn’t have thought to say. And Morandi is someone whose work I think about a lot.


For example, he talks about Morandi’s arrangements as being squeezed together, as though by a vice, and how there is tension and pressures between the objects because it feels as though there isn’t enough room for them all. I’ve never thought that, but I can see what he means. It’s interesting to hear other reads on paintings that you love. It proves their existence in other universes in a way. They have multiple lives.

That’s what I like about painting. There are infinitesimal variations on everything from subject matter to mark making to color to interpretation. It seems a very free medium to me. But it’s also so specific. And it takes time. Lots and lots of time.”

Holly’s website: www.hollycoulis.com
Link to the video Holly talks about: Thiebaud via Morandi: https://vimeo.com/20806297

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