Angela Holland is a mixed media and collage artist living in Santa Barbara, California. A retired educator and family therapist, Angela relishes the freedom of non-verbal expression through abstract art. Immersing herself in art classes and completing a formal mentorship with San Francisco painter Nicholas Wilton have helped develop technique and style over the past four years. Angela currently exhibits in shows and galleries in Santa Barbara.

Artist Statement

Working mostly in mixed media, I utilize paper, acrylic paint and various mark-making tools. My approach is spontaneous and intuitive. I begin by gathering a selection of papers and images (whatever is on hand), based on what appeals to me in the moment. I don’t start with a plan or conscious idea. I turn up the music and begin applying papers to the support. Paint might be used. When something interesting happens, I interact with that to bring cohesion, but only to a point. I like a bit of mystery that I can’t quite comprehend. Making art in this way is an exciting journey!

~ Angela Holland

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… and now for our exclusive interview with Angela Holland

How would you describe your art?

I work in mixed media collage on wood panel in sizes ranging from 9”x12” up to 36’x36.” My process involves layering paper, adding paint and employing various markmaking tools, such as wax pastels, graphite, and pencil, in a spontaneous and intuitive manner. This method results in a rich abstract imagery that can be viewed as metaphor for the curious and varied range of human experience and emotion.

How long have you been an artist and how did you become an artist?

I may always have been an artist searching for my perfect medium. I have been a writer, interior designer, teacher, and psychotherapist, but discovered my real passion at age 60, when I began painting. I always thought one had to have “talent” at realistic drawing to be an artist. I never knew one could create one’s own artistic vocabulary and style. I started out learning to work with encaustics before switching to acrylic paint. About a year ago I began working with paper in mixed media collage. I have tried to make up for my lack of formal art training by taking a lot of classes, workshops, and a formal mentorship. For the past three years, I have worked almost daily in my studio and I spend a lot of hours looking at art I love. I would say I am obsessed but in a good way.

What is your favorite medium and why?

I love collage! Working with paper allows for great spontaneity as well as ease in editing, by tearing away to reveal layers beneath. When nothing interesting is happening you can just slap more paper down until something does. Surprising juxtapositions occur accidentally. The challenge becomes one of “seeing” almost more than doing. There’s a dialogue between you and the piece. It feels so absorbing to work this way that the world and time seem to go away and there is only this magical process of creation.

Pick one work of art from your portfolio and tell us the story behind it. Why does this piece have meaning to you? What steps did you take to create the piece?

“The Happy Child” (30×30”) was a rather challenging piece for me to complete. As soon as I found the image in a children’s reader of a little girl from the 1950s, I began thinking of what context I wanted to place her in. As the work progressed the idea took shape. My vision was to create a kind of dream state where the little girl is separated from her family, who appear partly obscured at a distance from her. The intervening space is filled with images both playful and dark and the entire scene is “framed” as a type of hallucination or fantasy. The irony, of course, is that there is no happy child or happy family. It is only a figment of her imagination.

The Happy Child
The Happy Child

How do you make time for art?

I am fortunate to be retired and able to spend time as I wish. I have developed a level of involvement with my art where I am always at various stages of the creation process. I spend at least a few hours each day working in my home studio, which I have appropriated from two adjacent bedrooms. Other than necessary appointments and chores, art is my priority and greatest satisfaction so I naturally want to do it as much as I can.

If you could spend 24 hours with one artist, living or historical, who would you want to spend the day with and why? What would the two of you do?

I would choose to spend a day with Richard Diebenkorn because I not only love his work but I am encouraged by his beliefs about the artist’s process. I have posted in my studio a list he wrote of guidelines for creating art. They sustain me through the tough times. I would just love to sit with him in his studio, watch him work and be able to ask him everything about his process and what he knows about being an artist.

Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring artists?

Well, as an aspiring artist myself, I’m not really in a position of wisdom, but to someone starting out I would say:

  • Don’t judge yourself too harshly! Accept all efforts as experimentation to be learned from.
  • Stick with it! It takes time and if you keep working, you WILL get better.
  • Don’t pay a lot of attention to others’ opinions. You are the only one you need to please.
  • Do a lot of research. Look at great art or any art you like.
  • Seek out helpful teachers, fellow artists or mentors.
  • Work as much as you can. After ten thousand decisions you will start to feel a bit more confident and not make so many of the same dumb mistakes.