Monday, November 16, 2015

Paula B. Holtzclaw and her Artistic Path

Evening Moon, Paula Holtzclaw

"I choose to paint what is beautiful and meaningful, knowing that this act of celebrating and communicating the beauty in this world has the power to uplift and inspire." Paula Holtzclaw

Paula Holtzclaw, an award-winning painter from Waxhaw, N.C., is known primarily for her inspirational landscape paintings. She is a versatile artist, painting both still lifes, and landscape scenes. But she is best known for her coastal paintings of eco-rich pristine marshlands with cloud-filled skies. Her paintings transport you to a place of harmony, wonderment, and natural beauty.

I first saw Paula Holtzclaw's work a few years ago at the Cheryl Newby Gallery in Pawleys Island, SC. I was captivated by her paintings and began to follow her work. Paula often visits Pawleys Island and the gallery, but it wasn't until this year that I had the opportunity to meet her when she served as the judge for the 3rd Annual Seaside Palette, a Plein air painting event in Georgetown, SC. To read more on the Seaside Palette, please click here

As a committee member for the Seaside Palette,  I spent time with Paula by showing her around Georgetown and subsequently interviewing her for this article. I was surprised to learn that Paula began painting the same year that the Pawleys Island Festival of Music and Art (PIFMA) was founded. Both were celebrating their 25th anniversary. 

Paula Holtzclaw in her studio
"The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work." Emile Zola
I asked Ms. Holtzclaw what sparked her interest in art. She said she started at a young age and learned to love painting by watching her grandmother paint. Actually, both of her grandmothers painted, and one in particular, would share her paints and canvases with her. 

When visiting her grandmother, she began to love the smell of the oil paint, of the linseed oil, and other aromas that emanated from her workspace. Even today, these smells are a catalyst for many pleasant childhood memories. These early years nurtured her creativity and inspired her to become an artist.

Paula said it seemed that art was always present in her life. While growing up, she would often find herself in her room painting and drawing. During college, she took an art class but did not relate to the format being offered. Also, she said at that time, one did not think about art or painting as a career choice. After graduation, she went to work in the medical profession instead.

A Touch of Lace, Paula Holtzclaw

Around 1990, Paula once again began to paint for her personal pleasure. She would come home from work and study and paint in the evenings. Soon people began to buy her work. By the late 1990's Paula was represented in several art galleries. Once her painting income equaled that of her "day job" and with the encouragement and support of her husband Chuck, she left her 25-year medical career to focus on her painting and become a full-time artist.

Paula who is primarily self-taught believes that an artist’s education is a continual process, whether you are self-taught or traditionally educated, there will always be more to learn. Recently, she has studied with artists, Joni Falk, Linda Gooch, Jeff Legg and Scott Christensen.

Seaside Palette and Judging.
Shining Through, Paula Holtzclaw
Paula said she was honored to judge this year's Seaside Palette competition because Plein air painting and Pawleys Island are both near and dear to her heart.

When asked what criteria she used to judge the competition, Paula said she first considered the initial impact - the thing that initially grabbed her and made her stop to take a second look. She said it's something that she feels, and that speaks to her on a personal level.

She also viewed the art objectively, looking for composition and design, the use of color or value and movement in the painting. She focused on how one's eye moves around and through the painting. 

Lastly, she considered skill and intent and how the artist showed control over his or her medium. Another element was the artist’s use of color and a painterly style to make a big impression. Usually, presentation plays an important role, but in this case, it was not a factor because framing was not required of the artists.

Landscape Painting
Paula and Chuck a Board Certified Master Arborist share a common love of trees and support the preservation of the landscape. With this in mind, I asked how her paintings reflect her love of the environment: "I think it goes without saying that the preservation of our natural environment is critical to our civilization and to sustaining the health of our planet. As no one completely understands it's complexities, my art attempts to portray the joy and beauty of the unspoiled landscape as well as the sheer sensual wonder of being immersed in it."

Vestige, Paula Holtzclaw

Dream Project
When asked what she might consider a dream project Paula shared that her mother had grown up on a large southern farm, growing cotton, tobacco, and vegetables. As a child, she played in their old barns. 

Paula said, "I love barns, particularly the old tobacco barns. They speak of the times and the heritage of the old South. But they are rapidly disappearing from our landscape. I've painted quite a few, but I would like to research them more in-depth and paint a series."

The Artists Role in Society
When asked about the artist's role in society, Paula replied, "For me, it brings to mind the verse "to whom much is given, much will be required." The artist's role is important because the footprints of an artist stay with us, generation after generation.

Orchids with Pears, Paula Holtzclaw
“An artist has the ability to create, document, and impart the beauty of this world around us. Like music, art is able to unite, to evoke emotions strong enough to bring tears, to heal, and to inspire. It is truly a gift, and a blessing to have even a little bit of that ability.”

It was a pleasure to meet and spend time with Paula. She is truly a talented artist with a beautiful spirit. Her paintings are a true reflection of her personality. 

Upcoming shows:
Ms. Holtzclaw's paintings are in museums, national juried exhibitions, and private and corporate collections throughout the U.S.

Shows and locations:
American Impressionist Society at Trailside Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ.
Oil Painters of America Salon Show in Birmingham, ALA. 
Women Artists of the West At Tucson, Art Museum, AZ.
American Women Artist Show in Scottsdale, AZ. 

About Paula Holtzclaw
Paula Holtzclaw is a Master Signature Member of American Women Artists, a Signature Member of Women Painters Southeast, Associate Member Oil Painters of America, and Plein Air Painters of the Southeast (PAP-SE) and Signature Member of the American Society of Marine Artists. Please see Ms. Holtzclaw's website for her works. 

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Artfully Yours,

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Interested in reading more articles on Artist's? Please click on the artist's name for more.
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Marc Dalessio - coming soon
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