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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: The beauty around us

Mothers Lily Pads.jpg
Courtesy of the artist
Dawn Hollister
"Mothers Lily Pads," a watercolor by Dawn Hollister

Tucked away on her 16-acre wooded property in Allegan, Dawn Hollister paints. Mostly, she paints landscapes with a special focus on trees. Her colors are bright—a wake-up call for the eyes. Her message: be aware of the beauty of the natural world. Hollister says she isn’t interested in addressing social injustices or any other form of activism in her art. We have enough of that already, she says. Hollister says what we need more of is the sheer beauty and calming effect of wild Michigan all around us.

A conversation with watercolor artist Dawn Hollister

Her message, she says, is an invitation: “Look at my paintings and say, ‘Oh! I’ll have to go check that out!’ Because they are of real places. Like Pier Marquette — ‘Oh, we should go look at that!’”

Fall Looking Up.jpg
Courtesy of the artists
Dawn Hollister
"Fall Looking Up," a watercolor by Dawn Hollister

Hollister’s preferred medium is watercolor, and her preferred topic—landscapes, and especially trees. But she also creates pen and ink drawings, and birdhouses out of gourds, dipped in paint.

“When I had to make a decision in school about what medium to take, watercolor was closest to drawing,” Hollister says. “I love drawing, both pen and ink. I’m always drawing. I’ve used watercolor all my life, too. It is something I was familiar with and was the medium I gravitated to. It’s more forgiving than people think. Acrylic paint, you have to use it if you have it on a palette or you’re going to waste it. But watercolor—I’ve had the same palette for probably 20 years. Add water to it and they come back to life.”

While she’s a graphic designer by day, Hollister considers that a highly technical field. She finds release in her creative work. For her, painting and drawing are a type of thrill-seeking that she likens to jumping out of planes.

“In my watercolors, I like to capture contrast and motion,” she says. “I actually get excited when I see something that I want to paint. When I see a certain tree, I think, ‘Oh, I have to paint that!’ It’s almost like you can taste it. I love the greens of early spring. They just take my breath away.”

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

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