Tammy Holland Studios Interview
Start by telling me a bit about yourself, Tammy Holland Studios, and how you got started.
I have been interested in being an artist since I was a child and learned it was a thing people could do. I graduated from high school with three small scholarships and a letter of acceptance to the Colorado institute of art with big plans that got sidetracked with marriage and children and life stuff. Once my sons were in high school I began painting in earnest and accumulated a stockpile of mediocre paintings when my mother suggested I take them to sell at local galleries. Yolanda Fejes at Alaska House took several on consignment and mentioned that she thought I was naturally talented, but I should consider taking a drawing class at the university as it would help my animals a little. I took that suggestion and ran all the way to a Bachelor of Arts in sculpture with a secondary study in painting. Who would have known I’d love 3-dimensional work so very much. When I graduated I quit my regular job at Fred Meyer and went full throttle at art-making.
It sounds like 3D work and sculpting is what you do most of now. What's the balance like between that and oil painting? Do you paint more now as a change of pace?
I tend to paint more then I sculpt. The sculptures take a great deal of storage space so if I do not have a place arranged for display I run out of storage. I would say painting takes the most of my making practices, perhaps because I can work in various time increments, like I can paint ten minutes or four hours, set it down and resume at my leisure. Whereas sculpture is messy and typically I work several long days consecutively on each piece. The making process is best uninterrupted, I have less errors or redesign issues if I work compulsively.
What was it that originally drew you to acrylic?
I actually use oils. When I got reacquainted with painting 15 years ago I used acrylic but during my degree pursuit I found myself drawn to oils and the depth of color you could build.
Tell me more about oil painting. There's different kinds of oils you can use, right? What is it about oils that give more depth of color?
I use accelerants to thin my oil paints that speed the drying process and allow the paint to flow freely. I do not prefer to use the water-soluble oil paints as they do not flow well for me. I think the depth of color with layers of oil paint is just what I love creating.
Tell me more about your journey from painting to sculpting and beyond. What sparked
trying out new forms of art?
I was only interested in painting until I took the required beginning sculpture class for my degree program. I am most comfortable with mixed media. I love making paintings that leave the surface. I took a jewelry-making class after Sonya Keller suggested I make jewelry to pay for my show fees to get my work seen, and I fell in love. Now my mother and I have a studio that takes up most of her garage space. :)
You said you and your mother. Does she do projects as well? Have you done any together?
My mom and I make jewelry together. Usually it’s individually designed. We typically work on the same type of projects simultaneously, and we definitely inspire each other's work, but only rarely have we collaborated on pieces.
How has your style developed and changed over time?
I have always been attracted to bold color palettes and that has not changed. I have evolved into more of a multi-media artist with my passion for organic and industrial aspects. The furniture I build is a really great example of this interest.
I saw your post on Facebook that "drummer is progressing." It looks cool! Can you tell me more about that?
I am welding rebar, steel rod, horseshoes, and cast mask to make a larger than life drummer form that creates a cage that I fill halfway with locally sourced rocks. This one is a stand-alone figure that will be in a two-year outdoor show in Palm Desert, California starting in November. It is an adaptation of the five dancer figures I installed in Spenard last year as part of the muni's 1% program
That's so cool about the drummer form! How did it come about that it would be a part of that outdoor show in California?
I go to the cafe-call for art entry site a couple times per month and apply to any that interest me. That’s also how I got the Spenard 1% sculptures project last year. I get a lot of "no thanks not chosen," but I just figure I need to get through some no’s till I get to the yes please. :) I’m very excited about the Palm Desert outdoor sculpture show. :)
Where do you find your inspiration comes from?
My work is influenced heavily by my childhood in Alaska. I grew up on the banks of the Yukon River where my family lived a subsistence lifestyle, hunting, fishing, trapping, and running sled dogs. I paint things that we collected to eat. Another theme I pursue is the things that have additional sensory triggers. Birds with songs or berries that remind us of smells and tastes and touch. I paint blueberries and think about the tangy sweetness and the feel of firm berries in my hand, and the smell of the berry patch on a sunny day.
Is there anything new that you're working on that you can tease?
I’m currently 3/4 of the way through a new body of resin mixed media works and have collected a million stones from the Yukon River to transform into way stone stacked jewelry. :)
What was it about The Bear Box that made you want to be a part of it?
Someone from your company approached me and it sounded fun! Alaskan made gift boxes? Heck yeah, I’m an Alaskan made Alaskan maker. :)
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote and why?
Be the change you wish to see in the world. I have always loved the idea of leading by example rather than words
Is there anything else that you haven't mentioned yet that you'd like to share?
I have the blessing of being a super supported artist. My family is huge and has always encouraged me to follow every crazy dream I have. My husband was sure I could do this long before I was. I have some really great relationships with the shops that consign my work, Alaska House, Venue, Two Friends, Karibou. They have been super supportive in my art-making endeavors and I am so grateful for the love and support I receive.