Artist’s journey: from painting to metalwork, Alyssa Holt masters several mediums
BLUE HILL — Alyssa Holt explores her artistic nature, sometimes through several mediums at once.
Depending on the time of year, you might find the Portland-born artist hard at work in her home studio, which had been her fisherman boyfriend’s buoy-painting studio.
The slender young woman, wearing a hydrangea-inspired silver cuff on her wrist, made at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, shows the visitor a dizzying amount of work. Paintings are everywhere, from alcohol ink abstracts to pieces made with bullet casings dipped in shiny acrylics.
A box of glittering lobster claws awaits summer visitors to grab them.
“My interest in art was born from an early age. I always felt this creativity from within and having creative people in my close family. It sparked this passion for art under many shapes,” Holt said. “There’s this photo of me around 4 years old, in the evening, sitting at my little desk, with a lamp, and engrossed in my work, which of course was drawing.
“So drawing turned into painting, which turned into all kinds of crafts and art forms, including collage, scrapbooking, beadwork, sewing, printmaking,” recalls the artist. “I’ve dabbled in ceramics, woodturning, sign carving and basket weaving, which I would do again in a heartbeat, but that’s not exactly my main job.”
“I’m definitely a collector too,” Holt continued. Collected gems, crystals, sea glass, and even a container of wire hangers await projects.
Holt, who grew up on Cape Cod, took drawing classes at the Art Institute of Boston. There, she discovers engraving with linoleum and wooden blocks.
“I discovered jewelry around the age of 19,” she said. “I loved playing with crystals and stones, and found creating this form of ‘wearable art’ a fun way to work and wire quickly became my medium of choice.”
“I gained more experience working with metal during my first silversmithing course in 2012,” Holt said. “And continued after moving to Maine in 2016 where I took [on] bezel settings and some copper soldering projects. Since then I had a workshop day on an island in Haystack where I was able to use their amazing metal studio space.”
Holt, in his 20s, also made the music show circuit, creating band and concert t-shirts and pop culture-themed enamel pins.
“Now in my 30s it seems to me that a lot of these art forms play off each other, either collaboratively or sometimes I paint and sometimes I make jewelry. It’s nice to have another medium to work with,” the artist said.
Holt also does graphic art, creating logos for small businesses.
“I like to create,” she says. “I feel like I’ll always be a creator, no matter what. I hope people find it enjoyable or stir their emotions in some way.
During the summer, Holt works at the Handworks Gallery in Blue Hill and she also sells her work there. You can also find his art at Barncastle Restaurant and the ArtBox at Fairwinds Florist and Makers Market Shop + Studio in Brooksville.
“A lot of my inspiration comes from my family. My mother [Susan James of Castine] is into graphic design, my dad was into culinary arts and carpentry, my brother is also a carpenter,” Holt said.
When Holt is working on her jewelry, she sits on a bench custom-made for her by her father, the late Richard Holt. He just died 18 months ago and the artist has a picture of him hanging nearby. The bench has armrests that Holt can pull up and rest her forearms on while she does detailed jewelry work.
“My grandfather, Paul Noble James, painted a lot,” she said. “He would hike and photograph landscapes and then paint them at home. As a small child I was captivated by all of his work, the lovely paintings adorning every square inch of my grandparents’ walls and piled below were more to browse. His uncles (my great-great-great-uncles) were painters and my great-great-grandfather was a painter, illustrator, engraver and draftsman.
“So my family obviously plays a big role in my work, but there’s inspiration everywhere,” she said. “Nature inspires me every day. The architecture and the landscapes when I travel — the music and the culture. There are fabulous local artists from this region that I have been able to meet. I was lucky enough to hang out with a wonderful artist from Castine who had amazing encaustic work and collage paintings.
Some of her favorite artists she draws inspiration from include MC Escher, Ralph Steadman, Salvador Dalí, Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky.
“Being here at Blue Hill is absolutely wonderful,” she said. “I’ve also been at the Handworks Gallery for four years and it’s inspiring just to be there to work. “I have ideas or projects in mind. I learn new techniques and I also meet many artists who present their work there.
See Holt’s portfolio at ach-designs.com/portfolio.html.
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