Patrick B. McGuigan, Editor
David J. Holland, born into an Army family at Lawton in 1959, graduated from Oklahoma City’s John Marshall High School.
With a good start on life and a place to call home, the Oklahoma City University graduate (B.A. Art) faced challenges as he made his way in the world art.
Despite the loss of three-dimensional eyesight, he has emerged as a successful fine art oil painter, specializing in striking ‘Cloudscapes’ that must be seen to be fully appreciated. Some of his works are permanent features in the new Omni Oklahoma City.
Paul Kiley, director of marketing and sales, reflects that the use of local and regional themes has for many years been a staple for Omni system. During an interaction with Kiley and Mr. Holland, The City Sentinel saw multiple examples of those themes, including in the displayed works of Mr. Holland.
Growing up in a military family, he saw a lot of different places in America, and even had a sojourn in Japan. But in his home state, “Storms fascinated me. I started taking pictures of storm, looking to the west as the rays dispersed when a large cloud overtook the sun.”
In addition to time as a builder of bird-houses, he managed a gallery, worked as an instructor, and as designer and technician at a stained glass studio. A work accident led to the loss of three-dimensional sight, yet he persevered with dreams of full-time painting.
Along the way he had experiences to which many artist and writers can relate – including a presentation of 30 works at which he pinned his hopes on good sales. But, only two of his works sold that time.
He knew, with a streak of admirable pragmatism, that to achieve success, “I needed to create works people would pay to own.” With but one eye he grew determined to give layers and clarity to what knew was there. “I had a need, a desire, a compulsion to make things three dimensional.
Along the way, a well-known gallery and art family provided the time and assistance to reach for excellence.
Formal art studies at OCU had given him a framework and discipline for creativity, but over time he had turned to avid photography.
He began to use those photos to create “cloudscapes” in oil.
An important success came two years ago, with an acclaimed residency at Norman’s MainSite Contemporary Art. That time built on his networking with weather specialists
His exhibition, “The Skies Have it” propelled him to broad notice – and to a present happiness that he articulates beautifully.
“Clouds are the physical representation of Earth’s water delivery system. Lucky for me clouds are visible and storms are visually stunning. I love watching them. I love seeing their power and painting it. It’s honest. It’s majestic.”
He reflects, “I capture the beauty of clouds and storms on camera and translate their majesty onto canvas with oil paint. Each work is an intimate portrait that reveals the unique character of the sky.”
He paints full time, taking breaks to spend time in a garden full of perennials, trees, Japanese maples, Irises and hundreds of bulbs. Stepping away from the easel, he weeds, prunes, plants – and returns, refreshed to the painter’s craft.
After his father passed away, Mr. Holland dedicated a nice compilation of reflections (some quoted above) and a collection of his art to “the memory of my father Lieutenant Colonel John J. Holland, United States Army.”
It will be a pleasure to check in, from time, on the development of Mr. Holland’s Opus.