Last week I had a little fun emulating a “chatterbox” style newsletter and mentioned Kingwood artist Holly Nowak, who I happened to interview four years ago in a March 31, 2016, column. Over lunch, Nowak and I got to catch up on her recent move to a larger corner space at Winter Street Studios.
In the 2016 interview, Nowak revealed that she’s a fifth-generation Texan and native Houstonian. She’s a self-taught artist and decided to go full-time with her art about the same time we met in 2015 at First Saturday Arts Market.
At that time, Nowak painted out of her home studio, formerly the home garage. Nowak describes her painting style as representational of nature and animals, easily identifiable subject matter with a bit of whimsy.
As I pointed out last week, Nowak just moved into a larger corner studio at Winter Street Studios in Sawyer Yards with fellow artists Stacy Gresell, Lisa Morales and Chrissy Doolen.
If you haven’t been, the studios at Sawyer Yards comprise what is being called one of the largest creative communities in the country. With six buildings and more than 400 tenants, it’s impossible to visit so many spaces in one afternoon. Fortunately, every second Saturday the studios are open to the public.
I asked Nowak, what’s the No. 1 reason you like having a Houston studio?
“The variety of people that come through my studio, the interaction with all the patrons and new collectors,” she said. “And getting out of suburbia. It meets my urban needs!”
Have you noticed a change in your art since moving here?
“You know what’s funny is that I thought that being an artist, and a lot of artists look at it this way, that I should just make one thing and do that one thing really well,” Nowak said. “I just can’t seem to do that. I’m all over the board but that makes me happy.
“I delve into watercolors until I’ve exhausted watercolors. Then I’ll get into oils and exhaust oils. I really do almost exhaust myself until I’m sick of it. I can’t imagine just picking one (medium). I am trying to make everything at least more cohesive, but I think I’m always going to work in multiple mediums.”
Watching artists’ styles evolve over time is a secret pastime of mine. Nowak may change mediums often, but her style across her mediums is still recognizable. I loved her work with a palette knife, a technique that she once found intimidating.
“I’m getting back into palette knife work in my backgrounds and the very detailed in the foreground – those make me happy,” she said. “Even when I’m in a bad mood, they make me happy.”
Nowak has been teaching workshops for both children and adults out of her Kingwood studio and will begin bringing those classes to her new studio this month. Her studio mates all plan to offer workshops and together they will offer two- and three-day workshops where students work with one artist each day learning collage, encaustic and painting.
Classes and more info are on the website hollynowakfineart.com. The studio is open to the public every second Saturday of the month. Find C6 inside Winter Street Studios at 2101 Winter St. or walk up to the outdoor patio doors from the parking lot on the east side of Winter.
Cohen is an artist and founder of First Saturday Arts Market and the Market at Sawyer Yards. Find him at ArtValet.com.