Artist Spotlight Series: Hope Olson

I am crazy for the colorful and familiar works for this talented artist.

Of course I’m particularly smitten with the equestrian pieces.

Enjoy getting to know…

Hope Olson

Holland, Michigan

What is your training?

I have an undergraduate degree in Interior Design. I never ended up pursuing a career as a designer because, a few months before graduation, I realized that what I really wanted was to work as a fine artist. Elective college coursework in studio art and painting developed my interest and confidence to explore a new career possibility. In the seven years since I started my business, I have also completed a handful of courses offered by art business coaches that taught me nitty-gritty aspects to making a living as a painter.  
 
What inspires you and your designs?

I’m a Midwest girl, born and raised, but I’ve always been a bit of an Anglophile. The culture and landscape of small-town, English life serves as a big inspiration for the subject matter of my paintings. Even just this morning, I was putting together a playlist of Irish and English folk tunes to accompany me during long studio days. My work celebrates the coziness and folksiness that often characterize life in a small town, hallmarked by values of putting down roots, hard work, leisure, and caring for your neighbor. I love to explore unusual color combinations and I rarely paint purely representational. I’m often taking quick mental snaps of color schemes that I see as I go about my day: fabric in a shop window, a gorgeous book cover while wandering my local library, or an antique tapestry in a museum. I try to remember them.
 
What is your favorite piece?

My favorite piece is a work I painted in 2019 that was part of a larger series called Still Time. The painting is titled “Tomato Harvest.”


 
How has your area influenced your work?

It’s funny, I live on the west side of Michigan, just a short drive from exceptionally beautiful Lake Michigan beaches, yet it’s not the region’s landscape that I feel any special connection to.  What I find most inspiring about the Holland, Michigan, area is the tight-knit community of people that exists here. I am a transplant, but many residents are fourth and fifth generation members of this town. The culture is not individualistic; rather, people are really looking out and showing up for their family, their neighbor, and their fellow church parishioner. I can’t go to the library, grocery store, or coffeeshop without seeing someone I know and love. The pace of life here has influenced my art to take on qualities of “folk art,” art that reflects on narratives of a people group’s history and legacy.  


 
What is your favorite restaurant in Holland, Michigan?

Mizu Sushi. Dine in or takeout, it’s never a miss. I’m loyal to the same order every time: a Spicy Salmon roll and a Jalapeno California roll.


 
What is your favorite cocktail?

Lately I’ve been enjoying a gin and tonic.


 
How do you balance personal life and work?

I make sure my calendar has nearly as many fun and “extracurricular” commitments as it does work commitments, and then I do my best to not flake. Most of my evenings I have somewhere to get to or someone to see. After a solitary day at the studio, the last thing I want is to be by myself some more.  


 
Dream trip?

My great-grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from Norway, but I’ve never been. I would love to spend a couple weeks there.

 

 Dream commission?

My dream commission would be a non-existent one. How terrible does that sound? Many commissions raise my blood pressure. Because I want it to be perfect for the client, I end up overthinking it. Sometimes I wonder if this is part of the reason that I didn’t feel fit for a career as an interior designer. Every project functions like a commission in that field.
 
Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?

A houseplant. I like Zanzibar Gem (ZZ) for its color, shape, and ease to care for.


 
Who is your style icon?

Daphne Moon in the early seasons of Frasier. I adore a classy, nineties fashion moment.


 
Your favorite up and coming artist?

Ceramicist and painter, Dominique Ostuni. I have tried to snatch up one of her playful porcelain coffee cups many times now with no success. And now, in my telling you about her genius, I just made my chances much worse.

 


 
What is your most treasured possession?

A beautiful sideboard I spotted at an antique shop a couple years ago that lives in my dining room now.
 
What are you reading?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith


 
What are you listening to?

I just finished listening to the Rise and Fall of Mars Hill podcast and can’t recommend it enough. A handful of my friends listened to it this year, as well. We each had a different but positive response to the podcast, each of us expressing a way it noticeably strengthened our Christian faith and mission. Dave Matthews Band, Leif Vollebekk, and Shawn Colvin have dominated my music playlists this year.

 What are your favorite blogs / publications?

My favorite publication is sadly no longer in print. During 2004 and 2008, there was a beautiful home décor magazine put out called Cottage Living. I’ve hung onto many of my issues of it, as I’ve not seen another design publication do it quite like Cottage Living did. This blogger shares my sentiment and remembers the magazine’s legacy in her wistful post. If you can ever get your hands on an old issue, do!

Take a look at her incredible portfolio and be sure to follow Hope on her website and Instagram. 

Daily Desires:

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