You know you’ve entered the realm of an artist the moment you walk through the door of Hollis Yoho’s Highland Park home. It’s easy to feel awestruck among impeccably collected accessories and walls showcasing exquisite works of art (mostly her own). Holli, however, is anything but ostentatious and puts you immediately at ease. She is as warm, genuine, and thoughtful as the art she creates.
AN ARTIST FROM BIRTH
Holli has been an artist, in her own words, “from birth.” She recalls creating art and taking classes throughout her formative years. Her eureka moment came during high school when a college art student visited her studio art class. “She looked at all the art, and she picked out mine, and said, ‘this person’s going to be amazing at oil.’ And now it’s framed downstairs. That’s my inspiration. You can’t even pay enough money for an experience like that. It is so motivating.”
ART AND THERAPY
Holli put her artistic pursuits on the backburner during college, where she studied criminal justice social work. Her intense focus on the degree and her involvement in mental health and substance abuse therapy––working in prisons and juvenile detention centers––left no time for art. The realization hit her, however, that this line of work might prove difficult alongside raising a family. She stopped her work as a therapist, though to this day still maintains her CSW license, and finds that she uses it more than she would have thought. “I’m always a therapist, right? Art and therapy are so interrelated.”
ONCE GIVING AWAY PAINTINGS, NOW OUTPACED DEMAND
Her art career began with a watercolor of a friend’s house, given as a gift: “I’m sure it looks like I did it in crayons, it was so many years ago.” Though work was once slow, she’s now in high demand. In the beginning, she says, “it was giving paintings away.” She has since developed quite a following, gaining popularity at a pace she sometimes struggles to keep up with.
TEACHING AS AN ARTISTIC PROCESS
Holli still carves out space to teach and inspire others amidst the constant demand for commissions and allowing herself time to create for fun. On Tuesday nights she instructs a three-hour open studio night. “It’s really open ended, self motivating and self directed. Everyone brings their own stuff to work on and I help them with that.” She finds fulfillment guiding others artistically. “This community we’ve collected is so great. I love them. A lot of time when you’re doing work like this, it’s really isolating, so it’s nice to have this to connect. It feels very therapeutic.”
INFLUENCES AND INSPIRATION
Holli has several artistic influences, ranging from artists on Instagram to the masters of old, like Monet and Van Gogh. Minerva Teichert, a trailblazer for women artists, is another inspiration. “She was doing things back so long ago that we all wish we were doing now.”
Regarding mediums, she doesn’t have a favorite. “It depends on what I’m painting. I can go a long time without doing watercolor, and then I miss it, and I can go a long time without doing oil and I miss it. It’s been really fun to pull out charcoal recently.” She is arguably best known, however, for her watercolor portraits: “For houses, I love watercolor because of the looseness of it. You’re painting a memory, not just the object, and watercolor lends itself to that well.”
A NEW PHASE IN PORTRAITURE
Despite her love of painting homes, she has recently begun exploring a new favorite. “Right now, I’m really obsessed with portraiture. This past winter, I was doing a bunch of my Christmas commissions, which are mostly houses. To keep myself loose on the side, as a reward, I decided to do women portraits, and it just exploded. It was an unreal response. Joan of Arc is my favorite. I just think she’s incredible. Inspiration strikes anywhere, so one morning I thought, ‘Why don’t I paint Joan?’ And then it kind of snowballed from there.”
FAMILY FIRST AND ALWAYS
In addition to her background in social work and her successful career as an artist, Holli is a devoted wife and mother of three who makes family adventures a priority. Each year at Christmas, they give their children “a year of memories,” planning something extra special as a family for every month of the year. Ranging from exploring the Midway ice castles to riding bikes around a lake to touring historic towns, “It can be big or small, but it’s really intentional.” And what’s more, they have a special weekly tradition, too. Holli adorns the dining room table with her beautiful collection of assorted brass candlesticks, and the family enjoys a meal by candlelight. “There’s nothing technology centered around it, so it’s great.” Guests love it, too: “When we have people over for dinner, some people are surprised by all the candles, but by the end of the night, they want to keep the lights off and keep enjoying the candlelight. ”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Holli is constantly evolving and expanding her talent. “What do I have to offer that’s new? What do I have to offer that hasn’t been done before? Because I feel like everything has been painted. How can I put my own voice into what’s being done?” When asked if there’s any project she is looking forward to: “I am adopted, and that is something that has been really important to me. I have a piece that I have all visualized: our roots, the connection, and who our village is. That’s one piece I’m looking forward to doing.”
You can follow Holli and discover more of her works on Instagram @holliyohopaints. Niche Homes is proud to claim Holli as our artist-in-residence. You can find her watercolor and ink sketches on our website and postcards.