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"Art Tells our Story"

What is the purpose of art? It must be more than just the creative expression of the artist; I'd argue that it causes the viewer to remember something or feel a connection to the scene or what it represents. This painting above, of a sunset over water in Elk Island National Park, east of Edmonton, either gives you the nostalgia of having experienced a similar scene before, or makes you look forward to summer and open water and the feeling of being by the lake again.

Local artist, Holly Dyrland shares about her creative process with these words : "Just put some color on a canvas. As I've been consistent in just starting, I've really found a love of painting landscapes. This is where I see creation and our Creator come alive... how I paint and why I paint now has truly been a lifelong process to date. Not giving up. Being persistent in a dream I've had since I was little." For Holly, putting color on a canvas produces amazing art and a business at the same time. She humbly explains how she arrived to the place she is today, but when you see her breathtaking paintings of water and sky, you feel like it's a bit more than just 'paint and canvas'.

As you read the following interview with Holly, I hope you are inspired again today to find something in your own life that you can just start working on; keep at it and watch your inevitable progress!

Laura: What is the nature of your local business and can you tell a bit of the story about how you got started?

Holly: The nature of my business is art. More specifically fine art. I primarily paint landscapes in acrylics; local scenes that catch my eye. I am particularly captivated by big, rolling skies and water reflections. I also paint commissions, paintings by request of clients (often from their own pictures or reference photos). My artwork is typically done on canvases, ready to hang in homes and businesses. My story really began with a desire, from an early age, to have a creative career and specifically, to be an artist. Always drawing as a kid was great; figuring out how to make a living as an artist was more difficult, so I opted for a creative career - Interior Design and Architecture. I really found that attaining my degree was foundational to me picking up my brushes. As an Interior Designer, we studied architectural drawing and were taught watercolor and color mixing, and color theory (this re-taught me how to draw: think perspectives, interiors, room design, dimensions...) When my husband and I started a family and I was home with our son, I decided to pick up some acrylics and see what would happen. Well, it opened a door to another world for me: A way to capture what I see God create in breathtaking moments in creation and bring those to people to enjoy in their homes. These paintings have a way of transporting people to places they love, as art triggers an emotional response in the viewer. Art tells our story.

Laura: What have you found to be an unexpected blessing/perk of having this local business?

Holly: An unexpected blessing of having this local business has definitely been to see how others respond to my work, to hear their story of why they fell in love with a particular painting, where it takes them or what it means to them. I especially love when I have the opportunity to meet a client or to personally deliver a painting. It brings me such joy to know that my pieces are being enjoyed and are a blessing to others.

Laura: What has been a challenge/learning opportunity as you’ve pursued this business?

Holly: Of course the constant learning as I grow, as I strive to be the best I can in every painting I deliver. To understand how to undertake painting as a business: am I meeting people's needs? Are there needs to be met here? How can I plug in or be more relevant to my local area? All questions I continue to be challenged by and pour thought into. Striving to be more than a pretty picture....and am still challenged by this.

Laura: What is one interesting/unique thing you want to let people know about you/your business/your artwork?

Holly: One interesting thing I would love to let people know about my artwork is that I love a challenge! Painting outside of my favorites (big skies and water) to tackle flowers, still life, sometimes even people, is an awesome challenge for me and good for me too! It keeps me learning and keeps things fresh.

Laura: If you were to be a “tourist in your own backyard” what local activity(ies) would you recommend to others?

Holly: My backyard tends to be seasonal. I am close to (within 20 minutes of) the Blackfoot reserve, Miquelon lake, nature reserves, cross-country and hiking trails. If you come out to my home to see my artwork, I would love to treat you to a coffee, a tea, and a special treat as I am definitely more of a destination point. Along the way (in the summer) are a couple of great greenhouses if you have a green thumb (Cooking Lake Greenhouses along hwy 14 and Hastings Lake Gardens just off hwy 14 and close to my place), or one of our family's favorites is the Lindbrook Stargazer campground where we take our kids swimming in their outdoor pool in the summer. Sherwood Park, Camrose, and Edmonton, all within 30 minutes of where I am located, all have amazing farmer's markets and plenty of great things to do and places to eat.

Laura: How can people best follow you/contact you to learn more about your business/art?

Holly: My webpage is where I can keep you updated at all times ( and if you'd like a behind the scenes glimpse into my studio and paintings, Instagram is truly where it's at @hillhousestudiodesign. I am also on Facebook . You can also sign up for my newsletter and that way we can stay in touch more directly as I send out occasional letters to update people as to what's happening regarding shows, paintings, or sometimes just to say hi!

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