Artist interprets familiar scenes from Oklahoma skies, reaches new audience

His paintings show shapes Oklahomans know well, his favorite a moniker of possible dread wrapped in a delightful and delicate coat of multihued cotton. Oklahoma City artist David Holland has his first exhibit of cloudscapes at Myriad Botanical Gardens this month.

Interpreting Clouds is on display until Oct. 15 in Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory’s South Lobby, 301 West Reno Ave. The show includes a free artist reception open to the public 5-7 p.m. Thursday.

The Lawton-born artist has lived in OKC since 1977 and said he became interested in the subject matter in the late ’80s when he did a drawing of a highway overpass with a cloud in the distance. A full-time artist since 2012, Holland is excited to reach a new audience.

“It’s really a great opportunity for me as an artist just because it’s one location in Oklahoma City that gets a lot of different people coming to it,” he said. “There’s a whole segment of the population that have probably never stepped into a gallery. So it’s good to get exposure in different venues that maybe aren’t as intimidating as a gallery.”

The artist’s favorite subjects are cumulonimbus clouds.

“When you get a thunderstorm and it sort of reach its mature state, the top of the thunderstorm hits a level in the atmosphere that it can’t penetrate,” Holland said. “Right before sunset are the ones that I really like to depict the best because the thunderstorm reflects the light of the sunset colors.”

As a self-identified storm follower, Holland is in his element here in Tornado Alley, engulfed in the clash between warm and cool air, which the artist said makes for one of the best places to witness and photograph thunderstorms.

Through his oil paintings, Holland hopes to convey a respect and appreciation for the beauty of nature.

“Storms are a mixed blessing,” he said. “They can really be destructive, but without them, we can’t get water. I see them as the vehicle that spreads water throughout the earth.”

He likes to take several hundred photos of a storm and then use those to inform his work. He begins with an outline of the cloud shape and uses oil painting glazes to achieve the color effects he needs.

“It took me a long time to figure out how many colors there are in clouds because there’s all these really subtle changes of shades of colors,” he said.

Holland will be featured at the OKC Festival of the Arts for the third time in April. Visit to see more of his work.

Print Headline: Atmospheric interpretation, A collection of cloudscapes is on display at Myriad Botanical Gardens.

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