What would you do if you weren’t so afraid?

The day I hung this painting in my husband’s grandmother’s room at the nursing home and watched her light up with delight, I understood, for the first time, that art can truly have an effect on people’s lives.  And I knew that I didn’t want to just paint scenes.  I wanted to paint scenes that evoke emotions–that mean something.

Sure, there’s a great market out there for pretty pictures that blend well with the sofas in your living rooms, but that’s not what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.  I want to make a difference for people.

In September I am going to begin a series of paintings that aim to do that.   The series is going to focus on people being authentic.  People living their truth.   I want to encourage people to get in touch with their true selves and to live the very best lives they can live.

It will be called the Revol-YOU-tion series, and I’m asking for your help.   Would you please send the answers to these questions to me in the comments here or on Facebook or by inbox or email, if you want to keep the answers private.

What do you wish you could do, if only you weren’t so afraid?

What makes you feel alive?

What’s your dream?

Don’t censor.  Let me figure out if I can find a way to paint it.  It would mean a great deal to me.   I want to get to the raw truth and help carve pathways, open new ideas for accomplishment, or maybe even just give gentle encouragement wherever I can.   And if it’s your dream, it’s likely someone else’s too.   You helping me might actually help another as well.  Double duty good deed.  🙂

What makes me feel alive?  This.  So thank you.


The Blue Hasti Creed

This year has been a year of great change for me.  As I sit here in my new favorite bright red pants, with my hair clipped up in a floral clip that six months ago I’d never have been seen in public wearing, I realize that it’s taken almost all the way to my 50th birthday to settle into being my true blue self.    And it’s taken the deaths of several of my closest friends for me to decide that there is no more time to waste in discarding all traces of the conformist me and truly start living as my authentic self.

As a result, my art is changing, and its becoming freer, more joyful, more me.  I’ve never felt so peaceful as I do now, now that I’ve rejected the opinions of others who I scarcely know and instead embraced my own opinion about what I choose to believe is good, beautiful, and acceptable.

Well, it’s time to spread that same growth throughout my art business as a whole.  You will see new things coming to Blue Hasti Art.  All of them will revolve around helping others learn to embrace their own authentic selves.   My art, our classes, the images we share with the world, and this blog will all be designed around encouraging individuality and leading others toward a more peaceful existence.

Here is our new creed.  It will be proudly displayed on our web page as a reminder about what we stand for.

The Blue Hasti Creed

I believe:
That living as our truest selves is the most important thing we can do for the health of our souls and of our world.

I believe:
That most people in our society are overwhelmed and feeling lost.  They are following the crowd, and the crowd is, by and large, following the wrong leaders.

I believe:
That most of those leaders, the influencers, the people in positions of power to direct society tell others what to think, do, and BUY, purely for their own profit.  Few of them care about the physical, mental or emotional health of the people.

I believe:
That as a result, and by design, we the people run in circles trying to meet impossible standards which have been intentionally set outside of our grasp so that we will continue to buy products that might get us closer to the standard.  And also by design, those standards change regularly so that very few ever achieve the goal.

I believe:
That no mortal man or woman has the right or qualifications to set standards of living, standards of beauty, standards of acceptability of lifestyle, standards of believing or any other standard for any other human being.  We are all born perfectly different, by design.  No one person’s opinion is correct.

I believe:
That we can learn to embrace our individuality.  We can learn to love our differences.  And we can learn to appreciate that there is no global definition of beauty.   There is no global definition of class.  There is no global definition of worthy.  We each create our own world.  We each decide what will be beautiful to our own mind.

I believe:
That the time has come to free our minds.  The time has come to reject impossible standards.  The time has come to acknowledge that there is no one right way to live.  The time has come to appreciate that conformity equals mundane and boring.  People of all sizes, colors, styles, stories and backgrounds give our world beauty and texture.

The time has come to embrace our privilege to be our own true blue, beautiful selves.

Blue = peaceful, calm, serene.  Hasti= existence.   We all deserve nothing less.  Welcome to Blue Hasti Art

Who Decides What’s Beautiful?

photos by: Kataram Studios

I had the pleasure of bringing Blue Hasti Art to a wedding expo yesterday.   I love days like that where I get to meet a bunch of people and listen to their stories.   I love talking with the other vendors and hearing their hopes and dreams.  And mostly I love to people watch.

One of the things that always stands out to me is how our over- active brains tell us stories.   For example, going to a wedding expo, one tends to envision that you will encounter lots of young, pretty, slender brides in perfect flowing gowns and lots and lots of roses everywhere.    Reality, however, is that the room is filled with ordinary people.   They look like you and me.

There are brides and grooms of every age, background, orientation, size, and shape.  There are vendors who look relaxed and some who look frazzled.  There are indeed gowns and roses, but fewer than you’d imagine.  It’s just a room full of life.  Everyday life.

So where do those faulty visions that we dream up come from? Where do any of our faulty ideas come from?  Hollywood.   Our brains hook onto what we see in movies and on television and we somehow make it “fact” that we should all conform to those same criteria.  Then, to make it worse, we think that “everyone else” does fit and we don’t.  And then we get insecure. We tell ourselves scary stories.

I think the same thing happens with art.   Many people who are wonderfully creative talk themselves out of creating because they think that “everyone else is good” and they are not.   Truth be told we all are good.  Because THERE IS NO STANDARD to compare your own creations to.  All creation is good!

See.  You don’t believe me.  Right now you are arguing with me in your head.  Who put those ideas there?  Who says what is beautiful and what is not?  Who set that standard for you? Who told you to judge your creativity against someone else?  Who put himself/herself in the position of God and told you what to think?  And why do you believe them?  Please don’t tell me it’s because other people do???  really???

I recently had a similar conversation with a young lady in her early 20s who was berating herself for having gained some weight.  I asked her to Google “Plus Size Model” and look at the women who pop up on the screen and tell me if they are beautiful or not.  She had to agree that the women on the screen were indeed beautiful.  Nothing about their size changed that.  It is just a thought in her head–a standard set by strangers–that made her believe that bigger thighs automatically disqualify you from being pretty.  But it’s not true.

My very long-winded point to this post is to guard your thoughts.  Be very careful what you tell yourself because you might just believe it.   Talk to yourself like a treasured friend.  And for the love of all that is holy, go do your art.  Express yourself however your soul wants to express.  Sing.  Dance.  Paint.  Draw.  Decorate.  Cook. Build. Sculpt. Make us laugh if that’s your thing.  Just go do it.

And have a wonderful day.

If this is the first time we are meeting, hello. I’m Holly Connors.  I create art that’s about connection to our roots, to our past, to our history.  I believe that the world moves faster than it used to and it’s harder to feel well grounded, so I endeavor to paint images that spark feelings of solidity and predictability and comfort.  My hope is that my artwork will bring back memories that help you feel calm, joyful and peaceful.

One of the best things to happen to me was that I grew up in the projects on the poor side of Woonsocket, RI. We were dirt poor, and there were five kids in our house. I was the baby. There was little money for food and clothes much less toys and extras. My favorite stuffed animal, a dog named Clem, and my imagination were all I had, but they were all I needed. Despite all the poverty and all the want, I don’t recall a single bad memory.

In fact I credit the lack of manufactured play things with forcing the development of my creative mind. I found joy in simple things then, just as I do now. We played with boxes and found things.  I enjoyed fireflies, buttercups, the smell of sheets that were fresh off the clothes line,  leaning far back while swinging on a swing and seeing the world upside down, and waiting for the afternoon train to come by so I could count the cars.

I recall that my first true artistic creation came when I was nine years old. I remember it vividly. I had drawn an antique car–A Model T– and shown it to my older brother. He snatched it from my hand and tore it up while insisting snidely that I hadn’t drawn it. I couldn’t have. It was too good–too perfect. Plus I was a girl. What did I know about cars?

I should have been angry that he destroyed the picture, but I wasn’t. I was elated. He didn’t believe that I was the one who had drawn it. But I had. And I could do it again. And I knew it.

That was the precise moment in time when I became aware that I had a gift. I had something I could do as well as or better than the other kids.  Knowing that gave me my first confidence in life.

Time passed and by high school I had art works displayed in local businesses and had already won some local awards. Then life happened. We didn’t have money for college.  Marriage and children came. It was time, I was told, that I grew up and got a real job.

So I did. Made lots of money too, but I was always miserable–rushing from here to there.  Life was always about getting more money, and something was always missing. Everything I did was void of life.  “They” said I was doing well, but I knew I was living in a world in which I couldn’t relate.

I continued to explore various forms of artistic expression, mostly crafts, whenever I could–all the while growing more and more weary with my increasingly stagnant life. Then in 1993 I was given a set of acrylic paints and some brushes for Mother’s Day. By the end of the day I had painted my first landscape and found my joy again. My husband was in awe. He didn’t believe I had painted it. But I had. And I could do it again. And I knew it.

In recent years I’ve painted primarily commission pieces with acrylics on canvas.  I’ve done custom art, portraits, murals, paint classes.  It was only in 2018 that I finally got around to painting the things that my soul called me to create.  Once I’d completed my first set of nostalgic-themed mixed media pieces, I knew I’d found home.

That series of paintings continues today and depicts simple old-fashioned life scenes or vintage transportation vehicles.  I love everything that feels vintage, solid, simple.  Do you remember that? Simplicity? Back before iPads and X-boxes? Back when kids were forced to use their imaginations? I do. Clem, my stuffed dog, does too.  He sits in my studio as a reminder to find my joy and to never let the world suck me into its busyness again. He reminds me to experiment. To play.

Finding mixed media was a result of that kind of play.  At first I didn’t believe that I could do beautiful work using this new technique, but I did.  And I can do it again.  And I know it.  And I can’t wait to share it with you.

Painting as an Escape

The world scares me. That’s the plain and simple truth. It’s gotten too fast.  Too busy.  Too overwhelming.   So I paint as a means of escape.  And I tend to paint things that make me feel like time has reversed and gone back to a period that was more predictable.   My hope is that my paintings will make you feel more peaceful, more grounded, and more serene as they do for me.

Remember when we were growing up?  Simple delights?  Simple life scenes—before the internet and iPads.  Those are the scenes I look to portray.   I think that’s partly why I love to travel to other countries that are not quite so developed yet.   I like the simplicity of their living.  I crave it in today’s world.   But we can’t find it here in the US.  Not near where I live anyway.

It’s taken me a long time to settle into a certain theme of painting.   I had been trying to cater to this crazy world.  I was trying to paint what would sell.   What I hadn’t realized is that an artist’s work has to come from a place of authenticity in order to ooze soul.   I feel like it’s taken 25 years of painting to finally come into my own.   In July I finally just let it go.

I decided that I was going to challenge myself in multiple ways, and just let the paint fall where it  wanted.  I brought in new mediums to create with.  I gave myself strict time limits for each piece in order to prevent overthinking.   And I committed to painting subjects that resonate with me.

I’m delighted with the results.   So much so that I’ve been telling other artists who seem a bit stuck to try the same thing.   What about you?   Are you stuck somewhere in your world?  Do you need to shake things up a bit?  Or maybe dial things back?  Try it.

One thing I know for sure is that self-acceptance, authentic living, and silencing the world for a little while every day can lead to beautiful things.    I highly recommend that you give it a go.

Okay… back to website redesign.   Watch for good stuff coming in the next few days.

A Brief, Un-invited Diversion from Painting

I have this muscle in my back that likes to spasm every few years.   Apparently I was due and it’s keeping me sidelined from completing my final painting of the 12 Mixed Media in July.   All in not lost, however.  I am able to do some much needed updates to my website while I rest, ice, and stretch.

I’ve spent the past 4 years focused on doing art parties and not so much on painting my own art, but now I am seeking balance between the two, so it’s time to adjust the website to reflect my current work.

I’m excited.  My goal is to build a body of work that I can take into exhibitions and galleries and begin to enjoy the other side of an artist’s life.  It’s a lot of work, but absolutely a labor of love.   As always, I am honored to have you along for my journey.  Thank you.

Hopefully I’ll be back to painting in a day or two.  Give it about that long then take a minute to check out the website updates.  Let me know what you think!

#’s 7 – 11, Getting better as I go.

I’ve been busily working away in my studio, and I did a little more experimenting.   I’m still painting much too tightly, so I did two paintings where I had just 1 – 2 hours to paint.   They were a lesson in painting just what I had to paint to get the message across.

#7 is Newport, RI — what I could see from an internet photo anyway.  (It may or may not be accurate–all the better.  I wasn’t going for accuracy.)

This one was stressful to paint.  Partly because I limited myself to just a few colors, so I was forced to NOT mimic exactly what I could see.  Partly because I was so limited on time.

I used a lot of paper that you can no longer see.   One fun thing I did was print out info on Newport RI and include that as part of the media used.   I did something similar previously in the fishing boats painting from Galilee.   I think it’s a nice touch to give clues about the origin of the scene.

I also used newsprint, acrylic ink, and acrylic paint. It came out okay.  I imagine that if I did it with no time limit I could do something really beautiful with this scene.


Next up, #8 was an even bigger challenge.   I looked at a photo of a downtown cafe in CT and then put the photo away and gave myself one hour to recreate the FEEL of what I saw.   This is what I came up with.

Again, I was very limited on colors.   I used a lot of art paper for the umbrellas and trees.  I used newsprint for the building.  Acrylic paint and acrylic ink.

Overall I was very pleased with the result since I was indeed able to capture the feel I was looking for.  I also did ok with most of the dimensional work.   I did miss the mark on the upper windows.  I wasn’t even thinking when I rushed to get those in at the end.  I think they have character though.  Even if I could fix it, I wouldn’t.

On to #9.  This is where I decided to attempt to put together some of the skills I’ve learned so far in July an do one “for real” and not just for learning.   I was nervous!  This painting requires some degree of technical painting, but the goal was to do it as loosely as possible while still maintaining the image.

I am delighted with how it came out.   I love the texture that the art paper background gave at the top.  The newsprint at the bottom tickled me pink.  The train is painted in acrylic as is the steam.  And I kept it loose in comparison to my usual desire to overdo it.

But those trestles.  Ohhhh those trestles.   Those are made by dragging a card dipped in paint and it nearly killed me to leave all the imperfections.  In the end I absolutely LOVED them.   I definitely feel like my July experiment is paying off.  On to #10….

I painted #10 on the 16th anniversary of my father’s passing, so I wanted something I could dedicate to him.   One of my favorite early memories of dad is riding in the back of his pickup truck.  I couldn’t tell you what year, make or model it was, but I think it was green. 🙂

I decided to paint a 1951 Ford F-1 because I loved how low it was to the ground and the rounded edges.  Two things I swear I remember about Dad’s truck.   Of course, by now that truck would be rusty, so that made it into the painting as well.

1950s headlines make up the landscape in the background and the barn walls.   Art paper gives the texture on the ground.  Magazine torn paper strips make up the leaves.   And the license plates came from a mixed media paper pad that I had hanging around.   Fun! Fun! Fun!

Yesterday brought on #11.  This one was for my other guy that I love dearly.    He recently started flight school so I wanted to do something for him to encourage his journey into aviation.

Airplanes are hard!!  On the ground they didn’t seem very enticing to paint.   So in the air it went, but how to do mixed media??  Maps!  I have no idea what a flight plan map looks like, but that’s what I was thinking.   These maps are vintage as I think that plane is.  It’s a biplane (Don’t ask me… I just like how they look.)  I pulled up a few dozen photos of biplanes and went to work.

This one has newsprint, art paper, maps, acrylic paint, and acrylic ink.   He loved it, and so do I.

Not sure what #12 will be.  I’ve had some requests for animals.  Maybe an under the sea.  Not sure yet.  But one to go and  5 days to do it.

Stay tuned!

#6 Scallop Boats

#6–Entitled “The Old Wharf”  is finished. (click on the photo to enlarge.)  It’s a mixed media, collage, on canvas.  20 x 30″.    This one contains newsprint, cardboard,  magazine paper, acrylic ink, and acrylic paint.

It’s a 1930 scallop boat wharf located in Rhode Island, inspired by an old postcard.  My favorite part is the seagulls.  Any time I’ve ever gone to a seaport  I’ve always been taken by the flocks of gulls that make such a racket. Can’t you just hear them?

I also love the bits of collage in the water.  And I am humored that the magazine clippings used to make the red boat are actually bits of a lobster photo.   So much fun to create!

Enjoy it.  Watch for #7 coming soon!


#5 brings us to Galilee, RI.   It’s inspired by a photo I saw on the internet, but is obviously not a realistic or even duplicate copy.  I’ve taken a lot of artistic liberties.

It’s mixed media, of course.  This one has newsprint, art paper, acrylic ink and acrylic paint in it.  It’s on a 20 x 30 canvas.  It is entitled Fishing Boats, Galilee.

Click on the photo to enlarge and zoom in to see some of the mixed media bits.  The land in the background is newsprint, for example.  I am in love with this type of painting.  In fact, I foresee many more than 12 of this type of painting coming from my brush.

I love painting people, normally, but this one made me realize that I can enjoy painting land and seascapes too.  I can definitely see how I would enjoy painting cityscapes as well.  Look to see more of this type coming for the rest of the month!  We’ll see what else we can drum up.


It’s been a busy week, but I’ve still found time to get back into the studio to continue my challenge of completing 12 mixed media collage paintings in July.   This post features #3 and #4.

#3 Went through a series of changes.  I thought I finished it three different times and each time went back to complete some major changes.  I was a little too focused on collage and technique and in the process forgot to be sure that the painting told the story I was trying to tell.  It lacked some major elements, so I had to go back and redo large portions of it.  Here’s the final.

Click on the photo to enlarge it.   There’s some pretty cool collage bits in there that are not visible in small form.  Like the others, it really needs to be viewed in person to get the full effect.  The challenge with this one was to create a street scene without using too much detail.  And any detail I did add needed to be without the use of a brush.  I used a lot of cards dipped in paint for this one, especially all those window lines.

Another challenge was how to get the night lighting to look like night lighting.   I decided to go with brighter, almost neon colors to give the feel of neon lights.  Again, not trying to conform to reality but instead trying to capture the feel I was going for.

It’s called “Busking” and I was trying to recreate that celebratory feeling of downtown Nashville, but this time from the musician’s point of view.   It’s hard work, but it’s work they love to do.  Thank God.  I couldn’t imagine a world without music.

Next up is #4.  This one is completely different than anything I’ve ever done before, and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it.   I wanted to try to step further into loose painting, and a bit further from realism.   I wanted to experiment with a very textured and abstract background as well as the addition of collage aspects.   I succeeded in doing what I set out to do, but the overall painting is so far from my normal that it leaves me feeling uneasy.

Here it is.  My camera did not pick up all of the subtle color effects so it looks a bit more drab here than in person and the face colors are off.  But you can get an overall idea.

I do love the background effects.  They were fun to create.  I used several layers of thin washes of acrylic ink, added some spatter.  Allowed for drips and imperfections to remain.   The window is a base of white acrylic paint and newsprint for the drapes.  The pillows are art paper.

Now… figurative art is challenging always, but I find it super challenging when I’m working only in black and white.  Add some crazy lighting challenges and it becomes an even bigger challenge.

I got it done, but I’m not super pleased with the result.   Still, I wanted to try it and I’m glad I did.  My favorite part?  That lamp and flower vase. 🙂  Almost missed it, didn’t you?

Enjoy.  I’m off to figure out what to do for #5.  I think I’ll go back to my mid-level realism comfort zone for that one.