Greyhound dogs race across a Charlotte billboard in a scene created by artist Alice Holleman. She is one of 20 winners in the 2015 ArtPop Billboard Contest sponsored by the Arts & Science Council in conjunction with Adams Outdoor Advertising.
“The whole point of the project is to bring art to people in an unconventional way,” Holleman said.
During the year, billboards in Charlotte will be filled with rotating artwork. Holleman’s 7-inch by 18-inch watercolor and ink painting was blown up to billboard size.
“It’s like a big sheet of vinyl. The paintings will move to wherever there’s blank space on a billboard. It’s a way to add culture to the everyday drive,” said the 23-year-old Holleman.
Like the other winners from Mecklenburg and surrounding counties, Holleman’s art will be featured in two solo shows at the Sheraton Hotel on South McDowell Street. The first “Art in Aperitif” is March 18 and another is scheduled for July 1.
For the March event, Holleman will display paintings she’s finished within the past year. She’s busy working on new pieces for the July show.
It’s an exciting experience for an emerging artist who completed a bachelor of fine arts degree at East Carolina University in 2013. Holleman, an Iredell County native, returned to Troutman after graduation.
“For about six months, I was in an art slump,” Holleman said.
But she went to work, updated her portfolio and accepted a friend’s “Inktober” challenge to create an ink illustration every day during October.
Greyhounds came to mind.
Holleman sketched a neighbor’s retired dog, then added sketches of greyhounds racing. But drawing the muscles and movement of the animals during a race was a challenge, so Holleman researched pictures and videos.
“I found a really great 1895 series of greyhounds running and used that as a reference for their muscles,” Holleman said.
The freelance artist is not afraid to experiment. When she painted a poster for The Daily Press, a coffee shop in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood, the illustrator mixed instant coffee granules with warm water. After congealing, the mixture turned into the consistency of acrylic ink.
“It has a really cool effect. It kind of caramelizes on paper, gives a shine and smells wonderful,” said Holleman, who combines her love of music with art.
In the studio, she listens to music or podcasts while painting. Her preference is bluegrass unless she’s trying to finish a piece. Then she switches to rap for the faster tempo.
While attending concerts, Holleman talks to musicians about her work. Those conversations have led to promotional posters and album covers for the Nashville, Tenn.-based The David Mayfield Parade and other bands.
At a Brewery Fest in Knoxville, Tenn., Holleman accepted a request to draw a chalk sketch on the cement floor of a restaurant. She did, had a free beer and received several commissions, including logo work for a brewery.
“It was serendipitous,” said Holleman who doesn’t take herself and Bruce, a white and orange/yellow farm cat, too seriously.
She laughed as she described his penchant for testing the sturdiness of her art by sitting on it, but he’s a handsome fellow who allows Holleman to dress him in bow ties.
She brings that same kind of whimsy to illustrations such as the self-portrait on her business card.
“I enjoy drawing people,” Holleman said. “I love the interior monologue you can get with facial expressions,”
When not in the studio, Holleman is at The Depot. She is the office manager at the Mooresville Arts gallery where she does a little bit of everything from working on spreadsheets to checking light bulbs.
Sandra Phillips is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Sandra? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
View Alice Holleman’s work at www.aliceholleman.com.