Multimedia artist finds inspiration in nature and region

Holly Fritchman is a Centre County fixture. She’s as well-established as the moss that hugs the stones and logs along Cedar Run Stream and, as a self-taught painter, is as absorbent as the soil that sprouts the trees that tower above. Running through the rest of April at the Schlow Centre Region Library’s Betsy Rodgers Allen Gallery, Fritchman will exhibit a collection of her watercolors, oil paintings and drawings as part of her showcase “Nature in Detail: Botanical Art.”

Painting and drawing from the beauty that surrounds her, Fritchman expertly revels in the natural world and aptly translated what she sees and feels. Having been widely exhibited throughout Pennsylvania and in Eagle Hill, Maine, where she served as an artist in residence in 2008, Fritchman’s State College exhibit takes a closer examination at nature’s finer details.

“Centre County, like most of central Pennsylvania has a combination of farm fields, wetlands and mountains, and it’s all just filled with richness for artists,” Fritchman said, “This area is just perfect for painters and artists.”

Immersing herself in the beauty that surrounds her, Fritchman examines the typically neglected natural elements she goes out of her way to find on an almost daily basis. Pieces such as “The Painted Lady” and “Moss, Lichens and Blueberries,” both of which are on display at her exhibition, are intimate studies that provide an unparalleled detailed look usually reserved for high-definition TV documentaries.

“I tend to notice a lot of detail. I started drawing first, working with graphite pencils which allows for plenty of detail,” Fritchman said of her artistic evolution. “Then I entered into watercolors, which is what botanical artists typically use. I really enjoy working with watercolor and pencil to highlight the detail in my botanical art, but I tend to use oil paint for my landscapes, which are more atmospheric and not as detailed. I love to get out into nature itself, and I love finding things just as you’re walking along a trail that are absolutely beautiful. Rocks, plants and pieces of bark or wood are all things that I can use in my art.”

Another element of Fritchman’s work that separates her from her contemporaries are the choices of canvas that she uses. She eschews the typical route of textured surfaces and craft paper in favor of calf vellum or calf skin to display her artistic talent.

“We all have our own style and we all have our own colors that we see in nature that are different and that’s what makes it so beautiful,” Fritchman said.

For someone who is as tuned into and appreciative of nature as Fritchman is, it makes sense to give back to her community in order to preserve her source of inspiration. As a member of the Farmland Preservation Artists of Central Pennsylvania, Fritchman is a champion of conservation and has been donating a portion of her art sales to the conservation cause.

Fritchman said she hopes that those who view her exhibit leave with a greater sense of appreciation of the little things that make our planet such a wonderful place.

“I hope that someone who sees my exhibit would discover how beautiful a branch with a leaf hanging from it is, or how beautiful dried weeds look when they’re made into the composition,” Fritchman said. “I would hope ... they would take the time to look at how beautiful things really are up close.”