Bill Cone Demo

This morning, we were pleased to host a pastel demo by the incomparable Bill Cone for California Art Club members. With several attendees having little or no experience with pastels, Bill covered the basics before executing a seascape based on a photo he took on a recent visit to Maui. Bill’s dazzling expertise always comes with plenty of laughs, keeping the crowd rapt for two hours. Information about his lectures and workshops can be found on his Instagram account:

We now have on display in the Gallery our full roster of twenty painters — and of course all of Bill’s framed work was out for the occasion. You can also view it online, here…


Framing (and Re-Framing) Walter J. Phillips Botanical Woodblock Prints

These are two color woodblocks by the eminent Canadian artist Walter J. Phillips (1884-1963). Phillips’s first works in printmaking were etchings, but a love of color led him to take up woodcuts. We’ve had the pleasure of framing several Phillips prints for California Historical Design, and, while the artist’s interest in color has always been noticeable, it’s especially evident in these two 1928 botanicals. In sympathy with the simple beauty of the prints, we wanted their presentations to be simple but nonetheless alive to the images. We matted both works in plain tan 4-ply mats with frames in oiled walnut with touches of linseed oil paint to honor Phillips’s affinity for color.

“Zinnias,” which is 10″ x 10-1/4″, is in a 3/4″ wide frame very lightly chamfered, with a carved radius near each corner echoing lines in the print; and those corners tinted blue-grey to match the leaves. (“Zinnias” is available for purchase, here.)


Re-framing Walter J. Phillips’s Tulips print

Phillips’s print, “Tulips,” 1928, (9-1/2″ x 12-1/4″) came to us in a conventional production frame. Taking my cue from the brown tones in the print and the shape of the vase “framing” the flowers, I settled on a 1″ wide cove molding in walnut, then celebrated the color in the print with a blue-green painted slip to match the leaves and complement the red and pink blossoms. (“Tulips” is available for purchase, here.)

Go to the excellent website dedicated to Walter J. Phillips…

R.I.P., Mr. Goines

I learned yesterday that David Lance Goines died last Sunday, February 19. Goines was an internationally renowned printer and graphic artist who, after moving to Berkeley to attend theDavid Goines University in the 1960’s, remained in the city, producing posters and graphic work that became ubiquitous and iconic—an indelible part of Berkeley’s material culture. He was surely most famous for his 50 posters—one for every anniversary—created for his longtime friend Alice Waters’s restaurant, Chez Panisse.

You could say that, as a master printer, Goines ultimately imprinted himself, his artistic sensibilities, on the civic culture of his adopted city and on the minds of its citizens, and certainly on natives like myself. (A framer in this city since the ‘seventies, I can’t even guess how many of Goines’s posters I’ve framed. Some are in our inventory, here…)

Framed Alice Waters recipe by David GoinesGoines’s was a life to be celebrated. So I’m pleased that my last post on a work of his that came through the shop was the New Year’s Eve post about framing in especially celebratory fashion the recipe for cherries jubilee that he created with Alice Waters (as part of the set of Thirty Recipes Suitable for Framing).

In another post last year, I recalled my first encounter with Goines, and it seems especially poignant now. The meeting occurred in my early years in business, when I thought it would be a good idea to pay a visit to a greatly respected local artist whose work I had often framed and could expect to see much more of. I shared with him my vision of being a picture frame shop set up as a real woodworking studio, making every frame from raw hardwood lumber. Somewhat self-conscious about how ambitious it sounded, I cited Robert Browning’s wisdom that “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp,” to which Goines replied with a smile, completing the quote: “Or what’s a heaven for?” It was early encouragement that I will always remember and treasure.

I have to believe that in his difficult final days after suffering a stroke, Goines was comforted by the knowledge of every artist and artisan—that through and by his work he had earned some measure of immortality, some share of heaven.

Rest in peace, Mr. Goines.

Read David Lance Goines’s obituary in the online newspaper, Berkeleyside, here…

David Goines

Hanging this Weekend With Gus and Hans at the Grove Park Inn

A little while back I posted about framing this 1912 Hans Jauchen copper relief for Gus Bostrom’s antique business in Alameda, California Historical Design. This weekend the piece is on display at Gus’s booth at the 36th Annual National Arts and Crafts Conference and Shows at the historic Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. See more pictures of Gus’s display, many including other pieces we framed for him, here…

Let’s Get Lost: Robert Flanary Show Opens Tomorrow

Today at the Gallery we added the finishing touches to our one-man show, Robert Flanary: Seeing All Together. Along with a great air of anticipation here, we enjoyed also a considerable amount of fond reflection. The show marks the beginning of our twenty-fifth year of representing Robert, and it’s been a collaboration we’ve loved—and are thrilled to celebrate with this exhibit.

Robert Flanary painting

Robert Flanary
“Late Winter”
Oil on canvas, 11″ x 14″. $1,800 framed.

Robert Flanary’s paintings can be dangerous. I speak from personal experience. As I explained in my last post, 24 years ago Robert, visiting from Spokane, Washington, showed up at our little shop in Emeryville looking for picture frames for his landscape oil paintings. Gazing at the work, I was so enchanted that the next thing I knew, instead of selling Robert frames, as he’d asked me to do, I asked him if he would like to leave his paintings behind for us to display in the shop, framed by us at no expense to him. In other words, under the spell of Robert’s paintings, I got lost, and—because the arrangement would evolve to become the model for The Holton Studio Gallery—accidentally strayed into the gallery business.

And it’s not just me. A Flanary painting posted on social media recently received the comment, “My God, what is Robert Flanary doing to us!” Good question—what is he doing to us?

While it can be said that good painters paint the light—not the tree, the barn, the creek, but the light on the tree, the barn, the creek—few paint the light on the air as convincingly as Robert. Perhaps more than any other aspect of his work, it’s the heightened attention to atmosphere that seems to fascinate. Among other things, it’s that ephemeral and all-pervasive element that unifies and harmonizes the infinite variety of the natural landscape and fills us with the revelatory sense of “seeing all together,” as Robert puts it.

Robt Flanary painting

“Late Winter”. Side View

But as demonstrated by a painting like “Late Winter,” shown here, it’s not the rendering of atmosphere alone that makes Robert’s works so intoxicating. It’s the combination of that element with the artist’s mastery of perspective that I believe is the key to his extraordinary power to convey mood. Robert’s paintings confirm what neuroscientists have come to understand, which is that looking is never purely visual, but involves all the senses, including the kinesthetic sense—the whole body in motion. With powerful use of perspective, Robert draws, not just our eyes but our bodies into a scene, where his expertly captured atmosphere then envelopes us like music… And he’s done it to us again: we’re lost in another of Robert’s mysterious places.

But only to find ourselves. We’re not only seeing all together; we’re seeing that we are part of it all.


Come join us tomorrow, Saturday from 1-4, at the opening and artist reception for Robert Flanary: Seeing All Together.

The show can also be viewed online at our e-commerce site, here.

Robert Flanary and the Genesis of Holton Studio Gallery

As we frame our new show, Robert Flanary: Seeing All Together, I’ve been reflecting on the great significance Bob has for Holton Studio. It was 24 years—almost a quarter century—ago that I first met Bob. Before we hatched the Holton Studio Gallery, he walked into the shop with a handful of his paintings. We were in Emeryville at that time and used the front end of the wood shop as a showroom for custom framing. Bob was visiting from Spokane, Washington where a friend who had seen our ads in American Bungalow Magazine told him about us. He was looking to order frames for his paintings, but Trevor and I were so impressed with the work that the transaction went in another direction, essentially planting the seed for what was to become the Gallery. Instead of ordering frames, Bob ended up leaving the paintings behind for us to display on our walls and sell on consignment—and of course, we’d frame them, making the frames on spec.

Robert Flanary, self-portrait

Robert Flanary, self-portrait (not for sale)

At the time, we had no idea of the implications of that arrangement: it was a model for an art gallery where the artists didn’t have to provide their own frames. Only in time, as the gallery evolved and got a proper home in a separate storefront across the street from the wood shop, did the value of the arrangement emerge. Despite our mediocre retail location, we found ourselves almost effortlessly growing a roster of expert painters. (Paul Kratter was our second artist; similar story to Bob’s.) We had one other massive advantage, of course: being in the Bay Area, which placed us in the midst of this region’s long and rich tradition of landscape painting, and its living community of painters.

These were the years when the Internet was taking off, so it was a time when our accidental model was particularly valuable and significant: we weren’t just middle men who could be replaced by the shiny new technology. We were contributing something real to the product, and offering not only the harmonious setting of an individually designed and crafted frame for each picture but also a larger harmonious setting for the picture amidst many similarly framed paintings on a common (as well as compelling and uplifting) landscape theme.

In any case, that was how the gallery was born—and Robert Flanary planted the seed!

Last week on the blog I shared the painting from “Seeing All Together” that we’re using for the publicity, “Outcropping.” Below is a sneak peek at another piece, “Sunlight on a Winter Morning.” We framed the 18″ x 24″ canvas in a 3″ wide No. 16 frame in stained quartersawn white oak with 23 kt gold leaf on the chamfered sight edge.

Robert Flanary: “Seeing All Together” opens on February 4—a week from Saturday!—with a reception for the artist. I hope you’ll come!

Painting by Robert Flanary

Robert Flanary, “Sunlight on a Winter Morning,” oil on canvas, 18″ x 24″

Painting by Robert Flanary

“Seeing All Together”: Framing an Exhibit of Recent Landscape Paintings by Robert Flanary

The weeks leading up to a show at the Gallery are always exciting, as we get to live with a crop of new paintings, see our own work enhance already beautiful pictures, and watch the exhibit come together. It’s always a joy. But the show we’re currently mounting is extra special, because it’s the first one-man show we’ve held for an artist who, as the very first painter we represented, has always had an especially significant role in the Gallery—Robert Flanary. The show, which opens February 4 with an artist’s reception, is called Robert Flanary: Seeing All Together and will feature Bob’s recent landscape paintings. I’ll be discussing it more in the weeks ahead, but am spotlighting today the piece featured on the postcard and all our publicity, a 20″ x 24″ oil painting titled “Outcropping.” Trevor made this 2-1/2″ wide quartersawn white oak mortise and tenon frame with a carved chamfer sight edge (No. 1100 CV) and white gold slip.

Robert Flanary painting

Robert Flanary paintingBob’s life has been as devoted to painting as any artist’s could be, and now that he’s retired—after twenty years teaching art in a high security juvenile prison in Olympia, Washington—he’s more focused on his work than ever. It’s an extraordinary thing to spend so many years honing one’s art—not only the skills but all the knowledge, insight and understanding entailed in true mastery. I’ve witnessed many a gallery visitor, often painters themselves, stand entranced before a Flanary painting that is at once a compelling abstract composition, a precise observation of nature, and a painted surface that mesmerizes the attentive viewer by slowly revealing itself.

In Bob’s latest work, much of his attention is on composition, exploring the fascinating interplay of a picture’s parts and elements that, in practiced hands, can lead to that transcendent vision and experience of the harmony of nature and the unity of being—the vision Bob calls “seeing all together.”

Trevor Davis and Robert Flanary

Trevor Davis and Robert Flanary at our Berkeley grand opening, 2017

Over the course of these twenty-four years that we’ve been representing Bob, his extraordinarily sensitive and reflective tonalist style has made him a big favorite of many of our customers. Few visitors who appreciate landscape painting can pass up a long look at Bob’s work or fail to appreciate its unique and accomplished character. Most of all what captivates viewers are the powerful moods the work conveys. I expect this show to stir some real excitement among Bob’s fans.

Robert Flanary: Seeing All Together will run February 4 through March 11, and will open Saturday, February 4th with a reception for the artist from 1 to 4—a rare opportunity for those many admirers among you to meet him in person. So save the date!


View Robert Flanary’s artist page here…

Cherries Jubilee for the New Year!

Looking for a festive recipe for your New Year’s Eve dinner? Here’s one from none other than Alice Waters, as designed, calligraphed, and printed by David Lance Goines at his St. Hieronymous Press. “Cherries Jubilee” was created in 1970 as part of a folio the pair collaborated on and called “Thirty Recipes Suitable for Framing.” The collection’s title is catnip for this framer, so in the spirit of a picture frame’s celebratory purpose—not to mention the celebratory recipe and this celebratory time of year—I repeated Goines’s lovely cherry tree woodcut design on a flat 3/4″ wide walnut frame, outlining the pattern in black milk paint and then coloring it with red and green linseed oil paint.

To all, a very Happy New Year from Holton Studio Frame-Makers! Framed Alice Waters recipe by David Goines

David Goines print "Cherries Jubilee"

Open House—Last Day of Beloved California VII

Tomorrow, Friday, December 30, is not only our last day of business before the New Year, but also the last day of our big annual all-gallery show, Beloved California. We’re ringing out 2022 and this special show with an open house from 11 to 4. Hope you can come!

Below are some of the beautiful works on display—and still available for purchase!

Mark Farina painting

Mark Farina
“Carmel Valley Hills”
Oil on linen panel, 16″ x 20″. $3,750 framed.

Barbara Tapp painting

Barbara Tapp
“The Overseer. Above the Olive Grove”
Watercolor on paper, 7″ x 12″. $775 framed.

Carol Peek painting

Carol Peek
“Tranquil Evening”
Oil on linen panel, 9″ x 12″. $3,000 framed.

Paul Roehl painting

Paul Roehl
“Blue Sky”
Oil on panel, 18″ x 24″. $4,300 framed.

Davis Perkins painting

Davis Perkins
“Friden’s Barn, Scott Valley, CA”
Oil on panel, 10″ x 12″. $2,275 framed.

Kim Lordier pastel, "Misty Morn"

Kim Lordier
“Misty Morn, Point Lobos”
Pastel on paper, 18″ x 24″. $6,800 framed.

James McGrew painting

James McGrew
“Bridalveil Sunset”
Oil on panel, 14″ x 11″. $2,200 framed.

Watercolor by Tia Kratter

Tia Kratter
“Face the Camera and Say Cheese”
Watercolor on paper, 12″ x 9″. $1,275 framed.

View the entirety of Beloved California VII online here…

Come to the open house if you can. Again, it’s this Friday from 11 to 4. We’d love to see you!