Libby Holland credits her Leaside High art teacher Gail Fularski (Leaside Life, Nov. 2020) with inspiring her art journey.
How does an art teacher get her students’ attention? Leasiders who studied art with Ms. Fularski likely experienced the same attention-grabbing experience as Libby Holland. “Day one Ms. Fularski showed us the art created by her previous Grade 9 class. As our jaws dropped and we exchanged pained expressions, my friends and I wondered if we were up to the task. Yet here I am years later a full-time artist living in Santa Barbara, CA, thanks to Ms. Fularski.”
When asked if she’s had formal fine art training, Libby enthused, “Ms. Fularski provided what I consider to be a first-class art education. Beyond the advanced techniques and creative elements of art that I learned in her class, she created a community – a rarity in high school classrooms rife with competition. We learned leadership skills that built character and were encouraged to reach beyond our perceived limits. She influenced so many of us to expand outside the little art box we entered her class with. She’s my only formal art teacher and source of my original artistic inspiration.”
For Libby Holland, Gail Fularski has transcended just being her high school art teacher. “I now consider her a mentor and friend,“she said. “Mentors and coaches are so important in surfacing talents even when we doubt ourselves. Gail continues to show her support by following me on my Santa Barbara Botanical Garden’s Instagram channel. Teachers like her have so much impact and yet are often undervalued and rarely thanked, yet contribute so much. My appreciation and gratitude for how she nurtured my artistic talent are intense. When I get back to Leaside, a tight-knit entrepreneurial community like Santa Barbara, I enjoy reaching out to her.”
Holland was selected as the first Artist-in-Residence at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens from April through June 2021. “Being immersed in the garden’s native plants and actively painting as members and visitors wander by or linger and ask about my inspiration and technique for my ‘Grow Wild’ paintings is so calming and freeing,” she said.
And it’s a huge change from the isolation she experienced in her studio as Covid curtailed interaction with others. Libby added, “I’ve even had a bee land on one of my painted flowers. I took that as a nod of approval.”
You can enjoy Libby Holland’s The Nature of Beauty: Celebrating the Synergy between California Native Plants and Pollinators, on display Sept. 25-Oct. 24, 2021 virtually.