Scientist and artist Holly Lombardo began sharing her work on Instagram @hlombardoartist as a way to give people access to her most recent paintings, and to engage with viewers. We spoke to her about her artistic influences, the allure of nature, and painting scientifically.
Q. How would you describe your work?
A. I’ve always joked that my tagline is: I’ve been a painter my whole life — I just didn’t know it. I was a very curious kid. I noticed colors and detail, and I’d say I was also always very creative and entrepreneurial. So my work really is the right place for me to be, based on just the way I grew up. It’s the right thing for me to be doing. It’s not my full-time job. I’m actually a scientist. So I have a master’s in cell biology and I’ve worked in the biotech industry and I’ve taught middle school math and science, so painting is really the other side of my brain. It’s like a hobby, just a [way to] do what I feel like I always needed to do.
Q. Do you think your scientific background and work influence your paintings at all?
A. Absolutely. So, one of my posts recently said that I consider myself to be an artistic engineer. I can’t get away from the way that my brain thinks, which is logical. It’s mathematical. It looks for patterns and shapes and the whole process of doing an engineering product, which is an iterative design process. I basically follow that same methodology when I paint. I set my proportions up mathematically. When I’m composing a painting, I experiment with colors. It’s very synonymous. It’s kind of interesting to me, as I get older, I recognize more and more that an artist should be an engineer, and an engineer should be an artist. They just go together.
Q. Can you tell me more about your gallery work?
A. I approached my first gallery back in, I think it was 2012. And there was one in Wellesley, J. Todd, and there’s one up in Kennebunkport, Maine, that were my early galleries. And to have other people so excited about my work as I was when I created it was fun. And then, I am in Chatham and Portsmouth, N.H. I have paintings out in Utah. A gallery just opened. I always joke, I’m going to paint anyway, so it’s really nice that I can deliver paintings to galleries and then they sell them to people, because they were filling up my back hall at my house.
Q. All of your work is very nature-centric. So what about that appeals to you?
A. I was a Navy kid and we moved a lot, but most of my childhood from the start of fifth grade on was in Maine. So you know, we didn’t have Internet or anything, so I was outside all the time every season, and I knew I wanted to be a biologist at some point, so I had extra interest in the details of trees and things that grew on the forest floor. I loved stormy weather. I like snow. So I’ve always noticed those types of details, even as a kid. And now as I get older, they have different meaning to me now, but they still appeal to me because I loved playing out in the woods as a kid, so painting a stand of trees with the sun coming through, it real reminds me of growing up in Maine. Or being down at the ocean, or a nice winter day, crunching on the snow with my boots, like that.
Q. What made you decide to start sharing your work on Instagram?
A. I was probably late to the Instagram show. I did Facebook first, but my girls teased me that that’s for old people, and I tried Twitter. I like Instagram’s format because it’s very easy. People will say to me: Where can I see your work? And I have a website, but I have to replace paintings and update it, and Instagram is always up to date. It’s a great platform for me to share my work and reach people and find people, and a great place for people to see the whole body of work very easily at their fingertips, to connect with me very easily.