An artist’s journey: From painting to metalwork, Alyssa Holt keeps her hand in multiple mediums

BLUE HILL – Alyssa Holt is exploring her artistic nature, sometimes via multiple mediums at a time.

Depending on the time of year, you might find the Portland-born artist at work in her home studio, which had been her fisherman boyfriend’s buoy-painting workshop.

The slight young woman, wearing a silver hydrangea-inspired cuff on one wrist, made at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, shows a visitor a dizzying volume of work. Paintings are everywhere, from alcohol-ink abstracts to pieces made with bullet casings dipped in bright acrylics.

A box of shimmering lobster claws awaits summer visitors to snatch them up.

“My interest for making art stemmed from a young age. I always felt this creativity from within and having creative people in my close family. It sparked this passion for art in many forms, ”Holt said. “There’s this photograph of me around 4 years old or so, in the evening, sitting at my little desk, with a lamp and deep in my work, which was drawing of course.”

“So, the drawing turned into painting, which turned into all sorts of crafts and art forms including collage, scrapbooking, beading, sewing, printmaking,” the artist recalled. “I’ve dabbled in ceramics, woodturning, sign carving and basket weaving, all of which I would do again in a heartbeat, but it hasn’t exactly been my core work.”

“I’m definitely a collector as well,” Holt continued. Collected gems, crystals, sea glass, even a container of wire hangers, await projects.

Holt, who grew up on Cape Cod, took drawing classes at the Art Institute of Boston. There, she discovered printmaking with linoleum and wooden blocks.

“I got into jewelry around 19 years old,” she said. “I loved playing with crystals and stones, and I found that creating this ‘wearable art’ form was a fun way to work and wire soon became my medium of choice.”

“I got more experience with metal work in my first silversmithing class in 2012,” Holt said. “And continued after moving up to Maine in 2016 where I took [on] bezel settings and some copper soldering projects. Since then, I’ve had an island workshop day at Haystack, where I got to utilize their amazing metal studio space. ”

Holt, in her 20s, did the music show circuit too, creating band and concert T-shirts and pop culture-themed enamel pins.

“Now in my 30s I seem to keep many of these art forms playing off each other, either in collaboration or sometimes I’ll paint and sometimes I’ll make jewelry. It’s nice to have another medium to work with, ”the artist said.

Holt also does some graphic art, creating logos for small businesses.

“I enjoy creating,” she said. “I feel like I’m always going to be a maker no matter what. I hope people will find it pleasing or it stirs their emotions in some way. ”

A silver hydrangea-inspired cuff (from above left) and bracelets, artful sea glass magnets and alcohol-ink abstract paintings are among the artist’s other creations.

During the summer, Holt works at Handworks Gallery in Blue Hill and she also sells her work there. You can also find her art at Barncastle Restaurant and the ArtBox in Fairwinds Florist and Makers Market Shop + Studio in Brooksville.

“A lot of my inspiration comes from my family. My mother [Susan James of Castine] is in graphic design, my dad was in culinary arts and carpentry, my brother also is a carpenter, ”Holt said.

When Holt works on her jewelry, she sits at a custom bench made for her by her father, the late Richard Holt. He just passed 18 months ago and the artist has a photo of him hanging nearby. The bench has armrests that Holt can pull out and rest her forearms on while she’s doing detailed jewelry work.

“My grandfather, Paul Noble James, did a lot of painting,” she said. “He would hike and photograph scenery, then paint them at home. As a little kid I was captivated by all of his work, the pretty paintings adorning every inch of my grandparents’ walls and stacked below were more to sift through. His uncles (my great-great uncles) were painters and my great-great grandfather was a painter, illustrator, etcher and designer.

“So, my family obviously plays a big role in my work, but there is inspiration everywhere,” she said. “Nature inspires me every day. The architecture and scenery when I travel – music and culture. There are some fabulous local artists from this area I’ve been able to meet. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with a wonderful artist from Castine who had incredible encaustic work, and collage paintings. ”

Some of her favorite artists from whom she draws inspiration include MC Escher, Ralph Steadman, Salvador Dalí, Jackson Pollock and Wassily Kandinsky.

“Being here in Blue Hill is quite wonderful,” she said. “I’ve now also been at Handworks Gallery for four years and it’s inspirational just being in there to work. “I get ideas or projects in mind. I learn new techniques and I also meet a lot of the artists who show their work there. ”

See Holt’s portfolio at

Jennifer Osborn

News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

Jennifer Osborn

Leave a Comment