Artist Laura Crabtree Hollenbeck

An example of fine art by Laura Crabtree Hollenbeck

Photo of Laura Crabtree Hollenbeck


Laura Crabtree Hollenbeck has no dry, academic artist's statement to offer. She simply paints, in watercolors, sometimes acrylics, real people, real cows, real dogs, real produce ... real everything.
Some have told her she should switch from realism to abstraction; that "my art is too direct, and that I need to make them think," Laura says. But she'd rather capture whatever inspires her to pick up a brush, and to make a deep, emotional connection to viewers of her paintings.
Primarily self-taught, Laura has spent decades teaching, participating in juried shows, and running her own studios and shops. She's participated in Grand Rapids' Artprize, and was juried into the art publication Acrylicworks with her work selected for the cover.
Her motivation has always been to connect positively with viewers, but that attitude intensified after a near-death experience. "I don't want to put the ugly side out there," Laura Determined grew up in Barrington, Ill. She started her career as a painter at the age of five, when her parents kept her occupied with watercolors at restaurant tables. When waiters purchased her paintings, an obsession was born. (Her father had slipped the waiters cash to do so, she admits with a laugh.)
As an adult, she worked to open her own "tiny little art shop" in suburban Chicago. She created and sold her art, and held classes that, she says, felt like warm social events. She loved the community atmosphere of the shop, where her "service was for visitors to leave happy."
But Laura had to shut its doors. Recession struck, and in 2010 her husband moved them to mid-Michigan to find work.  She kept painting, inspired by the beauty of her new home state. But then she had to put down her brush and face the fear that she'd never be able to pick [...]

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