Columbia Forum
George Stade on the value of horror fiction
Phillip Lopate '64, coming of age as a moviegoer at Columbia
The "small, quiet worlds" of watercolorist Donald Holden '51
"Lost and Frozen" by Jeffrey Harrison '80
Charles Van Doren revisits Morningside Heights

The "small, quiet worlds"
of Donald Holden '51

"I paint for people willing to take their time," says watercolorist Donald Holden '51. He wants people to "enjoy all the subtleties that don't emerge at first glance." Although Holden discarded his early oil paintings because he found them inadequate, and gave up a commercially successful but artistically unsatisfying foray into sculpting, he found his medium when he began painting watercolors in the early 1980s. His watercolors -- here represented by Yellowstone Fire XIX (1991) and Monhegan Morning III (1993) -- now hang in 40 museums around the world.

In an effort to create an intimate connection with the viewer, Holden exhibits only small canvases. "I like to think that my watercolors are small, quiet worlds that invite you to step inside and lose yourself."

Born in Los Angeles, Holden's only formal art training came at New York's Art Students League, though he remembers spending "every spare moment" in Manhattan's museums and art galleries. He credits his Columbia professors with teaching him that "painting was more than technique." A frequent contributor to art magazines and journals, Holden is the author of more than 20 books, including Whistler Landscapes and Seascapes (1969), selected for the White House library of notable books on American art.

A major retrospective of Holden's works -- on display last spring at Curwen Gallery in London and at the Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, over the summer -- will be shown at the Susan Conway Gallery in Washington, D.C., from September 21 to October 16.


Monhegan Morning III (1993). 13" x 9", watercolor.


Yellowstone Fire XIX (1991). 7 1/4" x 10 3/4", watercolor.