Dallas artist Riley Holloway tends to follow the road less traveled. His path has veered from dabbling in graphic design to immersing himself in early European oil painting styles, with Holloway constantly looking to other artists and experiences to help mold and shape his technique. “Each opportunity has in some way felt like a defining moment,” he says.
During his first year studying graphic design at The Art Institute of Dallas, Holloway discovered John Howard Sanden’s Portraits from Life in 29 Steps and began creating traditional oil paintings in his apartment. His life drawing professor mentioned a summer program at The Florence Academy of Art in Florence, where Holloway went to study the style of the old masters before deciding not to continue school for graphic design. “I left knowing I wanted to paint as well as everyone else,” he recalls, “but also develop my own technique.” He continued honing his skills through Art Love Magic (a collective of artists supporting the local art scene), was awarded a residency at the Fairmont hotel in Dallas and launched his first solo exhibition, “SHOOK!!!,” at the hotel’s gallery.
Holloway now paints from home, where he’s always been more comfortable and productive. “I’ve finally figured out good lighting, which happens to be the best in one spot out in the garage,” he adds. His array of stunning figurative work captures the emotional vulnerability of his subjects, sometimes loved ones and other times strangers. And he has mastered the malleability of traditional oil paint. “It can imitate practically anything when done correctly,” he explains. Often inspired by print magazines, he plans out typography placement on his works beforehand in order to convey a poetic narrative. Then he takes his figures straight to canvas.
Holloway praises his artist mother, once a page layout artist for JCPenney, for sparking his passion. Together they perused fashion magazines, “and I still gravitate toward that composition,” he says. With hopes of one day exhibiting with her, Holloway—represented locally by Erin Cluley Gallery—continues seeking new experiences. “Moments and opportunities motivate me,” Holloway explains. “To be able to pick anyone I want to work with or do something I haven’t done before is very exciting.”