Summer Solstice

From July 2010 article in the ‘Inquirer & Mirror’ –  by Lindsay Pykosz, I & M Contributing Writer

In 1976, Eric Holch finished his first print, “Summer Solstice,” the work that jump-started his silk-screening and oil-painting career that has now spanned almost 35 years. With works on exhibit throughout the United States, Bermuda, Japan and Australia, Holch said that he still makes it a point to challenge himself while making sure he keeps painting what he enjoys.

“That’s the cool thing about art – there are no rules,” he said. “Art is personal, you’re doing it for yourself. You wouldn’t want to paint something or create something that you didn’t want to. I always tell myself this and every day I push the boundaries of the medium.”

Known for his prints depicting bright, sunny days and colorful sailboats, Holch recently branched out from his norm and created “Race Week,” a print of a foggy, gray day during Nantucket Race Week, an island sailing event every August.

“I had done the Race Week logo and after the logo was finished, I was out on my boat and I had a judge with me,” said Holch, an avid sailor. “I was taking pictures of the boats going by and the result was the first print that I’ve made that’s of a gray day. That gave me the OK to keep doing something different than what I might necessarily be used to.”

Holch’s prints are achieved using a process that was developed in the early 1900s. This printmaking technique involves cutting and layering multiple colors onto a heavy paper – a practice that takes a lot of precision and patience.

“I start with sketches and sometimes reference photography and keep tightening it,” said Holch. “I switch back and forth from color sketches to black and white sketches and cut films for each color – that’s where uniformity comes into play. I then have to figure out the order of the colors to make them overlap.”

Holch said that he typically works from light colors to dark – specifically from pale yellows to dark greys – to make sure that the colors don’t blend together incorrectly. In some of his prints, such as “Harbor Porch,” Holch said that he layered yellow on top of a gray-blue color to give the floor of the porch a two-toned look.

Over the winter, Holch’s travels to Gasparilla Island, Fla. produced new additions like “Beach Break” that feature his staple pastel colors. Also new this year is “Grey Lady,” a print depicting Nantucket’s historic downtown with the harbor in the foreground; and “Reflections,” which captures a solo Beetle Cat sailboat resting in the harbor on a quiet fall morning. In addition, Holch has also been working on deconstructions of his pieces which leave him with a different version of the original print.

“I take my old prints that were damaged and pull them apart and put them back together in a different way,” he said. “That’s a lot of fun for me.”

Although deconstruction gives Holch a chance to play with prints he’s already completed, he said that he is usually working on new images, often with subjects that may be the same as previous prints.

“Certain things pique my fancy, like umbrellas and beach chairs,” he said. “Because there is a lot of prep work and I end up working on something for months, I am usually working on new images.”

Although Holch’s gallery has moved around a few times, he has been somewhere on Old South Wharf consistently since 1978, a place he feels is relaxed and “more of the way it used to be.” For him, Old South Wharf is a place where people can come down and separate themselves from the busy streets of town.

“People here look after each other and the people who visit here realize that,” he said. “There was a lady who came in just the other day who has a house here that she comes to during the summer, but never came down to the wharf. She finally came down and was amazed at the quality of what’s down here. There’s good quality, a lot of variety and it’s all good stuff.”

The Holch Gallery, located at 10 Old South Wharf, is open daily from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. For more information, visit or call (508) 228-7654.