Calabi Gallery

Featuring an Eclectic Array of Primarily 20th Century Artwork

Holly Downing


Weeping for My Country by Holly Downing, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 40

Terrible Beauty: The Bear Fire, Oroville by Holly Downing, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 8 x 12

Terrible Beauty, The Kincade Backfire by Holly Downing, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 8 x 12

Vanishing IX: Stag Beetle by Holly Downing, 2020, Mezzotint engraving w/ watercolor, 3 x 3

Importing Wisdom: Tibetan Bangdian I by Holly Downing, 2010, Hand-colored Mezzotint, 7/40, 11-1/4 x 13-1/4

The Sahara After Ansel Adams by Holly Downing, 2019, Mezzotint, 2/30, 10-1/2 x 7-3/4 – SOLD

Inflamed by Holly Downing, 2016, Mezzotint, 3/12, 4×5, From A Kerosene Beauty book

Grief by Holly Downing, 2017, Mezzotint, 1/40, 6-3/4×8-3/4

A Terrible Beauty: The Valley Fire California by Holly Downing, 2015, Oil on Canvas, 8×12

Knotted Drapery: Patriotism by Holly Downing, 2008-10, Oil on Canvas, 46×40

Ashes To Dust

Ashes to Dust by Holly Downing, 2005, Mezzotint, A/P, 10-5/8×12-3/4

Beyond Nationalism by Holly Downing, Mezzotint, 9/40, 4-3/4×17-3/4

Beyond Series: Beyond Religiosity, Beyond Nationalism, Beyond Political Polemics by Holly Downing, 2009, Mezzotint, 9/40, 17-3/4×17-3/4 – SOLD

From the Woods by Holly Downing, 2006 – SOLD

From the Garden by Holly Downing, 2004 – SOLD

Peruvian Portal V by Holly Downing, 2008

Funnel & Hoe I by Holly Downing, 1998

Detail: Libocedrus macrolepis x300 by Holly Downing, 1978

Importing Wisdom: Tibetan Bangdian II by Holly Downing, 2009

Tibetan Ladder by Holly Downing, 2009 – SOLD

Viocolo della Torre by Holly Downing, 2006 Montecastello di Vibio, Italy, 10 am

Arch, Patan, Nepal by Holly Downing, 2009

Granada Arch, Old & New by Holly Downing, 2007 Granada, Spain

Holly Downing was born in San Francisco in 1948. She began her education at the University of California at Santa Cruz from 1967-72 where she received her BA in Fine Art. From 1974-75 Downing attended the Graduate Program in Printmaking at the Royal College of Art in London. She remained in the UK until 1980, where she received her MA in Fine Art through the Goddard College Graduate Program in Europe. Downing has taught art for 28 years at colleges including Brighton University in England, San Francisco State University, University of Santa Cruz, and the Santa Rosa Junior College.

Downing’s paintings and mezzotint engravings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions all over the world. She is a recipient of fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Greenshields Foundation in Canada, the Arts Council of Great Britain, the Graham Foundation in Chicago, and the San Francisco Phelan Foundation, among many others. She is an elected member of the Royal Society of Painters-Printmakers in London. Her work is exhibited in many museum collections throughout the world, and her mezzotints are included in a number of publications.

“I first discovered the sensuous blacks and subtle grays of the Mezzotint when I was in my early twenties.  At the time, there were few people practicing this archaic engraving technique, which was invented in the 17th century, but was nearly lost with the advent of photography.

Mezzotint is a form of engraving, whose subtle qualities are achieved with tone rather than line.  The artist spends many hours “rocking” a copper plate until the plate has thousands of tiny holes, each with a bit of raised burr that hold a tremendous amount of ink.  A fully rocked plate prints a lush, velvety black, unparalleled in any other medium.  To obtain an image, the artist scrapes the surface of the plate, variously lowering the levels of the burrs so they will hold less ink and thereby yield gradations of dark and light. Gradually an image emerges out of the darkness. The plate is inked by hand and printed on an etching press.

This extraordinarily time consuming process, while laborious to some, is meditative and highly satisfying to me.  Using only the pressure of my hand on the scraping tool, I can imbue simple still life objects  – drapery, tools, a shell  – with a reserved strength and beauty that I obtain in no other medium.  Light and shadow have the power to transform the seemingly immutable. Somewhere along the way psychological states of mind reveal themselves, and our outer and inner worlds connect.” – Holly Downing, on her mezzotints

Holly Downing Official Website


Drawn To Darkness, Holding Onto Light: Holly Downing’s Imagery by Donald Kuspit, Professor of Art History and Philosophy, State University of New York, Stony Brook, Excerpt 2008

The Play of Light and Shadow by Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Excerpt 2008

Luminous Shadows by Debra Koppman, ARTWEEK, March 2009

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