Anabel Schreiber Holland, 1923-2011, was a creative force experimenting with color as line, personal iconography, spray paint, acrylic paint and even bronze casting. Admiring of a wide assortment of creative approaches, she closely studied the work of Cezanne, Hans Hoffmann, and traditional Chinese and Japanese brushworks. Her sense of color as line and plane, and her conviction that the line on the page conveyed feelings, made her work intense, at times beautiful, at times confrontational.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second of three children, Anabel had a quick intelligence, finishing school early in the Washington, DC area and taking courses at the Corcoran School of Art prior to completing high school. She started coursework at The George Washington University and continued to advance her art studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1947 she married fellow artist and student, Josh Holland. Their plan to go to Europe as artists was interrupted by the birth of a fragile first child, followed within a year by a second child. Throughout these years, Anabel struggled to keep painting, and by the time their third child was born in the early 1950s, Anabel had created a studio space in her suburban Maryland home, where she would close herself in for hours to explore her ideas. Not a compulsive sketcher, Anabel’s drawings were often plans for paintings, or notations of landscapes and color relationships, descriptive lines to capture a face or record interactive structures.
Her health took a dramatic turn in 1965, causing her to struggle to hold a brush. It was at this point that she began to use spray paint in her work, and in this way she took on enormous works on standing folding screens, while continuing to produce medium scale canvases. At a later time, when large movements were difficult, she took up Chinese ink brush, studying minimized expressive strokes and working in authentic fashion on rice paper scrolls.
In tandem with her divorce in 1983, ASH (as she signed her work) created a series of water surface studies, first in pen and ink, then in acrylic and spray paint. She continued to paint in abstract landscape motif, while her drawings focused on ocean and leaf studies. She painted a few large late canvases depicting emotionally charged abstractions of people in space. Much of her work was destroyed or damaged in a studio fire in the early 1990s in her Bethesda, Maryland home. This nearly put an end to her art making, with but a few drawings and paintings emerging after that disasterous time.
Her art is held in several private collections, was traded among artists and associates, among them painter Kenneth Kilstrom and poet Isabella Gardner.