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The next phase started in late July. I started a slightly different series. These were done on a slightly different playing card, one with 2 opposing corners cut off. When I went to buy more cards, I found these. They seemed like the same size, so I just went ahead. The different shape made me think a bit differently about these. I drew a fairly simple grid that was “off”, just a little bit funky. It’s a format that I’ve experimented with in the past.
This format seemed right for words. The off kilter grid left an uneven border. I filled some of the borders with words. Words of prayer, words of hope, words of love. Some days these were prayers for healing and patience. Other times, it might be a thank you for a particularly lovely day, but more often a general thank you for the blessings we often take for granted – Health, Love, Family, Home.

 

GraceNotesSample1- Large

They have evolved to be part daily prayer and part gratitude journal.

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By June, I had established a routine. I was doing at least one sketch in my sketchbook and one on my origami covered playing cards. And it occurred to me that it might be good to share these with the world. There were a couple of reasons to do this. First of all, art doesn’t do much if it’s stuck in a drawer and no one sees it. The other reason to share it was to see what others thought.

I also had to get over the equally obvious reasons not to share. First, this work is very different than what I had been working on. Second, I’m just starting, so nothing is polished. Third, it was hard for me to decide how much to share.

The most immediate way seemed to be Instagram. I could take a photo with my phone and then immediately post it to Instagram. It was simple and quick. That meant it was simple to add this additional step to my art making routine. To keep things simple, I haven’t done much editing. I’ve posted daily even when I wasn’t overjoyed with my results. You can catch my feed @ethelhills.

This has another advantage. I quickly added a brief review of my feed when I was done posting my pieces. That’s given me the opportunity to see what other artists and friends have been up to.

 

Throughout all of this, I’ve been trying to find a daily art practice that would sustain me during a difficult time in my life.

I figured that it had to be small and portable. After doing some daily sketching and thinking, I came up with an interesting idea. Why not use an unusual surface and size? What about using playing cards? They’re easily available, relatively consistent in terms of size, tiny enough to carry easily and just stiff enough for a very small piece of art.

After several false starts, I came up with the idea of gluing colorful Origami paper over the playing cards. That gave me the color I crave while maintaining the simplicity of the earlier black and white drawings.

Almost 10 years ago, I started doing small landscape collages under similar circumstances. I needed something small that I could work on in small chunks of time.  Sometimes, your art has to fit the time and space available. That’s often when something really interesting happens.

 

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Back in April I started a very teeny tiny art practice. The intent was something small, doable, and daily. Other than that, I didn’t really have a lot of constraints.
I started with just a page in a small sketchbook. It started out as just that, one page. It didn’t even have to be a piece of art, it could be notes, or questions, or ideas for future projects. Just something about art put down on paper.
I started out with a small 4 x 6 sketchbook, just because it was convenient. And I fell in love with these small sketches and explorations, always working in pencil, which is not my normal media. I think the switch in medium and the use of the sketchbook helped me avoid the trap of immediately worrying about a finished product. These felt like thoughts and ideas, not finished works of art.

But it was a beginning. I had the beginnings of my daily art practice. It was very teeny tiny, but it was a start.

 

Ethel Hills – Sketchbook Spread

 

 

Life is uncertain. This fact is hammered home all the time. You lose a friend quite suddenly, you experience a natural disaster, a crazy driver misses the bend in the road and drives into your house, you trip doing something you’ve done a hundred times and end up in the Emergency Room with multiple fractures and a whole new set of limitations. Life can change on a dime in a million different ways.

When life gets difficult, my way of dealing with this is to take it one day at a time. (A bit of a cliché, but it works.)

• Take it one day at a time, or one hour, or one minute.
• Stay positive.
• Count my blessings. And there are lots of them.
• Keep art in my life.
• Don’t forget to breathe.
• Get some exercise, outside if possible.

About 4 months ago, I started a very small daily art practice to ensure that I “keep art in my life” during a difficult time. That was the beginning of Art Everyday. I started with getting something in my sketchbook every evening before going to sleep. Sometimes a sketch, sometimes just an idea or a project to consider.

 

Ethel Hills - Sketchbook Page - 02

Ethel Hills – Sketchbook Spread

Ethel Hills - Sketchbook Page - 01

Ethel Hills – Sketchbook Spread

YAY! My work was accepted

I mentioned yesterday that I’d be working at Newburyport Art Association today to help with the jurying.

And – YES!! I did get in. And I think I was really lucky. There was a lot more work submitted for this show than there was room. So there were some pretty wonderful pieces that did not make the cut.

So thank you to the universe and all my readers who had their fingers crossed for me.

The reception is Saturday, February 13th from 7 to 9pm. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to go as I have another commitment that evening. I’ll have to pop in another day to check it out once it’s all properly hung.

 

One of the local art associations that I belong to is Newburyport Art Association. We’re in the middle of the Winter Members Juried Shows. Part I, which included sculpture, watercolor, digital art, drawing, oil and printmaking, just finished up. Part II, which includes acrylic, fine crafts, mixed media, pastel, and photography, will be open to the public on Friday, February 12th.

I’m hoping that you will see two of my social media pieces in the exhibit. For this exhibit, the work is actually brought to the gallery and the juror will choose which pieces to include by looking at the actual artwork. Then the pieces not selected will be stored for a few days until the artists can pick them up.

Although this can be a cumbersome process, there are some distinct advantages over selecting from digital images. First of all, the juror sees the real work, in particular the real colors and textures, and can even compare pieces side by side. Secondly, it is easier to judge scale when you’re seeing the real thing. A third minor issue is the framing. And good or bad framing can really change the overall look of the artwork.

Tomorrow is jury day and I get to help. YAY!! One advantage of working on jury day is that you can see what is selected and what is declined. (Because my job is to store the declined pieces.) I get to see at least some of the pieces that don’t make it, but rarely know why they were declined. It’s still fun. And it’s great exercise. The storage area is on the second floor, so it’s a lot of up and down stairs.

It also means that I can pick up my pieces tomorrow if they don’t make it. Hopefully, they will get in. Keep your fingers crossed!

Here are the two pieces I submitted –

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