Archive for the ‘80 Painting Challenge’ Category


There were a couple of unintended consequences of my 2013 challenge. The first was the emphasis on production. On the up side, I completed more paintings in one year than I ever have in the past!!

On the down side, I was often looking to what new piece I could post on my blog and what number it was in the scheme of things. Without being conscious of it, I think this stifled experimentation and exploration, definitely not a good thing for this artist.

I have a couple of projects that I plan to work on in 2014 that are still in the exploration and experimentation stage. Counting finished pieces is not going to help me get these pieces done.

The other unintended consequence is that almost all of my 2013 paintings are small-scale – 8” square and smaller. I’m not sure why this is. It wasn’t done intentionally to create more pieces. It’s probably more reflective of a busier than normal family calendar.

So my new challenge has to encourage experimentation and exploration, even if it means less production. And I need to allow myself to work on some larger pieces, even if they don’t succeed or take up too much time.

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Ethel Hills - 2013 Challenge

Last year, I started my 80 painting challenge part way through the year. I decided that I would produce 80 paintings in 2013 and get them out into the world. That would be up from 65 in 2012. For the challenge, I counted paintings that are ready to go out in the world. That means they are in their final form, aesthetically “complete”.

Based on this definition, I did complete exactly 80 paintings. I pulled back one of the last pieces and decided that it wasn’t done to my satisfaction. I thought I’d end up with 81, but didn’t quite make it.

I’m considering what my challenge will be this year. Should it be the number of paintings completed, the number of paintings exhibited, the number of exhibitions, the number of square inches of painting surface, or the number of days I paint? Perhaps it should be about sales or about the amount of money that I can raise for charity. None of this feels quite right, so I’m still searching for the right idea.

If anyone else is doing some sort of challenge or big goal for the year, I’d love to hear about it.

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I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last posted to my blog. I’ll probably get into that a bit more in a later post. For now, let me say that I’m sorry to be away for so long.

As many of you know, I had an 80 painting challenge for 2013. I thought that I was going to end up with 81 paintings for the year. After my last post, I decided that the last painting I posted, Shelter #10, really wasn’t done. I’m still struggling with it. Hopefully, you’ll see the final painting posted here in the next couple of weeks.

Here is the other painting that I was working on at the time. I finished this just before the end of the year.

Ethel Hills - "Just Beyond Peak" - Mixed Media Collage on MDF Panel - 6" x 6"

Ethel Hills – “Just Beyond Peak” – Mixed Media Collage on MDF Panel – 6″ x 6″

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I apologize. I’ve gotten behind on my weekly posts. I hope to get back to my regular schedule by next week.

Today, I’ve got two paintings for you. I started these at the same time and have been having a very difficult time finishing them. I think I finally have it “under control”. These started out to be just acrylic paintings with no collage, but I ended up adding pieces of paper to pull the paintings together.

The simple line drawings that started these paintings didn’t seem to be enough, so I struggled with collage elements as well. I like the way they’ve come out even though they’re very different from my original idea. I’m pretty sure that Shelter #9 is done, but am not as confident that I’m finished with Shelter #10. Any thoughts??

These are #78 and #80 in my 80 painting challenge. (More on this later in the week.)

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The painting I have for you this week is part of a new series that I’m working on. The working title for the series and so far for the paintings is “Shelter”. The idea starting in a kind of straightforward manner, but it’s blossoming into something kind of interesting. Initially, it had to do with a charity I support, the York County Shelter Program, Inc. in York, ME. Now, I’m realizing it may be as much about emotional shelter and refuge as it is about physical shelter.

This is one of three paintings that I started almost 2 months ago. They’re all the same size – 7″ x 5″. Initially, they were just stylized houses, painted in solid colors. The background was also divided up into different color and value shapes. Once I got the initial painting done, they didn’t seem to be working. In other words, they were boring. In the end, I added bits of collage to enliven the work. This piece has just a bit of collage. So maybe it’s not quite as flat and boring as it was before. I toyed with the idea of putting a moon in the night sky, but decided against it. The light and texture in the door and window seemed to be enough. What do you think?

This is #75 of my 80 painting challenge. It looks like it’s going to be kind of close, but I think I’ll make it by the end of the year. More on that later.


Ethel Hills - Shelter #8 - Mixed Media on Panel - 7" x 5"

Ethel Hills – Shelter #8 – Mixed Media on Panel – 7″ x 5″

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I’ve been working on some small pieces over the last couple of weeks. These are tiny collages. I start by painting a “background” on watercolor paper. Then I tear the paper into smaller pieces, each approximately 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. Then I look for bits and pieces with colors that seem to go together.

Once the composition is set up, I glue the pieces onto the “background” piece. Normally, I’ll glue just one piece or layer at a time. Once the piece of paper is glued down, I’ll layer it between wax paper and cover it with books and weight it down. I’ll then leave it to dry overnight.

These small pieces usually have only 3 or 4 pieces glued, so they are normally completed in less than a week. I finished these up last month. These are #61 – #64 in my 80 Painting Challenge.  (I might still make it.)


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This week’s post is an old/new painting. I actually started this quite a while ago with no particular plan in mind. I just had some nice colors and some fun papers collaged onto the panel. It’s been sitting in my studio waiting for a decision. Although this doesn’t look that much like the other work that I’ve been doing, I really like it. It makes me think of the riotous color of a garden in full bloom. This is #60 in my 80 painting challenge.

Ethel Hills - Summer Garden - Mixed Media Collage on Panel - 6" x 6"

Ethel Hills – Summer Garden – Mixed Media Collage on Panel – 6″ x 6″

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