Archive for the ‘Imaginary Land Paintings’ Category



The second exhibit I have coming up next month is at the Barn Gallery, home of Ogunquit Art Association. I will be one of the Showcase artists for our last exhibit of the season. The exhibit runs from September 12 – October 8, 2018. There is a gallery talk on Thursday, September 13 at 6pm and a reception on Saturday, September 15 from 5 to 7:30pm.
I’m very excited about this exhibit. It was a chance for me to take some time to explore and experiment with a few of the ideas swirling around in my head and some already on paper. I’ve been working on my Land Project paintings off and on for a number of years. This was a chance to do some concentrated work on my abstract take on the landscape.
Paintings of my family farm include bits and pieces of family history and make me think of a treasure map more than anything. Other paintings are a combination of aerial view and map view. These depict geographic variances as well as the “imaginary” boundaries of property lines and political divisions. Some are more sketch than anything else. Some are relatively realistic and others are just whimsical.
Although, it’s been fun to just play around with these ideas, it’s daunting to figure out where to go next. I want to explore all these different paths, but in what order and intensity?


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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve had mixed results on scaling up my teeny farm paintings. I’ve finished the 3rd of the 6 x 6 MDF pieces. This one actually feels like the small pieces, which makes me feel good. This is only about 4 times the size of the teeny farm paintings, so it’s not a very large jump.

Ethel Hills - Farm Painting - Mixed Media on MDF Panel - 6" x 6"

Ethel Hills – Farm Painting – Mixed Media on MDF Panel – 6″ x 6″


The next step is a piece that I’ve been working on for a week and a half. It’s watercolor & collage on watercolor paper – 22″ x 30″. I’m enjoying it, but it’s not coming out anything like I thought it would. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I was hoping to finish before the holidays, but that’s unlikely.

Here’s the piece as of last night.

Ethel Hills - Farm Painting - In Process 12/21/14 - Mixed Media & Collage - 22" x 30"

Ethel Hills – Farm Painting – In Process 12/21/14 – Mixed Media & Collage – 22″ x 30″

I’ll tell you more about it when it’s finished. At that point, I’ll introduce my next What If?.

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My current “What If” assignment is to take the very simple and tiny farm paintings and make them bigger. I must admit to having mixed results with this.

My first attempt started with MDF panels that are 6″ x 6″. I thought I might try just going slightly larger. These pieces are only about 4 times the size of the original tiny paintings.

The painting on the left is one of the tiny paintings I started with. The one on the right is the slightly larger version done in acrylic & collage painted on an MDF panel. I think this worked well. The feel of the piece is similar, which is surprising considering the differences in materials.

My second attempt wasn’t as successful.

Again, the piece on the left a sample of the mini paintings. These were done on watercolor paper, with just watercolor and pencil as embellishment. The piece on the right was my attempt to scale this up – just a bit. I really don’t care for the new version. A large part of the problem is the medium. I just couldn’t get that light, almost sketch like feel, using acrylic on panel. Maybe I should say that I didn’t get that feel. Perhaps if I tried again, I’d be more successful.

Right now, I’m going to view it as unsuccessful and move forward. I may try again at a later date, but I think the difference in both medium and support is the real challenge here.


I’ve been working on a couple of other ideas which I’ll be sharing with you over the next few weeks.




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In conjunction with other businesses in my building, my studio will be open Friday, December 5th from 7 to 9:30 pm. The Christmas Tree lighting is at 6:30, so feel free to stop by after.

Other businesses in our building will be open as well. Bungalow Living is having a trunk show and will be open from 7:30 – 10pm. New England Brand House will also be open Friday evening starting at 7:30pm.

I also plan to be open after the Christmas Parade on Saturday, and possibly for a bit before. I love the Hampton Christmas parade, but I’ll be back to my studio shortly after the end of the parade and will be open until 5pm.

We’re right on High Street, across from Flatbread. To find my studio, just go in the door between Bungalow Living and New England Brand House and follow the signs down the hall and around the corner.

I’ll have a few brand new items – hand painted greeting cards and small matted paintings based on my land paintings. I’ll also have lots of small and larger collage pieces. Please stop by – lots of color and lots of fun.

Ethel Hills - Land Painting Cards

Ethel Hills – Land Painting Cards



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Sunday seems to be a good day to review where I am and where I’m going. As predicted, I didn’t get a huge amount of work done this last week, but did finish up my What If. We traveled for the holiday, so my goals for the week were pretty modest.

I did finish the small yellow/green paintings that I had already started. I’ve gone through and measured all the small paintings. Some of them will fit in mats that I already have, but most will require custom cut mats. (Poor planning on my part.) I’d like to get a few of these matted up so I can see how they look, but I’m not going to get all of them done right away.

I’m finding the idea of these small pieces kind of interesting. I like the idea of dividing the space up and indicating different areas/fields/crops with simple symbols. So I guess I’ll stick with the simple symbols, but make the paintings larger. What I’m not sure about is the scale. Should they be only slightly larger, say 6” x 6” or 8” x 10”? Or is it time to work on a much larger scale??

This brings me to my next What If. What If I take these very simple farm paintings and make them bigger? Would they translate to a much larger scale or should I keep them on the small side? I like the intimacy of these very small pieces, but is it time to go Larger and Bolder?

These are the questions that I will explore next. I’d like to give myself a bit more time on this one. Changing the scale is not necessarily a simple thing, at least for me. Just because something works in a 4” x 4” size, doesn’t mean that it will translate easily to 20” x 20” or 4’ x 4’. (Not that I’m prepared to do anything quite THAT large)

This will be my assignment for the next few weeks. It’s a busy time with exhibition commitments as well as family commitments. For these reasons plus the need for extra time for this type of change, I’m giving myself until just before Christmas – December 21st to see where this leads me.

Here are a few of the small paintings that will be the models for the next phase –


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Well, it’s now November 23rd and time to decide what my next step is – continue with the teeny paintings or pick a new What If.

Well the truth of the matter is that I already decided. I finished up quite a batch of the teeny paintings in reds, oranges, and pinks earlier in the week. I have now started another batch using yellows and greens as the underpainting. These are very similar in style and composition to the earlier ones. I like the simplicity of these. I started 12 of these and have finished 4 so far.

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With the holiday coming up, I’m not going to be terribly ambitious for next week. I know that I’ll get some studio time in, but not as much as I’d like to see in a week. I’m going to keep my due date as Sunday, at least for now, but keep expectations more in line with the time available.

My What If for this next week is to finish up the green and yellow pieces that I’ve already started. I also plan to review the earlier pieces and make any adjustments necessary. I’ll also measure them to get an idea of what I’ll need for mats.




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What If I continue to do these teeny paintings, but instead use a different painting as the model? I did a very interesting painting based on land divisions and farms that started out with a bright red/orange background.


Starting point –

Ethel Hills - Series Class Assignment #7 Version 3 - Mixed Media - 11" x 15"

Ethel Hills – Series Class Assignment #7 Version 3 – Mixed Media – 11″ x 15″


This piece is very different from the others that I was working on. It’s taken a very abstract turn which I really like. I am a sucker for these colors and I love the way the way the pencil works with the acrylic under-painting. It’s quite striking.


Results –


Here are a few of the teeny tiny versions. Since the color is so FAR away from realism, these pieces feel far less real than the ones done with just watercolor and pencil. They feel like they’re much more about abstraction, color & line. In these, I didn’t include the same type or markings. So there are no explicit orchards or row crops.

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Idle thoughts –

I’m still enjoying playing with this idea, so I’m going to continue for a bit longer with these to see where they go. So let’s just say that my next due date is this weekend. By November 23, I’ll finish up the next batch of paintings and review them. At that point, I’ll decide if I’m going to pursue this a bit further or if I’ll start on an entirely new What If for next week.



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