Archive for the ‘Shelter Series’ Category

First week of the month and it’s changeover time at a lot of galleries. New Hampshire Art Association is no exception. On Tuesday, I joined about 6 other artists to hang Prints of the Year and also repaint and rehang the Small Works Gallery. (OK. I didn’t help with the painting, but I helped with the rest.)

Because of the rather nasty winter weather, the reception has been postponed until next Friday. When you go to the gallery, you’ll find the main galleries filled with prints from some of the best print makers in the state. Parker Potter’s Prints of the Year includes all manner of the printmakers art – wood cuts, silk screens, monoprints, etchings, and various combinations. You’ll find work by Don Gorvett, William Scolere, Kate Higley, Victoria Ellbroch, Scott Schnepf, and many others.

The East Gallery is full of lovely black and white photos by the Seacoast Photo Group. And the South Gallery will have Carol Van Loon’s black and white photos of Barns.

The Small Works Gallery is now repainted and rehung with new work! So check it out.

You’ll find two small pieces of mine on the very far wall of the Small Works Gallery. (That is unless they moved them after I left on Tuesday.)

These are two pieces from my Shelter Series. This series started years ago with some very small paintings with a stylized house image. Some of these initial paintings turned into hand painted cards that were sold to benefit the York County Shelter Program. Hence the name – Shelter Series. Through an event that I ran for years at the Notre Dame Spiritual Center in Alfred, ME, I began a relationship with the shelter program and helped to raise money for their food pantry.



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This is the latest in the Shelter Series. I’m almost finished with this first batch of small pieces. (Only one more still unresolved.)

It’s really kind of interesting how these are coming out. Once I’ve got these started, they seem to take on a life of their own. I add things and change things, trying to resolve the basic artistic issues and I’m ending up with little houses that have personalities. This was not intentional. The personality just sort of evolved with the painting.

While one of the earlier ones felt “brooding” to me, this one almost seems surprised. The house has a sort of “oh, my!” expression to it. Am I imagining this or is there something to it?

And of course, while it’s still very cold outside, it’s nice to look at a flower garden – even one made up of bits of paper.

Ethel Hills - Shelter #13 - Mixed Media Collage on Panel - 7" x 5"

Ethel Hills – Shelter #13 – Mixed Media Collage on Panel – 7″ x 5″

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As I explore the house theme for my “Shelter’ series, I don’t seem to be on a linear path. The work keeps bouncing around from idea to idea, back and forth from funky to sophisticated.

I’ve looked at this piece a lot and have finally decided to declare it done. Even though it’s very different from the other pieces that were started at the same time, I like it and appreciate its relative simplicity. It has no collage added, but the interest is in the shapes and the subtleties of texture within the shapes.

It’ll be interesting to see if there are more of these by the end of the series.


Ethel Hills - Shelter #11 - Acrylic on Panel - 7" x 5"

Ethel Hills – Shelter #11 – Acrylic on Panel – 7″ x 5″

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Here’s the latest in my Shelter Series. This one was a bit of a struggle, but I’m pleased with the way it turned out. I wish that I had the foresight to take pictures of some of these paintings as they changed. This one has at least two complete paintings underneath the final version.

Each of these 7″ x 5″ paintings started out as a relatively straight forward line drawing filled in with acrylic paint. Each time, something was missing. Most of them have ended up with either a little bit or a lot of collage added. It’s been interesting watching these evolve. I must admit that these have taken way longer than they should have. (At least it seems that way.)

Ethel Hills - Shelter #12 - Mixed Media on Panel - 7" x 5"

Ethel Hills – Shelter #12 – Mixed Media on Panel – 7″ x 5″

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This year has certainly been slow for painting. The first week of February and this is my first painting of 2014. This is one of several small “Shelter” paintings that I have in process. These have not been going together easily, at least so far.

Although these are in some ways much more representational than most of my work, I’m still enjoying them. I’ve been playing with fairly simple patterns and have combined that with the somewhat 3-D effect of layers of paper collage.

Ethel Hills - Shelter #10 - Mixed Media on Panel - 7" x 5"

Ethel Hills – Shelter #10 – Mixed Media on Panel – 7″ x 5″

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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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Saturday I dropped off my pieces for WCA-NH’s annual 6 x 6 exhibit. I got them done just in the nick of time, putting the last coat of varnish on the paintings Friday night. The exhibit will be going up sometime the first week of November at Studio 550 Art Center in Manchester.

If you’ve been following this blog, you know that I spent most of September working on ideas for a series of paintings based on the idea of “Shelter”. These are the first paintings that I’ve done based on those studies. I’m pleased with the way they came out. I drew directly in pencil on the gessoed surface and then painted with acrylic. I primarily used liquid and fluid acrylics, which I think gives it more of the feel of the original watercolor studies.

I’m pleased with these pieces and am quite excited to be starting on this new series. It will be interesting to see the reception of these, as they are quite different in some ways from my recent work. I have several different ideas for ways to explore this theme, so I think the final body of work is going to be interesting and diverse.

After taking more than a month when I did mostly studies, It’s time for me to get back to my 80 painting challenge. These are respectively #53, 54, 55 & 56 in my 80 painting challenge.

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A month ago, I signed up for Leslie Saeta’s 30 in 30 Challenge – 30 paintings in 30 days. I’m painter #346 out of 432 who signed up. I’ve completed the challenge – posting 30 paintings in the month of September. And quite honestly, I’m glad it’s over.  I’m stubborn, so I wasn’t going to skip a day. (Even when it would have made more sense to skip.) I’ve painted ahead and posted using my Kindle Fire when I was away from home.  It’s been a very busy month and it would have been a lot simpler without this challenge.

That’s not to say there weren’t benefits. I’ve had “shelter series” on my to-do list for quite a while and this gave me a chance to explore this idea. Unfortunately, while I’ve done several small paintings, I haven’t had the time to do any larger paintings and really explore the options. I’m hoping that October will give me the time to expand on some of these ideas.

Most of the paintings I’ve done this month are small watercolor studies. I still haven’t figured out how to present these. In most of these I’ve painted to the edge, so I think they might look better floated than matted. I may wait until I’m closer to an exhibition of the “Shelter Series” before I worry too much about it.  Another possibility is to frame just a few of them, maybe 6 or 8. I love watercolor, but the matting and framing can be time-consuming and expensive.


Ethel Hills - Untitled - Watercolor on paper - 7 1/2" x 5 1/2"

Ethel Hills – Untitled – Watercolor on paper – 7 1/2″ x 5 1/2″

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Here are the next two paintings in the 30 in 30 challenge. My initial idea on these was black & white – black ink – white paper – maybe a little water. And that was kind of interesting, but something was missing. I couldn’t resist adding some color.

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These are the last two of the paintings I did last week as part of the challenge. I’ll be back in the studio tomorrow. It will be interesting to see just how different those paintings will be.

More tomorrow…..

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