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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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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.

 

 

OK. This is really embarrassing. It has once again been a long time of silence on my blog. I’m not sure that I can explain why I go through these phases where I want to share everything I create and other times when I’m not nearly as comfortable sharing. I do find it harder to share when the work isn’t going smoothly or when I’m in a transition period.

I have been working on more of the social media series, but felt like this series is ending, at least temporarily. The pieces were interesting, but not nearly as fun as I thought they’d be. I’ve been feeling that it was time to back off for a while now, but I still had several in process. I hesitated to abandon work that is already started, but it just didn’t feel right. For the time being, I’m abandoning the series and the few pieces that remain incomplete. I’ll go back to finish them up when I feel like it’s time. Trying to force these pieces to be done just hasn’t worked.

So for my next experiment, I’m back in play, search, and experiment mode. My plan, such as it is, is to take the next few weeks, maybe a month, and just play around the studio without expectations – without worrying about consistency, or completion, or product, or even permanency.

In some sense, it’s very difficult to totally let go of results. In another sense, it’s very freeing. It will be interesting to see how this experiment goes.

Yesterday, I did some small sketches, just to get back to playing with paint & line.

Today, I just kind of noodled around, prepped some panels, experimented with some ideas, and painted some scraps of paper to use at a later time. Again, there is nothing profound or even particularly interesting about any of this, but it does seem to be part of my process. I’ll keep on painting and playing until I figure out where I’m headed next.

Here are some shots from my studio:

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