Artist of the Month: Ria Hills

16 Jul 2007

0611aom3_436x567_1Ria Hills, our Artist of the Month for November, is a pastel painter who celebrates the quiet loveliness of the ordinary.

by Edith Zimmerman

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Egg
pastel, 5 x 7. Collection the artist.

Ria Hills, our Artist of the Month for November, is a pastel painter who celebrates the quiet loveliness of the ordinary. “Some of my paintings have been inspired by a dream, a song, or sometimes a single word,” she explains. “A few months ago I started painting a 5”-x-7” work every day. These paintings are mostly inspired by small, common objects.” These works—of a cup of coffee, a baseball, a broken egg, or a marble, for instance—all speak of Hills’ fascination with light. “For me, the subject is not as important as the process of trying to translate blocks of color and light into something discernable,” she says. “I very much enjoy the challenge of realism and am captivated by the ways light plays on a subject.”

Hills, a native of the Netherlands who now lives in Massachusetts, has 25 years of professional experience as a fine artist and graphic designer to her credit. For her work in pastel, she prefers Wallis sanded pastel paper and Art Spectrum Colourfix boards for surfaces. “Both papers provide the tooth I need to apply many layers of pastel,” she explains. Hills’ favorite pastel brands are Unison, Sennelier, and Rembrandt. Her method is conventional—“I work from hard to soft pastels in layers,” she describes. “I start each painting with pastel pencils, carefully drawing my shapes. I then block in my colors and shapes with Nupastel and work my way up in layers using progressively softer pastels. I use only my fingers for blending.”

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Surreal Dream
pastel, 15 x 11 ½. Private collection.

Although Hills’ tender portraits of everyday objects testify to her passion for realism, she also paints surreal scenes, many of which she executes with very different methods. “For my surreal pieces I start with a raw idea and fully create it before it’s translated onto paper,” she says. “I frequently need reference photos, and I either take them myself or use purchased stock photos. From those I ‘sketch’ on the computer using Photoshop until it matches the idea in my head. I then use the finished composition as a reference for the painting. For my realistic paintings I use either a photo or a found object for reference. I am always inspired by the richness of our visual world.”

Hills’ work has won awards and been displayed in galleries and art shows throughout New England. Visit Hills' website for more information.

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Memories
pastel, 5 x 7. Private collection.
Blue Marble
pastel, 5 x 7. Private collection.
Cup o’ Joe
pastel, 5 x 7. Collection the artist.
Night Sky
pastel, 15 x 12. Private collection.

Edith Zimmerman is the editorial assistant of American Artist.



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Comments

RAYMOND ANDREOTTI wrote
on 27 Nov 2006 12:15 PM
Congratulations, Ria ! Your work is great ! Keep up the fine work. Ray Andreotti,AWS
TW wrote
on 5 Jan 2007 11:11 PM
Fabulous! Blue Marble and Cup o' Joe are my two favorites. Although Egg is in there too.
CD Collins wrote
on 30 Jan 2007 8:14 AM
I love your work!!!
Toni Sollazzo wrote
on 14 Sep 2007 10:58 AM
don't you have an over 50 contest that is due on October the first
Toni Sollazzo wrote
on 14 Sep 2007 11:01 AM
Sorry Ria, I emailed the wrong site. Your artwork is fabulous!!!!!
EILEEN wrote
on 12 Apr 2008 8:49 PM
ria...i feel so honored to be the "temporary keeper" of 2 of your paintings. i love "raven" and would like to purchase it. please contact me. epennclark@comcast.net
ar tamxid wrote
on 18 Aug 2008 4:25 AM
i like american artist.
ar tamxid wrote
on 18 Aug 2008 4:32 AM
ria.. i like ur wokr.it's too good