Anna Hills

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Anna Althea Hills was born in Ravenna, Ohio on January 28, 1882. Due to her father's occupation as a minister, she led a peripatetic existence during her growing years, living in Pennsylvania (1884-1890), Michigan (1890-1893), Illinois (1893-1894), and Ohio (1894-1898). She took painting and drawing classes at Olivet College in Michigan (1898-1901), and then studied at the Art Institute of Chicago (1902). Later, she attended Cooper Union, New York, winning awards in watercolor, oil painting, and still life, receiving a diploma in 1908. At the same time, she also studied with Rhoda Holmes Nicholls and Arthur Wesley Dow in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and taught art at Olivet (1907-1908). She culminated her art training abroad (1908-1913) at L'Académie Julian, Paris, and with John Noble Barlow in England. She trained and produced works in the darker tonalist style that was prevalent in the art schools of Europe and the U.S. at the turn of the century.

After four years of travel in Europe, Hills lived in Los Angeles in 1913 but soon began to visit and sketch in Laguna Beach, settling there permanently with her sister in 1914. She pursued her art career, taught painting, and also helped organize the Laguna Beach Art Association in 1918. Six times its president, she was also instrumental in bringing about the construction of a new gallery, which opened in 1929.

In California, Anna's artwork took on a higher chromatic range and a more colorful Impressionist palette which was influenced by the California landscapes. Using a highly colorful palette of both watercolor and oil, she then painted in a decorative, Post-Impressionist style. Although Hills suffered a severe spinal injury, she continued to take adventurous journeys to the mountains and countryside to sketch and paint.

In 1929, she helped establish the location for the Laguna Art Museum. A bronze plaque was placed there after her death on June 13, 1930. She is remembered as an organizer, lecturer, and for her community work in Laguna Beach.

Member: California Art Club; Laguna Beach Art Association (president).

Exhibited: Kanst Gallery, Los Angeles, 1913, 1914, 1916 (solos); California Art Club, 1914-16; San Francisco Art Association, 1916; Ebell Club, Los Angeles, 1918, 1930 (solos); Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1919, 1924; Panama-California Exposition, San Diego; Laguna Beach Art Association, 1974 (solo); California State University, Long Beach, 1976 (solo); California State Fair, Sacramento; Washington Water Color Club, DC; Artists of Southern California, San Diego; Chicago Galleries Association.

Works held: Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, CA; Laguna Beach Art Museum; Irvine Museum.

Hughes, Edan M. Artists In California 1786-1940. 3rd ed. Vol. 1. Sacramento: Crocker, Art Museum, 2002. N. pag. 2 vols. Print.
Trenton, Patricia. Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-1945. Print.
Westphal, Ruth. Plein Air Painters of California; The Southland. Print.
St. Gaudens, Maurine. Emerging from the Shadows: A Survey of Women Artists Working in California, 1860-1960. Vol. 2. 2015. Print.