Anna Althea Hills attended Olivet College in Michigan, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Cooper Union Art School in New York City. In addition, she worked with artist Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922) for two years. She then traveled abroad, studying at the Académie Julian in Paris and painting in the Netherlands and in England where she worked with John Noble Barlow (1861-1917). Returning to the United States, she moved to California about 1912; then relocated to Laguna Beach the following year. There she became an active member of the Laguna Beach art colony and co-founded the Laguna Beach Art Association, serving as several terms as president. A respected teacher and lecturer, Hills was deeply dedicated to expanding the public’s awareness of art and the beauty of the local landscape. Through her leadership, the Laguna Beach Art Association raised the necessary funds and public support to build their permanent gallery on Cliff Drive.
Hills early work, especially from her European period, focuses on interiors, genre, and figure studies, executed in dark, tonal coloration. After moving to California, she adopted the impressionistic style with richer and brighter colors, remarking to Los Angeles Times art critic Antony Anderson that she had to discard all the gray tones from her palette. She was especially adept with a small palette knife, often eschewing the brush completely. She enjoyed painting in and around Laguna Beach, at the mission in San Juan Capistrano, and in the California and Arizona deserts.
Works in Our Collection
After the Storm, Hemet, California
Oil on panel, 1922
20 x 24 inches
Gift of the estate of Anna A. Hills