Alumna Paints 1,000 Paintings in 1,000 Days

September 27, 2010
By Cherry Crayton
Kellie Hill '06 painted this portrait of her daughter as part of her 1,000 paintings a day project. It's titled "Naomi Sleeping." (Image courtesy of Kellie Hill '06)

Kellie Hill '06 painted this portrait of her daughter as part of her 1,000 paintings a day project. It's titled "Naomi Sleeping." (Image courtesy of Kellie Hill '06)

On Jan. 1, 2008, artist Kellie Hill ’06 of Durham set out to create a small painting every day and post it on her blog, One Painting a Day. And today, 1,000 days later, she’ll paint No. 1,000 and post blog entry No. 1,000. Look for the entry and painting here.

Hill, who earned a degree in environmental design in architecture from NC State, took the time to answer our questions about her project and art.

Why did you decide to do this project?
Well, daily painting in this form — completing a small painting every day and posting it on a blog — was started by Duane Keiser in December of 2004. When I heard about it, I knew it would be a really wonderful discipline for me, encouraging me to grow, becoming much more skilled as an artist, and to develop a personal style. Art is definitely one of those things that you learn best by doing!

How do you decide what to paint?
There are painting ideas everywhere, once you get used to seeing them! I do end up painting a lot of fruit and vegetables for my dailies. So many of them are irresistibly beautiful. I also love painting objects that are transparent and/or reflective. It is a challenge, but so beautiful when it’s finally right.

Which of your paintings would say are your favorites?
I heard once that an artist is only as good as his or her next painting. That thought has always kept me looking forward, trying to do better every time. That said, I am particularly proud of a portrait I did recently of my daughter, “Naomi Sleeping” [pictured at the top]. The recent paintings “Eggplant and Shooting Star” [pictured below] and “Ocean Glass” [pictured at the bottom] are also ones I love — in part because there are aspects of those paintings that I really want to explore further.

"Eggplant and Shooting Star" by Kellie Hill '06 (Image courtesy of Kellie Hill '06)

"Eggplant and Shooting Star" by Kellie Hill '06 (Image courtesy of Kellie Hill '06)

What keeps you motivated to do a painting a day?
In part it is a personality quirk. If I do something every day, I develop a sort of momentum. It’s something I look forward to, wondering about this or that light or composition or subject. How would this fruit look in the light situation I recently used on something else? How would the painting feel if I just focused on one small part of something larger? If I put something behind a glass of water, how will it be distorted?

How did you get interested in painting?
I think all children love to draw, and are so creative. I just never grew out of it, I guess. I love the challenge of trying to create something beautiful and realistic with paint, figuring out how to portray it in a new and interesting way. How could I not be fascinated by all the possibilities?

How would you describe your painting style?
Magical Realism, I believe. I try to portray my subjects realistically, but as I’m painting I try to focus on its history, its potential, and the way that it is connected to everything else. Even for something as simple and quiet as an eggplant, say, there was all this time and energy invested in creating that species of plant, and then the subject itself has its own “personality” and small imperfections, its own potential for creating more of itself, and reflections — the sky outside my studio as well as objects within it. I get so excited when I realize that I am painting something totally unexpected, like the other day with “Note in Red” [pictured below] where the apple half was actually reflected in side of the whole apple.

"Note in Red" by Kellie Hill '06 (Image courtesy of Kellie Hill '06)

"Note in Red" by Kellie Hill '06 (Image courtesy of Kellie Hill '06)

What type of paint do you use and what type of material do you paint on?
I use acrylic paint, mostly because my painting style requires layers and layers of paint glazed and scrumbled on top of each other, and with the drying time of oils I would never be able to finish a painting! The colors are also really wonderful, and acrylic is a medium that is particularly detail-friendly. I paint on hardboard panel, stretched canvas, or canvas boards, depending on the situation.

How much paint have you used since you began your blog?
My goodness, I can’t even hazard a guess! An awful lot!

What’s next for you? Any other projects you’d like to work?
Oh, I absolutely plan to continue with the blog! I couldn’t justify abandoning something that has taught me so much, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where my art goes over the next 1,000 posts. Right now I am very intrigued by the idea of posing still life objects in unusual light effects with landscapes in the background. And just recently I’ve become fascinated by the idea of painting beautifully worn shells — ones that have broken in interesting ways — and really display a personal history and a connection to the ocean. Hopefully I will be able to implement some of these ideas into large scale paintings for a solo show I have coming up at the Broad Street Cafe in November and December.

"OCean Glass" by Kellie Hill '06 (Image courtesy of Kellie Hill '06)

"Ocean Glass" by Kellie Hill '06 (Image courtesy of Kellie Hill '06)

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