On January 28, 1882, Anna Althea Hills (1882-1930) was born in Ravenna, Ohio. She was a great early American artist and a member of the California school of Impressionism. She is best known for her landscape, marine, genre and figure painting. Anna Hills was the founder and six term president of the Laguna Beach Art Association and helped raise the funds to establish the present Laguna Art Museum. A bronze plaque was placed in the art museum after her death to honor the memory of her community work in Laguna Beach. Besides painting in California, Anna Hills was also active in Arizona.
Anna Hills (also known as A. A. Hills) was raised in Olivet, Michigan. The artist attended Olivet College in Olivet Michigan. She also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cooper Union Art School in New York, New York, and then with Arthur Dow (the artist studied privately under Dow). Anna Althea Hills also studied at the Academie Julian in Paris and traveled throughout Europe for four years. Anna Hills then moved to Laguna Beach in 1913 and was painting in Arizona as early as 1914.
Anna Hills was inspired to adopt a colorful Impressionist palette by the landscapes of the West. Anna Hills painted coastal views, treescapesoff the Pacific Coast, Laguna Beach coastlines, the vast Southern California and Arizona deserts, Santa Ana Canyon arroyos and interior scenes. She taught and painted in the Plein-Air school of painting and was seen often on the Laguna Beach cliffs painting outdoors. Anna Hills took adventurous painting trips into remote mountain areas even though the artist had suffered a severe spinal injury.
Anna Althea Hills early art were much darker than her later California landscapes and marine paintings. She combined watercolor and oil while painting in her own unique decorative style. The artist’s earliest works are much darker in tonal interior, genre and figure studies. But when she arrived in California, Anna Hills focused on painting landscapes and marines.
Anna Althea Hills was an active member of the California Art Club. She held a membership at the Washington Watercolor Club and the artest also won several art and painting awards in her lifetime. She won the Bronze Medal at the Panama-California Exposition, San Diego in 1915; the Bronze Medal at the California State Fair, 1919; and the Landscape Prize at the Laguna Beach Art Association, 1922 and 1923.
On the day of June 13, 1930 in Laguna Beach, California, Anna Althea Hills passed away at the very young age of forty-eight.