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Home > Featured Artist > Past Featured Artists > September 10 - Catherine Hillis
Catherine Hillis
See me teach at: (type in the word watercolors)

I paint because I must, and there’s no other explanation for it.
This is what I’m created to do. One of the wonderful things about painting in watercolors is its expressive nature. When we are “in the zone,” things happen! The colors fuse in unpredictable ways, beautiful mixtures of black and gray can occur spontaneously and we can create the effect
s of light. Watercolorists can become master manipulators of light, as we “bump” values and color intensity against that white paper. 

I find myself painting figures and scenes of people relating and I try to convey a sense of humor whenever I can. My paintings of people are generally done in the studio, after I’ve taken a series of photographs to work from. I then work out my value system in the sketchbook and begin the drawing from there. I often paint under washes first, because I believe that they give my paintings a “glow” and, to me, a watercolor painting should have that transparent, luminosity that makes it jump off the page. I will continue to investigate methods of making transparent paint glow. My still life scenes are painted in the studio. I believe that flowers present an opportunity to paint light and they must be painted from life.

I enjoy painting any subject that creates a challenge for me. Night time scenes, vases filled with water, reflections in the rain: these are the difficult topics for the painter to re-create and it’s a joy for me to learn how to paint them in a transparent medium. When I teach watercolor painting, I meet many “perfectionists.” I think that many students are attracted to the medium because it is so difficult to conquer and the challenge makes us think.

Teaching is another one of my passions. Please contact me if your organization would like me to teach a watercolor workshop. I’m a big believer in developing a strong foundation in the basics. There are a lot of interesting techniques out there, and I teach those, too, but in the end, I try to encourage students to build strong skills because wherever I travel, I see talented students who are struggling because they weren’t taught the basics. It is my philosophy that once a painter has those basics down in a masterful way, they can paint anything in watercolors! I will be hosting a trip to Tuscany from May 28 – June 4, of 2011 and you can receive more information about that trip at Your organization can see a sample of me teaching at (type in the word watercolors.)

I like to use Trekell brushes for my fine brush work. Brush numbers 1 – 5 are sitting on my studio table right now. There are many abstract forms and shapes within one of my paintings and the smaller Trekell brushes are excellent for painting these areas. These small brushes are also terrific for painting the delicate details of flowers and the intricacies of glass.

Catherine Hillis has painted all her life, winning numerous awards and honors at competitive shows regionally and nationally. Mrs. Hillis primarily paints in watercolors, including busy street scenes, intricate florals, and her favorite, the historic sites near her home on the Blue Ridge in Northern Virginia. The hallmarks of her work are rich color and a touch of humor. She has been honored to paint abroad, most recently in Europe and Asia.
During the summer of 2007, Mrs. Hillis painted in Dinan, France, having been awarded a grant and status as resident artist by “Les Amis de la Grande Vigne.” Mrs. Hillis has been selected to serve as “Artist in Residence” at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas during the summer of 2010.
A painting by Mrs. Hillis’ was selected for the book “Best of American Watercolorists, 2007” and she garnered second place in watercolors for the state of Virginia in 2005, her work being published in the book, “Best of Virginia Artists and Artisans, 2005;” her biography is included in “Who’s Who Among American Women, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.” Four of her paintings were selected as the cover art for the 2006 national journal of the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association and, in September of 2006, her article “Ten Tools for Better Watercolors” was published in American Artist Magazine ( She has a teaching video available at (Learn How to Paint in Watercolors) and is an artist representative for Trekell Watercolor Brush Company. She has earned signature membership in five regional and national watercolor organizations.

Telephone: 703-431-6877                               P.O. Box 41
Email:                          Round Hill, VA 20142-0041

"Ten O' Clock Appointment" copyrighted by Catherine Hillis

“The Pedicure” copyrighted by Catherine Hillis

“Gershwin and 50th Street” copyrighted by Catherine Hillis

"Last Day" copyrighted by Catherine Hillis

“ Vino Biancho de la Casa” copyrighted by Catherine Hillis
Hog Bristle Long Filbert 400MKF Series
Golden Taklon Round 2000 Series
Acrylic Paint - Fluid - 2oz
Wood Panels - Panel Only, No Cradle - 1/4" thick
Wood Panels - Gallery Profile - 1 3/4" thick