Local artist displays 50 oil paintings in West Chester

WEST CHESTER — As part of a long tradition of supporting local artists, Chester County Art Association is now displaying 50 oil paintings by borough artist Philip Hill.

Hill paints mostly local subjects. He hopes to “communicate an emotion that touches you.”

Like many artists, Hill paints several distinct subjects. He has featured butterflies, desserts, nocturnes, Chester County landscapes in all seasons, architecture, still life, plein air and what he refers to as “Alien Invasion.”

“I get hooked on something—on an idea,” he said.

His six Alien Invasion paintings depict water and cell phone towers.

He talked about setting up the exhibit and not hanging all his alien encounter works.

“I can’t have too many of them in the show because people will wonder,” he said with a smile.

Often captivated by a view, Hill regularly snaps photos of a passing subject and then creates art in his studio.

“I see something that startles me, and say, ‘Holy Cow, that could make a great painting,’” he said. “The worse the photograph, the more I like it.”

Hill sold his first work over 60 years ago for a quarter. It was a small drawing of a duck pond and a neighbor thought it was charming.

The 71-year-old played it safe while working in law and business in New York City. He never lost his love of art and studied at the Art Students League and National Academy in New York.

He retired to Chester County five years ago, at the urging of fellow student at Hamilton College and local artist John Suplee, and took up art fulltime.

At first he and his wife, Fran, looked at moving to Bucks County, but he said West Chester made his wife happy, with its street lights, fine dining and culture.

Many of the paintings displayed at the art association by Hill depict desserts.

Patrons sometimes complain to the father of two and grandfather of four and his depiction of delicious food.

One painting is titled, “My Diet Starts Tomorrow.”

“Rather than eat a dessert you can look at the dessert—no calories,” the artist quipped.

When taking a photo of a Victorian home in the borough, Hill was mistakenly confused for a real estate agent. When the homeowners heard that he might paint their house, their attitude changed and he was invited in.

Main Line train stations are a favorite subject. Hill especially enjoyed receiving the senior rate and painting Strafford, Radnor, Paoli and Wayne stations.

His grandkids, aged 4 and 6, liked riding through Pete’s Car Wash on West Chester Pike, which led to a water drenched fuzzy painting as viewed through the windshield.

Hill has visited a spot in the summer, added snow and he and his brother sledding. He makes night day, will add footprints and will add a dog walker coming down park steps.

So when is a painting complete?

“When do you stop painting?” he said. “When you’ve done enough to express your feeling.”

The 50 painting solo Hill exhibit is now open at the Chester County Art Association, 100 N. Bradford Ave., West Chester. Hill will speak Thursday Jan. 17 at 6 p.m. and the show runs through Jan. 31. The exhibit is free. Call 610-524-1925 for more information.