Tag Archives: Karin Hillmer

Retreat from the Every Day

I have been home from France for two weeks now and I find myself reflecting on my painting retreat. I also find myself thinking about my retreats which have been almost yearly for 15 years.

All of my retreats have included some time in France, ample alone time to paint, an almost total lack of knowledge of what was happening in the world, sharing some of the time with friends, teachers or my partner, Tim. They have all also been based on pleasure and joy.

Retreats with Friends

retreat, Karin Hillmer

He was perplexed, they were 8297 nanoseconds too late. ©Karin Hillmer

Several years ago I shared my retreat space with the photographer, Karin Hillmer. It was interesting to see what she photographed during the day and what little treasure she would bring home to include into her photographic montage. I also shared time with the composer Donna Miller who played lovely music on the second floor while I painted in the studio on the third floor.


retreat,Provence, 2007. ©Tim Anderson

Provénce, 2007. ©Tim Anderson


My partner, Tim Anderson, a photographer, has accompanied me to France many times. He has photographed scenes from Paris to Provénce and his own retreats along with mine.

This year I shared a house with my friend Gail who drew on her iPad or with pastels while I painted.

Gail Smith, digital impression

©g forbes shannon, digital impression


Retreats with Teachers

Sunflowers. ©Suzanne L"Hoste

Sunflowers. ©Suzanne L’Hoste

I have spent time with a mentor, Suzanne L’Hoste, and my first painting teacher, Carole Watanabe. I love being with people who are creating their art as I am doing mine. It is a very interesting and refreshing experiencing for me.

Watermelon Time. © Carole Watanabe

Watermelon Time. ©Carole Watanabe




This year, I listened as I heard Gail tell people how disciplined I was because I went upstairs and painted almost every day. As I told her, it is not discipline, it is love of painting.

This year I painted in France and Italy for two months. Two years ago I painted in France for three months. No one has been able or wanted to stay that long. Fortunately, I also have loved my alone time there, when it is just me and the paints and my affection of France.

The Photographic Dream World of Karin Hillmer

Guest Post by Karin Hillmer

Photography and Storytelling

I love books. Growing up in Germany I enjoyed reading my parents’ Brockhaus, the multi-volume German encyclopedia. These volumes were similar to what Google is for us today, a source of endless discovery to stimulate the imagination. In my photography, which is all about storytelling, I combine my thoughts, fears, hopes and fantasies with the external world around me. Books as visual objects and as a source of discovery—as well as words—have always been important to me and have informed my art. The transitional space between sleeping and waking serves as fertile ground to retrieve thoughts and emotions from the past, question the soul, and weave them into visual impressions and fragments of our material world. It is in this conceptual collage process that I unify these magical worlds to visualize my stories in photographs.

KarinHillmer-Still somewhat unsure, the youth set out to question when existence begins

Still somewhat unsure, the youth set out to question when existence begins, ©Karin Hillmer

KarinHillmer-The armillary rises quietly from the depths of the universe

The armillary rises quietly from the depths of the universe, ©Karin Hillmer

Dreamlike Imagery

Three artists who have most influenced my work and who incorporated dreamlike imagery, actual collage fragments and multi-faceted contemporary material are Max Ernst, Joseph Cornell and Robert Rauschenberg. I was first introduced to their work during my undergraduate studies in art history when I also studied drawing, painting and photography. From the outset, my camera was searching for staged scenes or theatrical set ups and found objects. Sun and daylight are my favorite sources of light as it best describes the tones in my color that I seek.

KarinHillmer-Nobody really expected the compass to cross the veil of illusion

Nobody really expected the compass to cross the veil of illusion, ©Karin Hillmer

KarinHillmer-The Book of Sand, without beginning - without end

The Book of Sand, without beginning – without end, ©Karin Hillmer

Jorge Luis Borges

My series of photographs Infinity & Dreams, which were published as a book under the same name, are inspired by the short stories of the great South American writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges. When I initially read his story, “The Book of Sand,” comprised in Collected Fictions, I interpreted the infinite book that Borges describes as analogous to the Internet which grows infinitely; where today’s first page is no longer tomorrow’s.

In this series of photographs, I weave Borges’ narrative into my personal enigmatic imagery, riddles and universal symbols. I combine my fascination with Time with my interest in our present technological world. I explore a moment inspired by memory and fantasy. Each photograph represents a point on a continuum in time with the image titles and symbols often hinting at other dimensions along this path.


Where infinite combinations of the symbols are now and now and now, ©Karin Hillmer