March 10 2014 07:53 PM

San Diego artists' Hill&Stump project is in high demand

Anna Stump (left) and Daphne Hill
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Barrio Logan is bustling. It's not easy to score a parking spot in front of Daphne Hill and Anna Stump's new space on Main Street, but extra effort is ultimately rewarded. Inside the large studio, the painters have claimed their territory: Stump's large-scale nudes occupy one side, and Hill's paintings—featuring domestic materials like wallpaper and placemats painted over with black silhouettes of figures and the microorganisms responsible for venereal diseases—on the other.

The pair has shared studio space for a while, but in the last few years, they've been collaborating under the pseudonym Hill&Stump. With two distinct bodies of work already emerging, the reception to their combined work has been positive. They've sold several pieces, and, this week, they're featured in three exhibitions: LABOR MIGRANT GULF, opening at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, March 13, at Southwestern College Art Gallery in Chula Vista; Artists for Healing, opening at 7 p.m. Friday, March 14, at Grossmont College Hyde Art Gallery in El Cajon; and Art Above San Diego, opening from 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, March 15, on the roof deck at Porto Vista Hotel (1835 Columbia St. in Little Italy).

The logistics behind the collaboration are straightforward: One or the other starts a piece, then pours a layer of epoxy resin. After it dries, the other artist adds another layer of paint and resin. That process continues until they're both comfortable calling a composition complete.

"We don't even know which side is right-side-up in the beginning," Stump says. "And we try not to interrupt each other; we don't hang over each other's shoulders."

They have few ground rules governing what they paint, and they allow themselves the freedom to change one another's work dramatically. As a result, both of the artists' recognizable styles show up—different painting techniques, color palettes and preferred subject matters find their way into the final pieces.

One body of work in Hill&Stump's collection is unapologetically accessible—it's simply about color, composition and beauty and mostly features flora from Southern California. Their newest collaborations, though, are focused on environmental trauma and are more challenging (and missing the layers of resin).

The artists work well together partly because they've been putting out their accessory line, Naughty Blonde Redux, for years, but the new collaboration has been eye-opening and inspiring to them both.

"I like to be thrown off because I'm very controlled," Stump says.

"And I really like getting out of the formula," Hill adds. "Collaborating is a great way to not fall into something that's comfortable."

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