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  • Erin Acker

Top Nine Paintings of 2020

Updated: Jan 5

Needless to say, 2020 has been quite the year. One idea I keep reflecting on is the idea of "and." Good and bad things coexist, and neither invalidates the other. 2020 has been terrible and really good at the same time. Amongst all of the stress of the year, it has been my most successful year of art so far. To celebrate, I thought I'd do a little retrospective and look back at my most significant paintings of the year.



In no particular order, here are my top nine paintings from 2020, as chosen by me.


"Stormy Ridge" July 2020

3x4" watercolor

This summer, I decided to try plein air painting. I painted this mini at the Shady Dell Campground along Mirror Lake Highway in the Uintas. The air was cool and damp and the mountain storm was a breath of relief from the oppressive heat of the valley. At this point in the summer, my anxiety about the pandemic was really high, but being up in the mountains, I felt it all fade away. This painting represents the feel of going with the flow and just letting the watercolor do its thing.


"Afternoon in the Wind Rivers" January 2020

8x8" watercolor

This one is perhaps the most significant of the bunch, because it ended up defining my style for 2020. I painted this one in a watercolor workshop all the way back at the beginning of the year, and it was the very first one I did with the triangle clouds. It changed something in my brain and artistic expression and took me down a path I didn't even know existed until I was on it. The framed original is for sale here and prints are available here.



"Golden Hour" September 2020

5x7" acrylic on paper

I started painting with acrylic this year, and while I still feel like a total beginner, this painting was the first one where it started to make sense. This scene is from along the Pacific Crest Trail in the Sierra Nevada.



"Across the Water" August 2020

16x20" watercolor and ink

One of my goals for 2020 was to paint bigger, and I'd say I succeeded. This painting of Grave Lake in the Wind Rivers is one of my absolute favorites from the year. I'm entering the original into the Western Federation of Watercolor Society's 2021 Exhibition (I'll find out in May if it's accepted), so the original isn't for sale yet. But prints are available here!



Still Untitled, December 2020

5x7" acrylic on canvas

One of the lines I'm to walk is the line between realism, impressionism and abstraction. In high school and college, I fell firmly on the side of realism, but I've been trying to break away from it this whole time. As I've been experimenting, I've found it's not a line so much as a big fuzzy grey area subject to interpretation (not surprising). My experiments in impressionism and abstraction have been immensely rewarding, albeit challenging. I'm growing much more comfortable with the feeling of having no idea what I'm doing, and with each painting I feel like I'm getting one step closer to finding my artistic voice. This painting is one of my looser acrylic paintings, and I love what it represents on my journey of exploring my artistic style. It will be for sale once I figure out varnishing (add it to the to-do list for 2021!)



"Into the Storm" June 2020

8x10" watercolor and ink on paper

This painting is part of the collection I painted for a group show, and it was the first of the paintings I did with stormy triangle clouds. I love stormy skies, and this one was the tipping point that helped me find new ways to paint grey skies. When I look at this painting, I feel the same wild freedom that comes with a summer thunderstorm in the mountains. This particular painting is of the Highline Trail in the Uinta Mountains. The original has sold, but prints and greeting cards will be available soon.



"Uinta Fall" September 2020

3x4" watercolor

This little painting represents all the tiny paintings I made this year. One of my goals is to be able to offer affordable original art, and these tiny paintings have been perfect. I painted nearly sixty of them this year, and I'm so proud of that. This is another one from the Highline Trail in the Uintas.



"Around the Bend" April 2020

8x10" watercolor

Sometimes a painting just emerges that absolutely blows me away, and this was one of them. After a couple false starts, everything fell into place and this is what I ended up with. Prints are available here.



"Over the Lake" July 2020

8x8" watercolor

My favorite from a series I painted for a group show. I love the reflections, the variety in the clouds, and the water blooms in the blue sky.


Thanks to all of you for following along this year. Whether you liked, shared, commented, bought originals or prints, it all means so much. Thank you for the support and encouragement. This year has been unique (to put it mildly) but it has been my most successful year as an artist so far, and I am so appreciative of each and every one of you.

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