Mid-Year Update

Hello folks!

It’s been a while since my last post, but I am home from tour and finally getting back to creative work.  First things first:

Today, June 30th, marks the half-way point in my 2013 Quest for Excellence (an attempt at a weekly post of visual art.)  Allow me to catch up with the weeks I missed:

Week 23

Week 23

Week 23: June 9th
“Freedom Within” revisited (work in progress)
Acrylic paint and mixed media on canvas

This has been a work in progress since autumn 2011.  I had moved back in with my parents (from Queens, NY to Lansing, MI) and bought a canvas and some orange paint, just to see what would happen.  I painted the whole canvas orange.  I started to paint an image over it, but quickly lost my creative juices and left it alone.  Every couple months I would come back to the canvas and try something new.  One day I began to paint an image based on one of my drawings from Puerto Rico, 2012.  The painting has been on my wall for over a year, and every few months I will add something new to it.  (After Christmas I placed glass nativity figures atop the canvas, just because I needed a place for them to sit.  6 months later and they still rest there, unattached.)  One of the most recent additions is paper cutouts of a photocopy of the original drawing.

Week 24

Week 24

Week 24: June 16th
Bunny-tiger sketch
Pencil on paper

The month of June means the beginning of summer art programs at REACH.  I am thrilled to be a part of Teen Open Studio.  Last week we had a new student who wanted to draw for the first time.  I helped her sketch a bunny rabbit step by step (by drawing on my own paper and having her follow).  When she proudly showed off her first drawing I looked back at my paper to see that one of my demo rabbits was headless.  I glanced over at the tiger eyeing me from the cover of an animal book and couldn’t stop my imagination from combining the images.  And that’s how the bunny-tiger came to be.

Week 25

Week 25
Week 25: June 23rd
Acrylic paint on wall

Back at REACH we have a new building.  Since it is about to be renovated we got permission to paint on the condemned walls.  The assignment: each student should paint his/her “spirit animal.”  The first day I walked around the room admiring the work of the teens.  The second day I decided to join the fun and paint an animal of my own.

Week 26

Week 26

Week 26: June 30th
Like a Child
Watercolor, pen, and acrylic paint on paper.  8 1/2×11″

This month I went to a birthday party for a 4-year-old.  I bought her a basic set of watercolors and brushes (gotta start ’em young!)… and proceeded to buy the same for myself.  That was a few weeks ago.  I finally sat down and played with them.  The work started out so simple and subtle, but I kept adding and adding to it until I reached the point of, “Ummm…. just took it too far.  It was better before and now it looks like a hot mess.”  Which, in my book, means that it’s time to make things even messier.

Thus completes the first half of the 2013 Quest for Excellence!


Waste Not

I was touching up my tattoos (kids: don’t try this at home), and I had a small amount of india ink left over.  A little bit of that stuff goes a long way, I couldn’t bear to toss it.  Without too much thought I brushed the remaining ink onto 15 postcards, just to get something started.  This week I had some “studio” time, so I kept working on the cards, drawing over them with pens and sharpies, adding orange and white paint, and even starting to add some elements of collage and mixed media.  They are all still in-progress.

Week 22

Week 22: June 2nd
Postcard in progress
Mixed media on cardboard,  5×7″

This one was the closest to finished so it gets posted for Week 22 of the Quest for Excellence.


Dios Mio

My friend and fellow musician/artist/entertainer Stefa Marín has joined up with Abe Cavin to form the incredible duo Dios Mio.  For months they have been writing and recording original songs for their upcoming EP – a concept album about a trip to space, brought to life by their dynamic electronic/vocal fusion.  (The EP has not yet been released, but you can listen to one of my favorite tracks – the hauntingly beautiful The Odyssey – on Soundcloud.)  Stefa and I were discussing possibilities for album art, and I was so excited to be a part of this project that I immediately sketched out their first idea.
Week 21: May 26th
Album art for Dios Mio, Sketch 1
Pen on paper, 4×4″

While my Quest for Excellence post is complete, the journey with Dios Mio is only beginning!  I’ll be sure to keep you updated on any progress.


Collaborative Art

It has been a busy and beautiful month so far.  I flew out to New York City to celebrate my birthday with old friends and got to spend a full day making collaborative art with Melissa Misla.  This was the first time we were actually together since beginning our Quest for Excellence in January, so we thought we should at least work on one drawing.  We ended up with four larger “drawings”… and 15 postcards.  I say “drawings” because I don’t know what else to call them.  Our process involves lots of impulsive mark-making with whatever materials we can find in her studio.  (And when it comes to her studio… let’s just say I’m jealous.  I mean, where else can I receive permission to use the carpet as a paint rag on which to wipe my dirty brushes?)  Here is the first drawing we created together upon our most recent reunion:

Week 19

Week 19: May 12th
Untitled Collaborative Drawing 1 (with Melissa Misla)
Mixed media on paper, approximately 18×24″

It was a thrill to work with Misla again.  We fell right back into “Puerto Rico Mode” – listening to Hector Lavoe and Radiohead, smoking Marlboro Menthol Lights, and attacking each other’s lines and shapes with oil pastels, graphite, acrylic and oil paint, medium, markers, oil sticks, and whatever else our brushes or fingers would allow.  Making messes, then making sense of them, constantly rotating the paper for a different perspective…  I am so pleased with our work that I created a new page on my site featuring our collaborations.  Check out all the work we did last weekend in NY, as well as our initial collaborative work from our time in Puerto Rico last year, on my Collaborations page.

The Quest for Excellence continues, even though Misla and I are apart again.  While I was bored and waiting to board my delayed flight back to Michigan I began to experiment with the “Quick Memo” feature on my phone.  My wallpaper was set to one of our drawings, so I used that as a backdrop and experimented with color, line width and transparency.  This is the result:

Week 20

Week 20: May 19th
Airplane Mode
Screenshot of digital drawing

That brings me up to speed on the Quest for Excellence posts!  Time to get moving on this week’s project…




Week 18

It’s been a long, beautiful week.  Between babysitting, thrift shopping, Open Mic night at Dagwoods, working at a coffee shop, busking my songs for the first time, my first official gig with the Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle at Macs Bar, band rehearsal, and taking time to enjoy the long-awaited spring weather… I thought I had nothing to show for this week’s post in the Quest for Excellence.  But I looked through my photos from the week and came across this photo of collaborative art from REACH Teen Open Studio students:

Week 18

Week 18: May 5th
Collaborative painting with REACH Teen Open Studio students
Tempera paint on paper, approximately 3’x5′

When I first began the Quest for Excellence, I stated that my goal was to explore the love of art-making.  It was a joy to make this piece with teens and to see them discover painting in a new way, in terms of scale and technique.  One told me, “I’ve never painted this big before, it’s great to move my whole arm!”  When all the color was added I took white paint and began to add some dots in a spiral pattern.  Another students approached me and said, “Can I use the white?”  After I handed her my brush she began spattering and dripping paint all over the bottle (and maybe just a little bit on herself).  I love how it turned out!


Take a Walk

This week I walked to work after dropping my car off at the mechanic.  It was a nice change from my routine of driving everywhere.  I remembered how much I love walking – the leisure of it, the ability to take in my surroundings and to speed up or slow down as I please without worrying about the flow of traffic or stop lights… I paused to snap a picture of this boat on my way.  I was drawn in by the hanging, tattered fabric and used the photo as a reference for this sketch.

Week 17

Week 17: April 28th
Around the Corner
Ink drawing on paper, 8 1/2×11″

I would love to go back and sketch it on site.  (Project for next week?)
All this to say… good things happen when you take a walk!


Week 16

It’s still winter here in Lansing, and I’m still making portable drawings.  I completed three of them this week, but I am posting the most recent as my entry for the Quest for Excellence.

Week 16


Week 16: April 21st
Portable Art 5
Sharpies, acrylic paint, and ink on paper, 2×2″

I selected this drawing for my post because it is the first piece of this series in which I covered the whole page.  Not sure if I like it yet… Time to make some more!


Portable Art

In the age of smartphones, portability means everything.  People carry their entire mailboxes, calendars, libraries, music collections, recording studios, galleries and beyond in the palm of their hand.  With one touch they have access to a world of information.

In his novel Still Life With Woodpecker (1980), Tom Robbins writes, “Objects smaller than the human body […] possess the quality of privateness.  Objects larger than the human body possess the quality of publicness.  The larger the object, the less private and more public its mode.”  (p. 238)  This quote stuck with me when I decided to create a mini drawing for this week’s project.  The drawing style was inspired by collaborative art I did with Melissa Misla.  Together we created mixed media abstractions on 4×4′ sheets of paper.  While the paper we were using was square, our marks followed the circular pattern of the table on which we were working.  This week I wanted to create a small drawing that had the energy and detail present in the collaborative drawings, while being small enough to fit in a person’s wallet.  I ended up with this:

Week 14

Week 14: April 7th
Portable Art 1
Sharpies, acrylic paint, ink on paper.  2×2″

Here is an image of the drawing with a quarter to give you an idea of how small it is:
Week 14 scale

Whenever I show people art on my phone I find myself presenting it with the disclaimer: “This doesn’t really capture it…”  That said, I am thrilled to dive into the creation of portable art.  These will be art objects which are not meant to be framed and put on public display, rather they will be designed to be held like treasures, kept in pockets and wallets, to be shared person to person, like a secret whispered in someone’s ear.  I guess the secret is out with this one!


p.s.  Still Life With Woodpecker was an inspiring read — I just referenced it in some lyrics.  Be on the lookout for a new song this week!


The Scenic Route

After a year of living here, I’m starting to fall in love with Lansing.  One thing that always makes me smile is the view of the Capitol while driving westbound on Michigan Avenue.  It was especially beautiful this Friday as the sun set behind it, and I was grateful to be stopped at a red light for a moment so I could snap a photo of the silhouettes of Lansing’s “skyline.”  I drew a new postcard this week using the photo and my memory as references.Week 13

Week 13: March 31st
The Scenic Route: Michigan at Sunset
Sharpie and pen on index card, 4×6″

For those of you just tuning in: This drawing is part of the 2013 Quest for Excellence.  At week 13, I am now one quarter of the way through the year of posting new art each week.  I can’t believe how quickly this year is going!  As I look back on the first quarter I am satisfied with the variety of media and subject matter I was able to explore, considering I worked mostly from home using objects already in my possession.  My goals for the next quarter are: to create more work that has to do with my current location, to expand on ideas and techniques I have encountered in the first quarter, and to continue creating with a spirit of exploration.

Thank you for keeping track of my journey!  You can always contact me if you have any questions, comments, feedback, etc. at Abbey@AbbeyHoffman.com.


p.s. Don’t forget: Melissa Misla is also participating in the Quest for Excellence.  (It was her idea in the first place!)  I can’t stop looking at the kitchen drawings she did during Weeks 9&10.  But don’t take my word for it… see for yourself! —>  www.MelissaMisla.com