Good News!

Hello world!

Lots of updates today.

First and foremost, I would like to officially announce that I have been invited to join the Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle (the L.U.V.S.) as their newest singer!  I have hesitated to share this until now because I kept waiting to have the right words to describe my simultaneous excitement, gratitude, slight disbelief… that I am now a part of this awesome family. And I still don’t have the right words…  But I will say this: I first heard a few members of the LUVS perform at a Dagwood’s Open Mic last June.  (There are 14 of us.  Or is it 15 with me in the group?  I’ve lost count at this point…)  I was completely shocked at what I heard.  My (then new, now dear) friend Jeana-Dee had said her husband Dylan was in a vaudeville band, I had no idea what to expect.  I had already convinced myself that Lansing was a pretty boring place, but what I heard and saw and felt when the LUVS performed was the complete opposite of boring.  (I would try to describe it, but again I feel that whatever words I have to say won’t capture the essence of their sound and spirit.)  Over the course of the past year I have had the opportunity to see and get to know the LUVS on multiple occasions, and I am honored to sing alongside such wonderful people, both in talent and in character.  This marks the beginning of a new chapter in my musical journey, and I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation for what is about to unfold.

I have been singing at Dagwood’s Open Mic for the past three weeks, both with the LUVS as well as performing my original material, but my first official gig with them is next week!  You can find all the details on my Upcoming Shows page.  Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter, so you can get tweets about last minute Open Mic performances or find out where you may be able to catch us busking.

Other exciting news:  I have uploaded three new videos to my Youtube channel, including a new song called Never Mine.  You can now find lyrics pages for Never Mine and Good Dude, Bad Man.  And you can watch my Youtube videos straight from my website on my new Video page.

And now is that point where I realize that I’ve been working on web stuff so long I forgot to eat dinner!  Time for some food (yes, I know it’s 1:30am).  I’m sure I’ve left you with plenty of material to stay busy without me for a while.  🙂  Thank you again for your support.

–Abbey

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!

–Abbey

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!

–Abbey

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.

–Abbey

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  

Let There be Lamps!

My apologies for being late with Week 11 of the Quest for Excellence.  To make up for it I am posting a NEW SONG!  It’s called Better Woman, and you can listen to a recording of it and read the lyrics here.

Week 11

Last year I did a bunch of sharpie designs, and I realized that holding the drawings up to light really made them come alive in a different way.  I began to ponder ways to incorporate this into the work (such as hanging the drawings from window panes) and imagined a lamp shade with patterns on it.  Last week I took my first shot at the latter.

I started with a yellow sharpie, then added patterns, one color at a time.  Here is a photo of the work in progress, before I added the background color:Week 11 progress

This is the finished lamp shade design:
Week 11 unlit

And here it is, all lit up!

Week 11

Week 11: March 17th
Sharpie Lamp Shade
Sharpies on canvas lamp shade

It was very satisfying to complete this project after months of dreaming about it, but there were two things I didn’t take into consideration: 1) The texture of the canvas stops the sharpie ink from absorbing the most color that it can, letting light through the “cracks” and giving the lamp shade a faded look.  2)  The yellow light dulls the blue and purple hues in the drawing, lessening the effects of contrasting colors.   Surface texture/permeability and light source are all things to take into consideration for future projects.

Week 12

This week’s post is a painting in progress.  I have been adding to this painting for months, since the summer.  It’s finally coming together enough that I want to share it.  The image inspiration came from Day 8 of my Daily Drawings.  I will add something to the painting, leave it alone for a while, and then one day come back to it with something new.  The latest addition is a wooden flagpole (which I found on the beach in Villa Pesquera).  I tried to photograph the painting at an angle to capture some of the texture.

Week 12

 

Week 12: March 24th
“Too late for a light” revisited (work in progress)
Acrylic paint and mixed media* on canvas.  16×20″

*includes glue, yarn, tape, foam packing sheets, styrofoam, jewelry parts, mini tree ornaments, and wooden flagpole.

Thanks for checking in!

–Abbey

“Tattoo” Time

It’s no secret that I have a slight Rihanna obsession (especially not now that I announced it on my website).  By obsession I mean that anyone who has been around me for more than 10 minutes has witnessed me play/sing/blast/reference/defend/dance to one of her songs.  And I’m not just talking about the radio stuff.  Terrible and wonderful, heartfelt and trashy, from infectious recordings and videos to horrendous live performances… I can’t help but love it all.  (As for the nature of my fondness for her and my willingness to overlook her questionable lyrics and life decisions… these can all be pondered at a later time.)

Looking for this week’s creative spark, I began flipping through my brother’s old GQ and Rolling Stone magazines to see if there were any useful images.  It didn’t take long before I had emptied them of Rihanna photos.  I made a collage of some of them, just for fun, and my favorite part of the collage ended up being this:

collage detail
Rihanna on Rihanna, collage detail

I was entertained by the fact that a picture of Rihanna’s face (from the cover of her album, Talk That Talk) fit perfectly over the face on her chest tattoo.  Speaking of tattoos, Rihanna has… too many of them to keep track.  And I decided to give her some more:

Week 10

Week 10: March 10th
Rihanna 1
Sharpie on a page of December 2012 edition of GQ

(Can you guess which ones are real?)  Using Rihanna as a canvas made me happy, so I drew 2 more:

Week 10b

Week 10c

I’m fascinated by the idea of these drawings.  Am I really designing a tattoo, or am I just drawing on a photograph like I would draw on a piece of paper?  Perhaps neither, perhaps both… whatever it is, I want more of it!

–Abbey

Youtube Debut!

Confession: I am a recovering perfectionist.  Many times I don’t put my work “out there” because I know it could be better.  But one of my goals this year is to talk less and do more.  How many times have my friends heard me say, “I want to learn Spanish,” or “I want to record my music?”  Yet how many hours of my day are actually spent pursuing those things?  The Quest for Excellence has been a huge encouragement for me to consistently explore art-making on a weekly basis.  And now it’s time to get the ball rolling with my music.

One of the most intimidating venues for me has been Youtube.  Millions of people record and post their own videos.  Some of them are really, really good, in terms of content and production value.  And other videos are just plain embarrassing.  Fear of being in the latter category is one thing (among many) that has kept me from posting my own videos.  But I never worry about embarrassing myself when I play my songs for other people live.  So why does posting on Youtube seem like such a big deal?  Part of me feels like I have to create some kind of Youtube persona to be successful, maybe have a catchphrase, a certain way of doing things, special effects or fancy video editing…

But today I wrote and recorded a song, inspired by a lovely breakfast conversation with a friend and the phrase, “He’s a good dude… but a bad man.”  I recorded the video right after I wrote it, wearing no make-up (natural light works wonders), using no professional equipment (just my Snowball microphone and Photobooth on my Macbook).  Basically, I didn’t think about it too much.  My goal in recording the video was to make my friend smile by sending her a video showing her that I actually got home from breakfast and wrote a whole song based on one line of our conversation.  That, I realized, is the kind of video I want to share with people.  One day I DO hope to make “professional” music videos, with all the bells and whistles and hours of time spent recording to get every little piece right, wardrobe changes, a full band…  but until then here’s the first of many (hold me accountable to that) videos of me playing my songs, in all its newness and imperfection:


–Abbey

 

Polished Vase

On the last Tuesday of every month the Volunteers of America thrift stores in Lansing offer 50% off everything in the store.  Everything?  Everything.  So this week I ventured out to see what I could find.  (I may or may not have been influenced by a certain Macklemore song.)  I picked up a couple frames, some jewelry, and a tiny vase to add to my growing tiny vase collection.  (Right now it consists of one from Japan, one from Puerto Rico, and a slightly larger one from Arizona.)  It was a simple red-orange glass vase whose shape and size caught my attention.  And how could I say no when it was a mere 30 cents?

I stared at it for a few days before something in me said, “What if I paint on the vase… with nail polish?”  So I tried it.  To my delight I realized that painting on glass (as opposed to paper) gave me the opportunity to wipe off my work with nail-polish remover and start over at any given moment.  (I only did this once… so far.)  So here is what the vase looks like now:

Week 9

Week 9: March 3rd
Polished Vase
Nail polish on glass vase, height 3″

Here’s a picture of me holding it, for scale.  And you can see that I’m wearing the same nail polish* I used to paint the vase:

week 9 scale
Just for fun, a shot of the vase on my balcony with some Michigan winter in the background.  The sun showed it’s face just enough time for me to snap this photo:
Week 9 blue sky

*Interesting story about the nail polish:  Last year in Puerto Rico I bought some at Walmart that ended up being the best nail polish I have ever used.  I only bought it in three colors because, “There are Walmarts in Michigan and I can always buy more when I get home,” I thought.  Once I got back to the United States I searched all over Walmarts (in Michigan and Arizona, desperately) only to discover that the nail polish was a Puerto Rican brand (Bettina), made and sold only in Puerto Rico (and select stores in Florida).  So this year when I went back I stocked up and bought one in almost every hue.  Who knew that I would end up using it for art?  I better make more of the same, so I have an excuse to go back and buy more.  (As if I need another excuse to return to that heavenly place.)

–Abbey

Readymade

Here it is, Sunday night and I’ve gone a whole week without creating anything.  Yesterday my hanging shoe rack detached and fell to pieces when I closed my door.  (A sign that I own too many shoes?  I refuse to believe it.)  A piece of the rack broke beyond repair, and I had it laying on my floor.  Of course it was the first thing I thought of when I started to brainstorm ideas for this week’s project.  I hung it up on the wall, to begin the process of envisioning how I could turn it into a work of art.  But the minimalist in me said, “It’s done!” (Forgive the terrible photo, this is why I like to make work that I can scan.)  shoe rack
I can never tell if my fascination with minimalism stems from my fondness of simplicity or if it’s just laziness…  As much as I wanted to call it a night, the Quest for Excellence deserves a little more effort on my part than tacking a piece of metal on my wall and snapping a photo.  Part of what draws me to the simple wire form is the shadows it creates.  This reminded me of two photos I took in Puerto Rico: one from last year

shadow2012
Abbey Hoffman 2012

one this year.

Shadow2013
Abbey Hoffman 2013

I can’t explain exactly what it is that I love about shadows.  Maybe it has something to do with how they turn a complex 3-dimensional object into a simple 2-dimensional pattern.

But shadows aren’t always simple.  As it got closer to midnight I thought about how to make the shoe rack and it’s shadows more interesting.  I remembered white wire hangers that I’ve had sitting around my apartment for months.  Thus I bring you this week’s creation:

hangers

Week 8: February 24th
Readymade 1
White wire hangers and part of a shoe rack

Nothing in this piece is permanently attached.  And while I added the hangers simply for aesthetic reasons, I now see a new conceptual depth to the work: It begins to remind me of Marcel Duchamp’s “readymade” bicycle wheel on a stool, both are works in which two useful objects become useless by the way they are attached.  Gears are turning… I could say so much more, but I want to post by midnight!

–Abbey