Back to Work

Hello again!

After two lovely weeks in the Caribbean with my Puerto Rican “family” I am back in Lansing, refreshed and ready to work!

Allow me to make up for lost time in the Quest for Excellence:

Week 5

The only art supplies I brought on my trip were black pens and a handful of sharpies (only select colors which reminded me of Puerto Rico).  I wanted to create work that was smaller (even more portable than my usual 8 1/2X11″ sketches), and in which I added color from observation.  I ended up buying 4×6″ index cards, with the intention of creating drawings that would eventually be made into post cards.  Considering my connection to postcards, I was actually kind of surprised that I had never thought of making them before.  This is my first one.  I also started a new Postcards page where you can see additional images.

Week 5
Week 5: February 3rd
Postcard 1
Sharpie and ballpoint pen on index card, 4×6″

The creation of postcard designs is one thing, sending them is another!  Please email your name and address to if you would like to be placed on my mailing list for when I [eventually] incorporate the sending of postcards into my projects.

Week 6

Titi Rosa (my “adoptive” aunt) encouraged me to make my own souvenirs using shells and plastic coqui (frogs native to PR).  I had fun gluing pieces together, and I decided to make some jewelry and keychains as well.  Here is a picture of my first necklace:

Week 6

Week 6: February 10th
Beach glass necklace
Suede rope, wire, beach glass

Week 7

They say “When you know, you know.”
And that was the case with my new tattoo.  I drew it on for fun, inspired by a wire ring I saw at the Aguadilla mall.  But after only a few hours of looking at it on my finger I knew it was the design I wanted.  I had that feeling of absolute certainty.  So I set up an appointment with a tattoo artist I met last year and got my first official tattoo!  I drew it on myself, so that’s how I justify posting it as this week’s creative endeavor in the Quest for Excellence.  🙂

Week 7

Week 7: February 17th
Tattoo design

The tattoo is still healing, and I’ll probably need to get a touch-up since finger tattoos are amongst the most difficult to maintain.  But there it is!

Thanks for checking out my new work!  Who knows what next week will bring…





Greetings from paradise!

The Quest for Excellence (a weekly post of new artwork, for those of you just tuning in) is currently on hold because I am back in the beautiful Isabela, Puerto Rico with limited internet access and scanning capabilities.  But just because my posting is on hold doesn’t mean the art-making is.  Being in this place has me more inspired than ever, working on new postcard-sized drawings and some trinkets made of beach glass and sea-shells.  It will be hard to go back to frozen Lansing after this, but I look forward to being able to post again!  Next Sunday I will make up for the lost time and post for all three weeks.

Until then…


Abstraction or Representation?

As a child I always thought there was a huge divide between the abstract expression of an object and a naturalistic rendering of it.  I can remember going to the Whitney Museum of art with my fifth-grade class and being in awe of how much Edward Hopper’s paintings looked like photographs, while I was confused and put-off by Willem de Kooning’s portrayal of a Woman and Bicycle (1952-53).  I didn’t see anything that looked like a bicycle…  But in continuing to observe the natural world, I encounter more and more abstract visual experiences.  Patterns, distortions of color, size and shape are all around, from falling, swirling snow illuminated by car headlights, to the foam on a perfectly poured latte.  That said, abstract art may actually be more representational than it appears.  Take, for example, my new sharpie drawing:

Week 4

Week 4: January 27th
Spill Study, Sketch 1 
sharpie on card stock,  6×6″

It doesn’t look like anything recognizable, but it is actually a drawing of a spontaneous nail-polish design created by Melissa Misla.  Last year, in an experimental moment, she filled a bowl with warm water, poured nail-polish into the water, and quickly laid a piece of paper on the surface of the liquid.  The paper picked up a thin layer of nail-polish in a beautiful pattern.  I set out to recreate that design in a different medium and quickly became interested in how the softness of the layered sharpie ink would translate the translucence of the nail-polish in the original work.  Hope you enjoyed this representation of an abstraction!


Postcard Poetry

Quest for Excellence: Week 3

People often ask me how I go about writing a song.  The first answer is: write down everything.  Anything from a line, to a concept, to a word that I really love the sound of…  Ideas come and go, but mostly they go.  If I don’t write something down immediately I may never come across that idea again.  A lot of my songs are formed by the ideas that I keep revisiting – those which I write down, sometimes forget about, and come back to days or months or years later and am still intrigued by them.  This weekend I was hanging out with a friend, sharing works in progress.  As I scrolled through the notes on my phone I came across something I wrote last year.  I had made a few attempts to turn these words into a song, but after reading them again I decided they read best as a poem.

I had written the poem shortly after my visit to Arizona last year, so I pulled out a postcard of the Grand Canyon for inspiration.  (Side note: postcards are the main souvenir I buy when traveling.  They are easily stored and transported, usually no more than $2 a piece, and bring me pleasure each time I pull them out of the folders and envelopes where they are packed away in my room.  I’ve tried putting them in sleeves or frames, but it’s not the same as holding the actual postcard, turning it around in my hands, feeling the paper and thinking about where I selected it from a mass of others, what drew me to each specific image…)  I tried hand-writing the poem on card stock, intending to illustrate it, but anything I tried only took away from the words.  Then it dawned on me: postcards are made to be written on!  Yeah, I know this seems obvious, but, like I said, I buy them to keep and “use as inspiration,” not to send to others.  After years of buying post cards I’ve finally done something creative with one, and here is is:

front of postcard
Week 3 (front)
back of postcard
Week 3 (back)

Week 3: January 20th
poem on postcard, 5×7″

Don’t forget to check out – the Quest for Excellence was her idea, and she is also posting every week!


Week 2

It’s Sunday again!

I am grateful to have the discipline of a weekly post, and lately my approach to art-making has been influenced by one factor: my desire to use materials, objects, and resources already at my disposal.  While this is a practical way to save money, I also enjoy having complete creative freedom within set boundaries.  This week alone I’ve worked on multiple projects using canvas, a mirror (actually the base of a nativity set), paper, acrylic paint (the only colors I currently have are orange, black, white and gold), yarn, styrofoam, broken jewelry, glue, tape, christmas ornaments, sharpies, and old hangers.  Somewhere in that mix I created what I have now posted for Week 2 of the Quest for Excellence (see below):


Week 2: January 13th
glue on mirror, 6″ diameter

Continuing my theme of using what I have, I’ve been creating small scale work because I love the convenience of being able to scan it and post it to my website in high quality almost immediately.  This proved quite the challenge with this week’s piece since I “painted” on a mirror.  I’ve posted two additional images that show how the work changes depending on how the scanner light hits the glue and mirror.



With this post I begin to ask: What is the art – the physical mirror with glue or my scans of it?  Most people will only see the image of the work, and, if they did see the object itself, it would never reflect light in the exact way it did through the scans…  So the question that remains for me is: am I more concerned with creating an image or an experience?

Lots to think about, even more to do.  See you next week!


2013 Quest for Excellence

I know I’m a little late, but Happy New Year!

2012 was a wonderful year – it was the first full year of my life after graduating from college, and it was quite the adventure to find out how to balance art-making and “real life” outside a classroom setting.  I’ve enjoyed having this website to share my progress, and I look forward to posting more consistently in 2013.

Together with my friend and fellow artist Melissa Misla, we will embark on a “Quest for Excellence.”  The challenge is that every Sunday by midnight we will post a new work.  We both know how easy it is to let the busyness and worries of life take over and to let creativity sit on the back burner.  It is especially difficult now that we live in different states.  As we reminisced about the time we spent making art in Puerto Rico and wondered how to keep that creative spirit alive, we came up with this plan of action.

Especially now that I am out of school there is a temptation to create work that is marketable. I feel pressure to produce objects and images that will appeal to the masses and to come up with one way of working so that when people ask the oh-so-charming question: “What do you do?” I will have a solid answer.  But I miss the days of being in art school, pushing the boundaries of assignments, exploring materials simply for the joy of finding out how they work…  Personally, I will use this weekly post as a platform to explore the love of art-making.

So here’s the first week:

Week 1
Week 1

Week 1: January 6th
mixed media on paper, 8.5×11″
I was brainstorming what I could do for my first week, and I decided to eat a piece of chocolate.  I broke the square of chocolate off of the bar and thought, I want to carve into this!  I tried to scratch a design into it and make a sort of block print, but it didn’t work out how I had hoped and broke into pieces in my hand.  No matter, I drew with the broken pieces.  When that wasn’t enough to make something interesting I decided to use only food I found in my kitchen to make an image.  That’s how I ended up with chocolate, honey, olive oil, soy sauce, flax seed, red pepper flakes, sriracha chili sauce, and garlic husk on a piece of paper.  Talk about the joy of creating!  Haha I think I’m off to a good start.  Excuse me while I wipe down my scanner.

I’ll post the pictures all to my new page: 2013 Quest for Excellence, and I’ll see you next week!  (It’s so good to say that and mean it. 🙂


Decades Album Art

This month I got the opportunity to work on some art for the Lansing-based band Decades!
Here is the final selection for album art:

DECADES album art

And for t-shirt design:

DECADES tshirt

The image is inspired by their song Grand Haven (to which I have been listening on repeat).  Download/listen to their songs here>  Like them on Facebook if you want more info about shows/upcoming tour dates/merch/etc.  Speaking of shows, they’ll be playing at Mac’s Bar tonight for those of you in the Lansing area – I’m so excited to see them live for the first time!  Maybe I’ll even get myself a t-shirt.  🙂



New Song

It’s about time I posted some NEW MATERIAL, and here it is:

  • MUSIC: Lyrics and audio for  **new song** The Wait

I’ve been waiting to finish this song!  I wrote the chorus more than two years ago, most of the verses in March, and finally came up with a bridge and pieced it all together this week.  Excited to work on it more, but here’s my first attempt at a recording.  Also, my demo Isabela Unplugged is still available for free download on Please leave a tip if you like what you hear!

Thanks for your continued support.


Free Music Available on NoiseTrade!

Good news: you can now have Abbey Hoffman songs in your iTunes!  Or in your car, or on your phone, or wherever you store and listen to digital downloads.  This month I released my first demo CD: Isabela Unplugged.  The album exists as a limited edition custom created CD, but I just posted it on because I wanted to make the songs available to everyone!  How does NoiseTrade work?  Easy – you give me your email address and postal code, and then you can download my songs for free!  It’s that simple.  I’m asking for a $5 tip if you can afford it, but that’s just a suggested donation.  Any and all of your support helps.  🙂  Visit my NEW Music page dedicated to the album: Isabela Unplugged Demo.  You’ll find links to the song lyrics, album art, information about the recordings, and a link to download the songs.

Thanks for your support!


4AM Update!

There is so much going on that I don’t know where to begin.

First of all, I’ve had the pleasure of working with students and volunteers at  REACH’s Teen Open Studio summer program for the past 3 months – we built a massive rhino sculpture for Lansing’s Potter Park Zoo!  Stay tuned to find out about the official installation of the sculpture and to see photos of the process.

And, now that TOS summer session is over, I realized that I have less than a week to prepare for Friday’s gig.  “What’s that,” you say?  “You have a gig?”  Indeed, I do, and you can find out all the information you will need to know on my newly added Music page: Upcoming Shows.

As if rehearsing for a gig isn’t enough, I decided that I want people to be able to walk out of my show with a physical copy of my music.  So I’m putting together my first demo CD!  Don’t want to give any spoilers about what’s on it, but I’m very excited to be able to share some new material with those of you who will be at the show on Friday.

Speaking of NEW MATERIAL, I posted the lyrics and audio to a new song called Watch. It’s actually an old song, but I found it when I was going through my itunes library.  Enjoy!

Thanks for following what’s happening here.
Remember, you can also follow me on Twitter @AbbeyHoffman where I will post site updates/gig announcements.  (I promise, there will be no tweeted play-by-play of my personal routines.)

I’m sure there’s something I’m forgetting, but it’s actually 4am now, so… later!