Hoffman returns to town

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— As an instructor of art, Joan Hoffmann has found teaching technique more beneficial than teaching style.

"Painting is like writing one needs to know the alphabet of value, color, shapes and brushwork in painting," Hoffmann said. "Once you've learned, you can write any style book you want."

The four basic painting techniques, which are critiqued against each other, are value, color, shapes and brushwork. Hoffmann said instead of trying to teach which color would best suit an artist, she teaches that warm colors come forward in art and cool colors recede.

About every two months Hoffmann returns to the Yampa Valley to teach oil and watercolor workshops and provide an open critique for painters. Her next oil painting and watercolor workshops are Jan. 26 and 27.

The oil painting classes are geared for beginners through advanced and painters. During the summer she teaches plein air and in the winter she finds comfort in studio painting. "The classes are popular because of the emphasis on technique," Hoffmann said.

Gigi Walker said she enjoys hiking and painting with Hoffmann in the spring, summer and fall for four- or five-day trips.

"I learned a lot about color and perspectives," Walker said. "(Hiking and painting) are putting two things together that I love the most."

The classes will offer intense lessons in technique in order to bring about personal style and understanding in each painter.

The open critiques are for those painters who would like to gather with Hoffmann and other local artists to talk about art. People should bring art they would like critiqued; however, Hoffmann said she would not be walking around to every person to critique work.

"It's an opportunity to talk with other artists about artwork. It's kind of like family hour," Hoffmann said.

Walker said she thinks Hoffmann's experience with critiques makes her a better painter.

"It's kind of like an adventure to paint with her. She encourages you to go outside your boundaries. We laugh a lot," Walker said.

Walker said she would not consider herself an advanced or professional painter by any means, but her love of sitting with canvas and watercolor makes classes like Hoffmann's worthwhile.

Although Hoffmann's passion for birds, landscape and other wildlife brought her to enjoy the pleasures of plein air painting, she also has found a creative side in her studio.

She spent 30 years painting watercolor landscapes and wildlife while living in Colorado before she moved in January 2000.

Hoffmann said she turned her interests toward oil painting because of a simple desire to change mediums and technique.

"Watercolor is more abstract and impressionistic," Hoffmann said. "I like landscapes with a lot of distance in them."

Although Petaluma, Calif., was not her first choice in places to move from Pleasant Valley, Hoffmann said she's found the landscape and the people to be more enjoyable than she expected originally.

"But I love coming back to Colorado," Hoffmann said.

Her desire to remain active in painting, teaching and preserving wildlife has given her the opportunity to present Steamboat Springs with an exhibit for the month of March "Colorado Odyssey."

In 1999, Hoffmann backpacked 500 miles in 50 days as a 50th birthday present to herself.

Because Hoffmann's interest in oils has increased over the past few years, she has reproduced her watercolors from the trip on the Colorado Trail into oil paintings.

"I was inspired to put together paintings of the Colorado High Country," Hoffmann said of her 30 paintings in the exhibit.

Hoffmann studied painting at Colorado State University and at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada. She continues to enroll in various professionally taught workshops.

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