D.W.C. Figurative Nude - Painter Douglas Hofmann

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Born in 1945 I was the only child of German-American parents, and have lived my entire life
 in Baltimore, Maryland. I have been married to Fran for over 36 years, and our two children
 have given us five grandchildren.

My father's hobby was building model trains, and we often built trains together. This detail-
oriented work taught me patience, and the attention to detail, that I would later need to 
become a realist painter. The other major early influence on me was the movies. My parents 
and I used to watch at least two movies a week. This sparked my imagination, and my sense
 of beauty and composition. In particular, I really enjoyed the ‘Westerns’ and ‘Adventure’
movies. My absolute favorite movie was Disney's ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’.

All throughout my school years I could always draw very well, but didn't take art too seriously 
until 1963, when on a whim, I enrolled in The Maryland Institute College of Art instead of going
 to business school. At the Institute, despite the popularity of abstract expressionism, I found that
 I preferred realism, particularly the style of the old masters. My mentor, Joseph Sheppard, taught
 me the ‘Maroger Method’, a painting discipline that emulates the chemistry and qualities of 
oil paintings by the Dutch Masters.

Probably most important to my growth as an artist, was a job I had during my years at the Institute,
 in the window display department of Hecht's Department Store. Learning how to collect the 
right props, and arrange them in a display window, is very similar to the work I do in planning 
and creating my paintings. This practical training was so much more useful than anything I
 could have learned in the staid atmosphere of art school.

My primary artistic heroes are the realists of the 17th Century, and the impressionists of the 19th
 and early 20th Century. Early on I was exposed to Jan Vermeer, and for me he has always been
 the pinnacle figure in painting. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Vermeer's work always 
read right for me. That is to say the settings, the props, and the figures depicted, all had an 
innate believability. Vermeer showed me that an artist could be extremely successful, by placing
 a normal person in a real room with good or at least interesting lighting, and attempt to paint
 merely what he saw.

On its face a Vermeer painting might seem simplistic, but in truth portraying the complexities of 
real images correctly is insanely difficult. Vermeer used numerous techniques and short cuts
 to achieve his artistic goals, and I use them too, along with many others, some of which are
even unique to my work. But at the end of the process, when you view the finished painting, 
all that is left is an image, which hopefully appears as real, as it is beautiful. Less of an 
inspiration, Vermeer is more like a challenge. In the final result, the work must be as pure and as
 real as can be.

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