Paul Hoffman loves the discipline of meeting his paintings every day in the studio. He shows up at 5:30 each morning and paints for about 10 hours, particularly when he is getting ready for an exhibit. His only goal is allowing the painting itself to form its own expression, tell its own story. This process refreshes him! He loves everything he paints, the surprise of disappearing into the creative flow, basically getting out of his own way, allows him to meet these paintings as if for the first time. They are introducing themselves to Hoffman one brush stroke at a time. Last August Hoffman showed up at Salmon Falls Gallery in Shelburne Falls, MA and wondered if his paintings might be a good fit for the venue. He had first visited the gallery in 2016 and was impressed by the quality of the art he was seeing. He also was taken with the space itself, a large space with generous windows overlooking the Deerfield River and the village of Shelburne Falls. This would be his first foray in exhibiting his paintings outside of Greenfield, MA, his hometown. An exhibit was planned for May of 2019 with the working title of Waterside: Man-Made Structures in Natural Landscapes, an idea to anchor the series. In his words: “In this series of waterside landscapes, I have brought together man-made structures and natural elements to explore their harmonies and contrasts. Each painting unfolds its own narrative and establishes a unique sense of place.” Hoffman was born into a family that valued and encouraged art making. Growing up in Cos Cob CT, he remembers discovering a sketch book of trees by his father, who was an excellent draftsman, and how finding these drawings initiated his first efforts to draw the world around him. Hoffman went on to become a professional illustrator, working first at the University of Chicago as an epigraphic artist, spending time in Egypt recording temple wall scenes and inscriptions for the university’s Epigraphic Survey in Luxor. He later moved to New England to illustrate in the New York City market, which he did for 25 years. Working primarily on scratchboard, Hoffman contributed to the New York Times, book publishers, magazines, and also illustrated in the fields of advertising and design. In 2015 Hoffman changed his focus from illustration to working solely in paint, acrylic paint is his medium of choice. He notes how his early discipline as an illustrator helps form the current narrative content of his paintings, as well as his dedication to putting in studio time every day. The stories in his paintings are deliberately obscure, Hoffman prefers his viewers to come to their own conclusions about each work. He feels he is a painter who expresses through form, rather than through the quality of the paint itself on the canvas. (Think about abstract expressionists, what each stroke of paint brings to a piece.) He really respects artists who are able to make the expression of the paint itself tell the story, but doesn’t see that as his strength. What one is immediately aware of when viewing a Hoffman painting is the invitation to enter a specific world, one with its own laws of gravity and wonder. What is this place we have been brought to? A delightful question to contemplate! Hoffman’s exhibit can be viewed May 3 through June 30 at Salmon Falls Gallery, Shelburne Falls, MA, with a reception for the artist Saturday, June 1, 3-5pm. Classical guitar by Chris Eriquezzo. For more information, www.SalmonFallsGallery.com or call the gallery at 413.625.9833.