Saturday, January 28, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 48

Santa Maria Sun / Art

The following article was posted on January 18th, 2023, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 47 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 47

Gallery Los Olivos showcases figurative oil paintings by Annie Hoffman


Gifted with a Kodak Brownie at age 11, one local oil painter captured her subjects with a camera long before switching to brushes and palettes during adulthood.

“I became obsessed with photographing birds,” said Santa Barbara resident Annie Hoffman, born and raised in London, England. 

Dance Poetry is one of more than two dozen oil paintings set to be displayed during artist Annie Hoffman’s upcoming February exhibition, Seeing Ourselves in Color, at Gallery Los Olivos.

While Hoffman—who moved to California in the late ’70s—specializes in painting and sketching figurative portraits of live models nowadays, she had no interest in photographing human subjects as a youth. Most of her photos were of sparrows and other birds that lived near her childhood home.

Her new solo exhibit, titled Seeing Ourselves in Color, at Gallery Los Olivos explores the artist’s contrasting feelings of love and mistrust of humanity in general.

February figures
Gallery Los Olivos presents Seeing Ourselves in Color, a solo exhibition of oil paintings by Santa Barbara-based artist Annie Hoffman, Feb. 1 through 28. An opening reception for the exhibit will be held on Sunday, Feb. 5, from 1 to 3 p.m. The gallery is located at 2920 Grand Ave., Los Olivos. Call (805) 688-7517 or visit for more info.

“I feel anxiety about the way that we humans have a decreasing relationship with our natural world,” said Hoffman, who first became interested in illustrating members of her own species during her teen years.

When Hoffman was 16, her high school art teacher recommended that she attend a night drawing class at a local college, to see if she enjoyed sketching a live model. And she did.

“I clearly remember how wonderful I felt holding my sketch pad in front of me on the bus home,” Hoffman recalled.

Hoffman planned to attend either art or cooking school after graduating from high school, but her parents dismissed both ideas “as out of the question,” and advised that she work toward a career in either teaching or nursing. 

Oil painter Annie Hoffman was born and raised in London, England. During the late ’70s, she moved to Los Angeles, where she lived until she and her husband decided to move to Santa Barbara in 2016.

She decided to attend a nursing school but remained curious about art and visited a gallery for the first time in her life during her studies. It was the National Gallery in London.

“It was there I first saw and was awed by Van Gogh’s colors and Turner’s incredibly atmospheric paintings,” said Hoffman, who bought a stash of souvenir postcards from the gallery “which I displayed in my room for years.”

“Those paintings spoke to me in a way that continues to this day,” added Hoffman, whose nursing career allowed her to travel around Europe, and eventually Canada and the U.S.

After moving to Los Angeles, Hoffman said she immediately signed up for horseback riding lessons and bought a pair of roller skates, to ride along the Santa Monica boardwalk on a regular basis.

Pure Joy, one of the pieces included in Annie Hoffman’s upcoming solo exhibit, was a commissioned project in which the artist was assigned to illustrate a portrait of two children, but as candidly as possible. “I was left alone with the children for a few moments when they spontaneously, without any prompting from me, started to dance with each other,” said Hoffman, who quickly took some photos and used one as a reference for the final painting.

“I had never felt so free,” said Hoffman, who met her husband while living in LA, and spent more than a decade studying with a handful of impressionist painters and taking various art classes at Santa Monica College and UCLA before committing to pursue a full-time career as an artist during the mid ’90s.

One of Hoffman’s pieces in her upcoming Gallery Los Olivos show—on display Feb. 1 and 28—is Dance Poetry, a portrait of a young dancer she photographed during a Cinco de Mayo festival in downtown LA. When Hoffman isn’t working with a live model, her alternative is usually painting from a vast collection of photos she’s taken over the years.

“I typically ask people permission to take their picture. But I rarely ask anyone to pose—as I want to capture spontaneous gestures or emotion,” said Hoffman, who’ll avoid learning too much personal information about the strangers who allow themselves to be photographed. “It seems intrusive and because I prefer to be an anonymous observer so that I can develop the story of my painting for myself.”

In 2016, Hoffman and her husband moved from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, a city they had been fond of for a while beforehand.

“For many years, we had visited friends in SB, so it had long been on my radar as an arty town,” said Hoffman, who made a point at least once a year to head up there to visit the Waterhouse Gallery, and for the pure joy of the scenic drive alone. 

“I loved traveling up the coast, watching the light and the colors on the pink mountains with their deep blue shadows, and the ever-changing ocean.”

Arts Editor Caleb Wiseblood’s inbox is also ever-changing. Send comments to

Weekly Poll
What do you do for your own health and wellness?

I exercise at a gym on a regular basis.
I do yoga and meditate.
I try to eat a well-balanced diet and drink water frequently.
My body is not a temple; I don't care about health and wellness.

| Poll Results

My 805 Tix - Tickets to upcoming events