Picture Perfect

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FORT WAYNE, IND. (WPTA21)-“Looking through a camera I was always looking out for the detail,” says artist Sam Hoffman. “Most of my painting now is detail oriented.”

You’d never know by watching him work that SAM Hoffman is an artist wrestling with himself.

I’d like to loosen up a little bit to get away from the precision which I think is kind of limiting for the viewer,” he says.

For 27 years SAM Hoffman was a news photographer for the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette and a navy photographer before that. There’s little room for creativity in photojournalism but only creativity in painting. Hoffman says moving from one to the other has been a struggle.

Maybe it’s just trying to put all the photojournalism behind me,” he says, “and trying to realize that my artwork can be more than just reproductions of photographs.”

Hoffman’s photo realistic paintings are incredible, only close inspection reveals they’re paintings. This 1906 view of the New York City skyline took eight months to paint, an overwhelming attention to detail. But Hoffman loves impressionism, less detail, more freedom. This ocean scene recalls the paintings of impressionist George Seurat. This stunning view is of a busy day at Indiana Dunes, you can feel your feet burning in the sand. Hoffman still taps his photographers eye for works like this, lovely images of great sailing ships from the 19th century to the 21st. But it’s impressionism’s lack of rules that inspires work like this, Sam’s dad as a child on the farm, a Paris sidewalk cafe’, each character lost in thought.

When I look at a painting I want to know something about the painter,” Hoffman says. “I want it to ask questions in my head about what’s going on what he or she was looking at what they were thinking while they were painting it. When I look at a photograph you don’t need to answer those questions because it’s right there in the photograph. ‘There’s nothing more to say.’ There’s nothing more to say.

But SAM Hoffman has a lot more to say and saying it more clearly with each step away from the camera, from that world where the rules are black and white to another view of life brighter and freer, and much more in tune with the man behind the brush. Eric Olson reporting out in 21 Country.

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