Hi everyone, my name is Brandi Hofer, for those of you who don’t know me, I am a Canadian female artist with an in-home art studio, and I have been actively running my art business for a little over 10 years. Last year was the first year I started creating my artwork full time. However, in reality, I paint in the evenings when I can, because I am Momming FULL-time to a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, (and five months pregnant) both boys!
As I was putting this project together the title was the first thing that came to me. “Don’t over think it”. It came, along with a memory, a not so good memory. Something, another art professional said to me once a long time ago: They said something along the lines of “do you just like do things, and not think them through beforehand”? They were not being kind, and definitely meant it as somewhat of as an insult. Being caught off guard, the only way I could respond was “ya, I guess so”. So up until writing this, this conversation and encounter has always annoyingly hung in my memory as an unpleasant experience, and something that someone not so nice said to me. But I am here today to tell you, a small version of my life story and how not “thinking things through” just may have led to the most beautiful, and rich experiences that I have had in this life.
Naturally, being born and raised in a small city in Canada, upon graduating, I could not wait to leave! I first attended Red Deer College in Red Deer, Alberta, and transferred to NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I attained by Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. Not long into living so far away on the East coast, I longed for our open prairie skies, and home. I moved back to Lloydminster AB/SK promptly after University, and started working to pay off my student loans. A few years after that, I began to long for a taste of the world and culturally diverse experiences. In 2011 I applied to be a part of 2 separate art projects. The first being another artists’ project set in Montreal and an artists’ residency in France. Remarkably, I was accepted to both.
The project that was set in Montreal was titled “The only thing I know for sure, is while I’m looking for you, you are looking for me”. There were two people chosen to participate in the project, and they were to set out in the city and find one another within 30 days. As a part of the requirements to apply, you were unable to know anyone in Montreal beforehand. The other individual was someone who I did not know, and who did not know me. We didn’t know what the other looked like, if they were a man or woman, their age, nothing. We were not allowed to use the internet as a resource to find one another. I got a bike from a young man named Andrew, whom I had met swimming in a fountain one evening. I had never actually ridden a road bike before, nor had I biked in a large city. I was welcomed into Andrew’s road bike posse immediately, and within minutes, we were weaving in and out of Montreal rush hour traffic, I was scared and terrified, but completely exhilarated! Every day after that, I covered at least 40 km a on that bike through Montreal. I encountered special events like group yoga, electric dance parties, Salsa lessons, and the tam tams. I Ended up on being interviewed on CBC twice, and having an live painting exhibition at a gallery to promote the project. I didn’t find the other person in montreal, but didn’t view that as a failure, because that experience was life changing for me. I was pushed beyond every expectation I had of myself, I was surprised at how I thrived independently in a place that I was unfamiliar with. It was an extraordinary time of growth for me.
2 months later I was to travel to Marnay sur Seine in France for the artist’s residency. I met some stunning creative minds, from all corners of the globe, and began hearing all of their stories while I painted them. The residency was set in the country side 40 km outside of Paris. I got pleasantly plump and glowing from the fall sun, warm banquettes, soft ripened cheeses and flowing red wine. It was completely picturesque. Almost every day, I would get on my bike and ride down a country road in the orange sunlight passing fields of sunflowers. The old brick residency was right on the Sienne, trees sagged beautifully over the waterway. It was how everyone should experience France.
That next summer after all of my adventuring I would marry my best friend and partner of 6 years Carly Classen. We got married at his parents’ home, in their backyard, in front of the tiny brick house that his dad built with his two bare hands. It was a magical evening where our families came together with live music, and that night to celebrate northern lights danced in the skies. That moment seems even more meaningful and significant now. Because not long after the birth of our second child Finn, my husband’s dad passed away unexpectedly.
My mom always used to listen to the live Indigo girl’s album every Saturday morning and I’ll never forget something that they said: You’ve got to laugh at yourself because you will cry your eyes out if you don’t.
In light of that, I want to share with you a story about my father-in-law, a story that always makes me laugh and reminds me fondly of the warm-hearted, playful man that raised my husband. My now husband and I were maybe on our third date at the time, we were barbequing in his parent’s backyard. We were all sitting at a small table together, it was just he and I and his parents. Being newly in love (you know the time where you can’t get enough of each other) I was rubbing carly’s foot underneath the table all through dinner. Nearing the end of us all finishing our meals, I looked over at carly and noticed that he was not wearing socks. AND I had been rubbing a socked foot all night… I looked up at Dwayne and just said, oh my gosh!!! I was completely mortified! I had been rubbing this man’s who I hardly knew foot all night. Whether he enjoyed it, or just wanted to save me from embarrassment, or maybe a bit of both, we still to this day, do not know.
In 2014 I lost my mother, I was 6 months pregnant at the time. Losing my mother, I lost a part of myself. My sense of home, my sense of security, my advisor through trouble times. This was not something that could be fixed or repaired, the pain just fades a bit over time and there are less and less instances where you are doubled over with grief, and you smile at a memory and treasure it instead of it making you sob.
There was such a warmth my mother provided, for not just for her children, but for all of the people she let in. She was a very private and humble woman, extremely intelligent and had incredible strength and wit! She was also very scary sometimes, but in the best way, because you knew she wouldn’t let anyone ever hurt you. She was also a very talented photographer, fascinated in people and portraiture, which she didn’t really share with others. And I can understand where my interest in portraiture and people as a subject matter in my art stemmed from. My father is a kind and loving man interested in music, nature and creativity. And I can never recall a time in my life where he told me that I could not do something just because I was a girl. Both my parents were supportive and open, and instilled in us that the things valued in this life are moral integrity, equality, love and kindness. Trust me when I say that my siblings and I had some crazy ideas and cockamamie schemes, but there were no bounds on our dreams.
I want to speak about becoming a mother, amongst the mess of losing mine, all within an alarmingly small amount of time. I can tell you that without the birth of my first child shortly following my mother’s death, I don’t think I could have made it through that grieve unscathed. Gus was my focus, and carly was my strength. Never do you truly know the will of what it takes to be a parent, until you are one. They take all of you, maybe even a bit more. You really begin to appreciate how amazing your own parents were or are.
That experience and shock of death awoke something in me. I had a new thirst for life. Nothing scared me anymore. Nothing could be more painful than losing my mother.
As an artist, I was torn. Creating requires time and headspace. Something I struggled with especially when my second baby boy came along, Finn. After all, I was a foremost a mother. I had given myself over to my children, they needed me. But there was just a huge part of me that longed to create, and I wanted to somehow pass this gift on to them. And I had finally figured out a way to do that, it just all of a sudden clicked! One day Gus’ interest in painting grew. We started working together more and more while his brother napped. In turn, the GUS series was born. A 44-piece art series, all paintings of local parents and a full interactive installation that travelled to three venues across western Canada. Gus was involved in every step of the painting process from beginning to end.
After losing my mother and father-in-law in a matter of a few years my belief that time is our most precious commodity has grown exponentially. Moments are fickle and fleeting we should spend it with the people we love, our families. I refuse to lock myself away in my art studio alone and not include my children in my passion for the arts. I want to show them the beauty of mark making, dancing, and expressing yourself with a brush stroke, or a splash of paint. I want to teach them that it’s ok to make a mess, “YES Gus you can step in the paint, squish it between your hands and toes, and no Finn, you can’t eat it. I know that the whole process has been so precious because I have never seen so much joy pour out of my son! He is confident, self-aware, and playful when creating. Every moment I have spent with him has been worth it, and I can always look back on this time in our lives with absolute fondness.
In amongst the darkest of periods I somehow found the light. Through troubling and hard times, I chose resilience. I have given to this life and life has gifted back a wonderful childhood, a loving family, stunning life experiences, and the most sensitive, loving, children.
I have chosen to take something negative, something that someone said to me, that they viewed as a flaw, and turned it into one of the most beautiful things about myself. Without my bravery and inability to “think things through”, I could never have come to realize my capacity for creativity, found my unique view of the world, and found an insurmountable lust for life. I could not have accomplished all this without the beautiful community of people we have here in Lloydminster, it is a beautiful place filled with amazing opportunity and support.
What I am bringing forward today, to you, is, do you have the courage to find bravery within you, do you have the courage to live life moment by moment? Find something within you, something you never knew you had. We don’t know what is to come, there is no control over time in this life, so, with every ounce you have squeeze and savour every moment. And "don’t over think it", because you may just end up missing out on something magical.
Now, I want to finish with this story about my mother: Some months ago, as I was searching through old photographs and some letters my mom left to me. There was this page, along with something she had written on the bottom, as I looked closer I discovered that the page had been torn from a comment book from an art competition I had entered from years ago. I had placed first in the competition and someone left an unsavoury remark on how they disagreed with my receiving first place. My Mother had saved it for over 10 years and when she was sick she left this for me to find with a note at the bottom, she wrote:
Dismiss with love all those who don’t see beauty in the world
- love mom
One of the first concepts we grasp in life – mine
Yet somehow what is mine
As a girl
And now as a woman
mine - stolen
a society obsessed
let them be shamed forever into silence
a door swings open
light crawls across the floor
she walks through
unscathed of the injustices that weighted on her foremothers
mine - A series inspired by the photography of Megan Eppen
Nothing can prepare you for parenthood, being a parent is one of the most difficult and challenging endeavors in one's life, however, I have no doubt it is the most meaningful. As an artist, I am influenced and inspired by my everyday environment. In this new series of artworks, I aim to highlight, and capture the beauty of being a parent, (from what I've experienced) as the richest time in my life. This series aims to speak about my triumphs and struggles as a mother. It deals with the ideals of motherhood, its morals, and its priorities. It is an exciting series that revels in a mother’s time with her child.
I would like to begin by establishing that I rarely like to bring up, or to discuss the subject matter of losing my mother in 2014, being that it is emotionally painful. I lost my mother, my beacon of wisdom and love, my sense of home. After a brief fight with lung cancer, my mom passed, I was six months pregnant at the time with my first child. I found her death to be beyond life shattering. Devastatingly I lost my “home”, the constant in my life. Though her values and way of life are entrenched in my every day, I still long for the sound of her voice, and cling to the dream of her meeting her grandchildren. Her meeting them for even a minute, to see how amazing, beautiful, and smart they are, those thoughts are the most heart wrenching for me. There is no doubt in my mind that my son Gus and my husband Carly saved my sanity in those trying months following her death. Gus was my focus, and Carly was my strength. I learned in that trying time that a mother’s love for a child is an insurmountable love, and I now know how much my mother loved me.
That experience and shock of death awoke something in me. I had a new thirst for life. Nothing scared me anymore. Nothing could be more painful than losing my mother. You will not get the things you want in this life by not taking a chance in the first place.
“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or
failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.
Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Since the passing of my mother, my life has kicked into high gear. Time is our most precious commodity and should be spent on the things that matter most: Family, love and one’s passions. Moments are fickle and fleeting; I have endeavored to make the most of mine. I refuse to lock myself away in my studio alone and not include my children in my passion for the arts. I want to show them the beauty of mark making, dancing, and expressing yourself with a brush stroke or a splash of paint. I want to teach them that it’s ok to make a mess, “YES Gus you can step in the paint, squish it between your hands, and no Finn, you can’t eat it”! My 2-year-old son Gus and I had the most amazing time together painting this series; I hope the unique artwork can even scratch the surface of the significance of our time together.
The paintings consist of a series of portraits, the subjects for the portraits are mothers and fathers I personally photographed. The intention of portraits is to project strength, integrity, love and the struggle of what it takes to be a parent. This series is a celebration of motherhood, parenthood and the sheer innocence of being playful. The mindset and mood of the artwork is to project the incorruptible freedom of a child’s open cognizance, and zest for living life in the moment.
Since the birth of my second little boy Finn in January of this year, I decided I needed some one on one time with my 2 year old son Gus. I also really longed for that quality time in my art studio. As most of you know, time is not something you have an abundance of with a newborn. With all that in mind, I started to paint with Gus in my studio every Sunday. To my surprise he took to it (because believe me I've tried to make him paint with me in the past). I loved all the fun quality time we had together on these projects. I posted a few photographs us painting on social media, and now wherever I go parents and friends approach me. They tell me how much they love seeing Gus paint with me and how they want to do the same with their children. So for my fellow parents here is a post with tips and tricks. These will get your toddler to really enjoy and take to a painting project, while having fun and making a memorable quality painting as an end result.
TIP number one:
Tape your paper to a flat surface. This is important (it is called stretching paper): by taping the paper down and letting your painting fully dry after you have your fun, it will ensure that the paper will come out ripple free! The paper expands when wet, and after a few hours will shrink back down flat when dry.
What you will need for your underpainting first (WET) layer:
Optional Supplies: Get creative!
Take look around your house for absolutely anything they can scrape, dab, dip, mark-make, or paint with!
These are great for arts and crafts or outside totally resistant to pretty much anything. I prefer to just go with stripping Gus down to his diaper because everything I am using is non-toxic.
Now throw on some fun tunes, get messy, and channel you and your child's inner artist!
If you have any questions please contact me I will be happy to help!
As part of my art series “Cool kids” (instadentity) show at The Rouge Gallery, January 2017, I painted icon and activist Lady Gaga, she is an activist for many causes, one being sexual violence. In support and to raise awareness of victims and survivors in our community and surrounding area I will be donating 100% of the proceeds of my Lady Gaga Prints on paper to The Lloydminster Sexual Assault & Information Centre. Please help this cause by commenting or sharing.
The Lloydminster Sexual Assault & Information Centre’s role in our community is to provide violence awareness, education, support and crisis intervention services. They work closely with community organizations to deliver the best possible services in a responsive, flexible and professional manner. They foster change within our community by creating sensitivity, knowledge and skills to respond to the needs of the children, youth, adults and families coping with the trauma of sexual abuse, sexual assault, family violence and bullying.
The Lloydminster Sexual Assault & Information Centre provides crisis intervention and counselling services both at the Centre and via outreach support. Education and awareness is provided through group programs, presentations, workshops/trainings, fundraisers and events. Services also include the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) supporting survivors of sexual violence at the Hospital or the RCMP Detachment as well as court preparation and accompaniment.
You can find The Lloydminster Sexual Assault & Information Centre Lloydminster Sexual Assault & Information Centre on online or on facebook:
“This cause is close to my heart. I believe it is integral in our community that there is somewhere to feel supported. In doing so, I hope and trust that this small donation can make a difference in either raising awareness or support in our community.”
Prints are available on quality press print on fine art paper. 11x14" for $50.00
The original Lady Gaga painting is available for viewing at The Rouge Gallery in Saskatoon, SK, January 3-28, 2017
Prints are available online or in these shops:
Brandi Hofer Artist Print Shop - http://www.brandihofer.ca/prints.html
Collective Art Market Lloydminster - https://www.facebook.com/THECOLLECTIVEartmarket/ b The Collective Art Market
Art & Soul Framing and Gallery Lloydminster - http://artandsoulgallery.ca Art & Soul Framing And Gallery
Hideout Distro Edmonton - http://www.hideoutdistro.com Hideout Local Distro
Rouge Gallery Saskatoon - http://www.rougegallery.ca Rouge Gallery
Step 1: Needed Supplies here’s the list of supplies I used.
Laser printed photo
Wood cut to the same size as photo
Gel Medium (must be an acrylic gel medium)
Brush to apply gel medium to wood
Ruler or a flat instrument to smooth out print onto wood
Step 2: Finding A Print
I find this to be the fun part almost any picture will make a great print!
Step 3: Getting A Print Made And Getting Some Wood
If you work in an office most of the printers there are laser so you are set, if you don't have an office hook up prints are very cheap at Staples running from 1-5 dollars. You can usually just go to the hardware store or a craft store and they will provide several options for you! Make sure your wood is unfinished!!
Step 4: Apply Gel Medium To Wood
In even strokes with your paint brush apply an even white coating of the medium to your wood.
Step 5: Smooth down the bubbles
right away before it dries, you do not want bubbles, having bubbles will mean the picture does not adhere to your wood surface!
Step 6: Remove Paper From The Wood To Reveal Print
This is the really fun part! Don't get too discouraged this takes a bit of patients but the more patient you are the better quality print you will get as an end result.
Step 7: Finishing the Print
Apply a nice layer of the acrylic medium to finish your piece off and protect it! If you want to tint your picture if it is black and white you can add a small dab of colour to your medium to finish for example brown or yellow if you want a vintage touch to your black and white.
Here is a quick link to a great Youtube video example: