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Saturday, December 10, 2016

Brenda Hoddinott

Outreach to Conscience: Art Critiques Media,
Brenda Hoddinott
It's not very often I write about a living artist (especially one younger than I am). Moreover I don't think I've ever written about an artist I know personally. I have, though, a few times, come to know artists because I've written about them. In general, I write about outstanding artist which I admire very much. I admire Brenda Hoddinott very much and have come to know her very well, though I've never actually met her. (But I'd like to sometime.) It's only through the wondrous marvel of the Internet that we've become acquainted starting about seventeen years ago. In the name of "full disclosure" (as they say nowadays) I should also mention, just to clear the air, that she's my publisher as well as a friend.

Besides being an accomplished artist, Brenda has a
resume of experience, awards, and accomplishments
which sounds almost fictional (which is about the
only kind of writing she's not tried...yet).
I first came to know Brenda Hoddinott back about 1999. We were both members of an Internet mailing list (sometimes called a "bulletin board" back then) made up primarily of painting artists. The mailing list was called Paint-L. It still exists today on Google but is not at all active like it was back then. At the time I started cutting my literary eye teeth online in writing a short "blurb" of about three paragraphs each day about art history. My "ArtyFacts" became popular. Brenda once said she looked forward to my daily musing each morning with her first cup of coffee.

Since these came out, Brenda has published
eight additional books on drawing.
Brenda was an established, professional artist/illustrator back then (around the turn of the century) about to retire from a lengthy career as a forensic illustrator in favor of painting, drawing, writing, teaching, and trying to make a living doing all of he above. At the time, I think she was in the process of having her first two books published (Drawing for Dummies and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Drawing People). Both were similar, in a competing series by successful publishers (above).

Illustrative Realism.
Brenda grew up in the small town of St. Johns on the island of Newfoundland off the east coast of Canada. In elementary school, art class each Friday afternoon, while other students worked catching up on homework, Brenda spent her afternoon drawing. The class had no art teacher. By the time she reached junior high, there simply was no art curriculum at all. The only paintings and drawings she ever saw were in books. She spent every Saturday at a small, local library looking for interesting subjects to draw. As a result, the illustrations she saw in children's books greatly influenced her style of Illustrative Realism.

An illustrated tutorial on aging by Brenda Hoddinott.
As a fourteen-year-old, Brenda earned money drawing portraits from photographs for her friends. She charged 50 cents each, which was a lot of money back then. (I did the same thing but I always charged a dollar.) On more than a few occasions, her passion for drawing got her in trouble when she drew unkind caricatures of her teachers. When she got caught, her drawings were confiscated. (I had a few similar experiences when I was caught drawing instead of studying.) Twenty years later, her Dad (who had been vice-principal at her high school) gave her a big brown envelope full of drawings. The teachers had secretly enjoyed her drawings, passing them on to her father, who had saved several for her.

Garden of Eden: Post-feminism, 2010, Benda Hoddinott
Brenda Hoddinott graduated from high school at sixteen, which was a year too young to attend nursing school. Not wanting to waste a year, she took a nine-month course in commercial art at a community college. Her goal of becoming a nurse was quickly replaced by a new career aspiration to become a professional artist. Upon graduation, she began working as a layout artist and copywriter for the advertising department in a large store. At 23, Brenda found myself divorced and the single parent of a baby daughter. She couldn't bear the thought of leaving her to go back to work, so she started a home-based business doing commercial art and drawing portraits. Very shortly she had several business contracts, and was booking portrait commissions as much as a year in advance. She was so busy she was forced to hire a live-in babysitter to help care for a likewise very busy toddler.

The Naïve Hope, Brenda Hoddinott
Around the same time, the manager of a local media conglomerate offered Brenda a contract to create celebrity portraits for the front cover of their weekly magazine. Over a two-year period, she completed over 100 covers. Then in 1978, Brenda received a call from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They were in search of an artist to do a composite drawing for which she interviewed a young victim of a violent crime, then completed a drawing of the suspect. She soon became the on-call police artist for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. These experiences as a forensic artist marked the beginning of a fascinating aspect of her twenty-five years managing a home-based art business, and exhibiting at international art competitions, where she was honored with numerous awards.

Brenda Hoddinott now teaches art with pixel lessons.
In the years that followed, Hoddinott started teaching drawing to adults and children at a local recreation center. Though she loved teaching and sharing her skills, she came to love even more the process of writing curriculum and preparing lessons. She was by then remarried with two more children when she and her husband decided to leave Newfoundland and move to Nova Scotia. There she resumed her home-based business. Then in 1998, Brenda chose to end her eighteen-year career as an art teacher, to write drawing and painting curricula for her new art education website. In 2002, Brenda retired from her twenty-five year career as a forensic artist, to pursue a new career as an author of educational drawing books and electronic art-related curriculum. Thanks to the expertise of a skilled and knowledgeable team of website developers,, has become an internationally renowned art education website, highly respected as a resource for fine art educators, home schooling programs, and educational facilities throughout the world. It's also a good place to nab free online art lessons. how has some 250 free drawing lessons much like this with over 320,00 members.

No subject is too humble to rate a
drawing lesson at


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