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An Interview With James Hoehn

By Patricia Zannie

Jim (James) Hoehn, both an artist and author living in Maryland, is a member of Gallery 209. When painting, he works primarily in oils, acrylics and water colors. Some of his “Sea” artworks have the simplicity of Milton Avery and some of his “Seasons” artworks have the rhythmic swirls of Matisse.

Jim believes creativity is innate. “Give any child a crayon and paper and they will create. Play a song and they will dance and sing”. For most, the drive is drilled out to focus on careers. “Over time we forgot what we could do with our hands, eyes and voices.”

In his mid-forties, Jim was both inspired and challenged when he ran into a colleague painting in watercolors at the C&O Canal. After reading “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” by Betty Edwards, he took a class based on the book’s theory, gaining the confidence to begin painting on his own.

It wasn’t until his 50s that he decided to explore his “artistic side” that had been drilled out long ago but was still below the surface. A single painting class was the first step, which led to the next. He picked up techniques, talked to the instructors, other students and gained the confidence to sign up for more classes.

Jim’s biggest turning point was joining an art collective, where he painted every day in a studio of 70 artists working in all mediums. Again, he talked, asked questions, took classes in different types of art and learned from everyone. Many of the artists had been formally trained at art school. Others had similar experiences to Jim and were returning to Art many decades later. The returning artists watched in amazement at how daily practice and interactions with the master artists led them to become better. That was their art schooling — a willingness to explore, listen and learn open up a new world, full of talented people who shared their feedback and advice.

A few years later, Jim joined Gallery 209 where Jim has taken advantage of opportunities to show, talk about art and meet new artists, learning something new with each encounter. For example, Cecelia Laurendeau creates wonderful detailed paintings with palette knives and inspired Jim to try different styles.

Jim lives by the important lesson that Mark Kielkucki, a painter in Kansas City, taught him: you paint because you have to; it’s like eating or breathing; create and laugh. The goal is never to sell a painting, although it is exciting when that happens.

If stuck, Jim rereads Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way, which brings him back to the purpose and goal of painting for it’s own sake. The book, The French Art of Not Giving a Sh*t; Cut the Crap and Live Your Life by Fabrice Midal, was pivotal in changing what Jim believed was the chief obstacle to start painting: time. Now, Jim believes what we fill our days with can be shifted so that there is time and energy for art.

Jim also believes that returning to your art and creativity are a community endeavor: needing to engage with fellow artists and involve your family. His kids, grandkids, siblings, former colleagues and friends come to the art shows and show their support. He encourages others to pick up a pencil, crayon or paint brush and, like you did as a child, create and laugh… a lot! Jim has served as a member of numerous organization sponsoring the Arts and his work has appeared and been discussed on CBS, Bloomberg, ABC radio and local TV stations.

In 2019, Jim wrote a book as an adjunct to his art: “A Walk in the Garden: Reconnecting with Love and Truth,” basically, a guide for those who would like to live a life that brings them closer to their true selves.


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