Artist Laura D. Hoffman is captivated by the personality and wit of the venerable dachshund, so she applied her talent to create several paintings, which are now on display at Cal State Fullerton through May 27. The persona of the dachshund is embodied in the name of the exhibit – Unleashed! Each portrait features energetic dogs at play, running through the yard, asking plaintively for treats and sleeping with humans. Dachshunds are no fans of leashes and they are unbound in this exhibit.
“Dogs are now seen as members of the family,” Hoffman explained. “And in many families, they take on the roles of children.” Hoffman is an adjunct design instructor at the Fullerton university. “It’s amazing how many barriers are dropped as soon as someone interacts with an animal or a drawing of one.”
Dachshunds were originally bred to chase badgers and hares since they were the ideal size to scoot through rabbit holes and tunnels. The long bodies and short, stubby legs often capture the imagination of children and adults alike. Several of the dogs served as models for Hoffman. Sarah is her 2-year old, black and tan dachshund, featured in a painting that shows her cuddling with Hoffman’s husband Ted. She also is featured in stretching out in a dog bed that is a little too short, so her little back legs rest on the floor.
Hoffman’s sister also has a dachshund, Riley, a tan and white puppy who is depicted sleeping with his head on a tennis shoe. A spectacular painting shows a group of dachshunds racing straight toward the viewer, in a nod to the traditional wiener dog races.
Hoffman is an accomplished illustrator and artist, who has published several early-reading books, including “Moose on the Move,” “Penney the Rude Penguin” and “Nothing Rhymes with Orange,” a history of Orange County for children. She also is a commercial photographer and teacher. She was inspired to do the dog series by her family’s German “My family came from Germany,” Hoffman said. “They had dachshunds when they lived there.”
“I love their spirit,” Hoffman’s mother, Ingrid Altman, said about the family’s chosen pups. “They are intelligent and have nice personalities. They can be noisy, but that is part of the spirit. They never bore you.”
Like many people who grow up with family dogs, Hoffman remembers always remembers having the dogs underfoot during her childhood. “They’re like little torpedoes on furry frames, and they love to get themselves in the middle of just about anything,” Hoffman said. “They can be funny, whimsical and silly. They are part of my psyche.”
Hoffman revealed the process she undertook to bring her paintings to life, which was a mix of digital and painting that began with simple drawings on paper. She starts with graphite pencils and then transfers the images to digital, where the biggest challenge is in adding enough details to give the paintings life.
Unleashed! is on view at the Atrium Gallery, Titan Student Union building, Cal State Fullerton campus, 800 N. State College Blvd., Fullerton. The exhibit runs 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through May 27. The admission cost is free.