Most residents of Canton know of Elly Hobgood as the Mayor’s wife. But Mrs. Hobgood has accomplishments and talents of her own. She’s an award-winning artist and a committed workshop teacher at the Art Center in Downtown Canton.
When looking at her artwork, many people immediately feel nostalgic as if they’ve been to the places she’s painted. Paintings that can make people feel emotions are rare and powerful. “Many of my life experiences were deeply traumatic. I have found much peace through painting and – hopefully – a viewer would find peace too”, says Hobgood.
Although art is a huge part of her life now, it wasn’t always. She never took any art classes growing up, and no one in her family had artistic ability or created art. Having no experience or exposure to art growing up is proof that Hobgood was born with her gift of art. In fact, her passion was originally nursing. She earned both a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing from Emory University. After graduating, she then went on to a thirty-year long career in nursing and ended up in administration overseeing over four hundred and fifty employees and a thirty-one million dollar budget before retiring.
Many nurses will tell you that working in their field can be somewhat stressful and exhausting. Mrs.Hobgood eventually began taking art classes as a stress reliever from work. That along with collecting regional watercolors for several years made her become intrigued by the medium of watercolor and sparked her love of art.
She says watercolor is her favorite medium, she “briefly tried oils,” but she “loves the way watercolors merge and mix, and you have to stay constantly alert to its behavior. There is no end to the range of textures that can be achieved with watercolor.”
Her painting process is a bit unique. Most people take all of their art supplies to a set location and just begin painting what they see. However, Mrs. Hobgood’s technique is more strategic and allows her to have more flexibility to take her time. “I have been blessed with the ability to compose scenes through the lens of a camera and then can work on them at my leisure. Some sites that I’ve captured over the years were dangerous, and painting would have been prohibitive. If something is terribly interesting to me, I may take dozens of pictures.”
She’s been selling her paintings for the last eleven years. A cool thing she does is she keeps a record of everyone that has ever purchased one of her paintings. “I often tell my buyers that I am ‘transferring custody.’ Selling one helps me buy more art supplies!”
Chamberhouse, a store in Downtown Canton, sells a lot of her artwork.
To sell her paintings she also takes part in art shows and festivals across the Southeast. Hobgood even uses social media sites like Facebook and her website to sell her artwork. During her workshops, if a student is interested in a painting, she’ll sell it to them too.
Hobgood decided to start her workshops because she was not a fan of the structure and rules that most art instructors follow. Her workshops are nontraditional and give students freedom. Beginning workshops were easy for her because she was used to the process of teaching. When she worked in nursing, she always taught patients or new nurses and, therefore, had the knowledge of teaching. It’s also something she loves to do. That’s important because every instructor, regardless of their field, should love doing what they do. If not, it comes across to the students. Hobgood says, “When I started learning watercolor, I took classes – most were poorly taught. Many things weren’t included – though were essential. Every instructor seemed to have a new list of absolute RULES. The classes were very confusing… When I started getting some level of skill, I started wanting to share it. I looked back over my learning experiences and felt there was a ‘better way.'”
Her workshops are very interactive. She asks what everyone thinks of her paintings and then what should be added or taken away.
“I teach the ‘monkey see – monkey do’ method. I explain in endless detail. Then I demonstrate…helping then to slowly build skill one baby step at a time.”
*Article by Matthew Gordon