Written by Shayda Windle

Laura Hopkins, a local artist and innovator, is above all a Tonalist at heart. Her landscape paintings portray a sense of mood and atmosphere that convey poetic tranquility. Her paintings offer the viewer a place to rest, and a respite from the hectic onslaught of digital daily life. She recently won first place (tying with another artist) at the Artists of Middleburg (AiM’s) latest exhibit, Reset, Refresh, Restart. The exhibit ran from early February to Sunday, March 7.

The exhibition, judged by Susan Byrne of The Byrne Gallery in Middleburg, included 95 submissions from 34 artists. Hopkins’ first place piece, “A Country Day, Remembered,” “began with a loose gestural application of dark paint, and makes use of memory, happenstance, and unexpected mark making to evoke memory of a day in the Virginia countryside,” Hopkins says. The piece is currently hanging in the gallery with a ribbon on it.

Last month, Hopkins did a painting demonstration at the Goodstone Inn and Restaurant. With social distancing measures in place, she had the opportunity to share her work at a tasting and wine pairing event. Currently, twelve of Hopkins’ paintings are hanging in the Goodstone’s lobby and conservatory, and will be on display through the end of March, as a part of an ongoing program featuring local artists.

Top: “February Twilight,” oil on canvas, 24”x36” on display at Goodstone Inn. Photo by Jennifer Gray. Bottom: “A Country Afternoon,” oil on canvas, 16×20 on display at Goodstone Inn. Photo by Jennifer Gray.

In addition to exhibits and events, Hopkins was looking for other ways to connect with her collectors and supporters through art. When she stumbled upon Seattle artist Lisa McShane’s “pandemic project” on Instagram, she knew she had to learn more. “Lisa and I had a great conversation about her project and I decided that I would do something similar and send out small charcoal drawings to my collectors,” Hopkins says.

Hopkins began creating and sending out “small charcoal drawings to collectors, friends, and neighbors as a way to lift their spirits and just stay in touch during such a difficult time,” she says. “I took an online charcoal drawing class last October with the Landscape Atelier that really helped me to explore additional techniques [in charcoal]. I have had so much fun learning charcoal and sharing the drawings with collectors, friends, and supporters. The little drawings have helped maintain a deeper connection with them during a time when we’re unable to see each other in person as we used to.”

In addition, these drawings have helped Hopkins understand what works when creating larger sized pieces, which is something she’s also been focused on lately. “Larger paintings require bigger brushes, more paint, and technique changes to remain exciting and dynamic,” she says. “There’s a temptation to include too much detail and over-render, but it turns out a delightful synergy has developed between my small charcoal drawings and my larger works.” She says she uses her smaller works to “explore composition ideas,” and “often creates an intermediate size painting that helps determine if a particular composition will work larger.”

“Something I am just now starting to work on is taking a little charcoal drawing and creating multiple small color studies using the same composition but different color harmonies,” she says. “It’s a process that helps me determine which are most appealing to go larger.”

Just one of the silver linings from the events of the past year has been a “reduced pressure to create work for sale,” Hopkins says. “I have taken this time to focus on drawing with charcoal, conte, and pen and ink, and on becoming familiar with other media, like watercolor and gouache. I am spending more time in the field drawing, painting, and just walking and looking. I am studying historic painters and pursuing online studies with contemporary painters. And just generally reflecting on what kind of artist I want to be and what I want to say through my work.”

Laura Hopkins with her art on display at Goodstone Inn. Photo by Jennifer Gray.

Her plans for the future? “I am currently creating paintings with the hopes that local events like Art of the Piedmont, Art in the ‘Burg, and Art at the Mill will move forward as planned,” she says. “I have a series planned that will focus on fields and farms in our local area. Although much of my work is from imagination and memory, I am relishing the idea of creating a series tied to a specific place.” ML

You can learn more about Hopkins’ work at laurahopkinsfineart.com.

Published in the March 2021 issue of Middleburg Life.