Alexandra Hochberg (@alexandrahawk) has been eager to get back into her studio (and apartment) in Jamaica Plain after a fire forced her out months ago. Now, as she’s gearing up to return, Hochberg is reflecting on the past few months, and all the work to come. Hochberg, who has been in Boston for over eight years, was born in Baltimore and grew up in New Hampshire, so she’s accustomed to change. Her art reflects that, as she’s constantly experimenting with the methods and materials.
Q. Your approach to portraiture blends elements of pointillism and layering. How did you settle on this stylistic approach?
A. The journey I’ve gone through with painting is a funny one. Part of the reason is because I love to experiment with different mediums. I always have. I just love to see the different ways things can be manipulated to fit a specific image. I started painting with acrylic, which I now can’t stand. I moved on to oil in college, and that was where I started getting a little bit more expressive. The blending, drying, and layering I could accomplish using oil was enough to allow me to drop acrylic. On the other hand, I’ve always liked portraiture, I have this kind of OCD mentality when it comes to attention to detail. That is what I really enjoy focusing on in my work. Every individual I paint is different. So it’s the detail that makes every person recognizable as who they are. While I was in college I was introduced to gouache, a very flat graphic medium. I love how you can layer it and contour it and play with its opacity. A while back, I messed up a portrait — or I thought I messed up a portrait — I was trying to blend, but I discovered this particular style of forming lines that I fell in love with. Then I kind of just ran with it. I thought I had made a mistake, and sure enough now that’s my style.
Q. Apart from portraiture, you also paint a lot of landscapes and architectural pieces. How do you approach each differently?
A. Just like my approach to portraiture, landscapes and buildings boil down to a meticulous attention to detail. I’d say that my landscapes, which are usually done in oil, are more realistic than my portraits, which are done with gouache. I use oil, and I use smaller brushes for landscapes and architecture because I want someone who looks at my painting to see the small parts of a place. The corners and crevices, the spots and stains. With portraiture, and gouache, I want to exaggerate the details of a person’s face using lines and using points so I can make unique features become more apparent. Maybe someone’s eyes are very unique, so I’d draw attention to them with the way I structure the lines of their face. Both methods focus on detail, but in very different ways.