Longtime art teacher showcases his talents at Washington County Arts Council
His onetime disdain for a particular style of painting eventually turned into a way for Jeff Shoaf, 64, to build a successful career as an artist.
Examples of his work will be shown in his exhibit, "Dual Personalities: The Collective Works of Renner and Shoaf," at Washington County Arts Council in downtown Hagerstown. The show continues through Tuesday, Nov. 28.
Shoaf's interest in watercolor painting grew as he received guidance from well-known local art teacher Lee Weaver.
“Some of the watercolor paintings I (saw) I thought were awful. (Weaver's) demonstrations were captivating to me and he was one of the serious art teachers I came to know,” Shoaf said.
Under the instruction of Weaver, Shoaf, of Hagerstown, was inspired to improve his craft of watercolor painting and he developed a fondness for painting landscapes.
After he graduated from South Hagerstown High School in 1971, Shoaf earned an undergraduate degree in art education at Towson State University in 1975. He later received his master’s degree in organizational communications from Shippensburg (Pa.) University in 1987.
Shoaf worked as an art teacher for 39 years for the Washington County Public School system. From 1977 to 1985, he worked at then-named North Potomac Junior High, which later became Northern Middle School in 1980; Western Heights Middle School (1985-2006), Hancock Elementary and Conococheague Elementary (2006-2016). He retired in June 2016.
Most of his paintings consist of portraits of buildings and objects. He describes his style as “simplified realism” for the way the colors blend effortlessly and the ease it takes to create certain images.
His goal is capture landscapes that will make a local resident instantly recognize the surroundings or landmarks.
“I try to show familiar things in a new and unique way,” Shoaf said.
His usual choice in painting ordinary architectural structures has changed into a desire to capture what he considers, “urban-type” landscapes.
“I kind of grew tired of it, I wanted to try something a little bit different by taking a dilapidated structure and showing the beauty of it,” Shoaf said.
The angles, shapes, and other features surrounding these buildings all tell the story of its history. Shoaf’s paintings relay these stories as his paintings represent a reflection of the mood and composition of these types of structures.
He added while the buildings were in good condition at one point in time, some of them have succumbed to the deterioration process or no longer exist.
The changes these structures went through within the passage of time are all points Shoaf captures in his paintings. He aims to convey the moods of these landscapes in each of his artwork in hopes that people who view his work can connect.
Over the years, his own way of painting has evolved, too.
“I pay more attention to details now and my procedure is much different and it’s a much more lengthy process,” Shoaf said.
His work has been exhibited at the Washington County Museum of Fine Art, Washington County Arts Council Galler and at private exhibitions.
Tom Renner, whose work is presented alongside Shoaf’s, is a friend and has served as an influential figure in Shoaf’s career.
One of Shoaf’s favorite quotes is that of Albert Einstein: “Not everything that can be measured is important, and not everything that is important can be measured” and “imagination is more important than knowledge.”
“These quotes along with experiences have helped to build my visual philosophy,” Shoaf said.