In the Sun City Shadow Hills community there is a particular house nestled among lemon and lime trees, pomegranates and cacti with its walls covered in majestic, one-of-a-kind paintings. It is the home of Phyllis Hoffman and her husband Ron who calls her “Littlebird”, a name which evolved into her artistic moniker. Each painting reflects Phyllis’s motivation to expand people’s perspectives of the world around them through art and creativity.
Phyllis was born in Birmingham, Alabama, but the Southern Belle hightailed it out of the city shortly after completing school. She was married in Illinois, but a penchant for new and interesting experiences and careers in sales would take the couple around the country.
In 1995, at the age of 51, Phyllis suddenly faced a profound health scare. In light of this close call, and with a new lease on life, she was inspired to start painting for the first time ever. “It’s never too late to do what you love. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone,” she chimes.
This attitude is reflected in her paintings to this very day. Having never painted before, and with a passion to learn, Phyllis is largely self-taught but draws inspiration from her parents and late sister. Her creative journey eventually led to friend, mentor and professional artist Cheryl Kline. Enamored by Cheryl’s work, Phyllis signed up for a painting class to learn from her. The two connected instantly. Although many people own her paintings, Phyllis does not show in galleries or actively promote her work; as such, any work she has sold has been through a close network. “Art has given me wonderful connections with people,” Phyllis reflects.
Her mentor once remarked, “You are the only artist I know who paints animals into the rocks in caves by the ocean,” alluding to Phyllis’s unique style. Phyllis sees things differently, and she invites the viewer to do the same, “Many times, I will turn a painting upside down or look at it in a mirror to see the reverse reflection. You will be surprised by what you see. Think out of the box.”
Phyllis’s work showcases a whimsical aesthetic, often hiding features and “happy accidents” among other, more obvious images. For instance, one might find an elephant painted into the rocky cliffs of a beachside paradise, or a brigade of horses subtly etched into an ocean enclave. At every step, a new discovery awaits – and Phyllis would not have it any other way. “I love the magical side of life,” she says. “I like to play.”
Since retirement from sales, Phyllis’s work has become exceptionally prolific featuring real-life locations in Oregon, New Zealand and more. She finds her work supremely satisfying and can often be found painting at her studio until dawn. Her work is a reminder to look deeper as we go through our day-to-day lives, to recognize the beauty and connectedness that exists around us and to realize that something even more profound may be hidden in the world we perceive. If you would like to connect with your neighbor Phyllis Hoffman, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. She might just show you something you have never seen before.