Heading North to Maine
Philip Koch, Arcadia II, oil on canvas, 30 x 40", 2008
This is a painting I'm very fond of- enough so I've tried out several variations exploring different chords of color for earth and sky. It is entirely done from my imagination, though none of it would have happened without Acadia National Park in Maine on Mt. Desert Island. Alice and I honeymooned there back in 1982 in early May (to our surprise we were greeted then by pockets of snow still clinging stubbornly to the shadows at the summit of Cadillac Mountain ). It's the highest spot on the East Coast, and I think my favorite place on the planet. It inspired many of America's finest landscape painters since the 19th century, among them Sanford Gifford and Frederick Church.
We're headed back there again tomorrow for a week of painting. Nowadays I do most of my painting from memory and from plein air vine charcoal drawings, though for 30 plus years before that I was a hard-core perceptual painter. Arcadia II was fashioned in the studio from a drawing I did, a fantasy inspired by Mt. Desert Island's Eagle Lake. I liked the idea of a mountain lake existing near the sea, but at a higher elevation.
I chose the title from the word arcadia, used to describe a poetic perfect landscape, that comes down to us from the ancient Greeks. This particular oil de-emphasizes the tallest mountain closest to us in favor of the the twin hump-shaped mountains in the sea. In the morning you can peer out at the Atlantic and see pure white reflections of the rising sun- full of glare but very beautiful. The time of day has been shifted to something more reminiscent of sunset. That's the kind of liberty painting grants to the artist and I figure sometimes such a stretch is called for. Right now this painting is down at Meredith Long & Company in Houston, considered by many the leading art gallery in Texas.
While I'm up there I'll also be working on nearby Deer Isle, home to the tiny town of Stonington where another of my galleries, Isalos Fine Art, is located. It's a beautiful gallery with an eclectic mix of contemporary artists. If anyone's up that way I recommend it highly.
I won't be doing any blog post until I return next Thursday. Should be able to show you some of the new work then. We're also staying in an inn that we picked because the owners have three cats that have the run of the place. If you're good, I'll probably post some photos of them as well (the cats, not the owners).