Noah's Ark

Philip Koch, Truro Studio Bedroom
vine charcoal, 13 x 6 1/2", 2006

Call me Noah. Had a flood in my basement several weeks ago. I store lots of paintings and art supplies down there. Fortunately I didn't lose a singe piece, partly because I had built racks to get everything up off the floor and partly because it's a walk out basement so the water starts to drain before it gets really deep. Now the whole basement is being re-done by an energetic if noisy crew, so I had to drag everything upstairs for a few weeks. Every room in my house looks like you're peering into the attic of someone's mad aunt Florence.

Funny thing is I'm loving it.

Anticipating moving artwork back into the re-done basement I'm reviewing my work, in many cases for the first time in years. It's a perfect chance to eliminate some pieces that just aren't my best. And I have found a few pieces that after the interval of years don't interest my eye enough to save. But the strongest impression I'm having is that I can take real pride at how much strong work I've done. So there is an indecent amount of self-administered back patting going on here.

Above is the on-site drawing I did standing in Edward Hopper's tiny kitchen staring through to his bedroom in his Cape Cod painting studio. Several posts back I showed the pastel drawing that came from this vine charcoal. I do the charcoal drawings on the elegantly soft Rives BFK paper. It has a velvet surface that adds a mysterious atmosphere to the charcoal drawings. Little things like that can add profound impact to a piece.

Philip Koch, Provincetown Dunes I, vine charcoal, 7 x 10 1/2"

The above drawing is from the very tip of Cape Cod where the land has an odd moonscape quality. Every location has it own unique rhythm to the roll of its rises and valleys. It pays a landscape artist to tune in to these peculiarities. Making a drawing of it is a way to examine it in depth, adding it to your tool box in case its forms are needed at some future point in your paintings.

Philip Koch, Land's End Inn, vine charcoal, 9 x 12", 1998

Here's one of the pieces I hadn't seen in a long time and it greeted me as an old friend. The scene is the B&B of the same name up on its private hilltop in Provincetown, MA. The place is both lovely and bizarre at once. Most impressive of all are the slightly overgrown gardens surrounding the house. I made the decision to de-emphasize the architectural details like windows in favor of the aggressive shapes of the thicket of trees. It's a little spooky, just like the actual place.


  1. Spooky indeed. Very nice, almost as if the trees are animated.


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