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Showing posts from February, 2010

Art and Emotional Life

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All paintings are tools to help us feel more fully and to imagine more clearly. So too with this one. It is a new painting I did as a reconsideration of a plein air oil I painted two summers ago on Deer Isle, Maine. It has very stated darks, never hard to find up in Maine. But also two different kinds of highlights- a cool white light on the distant horizon and a warm foliage in some foreground bushes. All three of these differing notes of color produce their own unique personalities. The painting ties them together into a lasting relationship.
Usually our moods are a whole mixture of things, some promising and others troublesome. The state of Maine has attracted artists to its coast for centuries. Probably more than anywhere else on the eastern shore of the US it combines some of the most awesomely beautiful coastline with some of the most awful weather. It rains a lot. When it's not rainy, the fog can roll in and obscure whatever you want to see for days on end. Yet even with tha…

More from an Old Friend

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I had so much fun looking at Rockwell Kent's engravings for the last post that you'll have to indulge me with a few more. Above is Night Watch. When you think of it it is remarkable how the artist can draw a nude sailor leaning against his ship's mast looking completely at home and at peace. If you question this, I recommend you strip off all your clothes and go sailing and see how you feel. Kent I think is trying to say we humans can feel at least for a few special moments at one with the universe. And his considerable talents as a composer help us to feel some measure of exactly that looking at this marvelous print.
Notice how Kent's sailor does a unique sort of dance with the sails and the rigging. His lower leg is a long gentle arc that mimics the curve of the shadow on the mainsail at the left and the edge of the jib sail at the right. The man leans back, parallel with the diagonal lean of the mast, implying he and the ship are moving together on the voyage. But a…

Back East and Back to an Old Friend

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I'm returned from last week's adventures out in Washington State and have settled back into my painting routine in my studio. Good to be home.
Speaking of coming home, I want to show some images of one of my favorite sources of inspiration, Rockwell Kent's wood engravings.
Art is a tool to help one get more in touch with themself. Ironically we find hints of our innermost personality and history outside of ourselves in the art work that has been done by others. My family when I was four settled on the rocky shore of Lake Ontario outside of Rochester, NY. Back then it was very rural and on a clear night the sky was ablaze with thousands of stars. Once I was old enough to "camp out" with my childhood friends, one of my absolute favorite things to do was to lie on my back and gaze at the heavens, sometimes for hours before our chatter would die down and we'd eventually drift off to sleep. Occasionally we'd be treated to showers of shooting stars.
Above is a …

An Old Friend and "Old Friends" in Washington State

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This man is the largest collector of Philip Koch paintings on the West Coast. If you measure by square inches, he may be the largest collector of Koch oils period. This distinction belongs to Frank Baron, MD, a successful dermatologist from Mercer Island, Washington. Here he is with one of my paintings, Beaver Pond, 42 x 63". Frank was a friend of mine from undergraduate days at Oberlin College.
In 1970 he became one of the very first people to buy one of my paintings, an atmospheric and moody oil portrait I had painted the summer before in Rudolf Baranik's painting class at the Art Students League of New York. I think Frank spent all of ten or fifteen dollars on the portrait. When my wife Alice and I traveled out to Washington last week for the show at the Clymer Museum of Art, he came over to Ellensburg for the gala reception.
Maybe we all get a little eccentric over the years (many think I've always been that way). In Frank's case this has involved broadening …

More from the Clymer Museum of Art

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Here are some additional photos from our trip out to Washington State to attend the gala reception Mia Meredino, the Musuem Director, and her staff at the Clymer Museum of Art organized for their showing of the traveling Unbroken Thread: The Art of Philip Koch exhibition. This is the fifth venue on the show's seven museum national tour. It continues through March 27. The Clymer Museum proved an unexpected delight with beautiful exhibition spaces, elegant high ceilings and very professional installation all around. We couldn't have been more pleased with the warm hospitality we received from all we encountered (is it true that West Coast people are just nicer than we jaded East Coast types?).
The Museum is named for the famous illustrator and painter John Clymer who was originally from Ellensburg, WA. Clymer was probably best know as the artist who painted 80 Saturday Evening Post magazine covers, nearly as many as the East Coast artist Norman Rockwell. A large number of his p…

Clymer Museum of Art in Washington State

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Just returned this morning (at 3:30 a. m.) from our trip out to Washington State to attend the opening reception for the Clymer Museum of Art's exhibition of Unbroken Thread: The Art of Philip Koch. We were fortunate to get home as we dodged snowstorms that closed the Chicago and Baltimore airports. And today was devoted to digging out cars.
Will have more to say about the trip tomorrow, but for now just wanted to post a few photos. Above is the drive from Seattle over the Cascade Mountains, which frequently look as if they were designed by an over-achieving Walt Disney, only much better. The sense of scale is awesome.



Above is the front of the Clymer Museum of Art, located on a beautifully restored 19th century city block in downtown Ellensburg.



And here I am standing at the entrance to the exhibition. Behind me is my oil Otter Cove, oil on canvas, 44 x 55".
Right now I'm pretty exhausted so I'll call it a day. But I'll have more photos and some observations tomor…

Pastels at the Baltimore Museum of Art

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Jean-François Millet, French, 1814-1875
Shepherdess
19th century, (c. 1870-1874)
Pastel and conté crayon
Sheet: 695 x 937 mm. (27 3/8 x 36 7/8 in.)
The Baltimore Museum of Art: The Helen and Abram Eisenberg Collection, BMA 1964.24

Last Saturday I braved a little snow storm to go to the Baltimore Museum of Art to hear Rena Hoisington, one of the Museum's Print and Drawing Curators speak about the history of the pastel medium. Glad I did.
Above is a photo of Rena talking about one of the most amazing pieces in the BMA's Collection, a big Millet pastel of a woman standing out with her sheep in a moonlit field. Rena is an expert on pastels and is a specialist on 18th century French work in the medium, in particular the work of Maurice-Quentin de la Tour who she wrote her Ph.D. dissertation on.
Art historians are a hoot. They share with artists almost lunatic levels of enthusiasm for particular artists from the past. The less well known artists can often be especially delighting to learn …