Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Polished Subtle Silver in the Air


Philip Koch, Quiet on the River, oil on panel, 7 1/2 x 10", 2010

Here's a new painting based on the vine charcoal drawing below.




Philip Koch, Quiet on the River, vine charcoal, 9 x 12", 2010

Actually it's a re-working of a drawing I had posted last summer on this blog. It originally was of the harbor in Oxford, MD. Came across the drawing in my studio two days ago and realized it could be made stronger if I focused more attention on it's elaborate frieze of shapes at the left.

Back in I went, pulling out the entire right hand side of the drawing and pushing an off white sky much deeper in tone. I like it much better now, with its brooding atmosphere.Until I'd thought of a proper title I temporarily labeled the digital file "My Rembrandt." It made me smile to do so. There's a couple of beautiful Rembrandt paintings I had in my mind as I was developing it. But I'm not comfortable using that other artist's name in one of my titles for fear of being thought Im too old master-ish.

When we think of the Baroque era in European painting, dense swirling skies tended to fill the tops of their pictures. The thing is we still have skies like that where a churning, opaque series of clouds roll all around each other and through each other. They can be quite beautiful. And they can mirror well much of our internal lives.

I love brilliantly colored paintings and I do quite a few of them. But there is a quieter meaning in our lives too. As a boy growing up on the shore of Lake Ontario I loved collecting the colored stones on the beach. They were all smooth polished from endlessly being washed by the waves. Each sported a different shade of red, greys, blue. They came in an array from speckled multiple colors to faultlessly solid surfaces. A lot of my early lessons in color came from my collecting and sorting. To this day I keep a small smooth beach stone on the tray on my painting easel. I'll pick it up and finger it as I mix my colors. It wants to remind me about the subtle side of the world.

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