Quick tour of new Koch exhibit in Baltimore

Viewers often ask me about where a particular painting was done or what I was thinking about when I made it. A new show of my work and that of an abstract landscapist, Emily Demsky, opened in Baltimore yesterday at the JLP Gallery at Green Spring Station in Lutherville. It runs through Jan. 7, 2011.

This Thursday night, November 11, there's an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. If you're in the area please come by and say hello.

I thought it would be fun to give a quick tour of my oils in the show.

This is Late Winter Sun, Roland Park. It's of a lovely older neighborhood at the north end of Baltimore. I painted this from life on a series of frigid January days.

I'm standing in a shadow that runs across the whole foreground. While it was colder standing there, I liked that shadowed spot as it placed some cooler blues and violets in the front of the painting to contrast the warm colors in the distance. While I was working on this painting the front door of the house opened and the owner came out to see what I was doing. It turned out she had been one of my painting students from years before. Small world.

Above is The Reach, a nautical term for how the boat's sails are trimmed, but I like how the title implies a broader meaning. Certainly the sailboat is determinedly making its way towards something important. This painting was inspired by a walk I took one night with a full moon on the beach at Edward Hopper's studio on Cape Cod. I was staying there during one of the thirteen residencies I've enjoyed in that famous American painter's studio.

Below is Falls Road Bridge, Mount Washington. This was painted near my studio in the Mount Washington section of Baltimore. I parked by the side of Falls Road, right at the entrance of the oddly-named Robert E. Lee Park. Again it was cold so I painted this one huddled in the front seat of my van.

Other artists might use a camera and paint back home from a photograph, but I find I get more vivid results working directly from nature. There are special things you learn about a place only by spending hours there. Some secrets reveal themselves only slowly and can't be captured within the click of a camera shutter.

Below are two little twin oil paintings from Caves Road, a heavily wooded area northwest of Baltimore. I was drawn to the place as it reminded me powerfully of my boyhood home on the shore of Lake Ontario just outside Rochester, N Y. In both paintings I wanted to express the overarching presence of the trees that give the neighborhood its strong personaltiy. At the left is Friday Afternoon, Caves Road and on the right is Forest House, Caves Road.

Here's a view of those two little oils with their larger neighbor, Northern Pines, Morning. This is also a painting done primarily from memory of a pond in Maine just outside the entrance to Acadia National Park. One of the joys of painting landscapes is that you get to call the shots as to how things should look. In this painting one of the things I enjoy the most is how a yellow sky contrasts against blue green waters. In a painting you can make things like that happen. And in this long horizontal painting I wanted the pines to stand erect to create an opposing gesture to the water.

Below are two paintings I began sometime ago. At the left is Houses on the Hill, Mt. Washington. It's just off of Smith Avenue near the village of Mt. Washington and just a stone's throw from my studio. It's a deliciously hilly neighborhood. I loved the way the houses stood up so vertically against the sloping hillside. I also like the solid geometry of the dark rectangles in the house played off against the diaphanous branches.

At the right is a little oil painted on Owings Mills Boulevard out in that northwest suburb of Baltimore, very near the broadcast facilities of Maryland Public Television. It's titled Forest Stream, Owings Mills. The shapes tree limbs generate can almost seem to come out of a fantasy. Here the lighter branches at the left reach out in an unexpected way, creating almost a "keyhole" shape above the stream.

Finally here below is Shawna Potter who works at the JLP Gallery looking at the last two of my oils. At the left is Caves Road II, Baltimore. This painting was actually a very important one in my development as a painter. It marked one of the first times I experimented with inventing an arbitrary color for the background and making it look believable. In this case I used a subtle violet-grey to play off against the swoop of the yellow orange foliage.

There was a wind rustling the thousands of leaves as I painted and I used an agitated brush stroke to evoke that surrounding energy. I remember when I was working on this painting I was bombarded by falling acorns, one of which made me jump when it bounced off my palette with a loud bang.

At the right is Northern Sky, one of my most recent oils. Like the vertical painting at the left, it creates a balance between yellows and violets, but this time with an entirely different mood of serenity and gentle expansiveness. Caves Road II, Baltimore feels a little like a strong cup of morning coffee, whereas Northern Sky lulls me like putting my head on a soft pillow after a long day.

Here's a link to JLP Gallery's website.


  1. Very handsome exhibit, Philip. Its very satisfying to see all of these together. And I love the new avatar with you standing in front of the Hopper studio!

  2. Thanks Deborah. It's a combination show of both older and newer work mixed together. The older pieces look brand new to me in their new frames. My wife Alice took the photo outside the Hopper studio. I like the photo as it was Hopper who made me realize I wanted to be a realist painter- probably he had that influence on quite a few of us.

  3. Just beautiful, having seen your show in WA, I can just imagine this in person; the color and brushwork. I definitely can lose myself in your work, thank you. Terry

  4. Terry, I'm glad you've been reading my blog. Thanks for your kind words. Hope I can get back out to Washington State once again soon.


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