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Showing posts from June, 2011

Landscape Artist Inspired by Young Muses

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I was out painting last week and happened to have my camera with me. While I worked to resolve a difficult passage in my foreground I heard a rustling of the branches and turned to confront something I rarely see. I was able to capture on film this rare appearance of the Muse. Actually two Muses.So I figure as a painter I'm doubly blessed and hereafter my paintings can only grow stronger. I wonder why they appeared in such a youthful form this time.

Many doubt the existence of the Muse, but I don't. The ancient Greeks thought of this goddess of art as female, highly insightful, sensitive and intuitive. But she was also elusive and apt to appear unexpectedly and then just as quicky disappear. That mirrors so well the creative process, sometimes flowing freely and effortlessly. Other times all but disappearing from our studios.

Of course we artists are about more than just inspiration from the Muse. We know a lot because we've spent  thousands of hours practicing our art. W…

A Good Reason to Stage an Exhibition

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Contemporary landscapes on exhibit at CCCPThursday, June 23, 2011
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Philip Koch Contemporary Landscape Paintings, will be on display at the Victor Stabin Gallery at the CCCP from July 1 through Aug. 14. Koch will be at an opening reception on Friday, July 1 from 7-9 p.m. By AL ZAGOFSKY TN Correspondent tneditor@

Painting in the Green Mountains

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There's a long history of American landscape painters heading north up from New York along the Hudson River to the Catskill Mountains, along the coast to Maine, and inland to the Green Mountains of Vermont. Every year I make several trips to the landscape painter's Mecca of New England myself, varying the destination from one place to another. I love it.

Last night I returned from another painting excursion, this time to Vermont. On these trips I soak up the terrain and the region's amazing art history. You can see exactly the same sources as Winslow Homer used or those of the wonderful Hudson River School painters  John Kennsett or Sanford Gifford. As you paint a conversation opens up between our 21st century eyes and those of our pioneer 19th century landscape artists. Part of the fun is discovering how much we in 2011 see a little differently than our landscape painting forebearers.

As it's right around the summer solstice the sun comes up incredibly early, forcing…

A Guide for Collectors on How to See Your Paintings

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If you are a collector who lives with paintings on your walls you may have noticed a problem with your artworks. After a while, you stop seeing them. Once when they first joined you they almost called out to you by name..."LOOK at me"...and you did. But the dust of familiarity gradually settles over your works and strangely, they become harder to see.
Fortunately there's help.
Artists' main job is to see more and deeper than everyone else. We practice. There are tools in an artist's box that might not occur to the average person. These are things I do in my studio all the time to help me see more clearly- some I was taught and other tricks I stumbled upon in my years of making paintings, Anyone, artist or just an art lover, can benefit. Here goes with a short list.
Stand Back
Above is an early oil painting by Rembrandt titled An Artist in his Studio. The artist has painted himself standing easily a dozen feet back from his work in progress. I have a rule in my studio…

A Celebration of a Museum Expansion and One of its Gems

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Art museums are a little like schools, but a lot more fun. There are no tests and you can leave whenever you want. And there's a whole lot more beautiful and mysterious stuff to look at than any school you ever attended. 
Drove out to Hagerstown, MD on Saturday to join their reception celebrating the opening of their brand new Kaylor Atrium. The Museum underwent a big expansion 17 years ago that wrapped several new gallery spaces around an open brick paved plaza. Over this last year construction workers raised a lofty glass canopy over the couryard creating an enclosed and climate controlled gathering space. They did a beautiful job linking the new structure to the historic old building.
Above is Brad Pingrey, the Chair of the Museum's Board, opening the evening's celebration. Brad is standing at the original front entrance to the Museum's 1931 building which has been shut for years. Now it is open again to usher visitors to the new Atrium directly into the Museum's …

What You Can Learn from Ink Wash Drawings

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The ability to draw well is a hallmark of a real artist.  If you want to be exciting, learn how to draw really, really well.
At least that's true in my book. Let me explain. I started out as an abstract painter because I couldn't draw from observation particularly well and all my teachers in undergraduate school pushed abstraction. But after a while I realized I needed something deeper in my painting and switched to working in a realist vein. 
At first this meant building up my drawing skills. I did this almost entirely by working from the nude model. It was hard as heck to get the drawn figures to look human and to look like they weren't falling off the page. But after several thousand attempts I improved dramatically. 
There's a problem with just drawing a model on a model stand. If you're not careful you develop the bad habit of just looking at the model. He or she is up there somewhat isolated from the rest of reality. While that's a good thing when one is jus…

Thoughts on My Upcoming Show in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

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Philip Koch, Banner,  oil on panel, 24 x 18", 2011
The Carbon County Cultural Project (CCCP)  in Jim Thorpe Pennsylvania will be opening a new solo show: Philip Koch: Contemporary Landscapes at the beginning of July.  Above is one of the new oils I'll be including. The CCCP beautifully illuminated what my painting is about in their press release for the exhibit by pairing a short quote from a prominent writer and poet with something I'd written myself. I was quite moved by their juxtaposition. Here's that part of the release:
"Our children no longer learn to read from the great Book of Nature from their own direct experience or how to interact creatively with the seasonal transformations of our planet. They seldom learn where their water comes from or where it goes. We no longer coordinate our human celebration with the great liturgy of the heavens."  -Wendell Berry
"As a kid I sensed right away that Nature was something of immense power. Year round we'…

Two Ways of Seeing: Edward Hopper and Fairfield Porter

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Was looking at the always interesting Painting Perceptions website run by Larry Groff. It has a new posting on Fairfield Porter I enjoyed this morning. It got me thinking about the difference between two of the main ways of seeing in painting- one can either move one's eye across the surface or plunge into the painting's depth. In the first mode, things tend towards flatness and emphasize the shape of their silhouettes. In the second, it's much more likely to find a real sense of volumes.  Let's use Porter as an example and contrast him against Edward Hopper. These two realist American painters are both very good yet they exemplify different sides of the painting coin.
Above is a Porter oil of a house and garden. Porter's choice of his point of view is revealing. Instead of a clear, unobstructed view that would let you see the house, he interrupts the line of sight with at least four additional layers of trees and shrubs. Its focus is on the network of branches and …