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Showing posts from August, 2012

Is Charles Burchfield Really Caspar David Friedrich on Anti-Depressants?

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I was  looking at some wonderful paintings by Charles Burchfield (American, 1893-1967) in an album put together by my friend Anne McGurk on Facebook this morning. My eye was caught by this heraldic watercolorDawn in Early Spring. 

Burchfield delivers a sensation of the earth rising up to meet the heavens. You look at the painting and you feel like drawing in a great, deep breath of the life-giving spring air. It's bracing and invigorating.

Just as I was enjoying that boisterous sensation, another image that was much quieter crept into my mind- the uprising arches of a ruined cathedral in the winter forest. Of course it was my old friend Caspar David Friedrich knocking at my mental door. Friedrich is the most famous of the romantic German landscape painters of the 19th century (he lived 1774- 1840). This is his Cloister Cemetery in the Snow.

























I immediately thought how much fun it would be to look at the exuberant Burchfield next to this elegy by Friedrich. I think it's almost certa…

Drawings With Rembrandt on my Mind

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Philip Koch, Summer, sepia ink, 31 x 41 1/2"

At age eighteen I made the decision to become an artist. Blame it on an art history survey class I took my first semester at Oberlin College in 1966. I hadn't taken an art class since the summer between 7th and 8th grade, so my drawing skills were largely undeveloped. No matter, as my teachers in my first studio art classes at best gave lip service to traditional drawing, but really pushed abstraction and conceptual art. This wasn't all bad as it let me jump into the pool without feeling bad. One teacher went so far as to tell me "Drawing has been done. We artists have new tasks nowadays." For someone with few skills, this was a tempting philosophy.
I painted abstractions with acrylic pigments for my first two years, as that was what everyone did in the Art Department. Actually, I learned a lot in the process about color mixing, the qualities of paint handling, how to make different kinds of edges, and so on. All goo…

A Guide for Going Back to Art School!

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The painting that made it to NPR

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It's rare that paintings get much attention on National Public Radio.
NPR had a great story on this Monday about one of my favorite Edward Hopper (American 1882 -1967) oils, Morning Sun, that's usually in the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio. Above is a drawing Hopper made of his wife Jo that served as the basis for the painting (reproduced below). Here's the story:
http://www.npr.org/2012/08/20/157104327/hoppers-pensive-lady-in-pink-travels-the-world?sc=17&f=1008
It's a funny story as NPR's reporter Susan Stamberg (who has a great voice by the way) relates that she traveled to the Museum expressly to see this particular Hopper only to find it had traveled to the current big Hopper retrospective in Madrid. The painting Morning Sun figures prominently in the exhibition and in a wonderful 16 minute video overview of the Madrid Hopper show. If I can be permitted a plug for my own Hopper-influenced paintings, the video includes a glimpse of my own work on exhibit in …

Difficult artists?

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Charles Warren Eaton (American 1857-1937) Midsummer Night, oil

I was driving home from the gym yesterday and found myself musing back on a frustration that happened years ago.

A former student who had served as my teaching assistant for one of my classes at MICA called me up after their graduation and asked me if we could get together for lunch. They needed professional advice. The student had been a real favorite of mine and had been a great aid with teaching one of my classes. We met in a deli near my school and the former student picked my brain about how they could further their career as a painter, work with galleries, gain collectors, and land a college teaching job. In a situation like that I feel honored to be seen as someone who knows about such things, and I try to be as helpful as possible.  Happily the student has gone on to some success with exhibiting their work and has a good job teaching art at a university.

But after our meeting I felt a little uncomfortable and real…

Painting the Connecticut Coast

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Last week I was up in Connecticut for the grand opening reception for the Art Essex Gallery where nine of my oil paintings are hung in their inaugural exhibition. While there I did some painting right down on the water in East Haven, CT where the Farm river flows in to Long Island Sound. My old fried Bob Wetmore who I've known since elementary school days has a place right on the River. It's got amazing views. Above is Connecticut Shore,  oil on panel, 8 x 16", 2012.  The view is looking due east with Long Island Sound's open waters off to your right. This Connecticut low country played a big role in American art history- for example the American Impressionist landscape painters who gathered in Old Lyme. But for me this is special territory more for the work John Frederick Kensett (American 1816- 1872) who created some of the most amazing paintings from the 19th century of the shoreline of Connecticut and neighboring Rhode Island.  When I first started looking seriousl…

George Bellows at the National Gallery of Art

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Yesterday my wife Alice and I drove down to Washington, DC to the National Gallery of Art to see their huge George Bellows (American 1882 - 1925) show of paintings (through Oct. 8, 2012). 
Bellows was a school mate of two of my favorite artists- Edward Hopper and Rockwell Kent (both also born in 1882- obviously a great year to grow new artists) at the New York School of Art. All three showed a marked influence from their teacher, the charismatic Robert Henri, whose work was characterized by rapid execution with large brushes and a high sense of pictorial drama. Kent and Hopper gradually moved more away from Henri's style and vision as the years went by, but Bellows seemed to find a more comfortable fit  and stayed with the swashbuckling application. 
I've always been a fan of Bellows' paintings but was still surprised at how much impact most of his work had. Some of my favorites were his early landscapes from New York done along the Hudson River and the East River. Above …

Koch's Paintings in Connecticut

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Just returned from Essex, Connecticut where on Saturday evening I attended the grand opening of the new Art Essex Gallery. They have a really extensive show up of work drawn from the George Billis Gallery in New York. The space is absolutely enormous (apparently it was at one time a grocery store) and is beautiful for showing art. There is a lot to like in the inaugural show.
Every time I go to an opening of a show of my own paintings I resolve that I am going to get good photos of the work and the crowds, and this time was no different. But then I get carried away looking at all the art and then fall into conversations with visitors. Before you know it the evening is over and my camera hasn't yet made it out of my pocket. 
I did get some quick images on my phone, and think they are at least helpful to give you a sense of scale of the individual pieces (for better images of the paintings look at my previous blog post).
Above is me standing in front of my 84" oil The Morning,…

Art Essex Gallery Grand Opening in Connecticut

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George Billis Gallery in New York will be holding their second solo show of my paintings this Dec. 11 - Jan. 19, 2013. In the meantime, Billis Gallery has been working to establish a new venue in the historic town of Essex in Connecticut and has invited me to show a number of works in their inaugural show. The grand opening reception for the Art Essex Gallery is this Saturday, August 4 from 5-8 p.m. I will be attending so if you're in the area please come by and say hello.
Here are some of the my paintings that will be in the Art Essex Gallery. Above is Road to the Shore, oil on canvas, 42 x 28". Painted near a small country lake, the source originally caught my eye because it reminded me so much of the quarter mile long drive way I used to walk everyday going to stand at the bus stop for the school bus to pick me up. It had a marvelous canopy of branches overhead. Walking along it you usually found yourself looking up. It's a favorite memory.

This is my oil The Morning,…