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Showing posts from September, 2012

Orchestrating an Exhibition or a Painting

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If you are really small you might be able to tour the Delaware Art Museum's Centennial Juried Exhibition before it opens. You could crawl around this scale model of the show with all the works to be displayed reproduced in tiny versions on the walls of the Museum's gallery. The scale model of the show was arranged by Margaret Winslow, the Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art. Her crew had the model out to show them where to place the pieces as they arrived in the Museum earlier this week. I think it looks really cool. Here's my painting hanging on its trusty FoamCore wall below. (You can see a better image of it here),























After I delivered my painting to the Museum on Tuesday, I checked out painting studio where I've been invited to teach a landscape painting and drawing workshop on Oct. 21 with Saralyn Rosenfield. In addition to overseeing the Museum's studio classes, Saralyn helps by writing some of the educational material that accompany the Museum's shows. Ove…

What I'll Teach at my Delaware Art Museum Painting Workshop Oct. 21

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Philip Koch, The Song of All Days,  oil on panel, 36 x72", 2008
The Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, DE will include my painting above in their Centennial Juried Exhibition Oct. 20 - Jan. 13, 2013. To accompany the show, the Museum has invited three of the included artists to teach studio workshops as part of their Regional Concepts series of classes. They've asked me to teach a landscape drawing and painting workshop on the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 21.
Sometimes I'm asked if I think art can be taught. I feel that question turns the whole art experience on its head.
All of us living have deep emotional responses to what goes on around us and within us- and that right there is the raw material of art. Everyone has something to say. 
Studying painting or drawing puts some extra tools in your bag to help you tell others what you've seen and how you've felt. Not everyone is a Rembrandt. But give anyone the materials and even just a little guidance, and then wait a…

Two Big Questions Painters Must Answer

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Here are two paintings, an early Edward Hopper oil Queensboro Bridge, and below a very beautiful early pastel landscape (at least it looks like a pastel to me, honestly I'm not sure) by Piet Mondrian who worked on the other side of Atlantic roughly at the same time as Hopper. As different in subject as they are both exhibit some telling thinking that makes these pieces so powerful. I remember when I first saw the Hopper bridge painting in person in a big Hopper exhibit at the Whitney Museum in New York I almost fell over I liked it so much.

Just like our experience of reality, painting can seem overwhelming. Every artist has to come up with a way of simplifying their compositions without draining away their energy and ability to intrigue the viewer. A way I like to think about it is how they handle two key questions. I call them:silhouette and breakup.

Let's start with silhouette. Hopper's bridge is what I would call a "good" silhouette. Its outer contours are d…

What Edward Hopper Gave Me

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I wrote a letter to a friend today about the trip I'll be taking later this Fall to stay and work once again in Edward Hopper's old painting studio on Cape Cod (this will be my 14th residency there). As often happens when I get going about Hopper the letter went on a bit longer than I'd intended. Hopper is unique for an American realist painter as he seems to speak to so many different kinds of people, including very much to me. I've studied his work, his studio and his birthplace at some length and have learned much about how he worked and what he looked for when he painted. Some of these I've written about frequently on this blog, other ideas less so. So I decided to post most of the letter as I think many would find it of interest.
Here it is.

It was seeing Hopper's work that inspired me to change from painting abstractions to setting out in a realist direction back in the late '60's. As I was an inexperienced art student in a small avant garde art dep…

Haunted Art

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Caspar David Friedrich (1744-1840), The Crow Tree, oil



Philip Koch, Land's End Inn, vine charcoal, 9 x 12"

An artist's spirit needs to feed on the inspiration of those who've gone down the art path before us. I sure do. Above is a great 19th century oil by one of my early painting heroes, Caspar David Friedrich . Right below it is a plein air charcoal drawing I did in the backyard garden of the quirky Land's End Inn in Provincetown. The inn had these wonderfully gnarled trees setting off its distinctive roofline. When I stayed there I knew it was a perfect place for channeling Friedrich (and some Alfred Hitchcock perhaps as well).
I was joking in my blog post earlier this week that Friedrich was actually the same person as the early 20th century American painter Charles Burchfield. My theory added that Friedrich's usually gloomy saturnine style might have been transformed by his taking Prozac into the more ebullient moods usually found in Burchfield. 
Maybe I…

Thomas Cole & the Birth of American Landscape

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Above is just the background from one of my favorite early 19th century painters, Thomas Cole (1801- 1848). With very little professional training, Cole's paintings blazed a trail with his wholehearted embrace of what was to the European settlers (Cole himself was born in England) a wildly unknown continent. Cole made something new.
Through September 23, 2012, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme Connecticut has an exchange exhibition from the Albany Institute of History and Art. It explores the work and ideas of the first original movement in American art history, the Hudson River School. A few days ago I ran across an interview with Amy Kurtz Lansing, the Curator at the Florence Griswold Museum. I've always felt this almost 200 year old group of artists was pivotal in forming how Americans think and feel about themselves. Kurtz Lansing deftly puts her finger on a key role their work played in our imaginations:
"Before the Hudson River School, everybody had the idea th…