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Showing posts from December, 2013

Philip Koch Work in Studio Visit Magazine

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Above is the two-page spread on my paintings that appears in the new Volume 24 of Studio Visit magazine. Given that these two of my favorite paintings are reaching a broader audience I thought it would be good to tell a little more about them. In this post I'll take up the first one.


Inland, oil on canvas, 45 x 60", 2008  at George Billis Gallery, New York

The forests of inland New England are really dense. So much so that I often resort to searching out the clearing provided by a beaver pond so I can see more of a vista.
In the early days of American landscape painting small farms dotted New England. Painters of the Hudson River School like Cole and Church could set up their easels anywhere and likely find a panoramic view without too much trouble. That all changed with the expansion of mechanized agriculture in the Midwest. New England's rocky soil and hilly sloping fields made the going harder. A lot of New England farms failed and their owners made the trek to the cities …

Do Artists Have to be Depressed People?

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Charles Burchfield, Christmas Scene, watercolor on paper,  1951, 32 1/2 x 24", D C Moore Gallery

Christmas time finds me musing on the question of gifts. Surely supurb paintings are gifts to us. And to paint them, artists have to be gifted. What do the talents of the best artists cost them? Maybe nothing.

Nancy Weekly, the Burchfield Penny Art Center's Head of Collections and Charles Cary Rumsey Curator wrote on her museum's blog a few days ago. She touches on the question of whether artists need to be damaged people to accomplish something great. 

"...a few days ago on December 12, "The Writer's Almanac" celebrated Gustave Flaubert's birthday (1821-1880) and among their selected biographical details and quotations, one rang out to me as appropriate for how to perceive Burchfield: Flaubert said: "Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work." There are so many people, who in my opinion, try to cast…

The Delicious Sugar Maple

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Sugar Maple, watercolor, Edward Hopper
This Hopper was up at auction this last week (I didn't buy it). Found myself thinking about it and going back to sneak peeks several times over the last few days. There's its dazzling sunlight. Nobody paints bright sun better than Hopper. 
But he's also a master on other levels. For me one of the delights is the feel of his pigments. His paint is gracefully pulled over a smooth grassy hillside. But Hopper uses a more agitated brush describing the textures in the maple tree. Hopper is so good he gets these radically different surfaces to complement each other. Robert Barnes, one of my painting teachers in grad school once told me you knew a painting was good if you found yourself wanting to taste the paint. This one looks pretty appetizing. 
There's a mystery to paint surfaces. They can entice you in extremely different ways. Some artists make them dry and chalky. Others go for a more fluid look, rapidly drawing their brush through cre…

Back Home with Edward Hopper

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Edward Hopper, New York Interior, oil on canvas, circa 1921, Whitney Museum of American Art (I have writtten about some of Hopper's compositional ideas in this painting previously here).

Every Thanksgiving we travel north to Rockland County, NY to see some of our favorite relatives.  While there we all went back to pay a visit to my old friend Edward Hopper's home in Nyack, NY. Our party enjoyed a tour led by Lee and George Mamunes that reminded me of a little Hopper story I had forgotten.

One of my favorites of Hopper's oils is the seamstress glimpsed through an open window seen above. Her pose is just perfect, nailing the look and feel of the woman lost in her task. So much of the emotional richness of Hopper's interiors flows from how he connected his feelings to the spaces that surround this figures. He seems to know their surroundings intimately. Often he did.

Here's a photo of the fireplace mantle in one of the front rooms of the Hopper House Art Center.




The rese…