Monday, June 2, 2014

New Paintings to Somerville Manning Gallery




Philip Koch, Memorial, oil on panel, 18 x 36”, 2010

Last Friday I delivered four new paintings to Somerville Manning Gallery in Greenville, Delaware, just outside of Wilmington. It's an extraordinary gallery in many ways. For example as I brought my work in and placed my paintings against the wall I looked up to see hanging above them a large oil by the 19th century master painter John Singer Sargent (!). Their current exhibit, the impressive American and European Masters, is up through June 14.


 Here is a bit of background on each of my new oil paintings in the gallery.

As a boy growing up in an unsettled woods on the shore of Lake Ontario outside of Rochester, NY, I was deeply impressed by the power of moonlight to illuminate the shadowy forest. Years later when my wife and I honeymooned on Mt. Desert Island in Maine I fell in love with the vast panorama of small islands one sees looking south from the summit of Mt. Desert’s Cadillac Mountain. For my oil Memorial above I imagined how my youthful memory of moonlight could transform that scene. An unseen full moon shines its cool rays down over those islands.




Deep Forest Pool, oil on panel, 15 x 20", 2014

Usually in high summer the forest floor can be pretty dark. One exception to this gloom are the clearings in the otherwise dense forests that are opened up by beaver building their ponds and huts. For that reason, and just because I find beaver fascinating animals, I've been drawn to paint beaver ponds over the years. This painting was done entirely from memory.

Beaver are normally intensely shy creatures. Once when working at the side of a beaver pond similar to this one, I was unnerved by a beaver who seemed to want to watch me as I painted. This one came to within three feet of my portable easel and just stared at me, all the while industriously chewing away on plant roots. I couldn't help but be impressed by the big teeth on the guy. I confess I felt intimidated. From the beaver’s point of view I suppose I was trespassing.






Thicket,  oil on panel, 14 x 21”, 2014

Another painting inspired by my memories of growing up in a deep forest. Near my home were abundant groves of white birches. Young birch saplings often grow tightly packed together and can seem to gesture as if they are all following directions from some unseen choreographer. This oil was based on a sketch I made while in Acadia National Park in Maine.




Edward Hopper’s Truro Studio Kitchen, oil on panel, 16 x 12”, 2012

Painted on location during one of my many residencies in the studio on Cape Cod where Edward Hopper lived and worked for three decades. This is the view standing in Hopper’s large painting room looking towards his small kitchen. Orange sunlight enters the kitchen from the far window above the kitchen sink. In the Fall of 2014, I will have my 15th residency staying and working in the Hopper studio. 

To me it's a particular honor as the studio is not open to the public. But more personally, it was seeing Hopper’s work that inspired me early in my career to change from painting abstractly to working in a realist direction.

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