Part II of my Talk on Hopper at Norman Rockwell Museum
Here's Part II of the photos and notes from the slide talk I gave at the Norman Rockwell Museum on July 31. My topic was Edward Hopper on Cape Cod as part of the Museum's program for their current exhibit The Unknown Hopper: Edward Hopper as Illustrator (through Oct. 26). You can read Part One here. Stephanie Plunkett, the Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the Museum just yesterday sent me the above photo of some of the audience at the presentation.
One of the major lessons I've absorbed from my residencies in Hopper's studio is how relentlessly particular Hopper was in selecting a source for one of his paintings. Hopper wanted to present us with the unexpected but significant thing. I told the audience he must have walked a lot, searching out just the best possible subjects and points from which to view them. Here I am below returning from painting on the beach down below Hopper's studio. It's a long way up from the water and my portable easel is heavy, but I figure I'd better practice what I preach.
Here is the path Hopper would take that winds its way through the undulating dunes down to the beach on Cape Cod Bay. This photo shows the dunes with only very short ground cover- typical of how much of the Cape looked in Hopper's time. It was far more wide open and surreal looking. Nowadays in most places the Cape is dramatically reforesting itself.
This photo taken down at the shoreline shows how Hopper situated his studio high up on an 80' dune, offering dramatic open vistas in all directions. To me it seemed like he wanted to design the place to be his observatory from which he could study the world. Through its windows one literally catches the very first and the very last rays of the day's sun
The kitchen door through which one enters the studio from its driveway. At this diminutive table and chairs Hopper and his wife Jo would eat their breakfast.
My wife Alice demonstrating, drinking her morning coffee.
For some reason we always stop and buy bananas on our way to stay at the Hopper studio. It's become a ritual. They always look so at home on their table.
To maximize the space available for his studio's painting room, Hopper designed the rest of the studio with surprisingly small rooms for the kitchen, bath, and bedroom. This is my oil painting Truro Studio Kitchen, 12 x 16", 2013. To get this view I set up my French easel in the middle of the kitchen floor. It took up almost the entire open space of the little room.
Turning 180 degrees from where I painted the above oil of the table, below is a pastel drawing looking from the middle of the kitchen into Hopper's small bedroom.
One of the things I learned early on from studying Hopper's work is how subtly leaning or bending a vertical edge can add an expressiveness to inanimate things like doors and windows. I've enjoyed doing so here. The illuminated middle doorway opens into Hopper's painting room. The far door is to one of the two tiny closets Hopper shared with his wife Jo. The Hopper's owned few clothes by today's standards.
Below is Edward Hopper's Truro Studio Kitchen II, oil on panel, 10 x 7 1/2", 2014, done from a vine charcoal drawing I made standing in Hopper's cavernous painting room and looking back into the kitchen. The window is over the kitchen sink.
I am always struck when I'm staying at the Hopper studio by the drama of some of its views. Here's just outside Hopper's door, looking off toward the southwest. It's a view that many landscape painters would love to paint. As convenient as it was, it wasn't unique enough for Hopper's very personal vision. He never painted it.
Here's a last photo of the studio seen from the southeast in the morning sun. You can see how the bushes and trees that had been cut down in the years before Hopper came to the Cape are continuing to grow taller once again. Cape Cod is still lovely, offering its slightly strange beauty that so attracted Hopper's eye. But it physically has changed since Hopper's day.
These photos and notes from my July 31 talk will conclude with a third post sometime this coming weekend.