More Background on my Upcoming Exhibit at Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, MD is holding The Mirror of Nature: The Art of Philip Koch Nov. 8, 2014 - Feb. 22, 2015. It will include some 35 oil paintings, pastels, and vine charcoal drawings spanning the 1980's to today. Here's a second collection of the notes I wrote for some of the wall labels for the paintings that will be in the show (you can read my first posting of these notes here).

Stone City Barns, oil on canvas, 24 x 48”, 1991-2011

Koch’s first solo exhibition at an art museum occurred in 1991 when the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art in Iowa invited him to show in their galleries. While there Koch to traveled to nearby Stone City, IA where the famous American Regionalist painter Grant Wood used to conduct a summer painting school. The elegance of the 19th century barns in Stone City charmed Koch into breaking his personal vow “to never paint a red barn.”

Shadows on the House, oil on panel, 9 ¾ x 8 ¾”, 1982.

The earliest painting in the exhibition, this oil reflects Koch’s interest in the work of the American artist Edward Hopper. Famous for his straightforward views of sunlight and long shadows falling on architecture, Hopper’s paintings were the primary impulse behind Koch’s decision early in his career to switch from painting abstractions to working in a realist direction.


From Day to Night, pastel, 7 ½ x 15”, 2002

Koch’s largest paintings are done in his Baltimore studio and are usually based on smaller preparatory works on paper. This pastel helped Koch better understand the color scheme he employed in the large oil of the same title included in this exhibition.

West from Monhegan,  vine charcoal, 9 x 12”, 2006

Despite being the grandson of the inventor of Kodachrome  film, Philip Koch never uses photography to help him make his art. Instead he prefers to work from memory and from charcoal drawings he makes on location. “Art is mostly about what you leave out” explains Koch, “ A slow medium like drawing charcoal affords me more time to discover what a painting needs and what must be discarded.”

 The Easel, Truro Studio, pastel, 6 x 7 ½”, 1998

Over the years Koch has been fortunate to given unprecedented access to the private house that is the former studio of the famous American realist painter Edward Hopper in Truro, MA on Cape Cod. As Hopper was the largest influence on Koch when he was a young artist, the opportunity to stay in work in Hopper’s studio has been deeply inspiring. This is the easel Hopper used to paint in the studio in a pastel drawing Koch made during one of his residencies.

Edward Hopper’s Parlor, Nyack, oil on panel, 10 x 7 ½”, 2012

The Edward Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, NY, Hopper’s birthplace and boyhood home, invited Koch to come and paint in the rooms where Hopper grew up. This oil was painted in Hopper’s living room with its oversized French doors. The oils Sun in an Empty Room and Sun in an Empty Room: Orange, also included in this exhibition were painted in the 2nd floor room where Hopper was born and that served as his bedroom where he lived until he was nearly 30.


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