At Beard's Framing, we enjoy bringing you information and insight on art. This is the first of a new series of posts, where we conduct interviews with artists to share their knowledge and perspectives on art. This interview is with painter Philip Koch.
Beard's Framing: Can you tell me a little about yourself?
Philip Koch: I'm a former abstract painter who early in my career discovered the work of Edward Hopper. That alone inspired me to change to working in a realist direction. Since 1983 I have had unprecedented access to the privately owned Hopper studio on Cape Cod. This Fall I will enjoy my 15th residency staying and working in his studio.
While in my MFA Program in Painting at Indiana University I began painting outdoors in oil, making smaller plein air studies and large studio oil. While my earlier work was more naturalistic, in the last 15 years my paintings have evolved in a more romantic and some say "otherworldly" direction. My paintings are represented in New York by the George Billis Gallery. This Nov. - Feb. the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Maryland will hold a solo exhibition of my work. 14 American art museums have my paintings in their Permanent Collections.
I am a senior professor at MICA in Baltimore.
BF: What made you decide to start a blog? What do you enjoy about the blogging process?
PK: After painting for over 45 years I have learned a great deal about what makes a painting work. I enjoy teaching and sharing my ideas with others. A blog about art is an extension of that.
BF: What are some of your artistic influences?
PK: When I first started out I loved Mark Rothkoís big and simple color paintings and imitated them. Looking back I think that was a great place to begin to study color. After a couple of years Edward Hopper, who I think is the best painter of brilliant sunlight ever, tapped me on the shoulder and inspired me to seriously work on my drawing skills and become a realist painter. For some other heroes I would list Winslow Homer, Rockwell Kent (who was a classmate of Hopper in art school) and Hopperís friend Charles Burchfield.
'Magenta, Black, Green on Orange' by Mark Rothko, 'Road in Maine' by Edward Hopper
BF: Looking through your portfolio, you draw a lot of landscapes. Why do you often choose this subject matter?
PK: In most ways I feel a subject matter chooses you, not the other way around. It is less a decision than a feeling. Painting the landscape felt like I was trying on a new pair of shoes that fit perfectly. My landscape work started innocently enough when one of my teachers in grad school suggested I might try painting outside. My first day out on location with my easel I was hooked. If one is going to paint truly well oneís subject matter has to ìclickî with that mysterious side of us where our deepest creativity dwells. I grew up in a remote heavily forested section of the shoreline along Lake Ontario in upstate New York. There werenít many other children around to play with so I spent an enormous amount of time entertaining myself in the woods. It the natural world came to feel like home.
BF: Tell me about one of your works you're particularly proud of.
PK: A new painting I am especially happy with is Uncharted II, now at the Art Essex Gallery in Essex, CT. It was done entirely from memory and invention. As a boy growing up in snow country near Rochester, NY, deep winter snows were frequent and always left a vivid impression on me. A heavy coating of white seems to transform even a neighborhood you know intimately well into something mysterious that beckons you to explore it. I wanted to make a painting about that feeling.
Uncharted II, oil on panel, 18 x 24", 2014
As sort of a side project over the years I have been doing a long running series of paintings of the interior of Hopperís little seen Truro, MA painting studio where he lived and worked with his wife Jo for 6 months of every year for some three decades. Here is a recent painting of the small table where the Hopperís would eat their breakfast:
Truro Studio Kitchen, oil on panel, 12 x 16", 2013