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Showing posts from October, 2014

My Art, My Celebrations

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Philip Koch, Under the Moon, oil on canvas, 24 x 36"

For much of the time we are absorbed by the little details of our lives. It is too easy to forget the mere fact of our being alive is completely extraordinary.

Yet to all of us come brief moments when the usual veil of confusion lifts. We suddenly grasp a connection between things that we'd thought unconnected. It's as if we begin hearing whispers of a previously secret conversation that has been going on all along. In moments like that we can feel a surge of gratitude. It would be foolish not celebrate the feeling. Seizing that and giving it a form we can share with others has been the task of artists through the ages.




Philip Koch, From Day to Night,  oil on canvas, 36 x 72"
Right now I am sitting in a room in my studio surrounded by my 32 paintings that will be headed out to Hagerstown, MD next week for my show at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. As I look over the pieces I fall back into thinking of the …

What I Learned from My Ink Wash Drawings

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Philip Koch, The Trees, sepia, 30 x 42", 1985
All of us are on a long journey. Who we are today is the product of sometimes amazingly contradictory influences. For an artist every medium they employ offers them a different lesson. 
I was in my painting storage room organizing work for my upcoming solo exhibition at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts (Nov. 8, 2014 - Feb. 22, 2015).  I stumbled upon four of my large ink wash drawings, snugly resting in the painting racks. That was enough to spin me off into reminiscing how they played a decisive role in my growth as a painter.
A little history:  When I first began painting I was attracted to the geometric abstractions of the 1960's and painted with big flat shapes of intense acrylic colors. As I reached grad school at Indiana University I unexpectedly fell in love with the University Art Museum's 19th century landscape paintings. They propelled me into a darkly moody world, with me painting in oil over canvases first c…

How Did Edward Hopper Make a Watercolor? (Updated)

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I was staying and working in the studio Edward Hopper designed and had built on Cape Cod in Truro, MA for my15th residency a week and a half ago. Above you can see Hopper's easel where for 30 years he produced many of his most famous paintings. The three windows look out from a great height over Cape Cod Bay. In a word: inspiring.
Hopper first gained wide acclaim through his watercolors. Most of them were done at a fairly large scale on cold press 140 lbs. watercolor paper (that's a medium weight subtly textured paper). To keep his watercolor paper from buckling as it became wet as he painted on it, Hopper would prepare the paper ahead of time by stretching. On the easel in the photo above is a piece of watercolor paper stretched by Hopper that is patiently waiting for him to return and paint on it. 
 Here's a close up of the front side of the prepared paper. Over the years it has sagged a little from its original smooth completely flat state.


Hopper first soaked his watercol…

15th Edward Hopper Studio Residency

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I am just returned from my fifteenth residency in Edward Hopper's Truro, MA studio on Cape Cod. Had great weather, got a lot of good new painting done, and have a ton of good new photos of the studio. Above is me lounging in front of Hopper's 10' tall studio window last week. 

And below is my wife Alice standing in the doorway of Hopper's bedroom and looking out into Hopper's big painting room. 





Here's another photo that gives a sense of the scale of Hopper's ten foot tall north-facing studio window. It bathes the entire painting room in bright unchanging light all day long, regardless of whether it's overcast or sunny. This was taken at the very end of the day.




When Hopper designed the studio and had it built in 1934, the window was covered with dozens of small panes of glass supported by a network of thin metal strips. It looked really cool, but over the years the weight of the glass caused the window to sag and eventually the glass panes started breakin…