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Showing posts from August, 2015

The Seven Secrets of Art

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Philip Koch, High Trees, oil on panel, 28 x 21"
    2015. To be included in the Burchfield Penney
    Art Center's Live Auction at their annual Gala
    Sept. 19, 2015


I like to make lists. Here are some bullet points I sometimes give out to my students. As you can see I failed badly at keeping the list down to just seven ideas. 

The 7 Secrets of Art, and a few more.Philip Koch
Secret #1. That there are Secrets.

#2. That there are in fact rules (though they can be elusive to understand).

#3. Tones (darks and lights) are more important than color.

#4. Shapes are more important than color.

#5. Silhouettes are more important than details.

#6. Intervals of empty space are more important than forms.

#7. Craftmanship is always in style.

#8. The problem with ones work-in-progress usually isn't where one thinks it is. 

#9. Art is not an idea but a vision.

#10. Art is the marriage of the skeptic and the hopeless romantic.

# 11. Art revists the joys and terrors of childhood.

#12. An artist …

Salem, Ohio

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As part of my being the Artist-In-Residence for this year at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, I traveled with my wife Alice to Salem, Ohio, the childhood home of the artist Charles Burchfield. The Burchfield Homestead Society restored the home where the career of the visionary artist began. It is very well worth a visit for anyone who admires Burchfield's work. Above is Alice cooling her heels on Burchfield's front porch swing. 
It's a modest but art historically important home. Burchfield made many of his powerful early paintings peering out through its windows at the neighborhood. Below is a vine charcoal drawing I made standing at the rear of his yard looking back at the house. At the far left of my drawing is a long one-story house that Burchfield would paint repeatedly.



Philip Koch, Salem, Burchfield House, vine charcoal 6 1/2 x 13", 2015
Here is probably his most famous painting of that building, The Night Wind, (note the vertical chimney in its center).

Charles …

Sailing Lessons from Edward Hopper

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Later this month I'll be traveling to see some art. My destination is Salem, Ohio to visit the home where the painter Charles Burchfield grew up and began his life as an artist. Along the way we'll stop in Pittsburgh to see the new Edward Hopper exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art (through Oct. 26).
Have found myself looking at one of my favorite Hopper's Sailing from 1911 that's one of the standouts in the Carnegie's Permanent Collection. It's an imagined view of a sloop on the Hudson River where Hopper grew up. It was included in the historic 1913 Amory Show and was the first painting Hopper ever sold. He would have to wait another 10 years before selling another of his paintings. 
I've always found the painting remarkable for the way Hopper's boat surges by us with energy. It seems in a moment it will have sailed out of our view altogether. Hopper had some tricks up his sleeve to emphasize that sense of movement.

Here's the painting with the sm…

Two Drawing Masters: Edward Hopper and Charles Burchfield

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Charles Burchfield, Tree in Landscape, 19 1/4 x 14", conte, undated  Burchfield Penney Art Center, gift of the Burchfield Foundation
So often when we think of famous artists we remember them for their paintings, as well we should. But the hands that held their brushes were guided by someone with an incredibly astute eye. So often we see evidence of how well they saw in their drawings.
Two years ago I was able to see the major show of Edward Hopper's drawings that Carter Foster of the Whitney Museum in New York put together. It was a profound reminder that Hopper drew beautifully. This summer as the Artist-In-Residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY  I've been examining  the drawings of Hopper's contemporary, Charles Burchfield, at close hand in that museum's Archives. 

Charles Burchfield, Landscape with Distance Houses, conte, 8 x 10 1/2" 1915  Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY, gift of the Burchfield Foundation

I don't think the…