Philip Koch, Turret House, Nyack, oil on panel, 9 x 12, 2015
I have been traveling to Buffalo, NY frequently this year as the Artist In Residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. While there I go painting in the some of the locations where Charles Burchfield found subjects for his landscapes. Burchfield loved nothing better than studying his immediate surroundings. An unassuming neighbor's house or an empty field could inspire him to paint poetic and universal images.
Burchfield's example reminds me of his contemporary and friend Edward Hopper. Like Burchfield, Hopper went looking for magic right in the old neighborhood.
Over Thanksgiving I returned to Nyack, NY the town where Hopper was born and lived until he was nearly 30. The area around the Hopper family home (now the Edward Hopper House Art Center) is nestled along the banks of the Hudson River. Below is a house that particularly caught young Hopper's eye.
It is on Loveta Place, four blocks from Hopper's home on North Broadway. With an elaborate domed turret, it sits right on top of the river's edge. You could easily toss a coin out one of its windows and hear a splash as it hit the water.
Hopper as a boy loved to play down by the river and no doubt knew the house well. Years later he would return to borrow from this memory when in 1941 he painted his oil The Lee Shore.
Edward Hopper, The Lee Shore
The setting of The Lee Shore appears to be Cape Cod. Yet the precarious placement of the house right down at the waterline and the house's prominent turret clearly suggest Hopper was dreaming back to his boyhood days in Nyack.
Here below is my preliminary vine charcoal drawing with the house in the background.
A better view of my drawing.
Philip Koch, Turret House, Nyack, vine charcoal, 9 x 12", 2015
Sometimes one's neighborhood can serve as the best Muse of all.