Hopper, "Psycho" and Haverstraw

This week I spent several days in Edward Hopper's hometown of Nyack, NY doing some paintings of houses that were important inspirations for Hopper's art. One that I'm still working on is of Hopper's boyhood home itself, now the Edward Hopper House Art Center. (Well worth a visit for any fan of Hopper's work). I'll be posting that new piece shortly.

The other painting I made on the trip was in the neighboring town of Haverstraw. In 1925 Hopper did an oil of a house high on a hillside there.  That painting, House by the Railroad, is now in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1960 film Psycho borrowed heavily from Hopper's oil for their movie set. Through Hopper and then Hitchcock the house has entered the American consciousness as the very archetype of a haunted house.

I worked from the Haverstraw house over two bright afternoons. My painting turns away from Hitchcock's gothic mood. Instead it celebrates the brilliant sunlight and shadows playing over the house's Mansard roof. It's fitting as Hopper, a painter with many sides, frequently made intense sunlight his main subject.

Here's Hopper's more solemn version of the house. 

I also made a vine charcoal drawing of the same house from farther down the hill. This was the viewpoint Hopper chose for his oil. Notice the railroad tracks in the photo just beyond my easel. Hopper moved them up the hill to be next to the house. It gives a slightly surreal contrast against the aging historic house.

Here below is the vine charcoal drawing I made that's on the easel. It measures 10 1/2 x 14" and gives a fairly accurate view of how the house appears today. 

I'm planning to do new large studio compositions later this year from both my oil and from my charcoal drawing (that is if Norman Bates doesn't get to me first).


  1. Your treatment has a Van Gogh quality, I think (judging from the appearance on my computer, at least!). Love the strong colors.

  2. Thanks Bonnie (Van Gogh and I do share the same birthday, though he's never sent me so much as a card).

  3. It is more or less a 'dutch" influence.
    Particularly in counties surrounding the Hudson river.Both my parents have family and ancestors on both Westchester and Rockland county. Incidentally, Peter Blauvelt (direct ancestor) had been given the Tappan Patent. Given by the Dutch Company ( DE LA Montagne(direct ancestor) Jesse DE Forrest(direct ancestor)Isaac de Forrest)ancestors. I researched this in even more detail(DE la Montayne). He was the vice governor under Stuyvesant.
    A couple Blauvelt and 2 Lockwood de forresto are traditional and Landscape painters. Hopper generates from a daughter of Pietr Blauvelt. Me too! A daughter of PB is a greaterror garandmotherof me! MY mom's cousin (bill logan)painted like velazquez.

    Nick Paciorek is pals with my younger brothers(Andy and Tony). In Italy , I have several Piucci relatives that paint, draw, sculpt and do photography (one filmmaker).
    I have been painting,drawing and exhibiting since 1974. A grad of The Art Institute of Chicago '77. Hopper is a favorite years before I found out we are related to many around there. Knapp,Phillips,Rachel Storms (iroquois from Hopewell center), Rogers,Henry Rose... Let be used Knapp was a body guard for George Washington. MORE than Fascinating.
    My Jr Year at SAIC involved painting in the Poconos with Paul Resika. Okay, I shall stop the blather. Nice to have crossed paths. I shall be looking out for your work.
    I am going to dump my parents ashes in terms Hudson in May. I shall be in Stony Point\Haverstraw for 3 days with rellies! Mark Piucci!


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