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Showing posts from July, 2016

The Myterieous Beauty of Edward Hopper's Captain Strout's House

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This is one of my all time favorite paintings, a watercolor by Edward Hopper, Captain Strout's House, Portland Head from 1927. It's in the collection of the venerableWadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT (founded in 1842!). The light and color of the painting are amazing. Yet I always sensed there was something beyond that but I couldn't put my finger on it. I think this painting points to how playful spontaneity and unconscious thinking makes the art happen.
In our kitchen each year we always have a wall calendar that features Hopper paintings. One evening as I was scrubbing a frying pan I paused and glanced up at the calendar. That month featured a big reproduction of Captain Strout's House. My eye fastened on the far watery horizon and a mental alarm bell went off. The water to the left of the house was way higher than the water level on the right.  They didn't come close to lining up with each other. How could this be?
Looking a little longer I realized my eye liked…

Happy Birthday Edward Hopper

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Edward Hopper, Rooms by the Sea, oil on canvas, 1951,  Yale University Art Gallery

Woke up this morning and realized it was the birthday of the artist who inspired me to become a painter. Edward Hopper (July 22, 1882- May 15, 1967). Many years ago as a teenager I had all the usual concerns of someone that age but visual art wasn't one of them. My parents subscribed to Newsweek magazine and as I thumbed through a copy I stumbled across the mysterious painting above. Though I'd never heard of Hopper I remember thinking to myself "Now THAT'S a painting!" A seed was planted.

Philip Koch, Cape Cod Morning, oil on canvas, 33 1/2 x 50", 1994. Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. A painting I made of a building in  Wellfleet, MA just south of Edward Hopper's studio on Cape Cod.  Without knowing Hopper, I don't know if I ever would have let myself paint a subject like this.
It's ironic how someone you have never met can prove instrumental in shaping your life. Year…