A Long Time Coming...Painting a New Oil for my Swope Art Museum Show

Philip Koch, Truro Studio: Two Rooms, oil on canvas, 36 x 48"

My brush strokes are always in a hurry. When I paint my hand is doing more slashing and scrubbing than smoothing things down and polishing surfaces. One might get the idea my paintings happen  quickly. Ironically they don't. Rather I take months to sort through the colors to get them just the way I want them. Sometimes I need to build up my knowledge of a source for years before attempting a major painting.

Above is one of my new oils. It shows Hopper's bedroom in the studio he designed and had built for himself in Truro, MA in 1934. At the left is one of the windows overlooking Cape Cod Bay, and through the door at the right stands his easel where he painted dozens of his world famous masterpieces. 

My painting will make its debut Feb. 3, 2017 in Terre Haute, Indiana at Swope Art Museum's exhibition Light and Shadow: Paintings and Drawings by Philip Koch from the Edward Hopper Studio. It's based on smaller drawings and paintings I made with my French easel squeezed in between the two single beds in the small room. This last Fall I had my 16th residency staying and working in the studio. It's an honor, but it's also an exceptional chance to feel that earlier artist's presence.

Philip Koch, Truro Bedroom Door, vine charcoal, 
13 x 6 1/2", 2006 This was the first time I used
these bedroom doors as a subject

Over that time I have become increasingly intrigued by the bedroom's closet doors. They're the only two clothes closets in the house. You realize the Hopper's had few clothes as the closets are tiny by today's standards. It's hard not to imaging the hundreds of times Hopper and his wife Jo turned the odd black metal doorknobs to reach for a sweater. 

Each door has been repainted many times- enough so that they no longer shut easily. Mostly they stand ajar, open a few inches unless you make a determined effort to close them. The way the Cape light plays over these doors seems to me delicate, intricate and almost impossibly beautiful.

Philip Koch, Hopper Bedroom III, vine charcoal, 7 x 14", 2012

In all I've made at least half dozen works of these doors. With each of them I was coming to know this corner of this historic room more deeply. In my new painting I feel the traces of each of those earlier drawings and paintings. 

Here's a photo my wife Alice took of me two weeks ago in my Baltimore studio finishing up Truro Studio: Two Rooms. 

In addition to this painting both of the above charcoal drawings will be hanging in the Swope's galleries along with 31 additional pieces. There will be a free public reception of the exhibition on Friday, Feb. 3 from 6 - 9 p.m. All welcome! The exhibition continues through March 25, 2017.


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