Philip Koch, Thicket, oil on panel, 14 x 21 inches, 2017
Some of my new paintings go way back. This one actually started in 1982. Alice and I got married that year in the rain in our backyard with a female justice of the peace. Right after the ceremony we flew to Maine for our honeymoon. I'd never been to Mount Desert but Alice had and she insisted I'd love it. Boy was she right.
Wandering in the woods near the Island's distinctive towering cliff named The Precipice I fell in love with this stand of young white birches. Worked from it for three afternoons and made a wonderful small oil. Later that summer I painted a large version of the composition in my studio. But before I had time to really enjoy either oil, the small version went to a collector and the large canvas entered the Permanent Collection of the Butler Institute of American Art.
Great as this was, I missed the paintings. Sometimes that happens. But in this case the image of these birches would stubbornly drift back to me repeatedly over following years. Maybe there was something special about those young trees that seemed so full of promise- you couldn't ask for a better symbol for the hopefulness of that first week of my marriage.
Many years later in 2014 I broke down and made another version closely related to the original plein air study. Then just two days ago I went back into that new version to fix "just one detail" and ended up repainting virtually the entire surface with lighter and brighter hues. I just needed for it to be right. And I love how it turned out.
I'm keeping the original title Thicket, but in my mind it's the honeymoon painting.