Posts

Showing posts from February, 2018

Freer Gallery of Art- Teaching Drawing in a Museum's Galleries

Image
The inner courtyard of the Freer Gallery of the Smithsonian in  Washington, DC

Last weekend I traveled to Washington, DC to teach a drawing workshop in the Freer Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian Institution. Just reopened after a two year renovation, the museum is incredibly elegant. 

Grace Murray, the museum's Head of Public Programs, and her interns did a wonderful job organizing the workshop so we could get a lot done in just three hours. Grace began the afternoon with a slide show introduction to the museum and its collection- a highly unusual mix of Asian art and a small select group late 19th century American painters. Afterwards we worked in vine charcoal to make a quick study of Edward Hopper's composition. Then we headed out to draw the interior spaces in the museum galleries. The dozen students seemed like they had a great time.


Winslow Homer, Early Evening, oil on canvas, 1881-1907
While I didn't have a lot of time to explore the collection I did spend a half hour…

Searching for Color (or Coping with Vanishing Subjects)

Image
Philip Koch, Recollection, oil on canvas, 36 x 72 inches, 2000. This painting is based on the pastel drawing below.
Funny story about this large painting. It's based on a pastel that in turn was made from an an on-site vine charcoal drawing. At certain times in my career I found working in stages like this allowed me to be playfully creative with color.
My wife Alice and I were on one of our painting excursions, flying from Baltimore to Northern California. Once there I was taken by the sweeping panorama of San Francisco Bay from the summit of Mount Tamalpais just north of the city. We had crystal clear weather. With such a good viewpoint I grabbed my vine charcoals and set to work on a view of the Bay. Then the legendary fog of San Francisco rolled in like a freight train. In five minutes my subject was completely erased from view. 


 Philip Koch, Recollection, pastel, 10 x 20 inches, 2000. 
"I flew 3000 miles for this?" went through my mind. 
Landscape painters are battle-…

Henri Matisse On How to Use Color

Image
Philip Koch, Red River, vine charcoal, 7 x 10 1/2, 2001
In 2001, just as soon as airplanes were allowed to fly again after the 9/11 attacks, I hopped on a flight to North Dakota. Entering the terminal in Fargo one was greeted by soldiers in camouflage uniforms holding automatic weapons (it looked like a paranoid scene out of The Handmaid's Tale).
Philip Koch, Red River Trilogy #1, pastel, 4 1/2 x 6 3/4 inches, 2001
That Fall the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks was featuring a large painting of mine in their annual gala exhibition. My dad spent the first 4 years of his life in Grand Forks. He was by far my more nurturing and supportive parent. I only knew him for my first 12 years. I'd always wanted to visit his hometown, feeling it would be a way to connect with his memory. Going to this Museum exhibition was my chance to make the trip.

 Philip Koch, Red River Trilogy #2, pastel, 4 1/2 x 6 3/4 inches, 2001
Fortunately the days I was there were surprisingly warm and sti…

My "Time Travel " with Charles Burchfield

Image
Philip Koch working in his Baltimore studio on his painting Evergreen, 40 x 60 inches, that will be included in Burchfield Penney Art Center's exhibition of his work April 13 - July 29, 2018


I wrote the following about the remarkable experience I had in the two years I served as the Artist in Residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in 2015-17. Right now I am bus preparing for that museum's exhibition of my paintings and drawings from the Residency- it's set to open April 13 and run through July 29, 2018. 


Time Travel in the Burchfield Archives

We all think we know who we are. Sometimes an unexpected event shows us how wide of the mark our thinking has been. So it was with my experience the last two years being the Artist in Residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. It provided a close encounter with the work of another painter, Charles Burchfield. Burchfield, a fellow landscape painter, was an artist with a powerful imagination that had taken him into a distinctiv…