Posts

Image
  This is my painting "Autumn Frontyard," oil on panel, 15 x 20 inches, 2021 that will be included in Somerville Manning Gallery's 's show of my work from April 9 - May 8 in Greenville, DE. This actually began in somewhat different form back in March of 1985. I painted this on location in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore. The large white house intrigued me but seemed too formal, almost like a real estate ad, when viewed from directly in front. But seen obliquely through this screen of mostly leafless trees it took on a whole different character. It was titled "Spring Front Yard." This small oil I had painted outside served as the basis for a big 45 x 60” studio oil on canvas from 1989 that’s in the Permanent Collection of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, MD. In late Fall of 2020, under the spell of what was happening to the trees outside my studio window. The season’s colors inspired me to jump back into the small painti

Shifting Sands

Image
This is one of the major paintings that will be in Somerville Manning Gallery's show of my work April 9 - May 8, 2021, The Great Dune , oil on canvas, 28 x 42 inches, 2020. One of my best memories was being 6 and running down the steep sides of huge sand dunes on the North Carolina coast. These memories came flooding back to me when I discovered the dunes on Cape Cod. The winds off the ocean blow them into marvelously inventive aerodynamic shapes. The dunes can grow very tall and have a presence that feels permanent. Yet nature prods them to keep changing. This is a scene near the mouth of the Pamet River in Truro, MA. Years ago when I first started painting the dune in the center of this canvas it was mostly open white sand. More recently vegetation had taken hold and created an abstract patchwork. I love how it lends the dune its own distinctive personality.

My Painting of Edward Hopper's Studio in Somerville Manning Gallery's Show of My Work

Image
This is probably what Edward Hopper's studio looked like in Hopper's day- "Edward Hopper's Studio: Truro," oil, 28 x 56 inches, 2020. It is one of the largest paintings in Somerville Manning Gallery 's upcoming show of my work opening April 9. Hopper first visited Cape Cod in 1930 and fell in love with how the light played over the barren massive sand dunes in Truro. Remember the 19th century inhabitants of the Cape had cut down many of the trees for lumber and firewood. I painted this canvas largely from memory of the wide open vistas around Hopper's studio when I had my first residency there in 1983, when the surrounding vegetation hadn't regrown as much as it has today. Two electrical poles frame the studio- there's a funny story attached to them. Hopper is famous for painting an unvarnished view of urban America. When the Hopper's built the studio in 1934 there was no electricity along the access road. Some years later the power company i

A Truthful Lie: Why It's Always Autumn in my Paintings

Image
     Philip Koch, Mountains by the Sea,  oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches, 2019 Painting is about stirring our emotions. Once a museum visitor looking at one of my shows asked me if I only painted in the Fall. I was reminded of this as I gather together the paintings that will be in my solo show at Somerville Manning Gallery  next month.  I do opt for lots of oranges and reds when I'm choosing my paints. Actually I do a lot of my work outdoors when the greens of Spring and  Summer surround me.  But what I told that museum visitor was my paintings were about evoking how a scene makes me feel. There's a certain energy the intense light of the outdoors casts over a scene. Add to that a wind rustling the leaves and you feel almost like the world is softly vibrating.  Color choices in a landscape painting are about bringing the viewer closer to that  kind of experience .  I find if I push some of the color toward oranges and reds I get more of that vivid and lively feeling.  Any accura

An Early Fascination with Light

Image
    Philip Koch, Inland II, oil on canvas, 45 x 60 inches, 2020 Paintings are about what fascinates us.  People often remark my paintings celebrate light and shadow. This began for me in an unusual way.  When I was very young my family lived in a deep forest on the northernmost border of the US. I confessed to my father I worried about getting lost. He smiled and told me I could find my way by studying the sunlight- that we lived so far north the shadows cast by the trees pretty much always pointed north. I was charmed by the idea and found it worked.  Now years later the idea that the light keeps us from getting lost seems an apt metaphor for living.   

Allen Memorial Art Museum's Henry Ossawa Tanner Oil

Image
Andria Derstine, the Director of the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, OH sent out a holiday greeting yesterday and chose as an illustration an oil by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859- 1937),  Flight into Egypt.  I've always thought Tanner, an important African American painter, was too little known and was happy to hear my alma mater's art museum added one of his paintings for their collection in 2017. To me he's an impressive painter with supreme visual skills. Tanner was a religious man and depicted the Holy Family leaving Bethlehem in 15 paintings over his life time. Clearly this was a story the guy wanted to tell. His painting has a way of drawing you in whether or not you're traditionally religious. Painters tell their stories through how they shape things. Tanner first makes a crytalline sky that casts a mysterious atmosphere over the scene. Riding under a cloak of darkness we see the Holy Family with hardly a detail. But Tanner entices our eyes to focus on them by

What the Wicked Queen and Dracula Never Saw in the Mirror

Image
Deep Forest Pool,  oil on panel, 32 x 40 inches, 2020. I grew up in the last remaining old growth forest in my county. To be honest in summer it could be a bit dark and solemn under all those trees. But peppered through the forest were small stands of white birch. Even on the cloudy days their bark shone out with delightful energy. No wonder that's a theme I so often return to in my paintings. Yesterday I hung two of my birch paintings alongside a decorative mirror.  Stepping back to look I saw the oils and mirror resonated with each other. Got to thinking about how they connect. We put a lot of stock in mirrors. There's the Disney film   where the evil queen relies on her mirror to tell her if she is still the fairest of them all. Even worse, in the 1930's classic, poor Dracula's image wouldn't even reflect in the mirror, apparently because he had no soul. In any case we all use mirrors to try to find out who we are.  Light in the Forest,  oil on panel, 18 x 24 inc