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Cats Hate Water

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  Philip Koch. Truro Afternoon, oil on canvas, 28 x 42 inches, 2021 Here's one of my new paintings. It's based on a small oil I painted on location in Edward Hopper’s studio in Truro, MA. The view is of the corner of the studio’s painting room that inspired Hopper’s oil Rooms by the Sea from 1951 (now at Yale University Art Gallery). I have a long history of painting this corner of this room. It really started when I was much younger. Idly sunning myself on a lounge chair on the patio of my home, I was flipping through my parents’ copy of Time magazine. I was a typically preoccupied teenager, uninvolved with art. Coming  across a photo of Hopper’s  Rooms by the Sea I did a double take.  The painting powerfully evoked the feeling one has of gazing out at an expanse of open water. The vast waters of Lake Ontario were a big part of my life (since I was 3 1/2 we had lived on its shore, first in a rental house and then moving (on my 4th birthday no less) into our lakeshore h

Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College (Part II)

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Marion Boyd Allen (1862-1941), Portrait of Anna Vaughn Hyatt , 1915 Continuing with a few short comments about paintings that especially struck me on my visit to  Maier Museum of Art  at Randolph College in Lynchburg, VA. Sometimes you come across an artist whose work is so strong it makes you wonder why they're not better known. That's how it felt seeing Maier Museum of Art' s large oil by Marion Boyd Allen,   Portrait of Anna Vaughn Hyatt.     The figure of Hyatt is powerful and looks assured as she sculpts a horse and rider. It seems so fitting that the Maier Museum acquired this painting at a time when Randolph College was an all women's school.                       Installation view of the museum gallery with the Allen painting in a commanding position.     John Sloan, Sun and Wind on the Roof , oil on canvas, 1915 Ever since I studied painting in the same studio where John Sloan taught his class at the Art Students League of New York I've  had a spot in my he

Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College (Part I)

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Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, Lynchburg , VA I had the wrong major in college. Fortunately the campus art museum (Allen Memorial Art Museum) woke me up to what I was meant to do- paint. What a powerful impact even a smaller museum can have on a young artist. That's part of why I drove down from Baltimore to the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College  in Lynchburg, VA last week. They have an Edward Hopper landscape I needed to see (more later), but I was intrigued by what I'd seen  of their collection on-line as well. Thomas Cole, Corway Peak, New Hampshire,  oil on canvas, 1844 I'm a little different from many contemporary artists in that I've always looked for insight and inspiration from the artists who've gone down the path before me. When you're starting out you need guidance.  Allen Art Museum's giant color field painting by Larry Poons pushed me to explore what color could be made to do. I painted dozens of brilliantly colored abstractions

Winter Is Good for the Soul

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  Philip Koch, Winter , oil on canvas, 36 x48 inches, 2021 If this painting looks like it's too cold that's good. It's a painting I made as a thank you for an early lesson cold winter gave me. It's done mostly from memory of my childhood in upstate New York. We lived right on the shore of Lake Ontario. Summers there were sweet. While the water was always on the cold side for swimming that never stopped us kids. Even on the hottest days there would be a breeze off the lake that kept the air comfortable.  Come winter things changed. Strong winds blew down from Canada  and vacuumed away even the most stubborn leaves that tried to cling to their branches. The Ontario shoreline quickly froze over with a glistening coat of ice.  Splashing waves would gradually build up mysterious forms that looked like icebergs. When the sun shone down on this I found it spellbindingly beautiful. We kids climbed all over the fantasy-like playgrounds these little ice mountains would grow into.

New Paintings Begin Years Before the Brush Hits the Canvas

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 Philip Koch, Truro Beach , vine charcoal, 8 1/2 x 12 3/4 inches, 2004-5 When an artist makes a new painting they are always in conversation with works they have made before.  This morning while looking through my art archives I came across one of my favorite drawings.  I made it a quarter century ago but it's an important piece that led me to making some of my more ambitious works.   It's of a special place.  We were staying Truro, MA on Cape Cod in the former painting studio of the Edward Hopper. Hopper was the artist who inspired me early in my career to move from painting abstractions to working as a realist. I made the drawing of the intricately sculptural sand dunes on the beach just below his studio.  During that same residency in the studio there was a full moon one night that shone brilliantly down on the dunes. I got to wondering how those dunes along the shore would have looked under that moonlight and made this pastel drawing of how I imagined the scene. Philip Koch

The Painting That Made the Pastor Scream

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   Philip Koch, Summer, Owings Mills , oil on canvas, 16 x 18 inches, 1974 I found a wide open hilltop in the backyard of a church with a great view overlooking the hills in Owings Mills, MD. This was one of the best pieces I made that year. But it comes with a back story that in retrospect is pretty funny. I had set up my easel on a bright windy day. The sound of the wind pretty much drowned out everything else. The painting was proving hard to do and I was  becoming more and more exasperated. Finally my temper snapped and I abruptly grabbed the canvas off my easel, and cursing loudly, threw it as far as I could out into the field.  What I didn’t know was the pastor of the church had seen me painting and had come out to see what I was doing. He came up to me from behind as  things were going from bad to worse with the canvas. At the moment  he reached out to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention I lost it and hurled the painting. I managed to scare him enough to scream. And

Sun Worship? My New Painting "Sun by the Truro Door"

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Philip Koch, Sun by the Truro Door, oil on panel, 18 x 24 inches, 2021 Science tells us without the energy that the sun shines down on our planet we couldn't sustain life. It's a big deal.  I think intuitively most artists sense that- certainly many painters (think Claude Monet and the French Impressionists for example) made celebrating the sun's light a core element in their works.  Above is a new oil that is headed up to  Addison Art Gallery  in Orleans, MA next week. I did it entirely from my memory of watching the first rays of the rising sun in the painting room in Edward Hopper's studio on Cape Cod. Anyone living I think has felt the quiet touch of excitement seeing that first splash of morning's sunlight .  I have a long history with that idea. When I was a teenager I wasn't particularly interested in art. One afternoon when leafing through my parents'  Time  magazine I stumbled into Hopper's painting below. "Now  that's  a painting!"