Showing posts from 2011

The Hand of the Past on the Art of Today

Sometimes I'm asked if I only like art from the past. Far from it. But there is a reason I so often write about work done some time ago. It's often one of the best places to pan for gold. If you go to art museums or art galleries a lot, you are guaranteed to run into some work that leaves you cold. For professional artists, the problem gets worse, and you're likely to feel driven up the wall by some things you see. Being committed to making paintings and staying at one's easel for years brings with it a deeply emotional investment. It's an occupational hazard for artists. I was at a major American art museum yesterday and saw work that made my heart leap, and things that offered me very little. Generally I think it's more productive to spend my energies talking about work I find exciting rather than running down art I think is unsuccessful, especially when those artists aren't around to defend themselves. One of the artists I love to talk about is George

Is Art Original? Saginaw Art Museum Part Three

Here's another view of the current Saginaw Art Museum exhibit, Unbroken Thread: The Art of Philip Koch (through Feb. 19, 2012).   At the right is my oil Equinox , a work that I felt looked especially good in this venue for the show. In this photo you can see how all the tones in Equinox  were held down into middle tones and darks except for the flying white bird at the left and one snow covered island in the distance. I think that's where the bird is headed. It's critical to figure out which of  your ideas in a painting are going to be the ones that command the viewer's attention. Spotlighting just two key forms as I did here is one time-tested way to accomplish this. In the distance at the left is Otter Cove  that I discussed in the previous blog post. In that painting I've put the emphasis on the big dark hillside at the left side and brightly backlit it with a glowing light on the left horizon. Ryan Kaltenbach, SAM's Curator and Deputy Director hung a dozen

Saginaw Art Museum Part Two, Kensett and Snow

Here's the entrance to Saginaw Art Museum's current exhibit of my paintings.  Unbroken Thread: The Art of Philip Koch  (through Feb. 19, 2012). The photo is taken from the beautiful glass enclosed walkway that leads from the Museum's original 19th century Mansion house to one of its new wings. Below I've turned around and photographed the doorway to the walkway currently full of handsome metal sculptures by David Holtslander. At the right is my oil  The Voyage of Memory , a piece inspired by the 19th century American painter Thomas Cole's series of four paintings,  The Voyage of Life  (I had the pleasure of seeing them again just last weekend down at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.). At the left is my oil  Otter Cove , which I'll return to later. Below is me posing with an oil by another of my early favorite artists, the American John F. Kensett. It's  Study for the Lakes of Killarny ,   that Kensett painted in 1856 while on a trip to

Unbroken Thread Exhibition At Saginaw Art Museum

This week I was grading portfolios at MICA after returning from the opening reception for Saginaw Art Museum's   Unbroken Thread: The Art of Philip Koch exhibition in Michigan (through Feb. 19, 2012). These are intense face to face reviews with individual students. Maybe it was the fatigue from the long weekend of travel, but it struck me that I wished I could summarize all the things I've said to my students this year in just a few words. Of course the concepts behind good painting (and superior drawing) are anything but simple and need to be approached all kinds of ways. Lots of my lectures get long and pretty word heavy. I don't know how else to do it. Sometimes you want to bend the stick the other way and boil it all down to its essence. So here it is as an early holiday present, the words I wished I'd told my classes this year- Enjoy Your Eyes.  My eyes have brought me a huge share of the enjoyment I've felt in living my life, and a good portion of my und

Edward Hopper House Art Center, Grand Finale

For those of you who've decided I'm off the charts nuts when it comes to Edward Hopper it probably wouldn't be a good idea to give you any additional evidence. But, despite years of therapy I've just have  to share with you the last batch of photos I took of Hopper's boyhood home. Please be understanding... Above is my wife Alice standing outside the Edward Hopper House Art Center, one block from the historic Hudson River in downtown Nyack, New York. Check out the wild architecture of the blue turreted house next door. I imagine it excited young Edward's imagination as a boy, with him perhaps picturing it in his mind as a castle with knights and princesses. It sure would have pushed my fantasies that way. Here's Alice and our daughter Louisa standing on Hopper's front porch right outside his front doorway. The Art Center has lovingly preserved the feeling of the place, keeping just as much of the rooms and furnishings as they could as they were i