Showing posts from November, 2011

Edward Hopper House Art Center

Had a mini-revelation yesterday. On a totally intuitive level I now "get" Edward Hopper. It happened as I was looking out the bedroom window where Hopper slept for his first 18 years. Hopper fell in love with that view and never recovered. It really is that simple.
Yesterday with my family I went to the Edward Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, NY, the birthplace and boyhood home of Hopper. It's right on the Hudson River just north of New York City. Slated for demolition by the city fathers to make way for a parking lot, a more far sighted group of citizens fought to preserve the home as a historic site. They won and in 1971, five years after the death of Hopper, the home opened as a nonprofit art center. They place is drippingly historic, lovingly preserved, and worthy of a visit from anyone seeking a deeper grasp of Hopper's art. 
Recently Rachael Solomon, the Program Director at Hopper House, invited me to show a group of the paintings I've done during my residen…

News from an Angel

Here's an angel announcing to Mary that even though she hasn't had sex she's going to have a baby who is the son of god. All things considered, she's taking it pretty well. Next time you have something to tell me could you please enlist an angel as your go-between? Especially one that looks as cool as this one. Usually I just get emails these days.  
I don't usually look at Renaissance painting very much, but I ran across this Botticelli Annunciation this week. I love it  and have been having the best time drinking it in. 
Admittedly both the figures take somewhat unexpected poses- the angel kneeling and extending his upraised hand with his fingers splayed out. And Mary bending her knees so oddly to the right. Is she curtsying, swooning, or what? In the hands of a lesser painter these two figures would look ridiculous but here they seem self assured and absolutely right. The empty space right between their outstretched hands looks like they're feeling the surface…

Unbroken Thread Exhibition Heads Out to Saginaw Art Museum

One of the galleries in the Saginaw Art Museum

The art shippers came today and loaded 50 of my paintings onto the largest truck in America. They're taking the traveling exhibition Unbroken Thread: The Art of Philip Koch out to the Saginaw Art Museum in Michigan for its Dec. 9 opening (the show runs through Feb. 19, 2012). You can see a preview about the exhibit  that Midwest Gallery Guide magazine will run in its December issue on the "News" page of my website. I'm excited to see the work in the Museum's big spaces.
The "Thread" from the exhibit's title runs back into my history and into American art history. It's a thread that ties me to the American landscape painters from the past, especially the Hudson River School. The impact their art had on me in my early days can hardly exaggerated. 
Arriving in 1970 at my graduate program in painting at Indiana University I was burning with excitement to become a "real" painter. I'd mastered …

How Charlton Heston Made Me an Artitst

Charlton Heston as Michelangelo painting the Cistine Chapel ceiling.

Sometimes at an opening reception people come up to me and innocently ask me how I became an artist. I don't ususally tell them about Charlton Heston. Sometimes the oddest things provide just the right nudge to get you moving on a new path. So it was with me and Charlton.
I came from a family of academics and was groomed to be a college professor. In the fall of 1966 I entered Oberlin College in Ohio certain I was headed for a career as a sociologist or an historian. No doubt about it. To prove my seriousness I had signed up not only for Sociology 101 my very first semester but also dutifully enrolled in an Art History survey class to get the requirement for graduation of a course "in art or music" out of the way. I was going to clear the decks so I could get serious about my budding sociology or history career. As luck would have it, my Sociology class was taught by a shy and awkward instructor who sheep…

Should a Normal Person Read a Blog About Art?

Philip Koch, The Reach III, oil on linen, 40 x 60", 2011

Here's another of the big oils that will be debuting in the Maryland Institute College of Art's Sabbatical Exhibition Dec.1- 18th. It's an elaboration on a vision I explored earlier on two smaller oils. You might say it's an image I can't get out of my head. There's a good reason for that. It's a painting about how I learned to be an artist.

From the time I was eight until I reached twelve my father used to love to go sailing on Lake Ontario at night and he'd take me along. As a kid I confess I found nighttime a little scary so I was never as enthusiastic to go on these voyages as my father. Sometimes it was so dark what we were doing was probably foolhardy. Usually though, once your eyes adjusted, you realized there was surprising illumination. If the moon was out it bathed you in its quiet twilight tones. Sailboats are slow and unless it was  blowing really hard there's often not much …

Ghastly Music

Years ago we lived near a house where an eager teenage garage band of five boys would practice daily. Actually they weren't that near, they just played really loud. At 200 yards you couldn't miss their distinctive sound. Each of the five was determined to take the lead all the time and would amp up their part trying to drown out the guy next to him. You had no idea what parts were important and what was supposed to be the backup. They were just awful. I had to paint with the windows closed to stay sane.
Above is the new large oil I'm including in the upcoming Sabbatical Exhibition at the Maryland Institute College of Art's Dec.1- 18. It's Horizon, oil on canvas, 40 x 60." Begun last summer, I had it all blocked in with the initial layer of paint completely filling the canvas. Then I had to turn to other paintings to complete them for other shows and only returned to this canvas a few weeks ago. So it rested in my basement art storage racks for a few months.

A Secret from Vermeer

I know there's something wrong with the image above.
It's a good thing to turn things on their head from time to time- impossible problems in life and in painting sometimes will offer up a solution once looked at this way. My wife the psychotherapist often tells me a big part of what she doing with her patients is just helping them see their problems from another angle. Above is Vermeer's iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring standing on her head for us (artist's models back in the 1600's were much more dedicated than today and were will to pose like this). Here below she's righted herself again for us. 

I often turn my paintings upside down to study them with an eye towards improving them. You notice the relationships differently. It's guaranteed you will see something you've not seen before. I want to make a couple of observations about Vermeer's portrait as a companion to the comments I made about the same painting in my previous post.

When he painted …