Showing posts from April, 2012

Painting in Hopper's House in Nyack, New York

Just returned from several days of painting in the room Edward Hopper was born in and where he lived until well into his twenties.  It's now the Edward Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, NY.  I was invited to come and paint there when I was up at the end of March for their opening reception for their current show of my paintings of Hopper's "other House", his studio up on Cape Cod.
They also asked me to speak on a panel last Thursday evening, so I decided to spend a few extra days to do some painting. I got a lot of new work done (well, not completely finished yet, but very well underway).  And I took a whole pile of new photographs of the house and environs.
I put out a lot of energy and need to get some well earned rest. But I'll have some proper blog posts about the experience up in a couple of days. Please stay tuned. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a photo of one of the painting in their show of my work that's on display through July 1. The oil …

Invisible Threads


Winslow Homer and the Cure for What Ails You (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this post I examined the center section of this Winslow Homer watercolor in detail. It ran long, so I moved my conclusion to this separate post. You can read that previous post here. And there's a couple of other Homer paintings for you.
Here's the concluding thought inspired by this terrific little watercolor-
Whenever I analyse a painting like this some readers wonder if I haven't gone too far and started projecting my own ideas onto poor Winslow Homer's art. I honestly don't think so. Homer had a lot to show us. But he spoke little about his paintings. Instead he spoke to us through a visual language. He himself had "read the classics" by studying the works of the best artists who'd trod the path before him. Each of them had built upon the achievements of artists who'd gone before and each had added a few words to the common vocabulary painters use to weave their tales.

I don't think it's necessary for art lovers to pick a…

Winslow Homer and the Cure for What Ails You (Part 1)


You know the feeling. Lose your car keys when you're late for work and you're guaranteed to go there.
I don't know if the painter Winslow Homer (American 1836 - 1910) ever rode in an automobile, much less if early cars even had keys. But there is no doubt Homer was a sensitive guy- just look at his paintings. My guess is he had his share of mornings when everything was at loose ends.

We have visual art (or music, or dance) because it helps us out of our personal swamps of confusion, alienation, fragmentation. I just ran across this Winslow Homer watercolor. It's a gem. Really good paintings have a remarkable ability to stir us up, excite us a little bit, but also to somehow lay a gentle calming hand on us. Looking at a piece like this Homer painting energizes and relaxes me. And there are  no bad side effects.

At first glance Homer's showing us a pretty ordinary garden. Maybe it's his backyard. Homer's eye could look at a seemingly disorganized scen…

Winslow Homer & the Element of Surprise

I had the great benefit of being able to study painting with a whole number of teachers when I  started in art. Some of them were terrific at showing me new ways to see- I'm forever grateful to them. Each had their own way at conveying their insights. Sometimes the kernel of an idea could be boiled down to a single sentence. Like-

In a good painting everything fits together, especially the surprises the artist threw in.

The notion of surprise is a big one in art. Picasso touched on that with his famous saying that the role of art was to wash away from our lives the dust of everyday living. Life can be by turns stimulating or stultifying. Who wouldn't choose less of the latter. That's one of the reasons we have visual artists- people who have a knack for using their eyes and revealing some of the secretive surprises they discover. Think of it as adding visual spice to living.

This Winslow Homer (American, 1836-1910) painting above fits this advice perfectly (maybe he took t…

From the Easel to the Gallery Wall


Last week was busy. Had two openings.

Above is part of the Inside Edward Hopper's Truro Studio: Paintings by Philip Koch at the Edward Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, New York that will run through July 1, 2012. As regular readers of this blog know, Hopper was the most important influence on my direction as a painter. At the right that's the railing of the steps that lead up to the second floor of his boyhood home.

And below is a photo from last Thursday evening in Newport News, Virginia at the Peninsula Fine Arts Center. Michael Preble, PFAC's Curator, assembled a truly beautiful exhibition as part of PFAC's 50th Anniversary, Who We Are: Past and Present that shows a selection of artists who have exhibited over the years in their galleries. In July through October of 2011 PFAC hosted Unbroken Thread showing 50 of my paintings that was an amazingly well presented show.

I'm honored PFAC invited to be part of their anniversary commemorations and drove down to New…

Edward Hopper House Art Center Exhibit in Nyack, NY

The show of an intimate group of interior views of Edward Hopper's Cape Cod studio opened last Saturday night in Nyack, NY at Hopper's birthplace and boyhood home, the Edward Hopper House Art Center. The exhibition runs through July 1, 2012.
Here I am (in the middle) with Victoria Hertz, President of Edward Hopper House Art Center's Board of Trustees and Anton Schiffenhaus during the reception. We had a great turn out to see my artwork and that of Max Greis in an accompanying gallery. Afterwards I gave a slide talk to a sell out crowd on why I think Hopper's art claims so much territory in American imagination (though I should add his appeal certainly doesn't stop at our border).

I began the talk by showing who Hopper wasn't using an image of one of Claude Monet's famous oils of the Rouen Cathedral where he dissolves the limestone facade into the atmosphere. Monet was once described by Picasso as "Just an eye, but WHAT an eye!" He was talking in par…