Showing posts from July, 2012

Sun in an Empty Room

This is the latest of my series of paintings done on location up in Edward Hopper's boyhood home in Nyack, NY, the Edward Hopper House Art Center. This one was painted on my portable easel upstairs in Hopper's bedroom where he was born and lived (on and off) until he finally moved out and settled in Manhattan when he was 28. It's Sun in an Empty Room II, oil on panel, 6 1/2 x13", 2012.

The window at the left looks directly east to the Hudson River a block and a half away while the right window faces south, giving a bird's eye view of Broadway, one of Nyack's main drags. Hopper's father owned and ran a local hardware store on Broadway. Young Edward worked there sometimes.

You get a profound sense out of these surroundings that this was an emotional home base for Hopper's visual imagination. Seriously, the big majority of what he would paint for the rest of his life can be glimpsed in this room or out these windows. Since Hopper, perhaps more than any o…

Peter Trippi, Allentown Art Museum, and The Lady of Shalott

Sunday I drove up to Pennsylvania to hear a talk by Peter Trippi at the Allentown Art Museum. The Museum has an impressive exhibition up now of fantasy and science fiction art, At the Edge (through Sept. 9). Allentown Art Museum is delightful- it's recently completed an expansion and has a wonderful permanent collection. If you're near eastern Pennsylvania try to visit.

We forget that current fantasy art is just the latest installment in a long tradition. Peter Trippi's talk provided background on this movement by looking at fantasy painting in 19th century Britain. As Trippi showed, there was lots of it, much of it first rate. Trippi is the Editor of one of my favorite magazines, Fine Art Connoisseurthat champions the continuing vitality of the realist tradition in painting. He for several years was Director of the Dahesh Museum in NYC. And he is an expert on the work of JW Waterhouse, a late 19th century British painter, and the author of a great book on the same publ…

My Old Flames

Sometimes you look back at your old heartthrobs. I don't have such an active relationship with them today, but here are two artists who once were a huge help to me finding my way. We have some great memories of our times together...
I've often told the story about how I never intended to become an artist. There was art in my family background- my great grandfather John Wallace was a Scottish landscape painter and his work decorated our living room. My mother's dad John Capstaff was a photographer and developed the first commercially available color film (Kodachrome) back in 1915. And my dad's brother Robert Koch was an art historian who taught at Princeton for many decades (his specialty was the early 16th century painter Joachim Patinir, a transitional figure in later Renaissance painting who was known for leading the way in giving a far larger role to the landscape in his figure paintings). 
But I wanted none of that, figuring I was a more "serious" person…

The Art of Second Chances

Made a new version of Hopper Bedroom, Nyack (oil on panel, 13 x 8 5/8", 2012). Last week I had painted mostly on location in the Edward Hopper House Art Center this oil-

I was painting upstairs in Hopper's old bedroom and used as a prop the bentwood chair that had belonged to the Hopper family. Its marvelous over sized curved wooden arms had worked out well in the other painting I made last week (see previous blog post) but I didn't want to paint the same chair twice. I invented a more simple chair. But after consideration I came to feel it lacked the expressiveness necessary to commandingly hold the front of the stage. So I cast around for alternatives.
One of my favorite things to do in a painting is to work on an area that's right next to the part that's giving me trouble. I've found this to be helpful so often that it's just become part of my unconscious tool  bag. So I looked at the floor to the left of the chair to see if I couldn't imagine a di…

Painting in the Hopper House in Nyack, NY

Earlier this week I spent three more days painting in the Edward Hopper House Art Center in Nyack, NY, Hopper's birthplace and home on and off until he was nearly 30. In April I also painted there for three days. Hopper House hosted an exhibit of my work this spring that ran from the end of March through last Sunday, The show opened in one of their downstairs spaces and later moved upstairs to hang in what was Hopper's bedroom. Carole Perry, Director of Hopper House, told me this was the first time one of their scheduled exhibitions has been presented in Hopper's bedroom. As Hopper was the primary influence on my early art career, this is a deeply felt honor for me.
Above is one of the results, Hopper Bedroom Window, Nyack,  oil on panel, 13 x 8 5/8", 2012. From this window Hopper used to look east towards the Hudson River, a block and a half away. Years ago when I was studying at the Art Students League of New York, I lived in an apartment on the far Upper West Side…

Andrew Wyeth's Studio

The weather gods have been cruel recently, freakishly hot and taking out power in my studio last Friday night. Since the next day Baltimore's temps hit 104, we figured that since we'd toughed it out one night we'd proved our street cred.  But we couldn't face a second night and retreated to a motel with a functioning air conditioner (I am, after all, a sensitive artist. I also grew up way up north and this Mid-Atlantic region usually seems like a runaway toaster to me).

Saturday morning my wife Alice and I drove up to Wilmington, Delaware to visit the Delaware Art Museum (which has a great Permanent Collection and an equally impressive climate control system). Later on we headed over to the heart of Wyeth country, nearby Chadds Ford, PA. Sunday we visited the Brandywine River Museum, which is always a treat, and were delighted to find the Museum had just opened up tours of Andrew Wyeth's studio to the public. Wyeth (1917 -2009) isn't an artist who was a direct…

Hot times in the Studio, with a Vengeance

Hows that for a vista of mountain with the crisp air blowing gently across your face.

Excuse me but I'm dreaming. Last year at this time I took a week long painting trip to Vermont to work from its wonderful Green Mountains. The above vine charcoal was one of the results. I had hoped to be greeted by cool & crisp temperatures, but that trip coincided with some serious heat and humidity (at least by New England standards). 
We had a major storm tear through the Mid-Atlantic region Friday evening and it blew out the power for us and hundreds of thousands of others. Unfortunately we're in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave as well. Hotter than blazes in my studio the last 3 1/2 days. As it was 104 on Saturday we called it quits and spent three nights as refugees. This interrupted the blog I would have written as well as the ongoing updating of my new website (that replaces the old site). 
Things are coming back to normal as of this morning…