Showing posts from April, 2013

Afternoons in Hopper's Bedroom

Sun in an Empty Room , Afternoon, oil on panel, 12 x 15", 2013 Here's one of my new paintings. It was done up in Edward Hopper's bedroom in Nyack, New York. Hopper's former boyhood home is now the Edward Hopper House Art Center.  Last spring and summer I made two separate trips to Nyack to draw and paint in the house where Hopper was born and came of age. I've written several times about how central to Hopper's painting the rooms and windows of this house would become throughout the artist's entire career.  Painting is a slow process. I spent a lot of time alone in Hopper's bedroom as I worked, studying the patterns of light and shadow as they changed throughout the day. Painting is a tool for expression of course, but it is also an investigation. If you make a painting from direct observation, as I do, you learn a lot about a place, its light, and its feeling. Spending days in that room let me soak

Why Do I Show Artists From the Past?

This is a painting by one of the artists I used to look at a lot when I first began painting (Jules Olitski, 1922-2007). I didn't have to look far because this is what my art professors were showing us students. And to this day I think it was a good beginning. The Olitski painting above washes over you with boldness and energy like a warm ocean wave. Of course   art is about now . It's about your experience in this moment. Over time prevailing styles in painting change partly because every generation sees a little differently. After I'd painted for only a couple of years I began to hear the whispers  artists from the past sounding a little louder. What they were saying with their work started to echo how I was feeling. It is not that older art is better.   Actually there was lots of 2nd rate art in the old days, but most of that has fallen away, either thrown out, painted over, or forgotten and covered with cobwebs in some body's attic. Big and

The Dragon Made Me Do It- Allen Memorial Art Museum

A thousand years ago in the Fall of 1966 I was bitten by this dragon.  Sort of. I was in my first semester of my Freshman year at Oberlin College and was enrolled in Art History 101. It was a perplexing time- I had come to college knowing I was meant to be a sociologist or an historian. Something had gone badly awry. To my surprise and consternation, the art history survey class was the only class I was enjoying. This wasn't supposed to happen. To get to the art history class I had walk through the Allen Memorial Art Museum's courtyard. In the middle of it was this dragon fountain happily bubbling away surrounded by decorative plantings. It was an oasis of calm in the tumultuous first few weeks of school, but beyond that I gave the serpentine critter little thought. Here's Allen Memorial Art Museum (pretty classy place). As we entered the waning weeks of that first semester the Art History class gave us a special assignment.  Each of us was to make a

Inside Edward Hopper's World this August in Stonington, Maine

Philip Koch, Rooms by the Sea, oil on panel 14 x 21", 2013 My first couple of years studying art were pretty confusing. Mostly I stumbled through a long series of colorful abstractions but felt  they weren't leading me anywhere I wanted to go. I was lost. Then Edward Hopper tapped me on the shoulder and said "Come this way." As regular readers  of this blog know, it was Hopper who was the major influence on my career as an artist. I never met the man but seeing the brilliance in the sunlight his paintings evoked was enough for me. I dropped my abstractions and set off working in a realist direction over four decades ago. Never looked back. Isalos Fine Art in Stonington, Maine has just set the dates for their summer show of my work for August 13 through September 2, 2013. It will include paintings I've done of the interior spaces where the famous American realist Edward Hopper spent much of his life. They will be exhibiting a series o

Painted Panels / Painted Palettes in the Griswold Museum

Two weeks ago I was asked by David Rau of the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme, CT to be part of a holiday tradition at the museum. As a tip of the hat to the painters who made the Griswold famous as the original home of American Impressionism, for the last ten years they've invited artists to make small paintings on wooden artist's palettes that they hang on a holiday tree in the Museum. My wife Alice and I had visited the Griswold in March to see their current Arthur Heming exhibition. We loved the show and felt we were time traveling when we went through the older part of the Museum, the mansion house that housed the painters who made up the Old Lyme Art Colony. I wrote about that visit in an earlier blog post. Back when the artists colony was in full swing at Florence Griswold's boarding house, many of the visiting painters would paint directly on the wood panels of the walls in the house's dining room and other pla