Showing posts from December, 2015

At the Smithsonian American Art Museum on Christmas Eve

The holidays are a time to get together with good old friends. My wife Alice and I decided to drive down to Washington, DC to our favorite museum. The  Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) has an enormous and unrivaled permanent collection. We've visited it ever so many times that many of my "old friends" are to be found hanging on its walls.   They have the best angel painting ever, Abott Henderson Thayer's Stevenson Memorial. Can't help myself, just love that painting for how  it sounds its contemplative and slightly melancholy mood.  T hat's me soaking it up. Here's an old friend, Edward Hopper, who people never think of as a celebratory artist. Here's his  Ryder House, to me it's a stirring hymn to the brilliance of sunlight on a white wall. Its light seems to pulse with its own clear energy. Look at how the artist pushes the highlights on the sunlit grasses down way darker than the whites on the house. He kno

Is Making Copies Too Old School?: Charles Burchfield

Philip Koch oil copy of the left 1/3 of Charles  Burchfield's  Early Spring Sunlight  from 1950. I was documenting paintings in my studio this morning. Two pieces needed labeling that I made during my first two stays in Buffalo this year as the Artist in Residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center  (BPAC). They were copies of my favorite sections of two of Charles Burchfield's watercolors from BPAC's Permanent Collection. My claim to fame is I am the only human ever to directly make copies of Burchfield watercolors in oils (I tell this tongue in cheek). It's a dreadfully old school thing to do.  Burchfield Penney Art Center indulged my whim. They were trusting enough to set up first Burchfield's Early Spring Sunlight (1950) and then his Early Spring  (1966-67) on an easel for several days each for me to examine them and copy from them. Charles Burchfield's Early Spring Sunlight  on BPAC's easel at left. At right Koch's F

Painting a House Edward Hopper Loved

Philip Koch, Turret House, Nyack, oil on panel, 9 x 12, 2015 I have been traveling to Buffalo, NY frequently this year as the Artist In Residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center . While there I go painting in the some of the locations where Charles Burchfield found subjects for his landscapes. Burchfield loved nothing better than studying his immediate surroundings. An unassuming neighbor's house or an empty field could inspire him to paint poetic and universal images.  Burchfield's example reminds me of his contemporary and friend Edward Hopper.  Like Burchfield, Hopper went looking for magic right in the old neighborhood.  Over Thanksgiving I returned to Nyack, NY the town where Hopper was born and lived until he was nearly 30. The area around the Hopper family home (now the Edward Hopper House Art Center ) is nestled along the banks of the Hudson River. Below is a house that particularly caught young Hopper's eye. It is on Loveta Place, four blocks f