Showing posts from 2018

Winslow Homer at the Brandywine River Museum of Art

Winslow Homer, Eight Bells, oil on canvas, 1886, Addison  Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA Right before Christmas my wife Alice and I drove up from Baltimore to the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, PA to see their exhibition Winslow Homer: Photography and the Art of Painting. Organized by the Bowdoin College Museum of Art Co-Director Frank H. Goodyear and Dana Byrd, an art history professor at Bowdoin, the show runs through Feb. 14, 2019. Included in the show is a camera that had belonged to Homer. It's a treat to see this artifact from another time- it's partly made of wood! Along with photos Homer had taken, the curators pulled together  a stunning group of Homer oils from several museums.  Homer was incredibly sensitive to the design of his paintings. Here's an example: His two mariners work together to squeeze the empty space between them into an expressive shape of its own. Though they're both dressed in the same fo

Two Paintings Many Meanings

I  was moving paintings around my studio last week and temporarily leaned one of my landscapes against another. Something about how the two oils looked together struck me so I let them remain that way for awhile. Accidentally the two canvases had fallen into a conversation. The very different spaces in these paintings seemed to suggest very different states of mind. One used the panoramic view to talk of a wide open expansiveness. The other of a purposely narrowed-down focus on feelings more intimate and personal. Edward Hopper famously said "If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint." As elastic as our spoken languages are, I'm convinced much or even most of our experience lies just beyond the grasp of words. The two large oils of mine in the photo above juxtapose two very different  parts of our inner experience.  Philip Koch,  Chestnut Ridge Panorama , oil on canvas, 36 x 48 inches, 2018 Sometimes our thoughts and f

Talking about Hopper & Burchfield- Delaware Art Museum

Edward Hopper (1882-1967), New York, New Haven, and Hartford,  oil on canvas, 1931, Indianapolis Museum of Art The other week I flew out to Indianapolis on my way to Terre Haute to judge the Swope Art Museum 's annual 5 state regional juried exhibition. I paid a visit to the impressive Indianapolis Museum of Art . Wanted to single out one painting in their collection, Edward Hopper's oil New York, New Haven, and Hartford.  In person the subtlety of Hopper's color mixing is exquisite. My photographs don't come near doing the painting justice. But in these detail shots just above and below Hopper's grasp of how to instill personality into a painting is clear. He depicts a broad-shouldered hillside. Yet against that he conjures up these wildly shaped spindly trees. Their irregular rhythms contrast tellingly against the solemn massiveness of the hillside.   Hopper's trees live perhaps a more syncopated life than the stately ground

Swope Art Museum Part II

Zoltan Sepeshy, Wild Flowers , tempera, c. 1940. I love the way Sepeshy splashed bright yellow light on the  woman's  shoulders to contrast the enormous black hat she works on. His model is so substantial, almost like a sculpture. Most artists, including me, need a great deal of distraction-free time so they can sort of fall into their own imagination to see where it will carry them. To be any good at all an artist has to embrace solitude as a friend. We all need to feel we're part of something bigger . My circle includes artists from the past. Particularly helpful to me are American realist painters from the 1930's and '40's, an area where the Swope Museum of Art more than excels. Jack Levine, A Joy Forever , oil, 1953. Levine combined sharp  social criticism with a unique style of a flickering broken  brushwork. Seen in person, the painting's surface becomes the star of the show. I'm sad my photo only begins to captur

Jurying the Swope Art Museum's 5 State Regional Exhibition, Part I

Last week I was out in Terre Haute, Indiana to judge the entries for the Swope Art Museum 's 47th Annual Exhibition of artworks from the 5 state region. It was a sweet trip for me as I've long had a special place in my heart for the Swope. Edward Hopper, Route 6, Eastham, oil, 1941,  collection Swope Art Museum Philip Koch, Morning at the Route 6, Eastham House, oil, 30 x 60 inches, 2016, collection of Swope Art Museum Some of that stems from the 30 painting strong exhibition of my work the Museum held in 2017. The Swope hung my big oil painting Morning at the Route 6, Eastham House next to the painting Edward Hopper made in 1941 of the same house and buildings. As Hopper was the biggest single influence on my direction as a painter, this was a huge  honor for me. (How can I not love this museum after that).  To the Swope's credit, it has maintained a juried regional exhibition for many decades, affording artists from the Midwest an opportunity t

My Burchfield Residency- What I Learned

Charles Burchfield, Easter Morning in the Woods  (left side ), watercolor, 39 1/2 x 29 1/2 inches, 1947-60 Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY Charles Burchfield,  Easter Morning in the Woods  (right side ), watercolor, 39 1/2 x 29 3/8 inches, 1947-60 Burchfield Penney Art Center My paintings have all returned from the wonderful exhibition at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY. The show at the museum was of work I'd done from 2015-18 as the Burchfield Penney's Artist in Residence.  I used to worry about the way I liked to return to earlier paintings and make improvements. I've loved to pull out work from earlier years. If I see a way to strengthen the painting I'll jump right in. Even though this was successful about 95% of the time I didn't know any other artist who did this anywhere near as much.  As I studied Burchfield's work I felt so reassured to find he did the same. Burchfield's two panels above are unc