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Showing posts from March, 2020

My Painting as a Museum's Art Lesson

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Philip Koch, Spring Frontyard, oil on canvas, 45 x 60 inches, 1989, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Hagerstown, MD

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, MD is running a series of art lessons for children using images of works in the Museum's permanent collection. Kellie Mele, who directs the WCMFA's Education Dept. originated what she calls the Art A Day Challenge and yesterday (by coincidence my birthday!) built a lesson around my large painting in their collection, Spring Frontyard. Here's a link to the Challenge.



Spring Frontyard  is a major studio painting I made based on a smaller oil painted on location in my neighborhood in Baltimore. I grew up in a new "California Modern" style home but coming across this older white house I fell into a fantasy if what it might be like to have grown up there. My childhood home was in a deep forest. I chose a point of view that similarly sandwiched the painting's white house between two dense bank…

Before Realizing What I Was Doing

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The Roof, oil on canvas, 20 x 14 inches, 1980.

Sitting at our dining room table yesterday my wife looked up and remarked about three of the four oils I had just hung on walls. "They're all pictures of home" she exclaimed. This hadn't been my plan, I just pulled out canvases that I felt like looking at.



Truro Kitchen, oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches, 2018.



But I had to admit she was right. Without realizing it I had selected paintings of houses I'd like to live in. Places where I'd feel safe. In this time of a frightening virus, my unconscious was guiding my selections. In Truro Kitchen above the painting shows the tiny kitchen Edward Hopper designed for himself on Cape Cod. In the morning sunlight it's amazingly cozy- the kind of place we'd all like to be just now.


Houses on the Hill II, oil on canvas, 30 x 24 niches, 2020



We carry with us through our adult lives a sense of "how things are supposed to be" that forms in our childhood. I grew up in a…

Warmth of Art in a Cold Troubling Time

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Philip Koch, Edward Hopper's Parlor, Nyack, oil on canvas, 32 x 24 inches, 2020 (at Somerville Manning Gallery, Greenville, DE)
You know things are bad right now. 
Something I've learned from decades of making art is as I develop my painting somewhere I'm going to hit a roadblock.   It's not fun to have to let go of your plans. But I try out some alternative solutions. Pretty soon something works.
In our personal lives having difficulty hit you over the head can hurt. If you don't let that pain blind you often that sharp collision scatters a few sparks of opportunity.  With your normal routine upended you have a chance to look at things with fresh eyes.
Here are two of my paintings. At first they look unrelated. The interior above is an oil of the artist Edward Hopper's boyhood home. The living room has heavy wooden planks for floorboards that were layed down in the 19th century. They show they've been scuffed and gouged over the years but were built to last. T…