The Painting That Made the Pastor Scream

  Philip Koch, Summer, Owings Mills, oil on canvas, 16 x 18 inches, 1974

I found a wide open hilltop in the backyard of a church with a great view overlooking the hills in Owings Mills, MD. This was one of the best pieces I made that year. But it comes with a back story that in retrospect is pretty funny.

I had set up my easel on a bright windy day. The sound of the wind pretty much drowned out everything else. The painting was proving hard to do and I was  becoming more and more exasperated. Finally my temper snapped and I abruptly grabbed the canvas off my easel, and cursing loudly, threw it as far as I could out into the field. 

What I didn’t know was the pastor of the church had seen me painting and had come out to see what I was doing. He came up to me from behind as  things were going from bad to worse with the canvas. At the moment  he reached out to tap me on the shoulder to get my attention I lost it and hurled the painting. I managed to scare him enough to scream. And not knowing anyone was behind me I screamed as well.

I don’t know who was more embarrassed, the normally poised man of the cloth with the cleric’s collar or the carefree, in-tune-with-nature artist. We all fall from grace sometimes. 

Pretending we weren’t totally chagrinned, we each apologized and even laughed about what had happened. Fortunately he was nice about me coming onto his church property uninvited and told me to please stay and finish the work. I’d had enough excitement though and figured I’d live to paint another day. The following day I returned and the painting came together. I think the Muse had been watching and decided I’d suffered enough for my art with this painting


  1. Jeaneansongcomartin6@gmail.comjJuly 31, 2021 at 11:18 PM

    Oh my gosh. I find this so hard to believe...Phil Koch....always so poised and rational and in control..loses his cool. It really is a funny story especially with the pastor.


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