Edward Hopper Didn't Like to Teach But Still Offers Great Lessons

Edward Hopper, Summertime, oil on canvas, 1943, Delaware Art Museum

I was in Wilmington, DE today dropping off a new painting at Somerville Manning Gallery. Before heading home I stopped by the Delaware Art Museum. I always resolve not to focus on old favorites at the museum, but my feet had other ideas and planted me in front of Edward Hopper's Summertime

Famously awkward around others, Hopper taught very little during his life and commented he didn't like doing it. But he painted on a level brimming with his distinctive creative way of seeing. His paintings teach our eyes.

Some time ago in a blogpost I talked about how Hopper did great inventive things with shapes on this canvas.  I noted this today and was about leave when I saw something I hadn't noticed before in the woman's legs. The left one is way more cool in color than the right (in person this shows much better than in my lowly iPhone photograph). Hopper went to great lengths to make the changing colors in her legs add a note of surprise. Adjusting and adding subtle variations in color brings the richness of reality to painting.

Hopper wanted to give this woman a living personality. Wisely he knew making unexpected changes in the color of her skin would help bring her to life.

Another key lesson is pointedly showing the viewer a whole range of color intensities. Overall Summertime is mostly gray limestone and concrete.  But for contrast Hopper puts in important accents of more brighter intense hues. 

Like in her forearm and hand...

And in the detail of the brass plate at the bottom of the reddish orange door...

Maybe Hopper wasn't comfortable in the role of the teacher. But through his work he is unmatched in showing us how to enjoy our eyes. 

P.S. Here's the painting I was delivering to Somerville Manning Gallery- it's got some of the color ideas I picked up from studying Hopper's paintings.

Philip Koch, The Source, oil on canvas, 22 x 60 inches, 2022

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