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Lecture / Discussion  |  Three Watercolor Masters: What Homer, Hopper and Burchfield Want to Say to Us with artist in residence Philip Koch

Sunday, October 18, 2015, 2–3 pm

Free with museum admission

Philip Koch, Burchfield Penney Art Center’s second Artist-In-Residence, will give a slide presentation showing the watercolors of three of his favorite artists; Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, and Charles Burchfield. Koch will pick apart examples of each artists work to analyze why their paintings are so visually powerful. He will explain why their work has important lessons for us today.


Early on Philip Koch was inspired by the color and energy of modern art. Through his paintings he casts his modernist influenced eye back on the long tradition of American landsape panoramas from the 19th century. Based in Baltimore, he travels frequently to New England and upstate New York to paint in the same locations that inspired Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer, and the Hudson River School artists he admires. "Each generation" says Koch "needs a new image of what our earth looks like in our time. There will always be a need for landscape painters to show us where we live."

A former abstract artist, Koch was inspired by seeing the work of Edward Hopper to change to working in a realist direction. Since 1983 he has had 14 residencies staying and working in the studio that Hopper built on the shore of Cape Cod Bay in S. Truro, Massachusetts. It was in that studio that Hopper produced many of his world famous images. "What I learned from Hopper's example more than anything else, was to be relentless in pursuit of just the right idea to make a painting. Hopper's studio is surrounded by all sorts of lovely views that ordinary artists would consider sufficient, but for Hoppe they weren't good enough. Don't settle for anything less than extraordinary his work said to me" says Koch.

Koch is the great grandson of John Wallace, a Scottish landscape painter, and the grandson of John Capstaff, the inventor of the first commercially available color film, Kodachrome. Despite his family link to photography, Koch is committed to working from only direct observation or from memory rather than painting from photographs.

"There's a mysterious extra dimension that comes when you take your easel out into the field. To paint well you have to hear the wind rustle through the trees.

We all came from nature. When we give her our sustained attention, she in turn allows us to reach the most emotionally resonant place within ourselves. My job as a painter is to reach that place and make paintings to share it with others."