Philip Koch (b. 1948), Great Lake, 2016; oil on panel, 6 x 10 inches; Courtesy of the artist

Philip Koch (b. 1948), Great Lake, 2016; oil on panel, 6 x 10 inches; Courtesy of the artist

Paintings from My Burchfield Residency by Philip Koch

Monday, September 5, 2016

Here are ten of my oil paintings that I've finished so far from my time as the Artist in Residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY. Most of them will be in the show I'm having opening at Courthouse Gallery Fine Art in Ellsworth, ME on Oct. 1st. The oils were begun at different times over 2015-2016 when I was making repeated trips to Buffalo, to work at Burchfield Penney and in areas where the painter Charles Burchfield went to paint his landscapes.

One of the things that most struck me on the Residency about Burchfield was how often he would take great lengths of time to complete his paintings. Sometimes the evidence was in the numerous preparatory drawings he would execute to help him with his major paintings. Other times the dates on individual paintings would stretch over decades as he would go back into pieces to improve and expand them.

One of the ironies of my paintings is that their freely flowing brushstokes suggest they're rapidly executed. I am just the opposite sort of painter. I take all the time I need and slowly craft my vision for each of my paintings. In a way a painter is like a storyteller who needs to first tell the tale to himself- step by step discovering just what the space, light, and mood need to be to tell a compelling story.

My wife Alice insists I'm an impatient person (and perhaps she has a point). The lesson the Burchfield Residency reinforced for me is that it's ok to let paintings grow at their own pace. We get our good ideas only once they occur to us. If that takes weeks, or months or years, matters less than bringing the final painting to the highest level possible.

I read a lot from Burchfield's journals during the Residency. Frequently he describes wandering around until something stuck him as especially ripe with possibilities for making a painting. I followed that method and put a lot of miles on my car. If you keep looking long enough, I find you stumble into the most remarkable sources.

Read Philip's illustrated blog post at