Philip Koch entered Oberlin College intending to be a sociology major. To his great surprise, a required art history class his first semester was his favorite course, and he changed his major to studio art. An abstract artist in his early days, the paintings of Edward Hopper inspired Koch to switch to working in a realist direction.
Since 1983 Koch has been awarded 17 residencies in Edward Hopper’s former painting studio on Cape Cod, an honor granted no other living artist. His work is in the permanent collections of 16 American art museums. From 2015 to 2018 he served as the artist in residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, NY. He is a senior professor of painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
This painting is based on Koch’s memory of waiting alone at his school bus stop and gazing at the forest on the other side of the road. Especially after the frequent snows in upstate New York, it seemed transformed to an intriguingly unexplored territory. It was more enticing than boarding the school bus.
“If you’ve ever wondered where the painter Edward Hopper drank his morning coffee, this painting is for you,” Koch says. The artist based it on a smaller oil painting he made by setting up his portable easel in the kitchen during one of his 17 residences in Hopper’s Truro, MA, painting studio.
While in Buffalo, NY, serving as the artist in residence at the Burchfield Penney Art Center from 2015 to 2018, Koch made a point of painting landscapes in areas where the famous artist Charles Burchfield made his fanciful paintings. Koch made charcoal drawings on location in downtown Buffalo of the same building that Burchfield used as the centerpiece of perhaps his best-known painting, “Rainy Night,” now in the San Diego Museum of Art. Koch focused on just the elaborate upper stories of the building. This painting’s glowering sky evokes the moodiness of Burchfield’s “Rainy Night.”