Friday, February 17, 2012

Fine Arts Friday: Fern Coppedge

January Sunshine

(All paintings in this post are by Fern Coppedge. As always click on the picture to get a better view.)

"People used to think me queer when I was a little girl because I saw deep purples and red and violets in a field of snow. I used to be hurt over it until I gave up trying to understand people and concentrated on my love and understanding of landscapes," Fern Isabel Coppedge once related. She had wanted to be an artist since she was 13 years old and became more enamored with the idea when her family moved to California from her native Illinois and she attended her sister's watercolor class.

Stone House

She went on to study at McPherson College and the University of Kansas, where she met her husband Robert Coppedge. A teacher, he encouraged her to study art, and when they moved to Illinois, she attended the Art Institute of Chicago from 1908 to 1910. From there she moved to New York, where she studied at the Art Students League with Vincent DuMond and William Merritt Chase and also attended summer art sessions in Woodstock, New York, where she studied with winter specialist John Carlson. In 1917, she began to study with Daniel Garber at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia and started to show her work.

Lumberville Cottage

From then on, although she also painted in Gloucester, Massachusetts, during the summer, Coppedge lived in Pennsylvania and built her artistic reputation painting the landscapes of Bucks County, north of Philadelphia. From 1920 to 1929, she lived in Lumberville near Garber and then moved to the artist colony in New Hope, along the Delaware River, where she resided til her death in 1951. Many of her paintings can be seen at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania.


Coppedge was an official member of the Philadelphia Ten, an organization created by women artists who had studied at either the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now the Moore College of Art and Design) or the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Founded in 1917, the Ten had banded together to give greater prominence to their works in a market that was dominated by the works of male artists. Although the flattened later works of Coppedge remind the viewer of post-impressionist works in France, the Ten never embraced the modern art that hit America with the 1913 Chicago Armory Show.

Normans Woe Gloucester, Massachusetts

Coppedge always went outdoors to capture her vision of the landscape, no matter the weather. "I may erase most of my sketch, but after I have it the way I want it in charcoal, then I work over the entire canvas with a large brush," she explained of her method of painting. "I use thin paint in trying to get the right value. I test different spots to see whether the scene should be painted rich or pale. Then I proceed with the actual painting using paint right from the tube. I hold the brush at arm's length and paint from the spine. That gives relaxation."

Fern Isabel Kuns Coppedge

1 comment:

NadineisthatU said...

I saw Ms. Coppedge on Antiques Road Show tonight, and immediately thought of a painting I have. I have little skill on computer, and can't believe I could actually read a first name this evening, big changes in my abilities since I moved. The painting is a snow scene probably in New Hampshire, and artist is signed Ora Rimbaud. All relatives seem to be out of Exeter, H.H., and it says his last known residence was in Connecticut. I am hesitant to write the artists association, as I have found this all out tonight, same day I rescued a dog. Friend photographed it and signature a couple years ago, along with another painting I have. When I find the disk, I will try to figure out how to upload it, as I suspect no one will even talk to me without it. Do you have any suggestions? I am glad you had much more about Ms. Coppedge than the other sights. I tried to see if there were students, or 'school of' but got nowhere. That is the limit of my skills with my vision issues. Actually, I am a little proud and happy that I got that far, and I have a little dog now. Oh, Happy New Year.