Influencing Me: Edward Hopper

It seems like a good idea to start doing the Influencing Me posts again. It is great to be showing the work of artists that I really admire. Since I had to delete them from my other page, it is a good opportunity to review ones I’ve done previously again. I won’t be doing it each week, but intermittently when I find an artist whose work I want to show. So shall we look at Edward Hopper?

Influencing Me: Edward Hopper

Today we are going to look at the work of Edward Hopper.

Here is some information from Wikipedia about him.

Edward Hopper (July 22, 1882 – May 15, 1967) was a prominent American realist painter and printmaker. While he was most popularly known for his oil paintings, he was equally proficient as a watercolorist and printmaker in etching. Both in his urban and rural scenes, his spare and finely calculated renderings reflected his personal vision of modern American life.

I was first introduced to his work by a lecturer when I was doing my fine art degree. He thought I would really enjoy his work, and he wasn’t wrong.

This is probably one of his most famous images, and one of my favourites, “NIghthawks”.


There is a silence in the images, yet there are people in them. It is strange as you don’t normally think of that when you see photos with people in it. Though, when you look at those people you have to wonder if they are happy. Not many do. It could be said the images are almost depressing. Perhaps the colour palette makes up for it.


I think what really attracts me is the sense of drama in them. The way he shows a scene, like a slice of life. They could be movie stills. You can imagine what the drama is in each one. Work out your own story line, as each one does appear to have a story.


He uses very bright colours, but they are also muted. It is almost like he desaturates his paintings. His palette is often fall of warm colours which makes them inviting to look at. Red seems to be a dominate colour. When I was at Uni a guy there used to say if you put red in an image it will sell. Perhaps Hopper knew that as well.

Hopper on his paintings

This is also from Wikipedia:

Always reluctant to discuss himself and his art, Hopper simply said, “The whole answer is there on the canvas.” Hopper was stoic and fatalistic—a quiet introverted man with a gentle sense of humor and a frank manner. Hopper was someone drawn to an emblematic, anti-narrative symbolism, who “painted short isolated moments of configuration, saturated with suggestion”. His silent spaces and uneasy encounters “touch us where we are most vulnerable”, and have “a suggestion of melancholy, that melancholy being enacted”. His sense of color revealed him as a pure painter as he “turned the Puritan into the purist, in his quiet canvasses where blemishes and blessings balance”. According to critic Lloyd Goodrich, he was “an eminently native painter, who more than any other was getting more of the quality of America into his canvases”.

That describes the man and his work far better than I can.

Here is a sample of one of his prints. It looks like a drypoint, but without actually seeing it in person, I don’t know.

I often see his work and wonder how I can take similar images. Though I don’t want to put people in them. I love the drama in them.

Influencing Me

I just love his work and have quite a few books with his paintings in them. I love looking through them. He is an important artist to me and he inspires me and his paintings inform my own work. I often think of his images when doing my own. Though I haven’t been doing it enough lately. So this post has been great for me. I hope you have enjoyed it as well.


I did read an autobiography about him once, and I have to say I don’t think he was necessarily a nice man. From the book it sounded like he was self absorbed and only concerned about himself. He was also married to an artist, and when he built his house in Maine he made sure there was a large studio for himself, but his wife wasn’t allowed to use it. She had to paint in the kitchen. It doesn’t detract from how wonderful his images were, though sometimes I think it is better not getting to know those whose work you admire.

I have another selection of images for you now.

You might be interested in …


  1. Thank you so much Leanne for the history lesson on Edward Hooper! My wife bought a poster of “Nighthawk” nearly 10 years ago and hung it in our kitchen. Both her and I never knew who it was by or anything about the artist behind it. I’ve loved it since she first got it and stare at it everyday. I’m so happy to have stumbled upon your site and this page in particular. I finally feel like I know something about it. Having found your articles posted on Digital Photography School today has lead to me to spending much time reading through your wonderful site. I’ve learned so much about the conceptual side of photography that I’ve been actively trying to research on my own and coming up short. You’ve given me so much inspiration to go shoot. Thank you for all you’ve shared. It’s truly opened my eyes to a whole new side of art and photography that I’ve been really needing. Thanks! -Alex in Cleveland, OH, U.S.A.

    1. I’m so happy I could clear that up for Alex, he is quite an amazing artist. I have quite a few books on him. Nice to hear that people are finding me through DPS. Glad you found some inspiration here. I’m starting a special group for Fine ARt photography. You’re welcome Alex, nice to meet you and thank you.

  2. I like his technique, the dramatic quality and how well he captures ‘America’ but I they are not pictures I would want to live with, They seem to embody a sense of angst.

  3. I remember when you did this essay, and it is still wonderful. One of my favorite artists and when I lived in Chicago, I saw Nighthawks… A Lot. I’ve seen many of these paintings in person, but the one I haven’t is New York Movie, my favorite Hopper, maybe someday.

    1. That was a while ago Ted, quite a few years ago. I’m glad you still like his work. OMG I’m so jealous, I’ve never seen any of his paintings, I hope to one day. Perhaps both of us will. Thank you Ted.

  4. Edward Hopper is a great storyteller, and I love how the one described his painting as saturated with suggestion. I do think the people help to create the drama and tension in the image, and I think that without the people the images would be great cityscapes without the story.

  5. I actually find it amusing that when I scroll through my wordpress I saw the thumbnail of Nighthawks in your post and at the same time I am reading a book of Olivia Laing where Hopper’s pieces (specially Nighthawks) where being discussed and dissected into it’s correlation with loneliness. What a coincidence!

    1. That is a coincidence, it would seem it was meant to be, and I’m glad I had the post at the same time. His work is so incredible nice to talk to a fellow fan.

  6. I adore Edward Hopper’s work, as well. I love his use of windows and that almost cinematic look you mentioned. I love that feeling I get when I peer into one of his paintings- a feeling of anonymous longing, of urban detachment and subtle, subdued silence.

    Here is another one I just love:

    Sublime post. Enjoyed very much, indeed.


    Autumn Jade

  7. So interesting. It’s true it’s weird to get that info about an artist. That happened to me with a famous author, I found out he was horrible to his wife and it was like, eh, I didn’t read any more of his books. It would be impossible to stop looking at these pictures though. I love that part about red. I agree about the drama, but I wouldn’t have seen that, so it’s interesting to get your read on it. I love the last one especially. The woman looking out the window. Thank you Leanne.

    1. I still like his paintings and enjoy them, but it did change the whole way I thought about him. I felt so sorry for his wife. Sorry to hear it ruin the books for you.
      I guess it is because I love movies and theatre, that it attracts me, probably more theatre. You’re welcome Nicci.

    2. No great loss on that author. Yes I’ve started to see movies from a photography viewpoint now.

    3. Yes, it really does. I like to see the lighting, use of bokeh, and composition used in scenes and think about why that was done. I think you got me thinking about it, honestly.

  8. Those are great works of art, Leanne, and I noticed that 13 of the 18 you chose have people in them. The people in Hopper’s paintings tell the stories. I hope you don’t mind if I recommend that you add some people to your photos and see what happens!

    1. You can suggest, but I won’t do it, it wouldn’t work for the effect I’m trying to get with my images. But thanks for saying that.

  9. “They could be movie stills.” I’d never thought of Hopper’s works in that way before, but it is so true! They do have that look about them.

  10. I enjoyed this, Leanne. Hopper has always been a favorite of mine. Sad to read that he was not a really nice person, but the man could paint.

    1. I am so glad Lois, really glad you enjoyed it.I loved his work. It was disappointing to learn that about it, but yes, he could paint.

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