I have narrowed my search for a new laptop down to several choices and soon I will no longer be blogging on 19th century computers with wooden cases and rock crystal screens and run on steam. When I do get that new lap top up and happening I can get into some posts that I am holding off on doing.
As this is the end of the collection I am showing the oddballs tonight, This one looks more like Thieme or a Gruppe. I think it must be early. I like the color, but oddly, since it is a Carlson, I don't think much of the design. This painting would be better if there was something else to look at to the left of that big tree I think. Even a walrus would do. It seems a little short on subject matter. I also don't like the way that branch "kisses" the frame on the left.
Here is another in a restricted palette. I think this is a pretty good one. I really like the shadows that are spandexed onto the trees to break up their edges. It is surprising to me sometimes how much an artist can get away with. There are no branches on these trees at all. I have painted similar situations and had to leave them out myself, but not quite like this! A major horizontal branch would stop that nice upward flow the painting has. Notice also all of the shadows on the trees and almost none on the ground. There is a whole lot of invention going on here. Remember Carlson made these in the studio from sketches done outside.
This is only an average Carlson but there is an interesting thing about it. Notice all of the concave humps in the foreground. In his book Carlson talks about the convexity's of nature at length. Here he is doing it himself.
That stick in the foreground seems to have the purpose of stopping the eye from first perceiving the major trees and then sliding down the line of the foreground bank and out the bottom. I am guessing he got well into the painting and added that as a problem solver.
This one is very strange indeed.It must be from the Colorado period. I think some kind of animal lives in there. An unpleasant animal. It is a good example of his ability to design unique shapes, and from that standpoint it is instructional, but it is a novelty act.
Below is a real dark one I guess its a twilight painting. It has a mysterious quality.
There's an interesting story I ran into about Carlson. He taught at the Art Students Leagues' auxiliary school in Woodstock New York and then left to teach in Colorado for several years. He then returned . The Woodstock art colony was then dividing into the modernists and the traditionalists. Carlson was very much in the traditional camp. Two women teachers described in the text I have found, as lesbians ( which was probably controversial enough to bear noting then, and hardly worth an aside now) started an outdoor painting group called the blue dome fraternity. These womens' fraternity (?) was called the blue dome because they hung a blue gauze "dome" above the model that they were posing out doors . I suspect it may have been to soften the light and prevent the harshest shadow from cutting up the forms.
Evidently this outdoor figure class really caught on and Carlson was pushed by the directors of the school to teach a blue dome class too. He felt that his students hardly knew what they were doing with a landscape and that teaching them to do the figure in the fast changing natural light of the out doors was a ridiculous idea. Ultimately he resigned his teaching position over it.
As I have studied the history of various great teachers from Eakins to Paxton I have constantly found stories of their being fired from their teaching positions and replaced with others who are totally forgotten today, we have to scratch our heads and ask "what were they thinking" firing John Carlson from a position teaching landscape?
Only twice in my life have I seen a collection of large Carlson paintings. Both were about twenty years ago. Once was in a gallery that used to be downstairs from the old Grand Central Gallery in New York. It had, I think, antiques and other things also. The Carlsons were "skied" around the tops of the walls and were very large. I think some might have been from the book.
Another time my wife and I drove over to Woodstock New York and visited the Cox gallery there, that had the estate, I believe. They also had a handful of very large and very good examples. I have never seen one in a museum and I think they must all be out in private hands. That is really too bad, its the same with Hibbard, Mulhaupt, Pleisner, Waugh and others of that generation who will ultimately be in the museums. It effectively prevents any scholarship on these artists and prevents aspiring painters from learning from their art. The museums are deliberately ignoring this whole generation of painters because they are only interested in those artists from that period that they deem modern. The odd thing is that they all do. You would think there would be a breadth of opinion, and some museums would do this, and that others would do that. But they seem to march together in lockstep. How that level of conformity serves the art world that is supposed to be dynamic and creative is beyond me. Its a good thing I am only a guest in this world, because a lot of the time I cannot fathom what the hell is going on here.