Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A note found in an old John Carlson book

John Carlson (1875-1947)

I receive a number of interesting things from readers of the blog. Below is a copy of a letter that was found in an old copy of John Carlsons Guide to Landscape painting.

If you haven't read this book, you really should. It is the bible for anyone studying landscape painting. If you read only one book explaining landscape painting, this should be it.

a John Carlson painting of Gloucester

Carlson ran a summer workshop program in Gloucester, Massachusetts, for awhile with Emile Gruppe. He was later to establish his own workshop and teaching programs in Woodstock, New York, a place with which he is more commonly associated.

Here are a couple of older editions of Carlsons book from my library. The 1939 edition on the left contains a fair amount of text that was edited out of later editions and is interesting for that reason. It is not a first edition, that would be from 1929, which I don't own. The later somewhat edited versions are renamed Carlsons guide to landscape painting instead of elementary principles of landscape painting.

The book on the right is a 1972 hardcover edition that is otherwise nearly identical to the soft cover version in print today. None of these editions provide a selection of colored reproductions of Carlsons paintings. This blog however does here and here and here too I also have a few more over here.

Here is what I got in my old copy of Carlson. This is a clipping from the New York times dated March 13th, 1936. It explains that John won the Altman prize from the National Academy of Design. The article says that the prize was for an American born artist and included an award of 750 dollars. Carlson was born in Sweden. I will bet there were some artists who didn't win complaining about that!


kev ferrara said...


I have you to thank for steering me towards Carlson's excellent book. It is a book that is even denser with information than it seems, as even some of his offhand or conversational comments are good information.

I'm very curious as to what was edited out of the recent edition I own.

Best wishes

kev ferrara said...

Sorry for addressing you as "stale"... Damn iPod spellcheck. (On the contrary, you sir are fresh as spring mint.)

billspaintingmn said...

Hi Stape!

When I first saw the picture of Carlson I thought," did Stape change his look again?!"
Those glasses and stare kind of has a resemblence.

Ok, I will get the Carlson book, really!
These Calson paintings are beautiful. Wonderful post!

Jim Gibbons said...

Kick ass book.....I have a copy of this book living in my bathroom. I can pick it up and start on any page and be glued. Definitely a must have! said...

I'm bad. I still haven't read it. Bought it twice, gave one away. And it doesn't look like ill be getting to it anytime soon.

jeff said...

I can't agree more with the review of this book, it's the best one out there. I would add the Edgar Payne book on composition as well.

I have some notes on landscape painting from Arthur Maynard which are also very informative. Some of the things Carlson teaches in his book are in the notes.

christopher said...

Thanks for the links to the color pictures. I happen to be reading the Carlson book ('72 version) and was disappointed in the black and white only. I love the paintings and give a lot of support for the text and his approach to landscape.

Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

I love this blog. The information is always most excellelnt and the laughs are priceless. "Stale" sruck a funny bone today - still giggling. Sometimes have to resort to re-reading older posts when you're gone too long.

Jesse said...

I bought the book awhile ago on your recommendation, and I would say it's a must have for the landscape painter. It breaks down some very tricky things in a simple way.

I just wish it had more color reproductions!

JonInFrance said...

I can't find my copy - but I think quite a lot's stuck in my mind... hope so

whinebelt said...

Funny you should bring up Carlson's heritage as he actually resembles Sweden's current Minister for Finance in that pic.

Lucy said...

The more you read this book the better it gets.
I too would really enjoy knowing about the parts that were in the first edition, and not in later editions.

Robert J. Simone said...

Carlson should be revered because he was one of a handful who kept the torch of realism lit amid the rise of modernism. His book is an excellent study guide. His foundational principals, once understood and incorporated, are a springboard to true expression.

willek said...

I was able to print out all of those pictures you posted and they now reside between the pages of the book which I re-read at least once a year. I also like Edgar Paynes book on Composition which I first learned about in your blog and Birge Harrison's book on the landscape. But you never told us about his brother Alexander Harrison.

Glenis Roberge Blogspot said...

Hi Stape,
I was researching info on skies to help me get over a problem I have with "flatness" and I came across your blog.
I just want to say how pleased I am to see your blog and to discover the wealth of information you have provided for other artists. Thank you so much. I will enjoy reading all the info you have provided. I thoroughly enjoyed the Carlson information and learned a great deal from your blog.

John Fleck said...

A little late on the bus, here.....
My copy of the later version ("Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting" says copyright '58) has exactly ONE color page. In between pages 88 & 89 there is a page with a color reproduction of the painting "Woodland Brook."

It seems really weird that they troubled themselves to put only 1 color reproduction in there.