John F. Carlson interview: The palette

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John F. Carlson (1875-1947) was born in Sweden. His work is admired by many; the list of prizes and museum acquisitions of his canvases would fills a long column in “Who’s Who in American Art. His clear and excellent teaching has helped many an artist interested in becoming a better landscape painter. If you want to become a better landscape painter, you’ll learn a lot by applying the lessons taught in his famous book, Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting, published by Dover Publishing, Inc.



I am fortunate to own a December 1942 copy of “American Artist” magazine in which Carlson was a featured artist. Parts of that article I have shared with you over the last few weeks, because of the direct interaction with Carlson himself. In this final installment, he reveals the colors typically on his palette.


The Palette

On Carlson’s palette the following pigments are set in graded sequence from white to dark as listed below.

1. Lead White (Cremnitz, Flake)

2. Lemon Yellow

3. Cadmium Yellow Light

4. Cadmium Yellow Medium

5. Transparent Gold Ochre (not Yellow Ochre)

6. Cadmium Red

7. Rose Madder

8. Veridian

9. Permanent Green Light (for summer painting)

10. Burnt Sienna

11. Prussian Blue

12. Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue (for still life and flowers)





He was a strong advocate of Prussian blue, which he used for 30 years, to the despair of paint manufactures. “It is the only blue with which a ‘sappy’ dark green can be made. All other blues have a purple cast and turn gray when yellow is added. Prussian is the only blue which keeps its identity under artificial light – other blues go pinkish; for blue skies and shadows on snow it gives a sunny blue. By mixing rose madder and burnt sienna with it, I can get beautiful blacks.”



During John Carlson’s life, thousands of young artists flocked to his classes at Woodstock, New York, his permanent residence, and to the Art Students League of New York. He was 67 years old at the time of this interview. He was also a promoter of Grumbacher paint.




I am very pleased to announce the release of my first instructional DVD, Limited Palette Landscapes, professionally produced by Liliedahl Art Videos. The video contains over 15 hours of instruction and follows my painting process from selection of the canvas to the final brush stoke. For a detailed description of the video contents, including a short video…and order instructions…please click HERE. Thank you in advance for adding this DVD to your video library. Upon viewing, if you would kindly share your comments with me, I would greatly appreciate it. THANK YOU.





John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE



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