Meadowlark Gallery: The Artist Biographies

John Fabian Carlson

As a young child in Sweden, John F. Carlson was introduced to art by an uncle who decorated carriages with landscapes. At the age of twelve, Carlson moved with his family to the United States and settled in Buffalo, New York. Carlson's early interest in art grew and he apprenticed with a lithographer and received guidance from an amateur artist named Frederick Mayor. He later worked as a Lithographer at Cosack & Company to help support his family.

His formal training began at the Albright School of Art where he studied under Lucious Hitchcock. In 1902, Carlson earned a scholarship to the Art Students League in New York where he was a pupil of Frank Vincent DuMond.

Following his two years of study at the Art Student's League, Carlson went to Woodstock, New York, with a scholarship to study at Byrdcliffe, a fledgling art colony (later known as the Woodstock Artists Association). He received instruction from Birge Harrison, a Tonalist, who became both a mentor and a friend to the young artist. In 1906, Carlson, who was then a member of the Art Students League's Board of Control, was instrumental in the decision to move the League's summer school from Connecticut to Woodstock. Birge Harrison was named director of the new school of landscape at Woodstock and he hired Carlson as his assistant. Carlson became the school's director following Harrison's retirement in 1911, hiring Frank Swift Chase as his assistant. By that time, there were over one hundred students studying at the school. Enrollment was at its greatest under Carlson's directorship which lasted until his resignation in 1918.

In June of 1920, Carlson and his family moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado. Carlson, who by that time had earned national recognition as a landscape painter, was appointed director of the newly established Broadmoor Academy. The artist was thrilled with his new surroundings and stated "Nowhere outside of Italy can one see such combinations of color as the afternoon wanes." Carlson spent two summers teaching landscape painting at the Broadmoor Academy.

In 1922, Carlson returned to Woodstock where he established the John F. Carlson School of Landscape Painting. Three years later, the artist was elected a full member of the National Academy of Design.

In 1928, Carlson published an instructional book titled Elementary Principles of Landscape Paintings. The book was reprinted as Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting in 1953, 1958, and 1970.


Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary, Vol. 3, Doris Ostrander Dawdy, Swallow Press, Chicago, 1980. 3 Vols.

The Founders of the Woodstock Artists Association Exhibition Catalog, Carol B. Brener, ed., Woodstock Artists Association, Woodstock , New York, 2000.

John F. Carlson and Artists of the Broadmoor Academy, David Cook Fine Art, Denver, Colorado, 1999.

Pikes Peak Vision: The Broadmoor Art Academy, 1919-1945, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1989.

A Show of Color: 100 Years of Painting in the Pike's Peak Region, Robert L. Shalkop, Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1971.

Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975: 400 Years of Artists in America, Vol. 1. Peter Hastings Falk, Georgia Kuchen and Veronica Roessler, eds.,Sound View Press, Madison, Connecticut, 1999. 3 Vols.

Woodstock's Art Heritage: the Permanent Collection of the Woodstock Artists Association, historical survey by Tom Wolf; published for the Woodstock Artist's Association by Overlook Press, Woodstock, New York, 1987.

View high resolution images of works by John Fabian Carlson
(1874-1945) when available.