A Favorite Book – “Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting” by John F. Carlson

carlson-s-guide-to-landscape-painting-On my personal artistic journey I have found many books that have become some of my greatest teachers. And now, the internet seems to be an infinite resource for artists.

There is something special about a book that a computer cannot replace. A favorite book becomes my old friend, a friend I refer back to again and again for advice.

One of those old friends is the book by John F. Carlson, Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting.

john f. carlson

Considered as one of the art students’ most helpful guides, this book was originally written by the famous American painter and teacher, John F. Carlson in the 1920’s. Today, Carlson’s landscapes are found in many of the world’s most noted museums.   Nearly a centurey later, this book is still widely studied and suggested by the most notable landscape artists today.


With over 90 illustration and diagrams, this famous book provides a wealth of advice on the choice of subject and explains the mysteries of color, atmospheric condition and other phenomena found in nature.


Carlson had a profound understanding of the physical nature of the landscape and a highly developed artistic sense. Among the subjects covered are values, design, aerial and linear perspective, the painting of trees, light, composition, choice of subject matter and memory work. The author also gives advice on canvas, palette, pigments, texture, glazing, varnishing and framing.

As Howard Simon says in the introduction: “Crammed into its pages are the thoughts and experiences of a lifetime of painting and teaching. Undoubtedly it is a good book for the beginner, but the old hand at art will appreciate its honesty and broadness of viewpoint…This book is to keep, to read at leisure, and to look into for the solution of problems as they arise, when the need for an experienced hand is felt.”

The above paragraph sums up my thoughts. I highly suggest this book to any serious student of landscape painting.

Carlson’s Guide to Landscape Painting
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  1. Arthur August 10, 2009 at 11:43 am

    I really like your blog Lori, and I do love landscape painting, I will look into this book and thank you for posting this information…..

  2. Scott Belcastro April 7, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Sing away……….

  3. lisa June 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Just watched your info on gessoing a hardboard panel as a paint support.. I wish you would do one on how to frame it. Thanks!

    • Lori McNee June 10, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      Hello Lisa, thanks for the video suggestion. I will plan to make one on framing soon. Meanwhile, you can use most any standard frame with a hardboard panel.

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