An interview with artist John Petersen on the Boston School influence:
Q. What is your connection with the Boston School?
A. I studied a year with Allen Banks in Florida and worked considerably longer with Paul Ingbretson in the Boston area, both of whom were direct descendants of the Boston School through R. H. Ives Gammell.
Q. Talk specifically about the Boston School and how it came through in their teaching.
A. What makes the Boston School, to me, is their combination of sound academic drawing combined with the full spectrum color of the impressionists that together produce the full sense of visual reality. DeCamp's "The Mandarin Coat" really sums up what I mean. The light on the model combines brilliance and breadth, it's full bodied in color, powerfully expressive in drawing using only the essentials. Typical of the Boston School it is also well composed and excellently crafted.
In his teaching, Allen Banks took his students out plein air painting. His way of working reminded me of Monet, flecking color brokenly onto the canvas trying to hit the color note. In the studio we worked on charcoal drawing from plaster casts where he emphasized truth of drawing. His painting skills were of a sort I thought were no longer available to our generation. I thought everything was Matisse and Picasso and abstract art which had no particular attraction for me. He talked about his studies with Gammell and used that knowledge in teaching us.
Probably more than Allen, with whom I worked only one year, Paul Ingbretson was my real in-depth connection to the work and thinking of Tarbell, Benson, Decamp and the others that make up the Boston School.
He introduced his students to such precepts as relational thinking, of "thinking of the thing as a whole," as Reynolds put it, of the visual order which, as far as I know no other teacher truly grasps. I think this innovation goes beyond what other teachers have offered in nailing the visual impression. I like color and the application of such ideas really gave me a sense of reality l never had before. Paul introduced the idea and importance of seeing all the color in the shadows to get the atmosphere. He showed us how to get the effects of sunlight using the yolk of an egg as Monet put it, making the lights shine forth. And all this by the conscious application of red, yellow and blue all over the place all the time. He talks about how to use your eyes to understand what you are seeing. All this is Boston School in its essence. Of course he taught good drawing and paid special attention to the importance of solid composition.
Q. John, could you talk about these new landscapes, what you're trying to do, and how your work illustrated the relevance of Boston School thinking.
A. Like the adherents of the Boston School I am inspired by light effects and everything I do is about reflecting the mood conveyed by the light and atmosphere of the day. These are timeless fascinations of artists and I find no end of gratification in the effort to more effectively bring to the viewer the beauty and poetry I find in the visual world.
For commissions and further information please contact John Petersen at: firstname.lastname@example.org