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Artists CV    artwork
Peter Colquhoun

I am a painter with thirty five years of work behind me—forty if the student years are included. Those years were spent at the Brooklyn Museum Art School [when there actually was an art school there] and Pratt Institute. During these years I studied with Francis Cunningham and Lennart Anderson among others. In the 1980s I lived in Italy for three years and stayed in Venice for six months, Milan eight months and the rest of the time in Casole d’Elsa, a small village in Tuscany about half way between Florence and Siena. This was an eye opening time for me in terms of engaging with the work of the past masters as well as exploring the Italian landscape in my own paintings. In more recent years I have made painting trips to France. My work has been exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe. I have received numerous awards including the Pollock-Krasner and Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Grants.

My choice of subject nearly always revolves around my surroundings. I have had a studio in Tribeca for the past 17 years and I consider both the studio and the neighborhood as an influence with regards to motif. I paint outside during the warmer months on the city streets or in the parks such as the High Line or out of the city entirely—usually near a coast. I believe that I do particularly well with places and objects that I am familiar with. I have lived most of my life in New York City and it has been the place I have painted most often. The energy of a place and the specificity of the space or spaces to be found there is of paramount importance to me.

The paintings I have made cover a range of subjects. Urban and rural landscape, still-life, figure and portrait—among others but the majority of work that I have done has been with landscape. These are usually executed in oil, directly observed on site and much of the time from start to finish. Sometimes a preliminary drawing is needed, either on a separate piece of paper or on the canvas itself. I regard the process of painting as time-sensitive. The duration of work on any given piece can vary from a couple of hours to a couple of months. I am interested in working tonally. That is to say not merely through color as it is found squeezed from a tube but mixed and applied to the extent that it begins to approach the marvel of color as is observed in nature. More often than not, these notes are un-nameable. Choice of subject is often a complex affair. How much and in what way does that particular subject attract me and in what way can I respond in paint that has any meaning to me or anyone else? This is not always clear to me but if I sense that there is something there that I absolutely need to get after and if this could at least constitute a start, I will plunge in. And if I cannot get excited about what I have selected, I might as well stop right there and move on to something else or approach it in a different way.