David L Smith at Swain School of Design

I was talking to a painter at Hatch Street Studios the other day who turned out to have studied at the same Art College I had, just a year or two after I graduated.  We had not met before.  As we talked about our art school, the Swain School of Design, which has since been absorbed into the University of Massachusetts in what is now known as the College of Visual and Performing Arts in New Bedford, we realized how much we had in common.  It was affirming how our experiences as young artists at Swain had molded us and how very grateful and fortunate we were to have had the educational experience there. 

Swain was a transformative, special kind of place, where an amazing, devoted and talented faculty came together who brought even more visiting artists and designers at the top of their fields.  We numbered barely 200 students at any given year, and it seemed as if so many great minds had come together just for us.  I have since been reflecting on gratitude, specifically a full measure of gratitude for my chosen path that went through the fertile ground at Swain.

At another studio at Hatch Street I chatted with one of my former Swain faculty of the painting department, Severin Haines.  Sig, as he is known, is a naturalist painter of landscape subjects that are springboards for refined and brilliant color exploration.  We had Sig for painting and also for a special Color Theory class that met in the old stone stable that was our library.  I remembered with my fellow alum Sig’s discussions and the rapture we all held for gorgeous color.  When looking at our color study projects the group often fell into an orgasmic orgy of oohs and aahs.  Color was King, and we pledged fealty to its power.

Now I teach painting to beginners and advanced students.  The understanding and sensitivity to color I developed at Swain is central to me every day I teach.  I think it is important that as a teacher I share my own formative training with students, to reveal the lineage that has brought me to them.  So today my gratitude is full for the teachers who taught me to see, helped me find my voice, and gave me the confidence of knowing I was meant for this.

I could not be the artist I am without Sig Haines, David Loeffler Smith, Dick Dougherty, Ben Martinez, James Bobrick, Leo Kelly, Nicholas Kilmer and the others who made the magic happen at Swain School of Design

Forever Flowers: New Paintings by Peter Dickison

The Dahlia Caper oil painting copyright 2018 by Peter Dickison
The Dahlia Caper

My newest paintings are featured in a new show at the Tiffany Peay Jewel Box in Newport.  “The Dalia Caper” (above) renders a close, intimate experience of a floral motif that is part of my approach.  My paintings plunge the viewer into exploring these blossoms in all their variety of color, light, translucence and structure.  My Forever Flower show at The Jewel Box, including the Petites Collection of 4×4″ oil paintings on panel,  is on view through December, 2018.

Article Repost: Why Are Some People Better at Drawing than Others?

"Study of Arms and Hands" by Leonardo da Vinci, 1474.
“Study of Arms and Hands” by Leonardo da Vinci, 1474.

Life’s Little Mysteries is a column that “answers fascinating questions about the world around you and the stuff in it.” This reposted article speaks to brain function in drawing activity, and how to unlock your ability to do better at drawing. Enjoy the read at this link:

Art After Dark at the Museum 

Last night the museum highlighted several of the classes that are taught at the museum’s Coleman Center. My Portrait & Figure Monday class had a great time drawing and painting the main gallery and invited museum guests to take a shot at drawing the portrait of our model. You can see a couple of photos of the evening at Instagram.

Our model Leelee has been an intern in our MUSE program since last year, and assisted youth art teachers this summer as well. She enthusiastically stepped up to be our portrait model for the evening. Below is my drawing of her. 

Leelee drawing  ©2016 Peter Dickison
Leelee in profile, 35x28cm. graphite.
Leelee portrait by young Faye 2016
Faye Dickison, Leelee’s Portrait, 9/9/16

Painting Class at Whetstone

Late in August, one of my outdoor painting students invited the class out to her summer residence to paint on the grounds overlooking the ocean. I didn’t have to think very hard before accepting, and we all went out on the designated morning on a steamy summer day.

After a brief look around, we all decided it would be best to keep to the shade; the day promised to be very hot despite the nice sea breeze. The view was east toward Sachuest Point with a prominent rocky ridge just at the near coast. The place was quintessentially coastal New England, with the kind of summer light one never forgets. My painting from the morning is shown here.

I felt the need to see some part of the house in the picture. It seemed like being on the porch of the house was part and parcel of looking out at the ocean there. But instead of painting from the porch, I painted the porch itself, along with the wicker chair one would need to spend the morning looking out, reading, writing and considering the eternal.

painting class at Whetstone
Painting class at Whetstone. If you look closely, one student is visible on the porch.
Whetstone painting ©2016 Peter Dickison
Whetstone, 2016, oil on linen mounted on panel, 20×28 cm.


pocket knife sketch
Day 1, something found in my pocket. My opinel pocket knife.

Back in the winter of 2015, I accepted a challenge from my friend George to do one sketch a day for 100 days on 3×3″ post-it notes. Each week we were presented with a theme, and by searching #stickysketch100 one can find all manner of sketchy people taking this challenge. I find sketching and doodling an opportunity for humor and wit- I had a lot of fun doing these little squares in different drawing media.

My tumblr blog documents the whole thing. The post-its are numbered for each day. Those wishing to start at day 1 can start at the archive for February, 2015.