Due to Carlson’s busy teaching schedule, his own painting time was generally relegated to the late fall and winter. Thus, he became known for his tonalist snow scenes, such as Snowbound Stream, which is rendered with the artist’s insightful use of subdued color and his eye for establishing a compelling composition.
In March of 1917, shortly after a solo exhibit by Carlson in Chicago closed, the Fine Arts Journal published one of the most complimentary editorials about the artist and singled out Snowbound Stream when referring to the soothing and often poetic aspect of his work: “In his ‘Snowbound Stream,’ for example, we are aware of an all-pervading greenish gold radiance of light from a sky that is no doubt modified by the frost-crystaled air. The waning winter afternoon becomes a thing of subdued glory and the stream and its banks with their humble buildings unite in a scene of charm where nature and beauty are supreme.”
 “John F. Carlson – A Master of Tone,” The Fine Arts Journal, Vol. XXXV, Number 3, March 1917, pp. 203-206, p. 203
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Carlson exhibited widely during his lifetime and won numerous prizes for his paintings from the Salmagundi Club in New York, the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco, and the National Academy of Design. Additionally, he participated in annual shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC, for most of his career, and was a member of several national arts organizations. His work was often commended for its delicate tones and lyrical qualities: “Mr. Carlson’s technical proficiency is very great, and his art arouses only a calm emotion in the presence of the natural world…he satisfies the taste and lures the attention toward the breadth of view and intellectual serenity which belongs to art of a high order.” Vose Galleries has held four exhibitions of the artist’s work, and today his landscapes can be found in museums across the country, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Sheldon Museum of Art in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Springville Museum of Art in Utah, among others.
 New York Times review, “John F. Carlson’s Paintings,” March 3, 1912.
By descent through one family to private collection, Mystic, Connecticut (collector believes grandfather was original purchaser)
1). (top stretcher in black) John F. Carlson Snow-bound Stream
2). (right stretcher in pencil) W22
3)/ (left stretcher in pencil) Cut 20
1). (likely) Exhibition of Paintings by John F. Carlson, A.N.A., Macbeth Gallery, New York, January 4 – 18, 1916, as No. 2 Snow-Bound Stream
2). (likely) Fifth Annual Art Exhibition, Wilmington Society of the Fine Arts, Wilmington, Delaware, November 6 – 11, 1916, as No. 34 Snowbound Stream
3). (likely) An Exhibition of Oil Paintings by John F. Carlson, Art Institute of Chicago, January 5 – 28, 1917, as No. 20 Snow-Bound Stream