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 Peter Dickison  (1960 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Rhode Island      Known for: figure and landscape painting

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Biography from a third party submitted on 05/17/2009:
Peter Dickison , a native of Rhode Island, first began to paint pictures of Newport in his teens.  His artistic training with his study of painting at the Swain School of Design in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he earned a BFA degree in 1982. There, David L. Smith, a former student of the German abstract artist and teacher Hans Hoffman in the 1950’s, and Severin Haines, himself a Swain graduate, were both strong influences in Peter’s early artistic development.

The teaching at Swain focused on drawing and painting the figure in the life studio and studying the great works of art history.  Of his study at Swain, Dickison explains, “I wasn’t taught so much how to render an object in paint, but rather to recognize the experience of seeing it and translate that seeing to a canvas.  First I attempted to understand the world around me visually, and only then I searched for my artistic voice in that world.”

After Swain, Dickison moved to New York City to attend the Parson’s School of Design Graduate Program in Painting.  There he worked extensively from the model and studied with Paul Resika and Leland Bell, both of whom were also influenced by Hans Hoffman.  Dickison found new sources of inspiration while frequently visiting the great paintings housed in the city’s museums.

From 1983-86, Dickison was a studio assistant to the artist Nell Blaine (1922-1996) and he traveled with her between New York City and Gloucester, Massachusetts, including a painting trip to Austria, Switzerland and Italy.  Ms. Blaine’s study with Hans Hoffman had influenced her early paintings, and the influence of Hoffman and jazz music in her work was part of the dialogue that developed between her and young Dickison.

“I was painting with a limited palette comprised mainly of earth pigments, greens and blue.  Nell was using forty colors on her palette - she didn’t think she should limit anything.  She cajoled me to explore a more pure use of color, but I wanted my own voice and was resistant. I have come to use color with greater resonance and tension than I did then, and she may well have had an influence.”

Dickison spent a six-month sojourn in Provence, France, in 1989 to work with the Cleveland Institute of Art in Lacoste. There he assisted drawing professor Leonard Stokes, taught landscape and figure drawing, and painted prolifically in the landscape.  The environment and culture of Provence made such an impression upon his work that he has periodically returned to France to further absorb its influence.

For the next twelve years he lived in the Hudson River Valley north of New York City and established a studio where he began to create a new type of image.  The earlier years of figure study and a desire to paint about human activity came together with his understanding of the landscape.  A series of paintings and drawings of human figures that merge with the natural forms about them was the result, while the birth of his first child in 1999 inspired a familial quality to the figure groups in these works.

Dickison’s affiliation with a New York gallery led to two solo exhibitions: in Soho in 2000, and Chelsea in 2002.  The latter show prompted reviewer Thomas Disch to acclaim Dickison as “the genuine article, a painter Cezanne himself would have paused to admire.”

Dickison returned to Newport, Rhode Island in 2003.  He paints in his studio in the heart of the city’s historic district where he began painting.  Dickison is on the faculty of the Newport Art Museum.



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