Peter Pettegrew And The Highwaymen Of Florida

Just about everybody has heard of Florida landscape painter Peter Pettegrew by now, but have you ever thought of him as one of South’s famous Highwayman? Alright, that’s a little bit of a stretch, but he is– in his own way– very much like a lone Highwayman painting on location all over Florida , Georgia and the Carolinas. In Pettegrew’s early days of selling his work, it was “the old paint ’em and sell ’em” right from his car, and later from a big van his agent Jim Cournoyer owned. And yes, sometimes the paint was still wet when the sale was made!

When Peter hooked up with Jim in 1993, Jim took over the selling so Peter could devote more time to hittin’ the highways and back roads finding new subjects with the “right place with the right light.”

Although Pettegrew’s style has more of a Hudson River School feel with many layers of paint– more like Beanie Backus (one of Peter’s favorites and a Highwaymen mentor), in fact, his work has a lot in common with the Highwaymen. All of the Highwaymen artists are largely self taught, sharing ideas and learning with fellow painters, occasionally doing workshops together and separately.

Here is Pettegrew with Sam Newton who, along with brothers Len and Harold Newton, are among the best known original Highwayman. Peter took Sam’s workshop and they had much to talk about… a lot of years and stories on the road painting in Florida.

Peter’s favorite time to work is always what is called the “golden time,” just like Beanie Backus and most of the Highwayman.

“My favorite times of day were late afternoon or early morning, because the light is more alive then. I like the effect of light on the color of an object, and how light differs from day-to-day, season-to-season, place-to-place.”
Beanie Backus


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