Carse was an assistant to David Allan before the artist's death in 1796, and undoubtedly received preliminary artistic training from him. Allan's influence on Carse's small, vivacious genre scenes is evident. In 1801, he attended the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh, but this training did not yield the benefits and success that it did for his contemporaries like David Wilkie, and later in life Carse described himself as 'a painter, chiefly of domestic, familiar and poetical subjects'. Carse's pictures combine an honest realism with charm and wit. He was adept at capturing the different manners and customs of town and country folk, and recognised that the distinctions between these two ways of life were rapidly becoming fainter.