Ken Carlson, like many of his contemporaries, began his career in art as a commercial artist. He entered a "Draw Me" contest at the age of fifteen, won and took advantage of the prize, a two-year scholarship to the Art Instruction School in Minneapolis. Carlson says his interest in natural subjects began early in his Minnesota childhood and has continued with total dedication to learning and painting nature. While Carlson lived in Minnesota and then in California, he spent more than three decades as a free-lance illustrator. During that time, every free moment was spent painting, studying, sketching and photographing wildlife subjects. Desire to paint representational art pushed him toward a full-time career as a wildlife artist. Carlson cites 1969 as a turning point in his career. He presented six large game paintings at a major conservation foundation conference and not one sold. He observed that tight renderings of bird illustrations did sell and from that idea, he compiled a portfolio of fifty portraits, later published by MacMillan in a book titled Birds of Western North America. However this painting venture did not represent the painting style that challenged him nor did it represent Carlson's true aspirations. A realistic style of painting had always been Carlson's chosen form of expression. By 1972, with firm determination, he had totally dedicated his career to evolving a painting style that would come from within. A move to the Rocky Mountains in Montana, and then to the Texas Hill Country, is where he finds the landscapes and inspirations for many of his paintings. His work is included in the collections of the National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, Wyoming; Genesee County Museum, Rochester, New York; and the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin. Carlson is noted for his classic animal-in-its-habitat pieces, purity of light, an emphasis on form and character, mood and a sense of place.
(Courtesy of AskArt)
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