Ken Carlson

When Ken Carlson was a young boy, he was confined to bed for a year following an attack of rheumatic fever. During that year he taught himself to draw. While many young boys dreamed of becoming baseball heroes like Joe DiMaggio when they grew up, Ken Carlson had aspirations of becoming an artist like Bob Kuhn. Carlson won a scholarship in an art contest to the Art Instruction School in Minneapolis, where his teachers included the renowned animal illustrator, Walter Wilwerding (1891-1966). After high school, he attended the Minneapolis School of Art for a year, then joined a commercial art firm. Although commercial art was not his main professional focus, Carlson accepted a commission to illustrate for the publication Birds of Western North America (McMillan, 1972). After two years on the project, he returned to painting animals in oils on large-scale canvases. When painting in his studio, he uses photographs to supplement his field observations of animals. Ken Carlson is widely recognized as one of the foremost interpreters of North American wildlife. His work has been exhibited in public museums such as the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wasau, Wisconsin, and the Genesee County Museum in Mumford, New York, as well as the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming.