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Ken Carlson was born in 1937 in Morton, Minnesota. Following art school training, he began his career as a commercial illustrator in Minneapolis. While earning a living as a commercial artist, Carlson spent his free time sketching, painting, photographing, and researching his primary interest: wildlife and nature subjects. In 1966, he moved to San Francisco where he spent several more years as a freelance illustrator before putting aside commercial work to devote all of his time to painting wildlife subjects. Carlson moved from California to live for five years in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and now resides in the picturesque Hill Country of central Texas.
In 2011 Carlson received the Briscoe Legacy Award, presented to an artist who has provided inspiration through a lifetime of artistic accomplishments, from the Briscoe Western Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas. In 2010 he had a one-man exhibition of his paintings at the Steamboat Art Museum, Steamboat Springs, Colorado. At the Autry National Center's 2008 Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale, Carlson received the first Bob Kuhn Wildlife Award, Sponsored by Carl and Rosella Thorne. In 2001, and again in 2004, Carlson was the recipient of the Major General and Mrs. Don Pittman Wildlife Award at the Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale in Oklahoma City. At the 1999 Prix de West, Carlson was the winner of the Frederic Remington Award, and he was named the Distinguished Wildife Artist at the 1996 Wildlife Exhibit at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Museum, Wausau, Wisconsin. A dedicated conservationist, Carlson particpates in several fundraising efforts each year.
Ken Carlson is represented by Legacy Gallery, Jackson, Wyoming.