If you have a chance, stop by The First bank in Boothbay Harbor, check out the plein air watercolor paintings done by a life-long Mainer. “What accent? I don’t have an accent,” Ken Carlson said.
If this man’s paintings weren’t so good he could definitely get a job as a storyteller. Both talents are captivating. Born in Gardiner, Carlson attended Gardiner High School and Eastern Maine Vocational Technical Institute, specializing in building construction. His first career was as a right-of-way mapper for the Maine Department of Transportation from 1970 to 2010. During this time he also served in the Maine Air National Guard. Throughout these years he would complain to his wife Laurie on how precise his work needed to be. Adding dimension to his life, he did freelance cartooning for magazines and newspapers which he found rewarding – and frustrating.
“I’ve received rejection slips from all of the big ones, but, I have also appeared in Iron Horse, Easy Rider, Down East, POB, carTOONS and more,” Carlson said. His editorial cartoons also appeared in the Kennebec Journal from 1985 to 2002.
Carlson also did illustrations for newspaper articles, state agencies, T-shirts and more. His most seen illustrations were on the TV show “Murder She Wrote.” Some of the posters seen in the Cabot Cove Sheriff’s office were Carlson’s, done for the Maine State Police. If you catch a rerun of “Murder She Wrote,” watch for his work.
In 2010, Laurie Carlson contacted Tony van Hasselt and arranged for her husband to be in one of van Hasselt workshops. She gave it to him as a retirement gift.
“I was painting off and on and having fun, or so I thought, until I took my first workshop with Tony van Hasselt,” Carlson said. “Then the fun really began and I started painting plein air, or as I like to say, ‘Plein Ayuh.' Now, after joining the Plein Air Painters of Maine (PAPME) and three workshops later, I look forward to each challenge of the blank paper. Each trip is an adventure, and each painting is a surprise.”
All of those years seemed to just prepare Carlson for his life’s work. On exhibition are eight plein air watercolors that will draw you into their scenes and cause you to just want to sit and stare, or take one home. The attached prices are exceedingly reasonable.
Carlson's exhibition is sponsored by the Boothbay Region Art Foundation and The First and may be viewed during business hours through April and May. Those interested in purchasing Carlson’s work or commissioning future work may reach him at 207-582-5533, email@example.com or by contacting BRAF at 207-633-2733.