Ken Carson’s oil paintings have a dreamy quality. They seep into the soul and the mind surrenders.
“I’m not about specific places, with grass, buildings, or people,” Carson says. “The painting is about an emotional impact. If it connects with you, you can stay there and enjoy it. If it doesn’t connect, walk away.”
Water and sky, in their shifting shapes, colors, and layers, are central in Carson’s work. “The emotion of the sky interests me, whether it’s set by low light, high light, or clouds,” Carson says. “Nine times out of 10, there is a very low horizon.” Just as he is drawn to early morning or dusk in the skies he paints, Carson is most captured by water at its points of great change, such as the intersection of marshland with open water. “I’m very attracted to salt marshes, how they flow through, as opposed to straight, open ocean,” he says. Seasonal changes provide another vehicle for moving the emotions, such as the warm, ruddy shades of brown and gold in End of Season.
Carson’s ocean-centered art is usually anchored with an object, very often a dinghy that may be rotting and beyond repair. “They always seem to be waiting for something, or ready to go, or retired. That to me conveys the solitude, the peace,” Carson says. “It’s a positive solitude.”
His positive outlook is threaded through his career. Carson taught art for 35 years in the public school system in Bourne. “It was a wonderful ride,” he says. He then began art classes with such luminaries as Sig Purwin, Beverley Edwards, and Claude Croney. A stint as assistant director of the Market Barn Gallery in Falmouth, where jeweler Paulette Loomis taught him the business of art, was especially meaningful. Today, when the Sandwich resident isn’t painting, he is building custom frames at Cape Gallery Framer in Falmouth.
Carson continues to be moved by his subjects, long after the art is finished. He first glimpsed the focus of White Boat near a West Falmouth harbor last year and still likes to check in on the little boat. “It’s tied by a path, waiting for the seasons,” Carson says. “It’s just there. I still drive by it. I walk by it. It’s an ongoing process.”