Ken Christensen is a classic on site landscape painter in the bold tradition of the Post Impressionists and the Fauves. He is the founder of the group The New Fauves, www.newfauves.com, an international collection of artists working in a similar colorful style. Christensen was born in 1951 and raised in Flint, Michigan. He is a graduate of Michigan State University with a B.A. in History. He also studied a year at the University of Manchester in England. He began his art career primarily as a watercolorist in Traverse City, Michigan where he designed Christmas Cards, illustrated “All our Yesterdays” by Larry Wakefield, published a set of post cards of historic buildings, and participated in group shows. In 1980 he moved to London and remained in Europe the following nine years, primarily in France. While living in Paris he began painting more in oils. He also experimented in other techniques including printmaking and pastels. While in Paris he became an official copyist of the Louvre Museum. He learned greatly by working with other artists in Paris, notably Spanish Inversionist painter Manuel Gil and American realist painter Frank Bruckmann. He had three one man shows in Paris, two in Italy and one in St Tropez, France, celebrating the publication of a book of his watercolors, “St Tropez: Notes et Croquis de Voyage.” He spent one year in San Sebastian, Spain and the following year he met his wife, Maria, in Granada, Spain. They moved back to the U.S. in 1988. Two daughters followed, Claudia and Laura. Over the next five years they split their time between Santa Fe, New Mexico and Petoskey, Michigan. During this period Christensen developed The Christensen Puppet Theater, performing in various locations in both New Mexico and Michigan. In Santa Fe he exhibited at the Linda McAdoo Gallery where he was featured in two exhibits. In 1999 he and his family moved to San Luis Obispo, California to take advantage of the ideal climate for landscape painting and the beauty of the Central Coast. Christensen quickly became a local favorite, being the subject of a major one man show at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in 2002. He also became a well loved participant in many plein air festivals around California including Carmel, Los Gatos, La Quinta, Los Olivos, and San Luis Obispo. He was the only artist to participate in every SLO Plein Air Festival, including Best of Show in 2011. He has taught watercolor and printmaking at the North Central Michigan College and regularly teaches workshops in both oil and watercolor. He exhibits widely around the country as well as another exhibit in St Tropez in 2006 as part of the New Fauves. Christensen is a true artist, always pushing his work further, unafraid of any subject or technique and someone who stands out as a unique individual. He is also the author of four novels, a memoir of book collecting, and a collection of letters available at www.lulu.com. More information about Ken and images of his work can be seen at www.kenchristensen.net.
Christensen strives to glorify the mundane and show the beauty that surrounds us. Exaggerating colors and simplifying forms helps give the viewer the shock to see things with fresh eyes. Ultimately a painting is something which gives you joy to look at. To this end, Christensen’s paintings are a delight to the eye, rich in thick paint which give them the allure of an art object, fresh with views and sights that others overlook, and a bold, solid construction which exude confidence and a personal take on reality. A Christensen painting is quickly recognized for the bold style and delightful vision of its creator.
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