Painting seems to be part and
parcel of the Michaelsen family. Lawrence Michaelsen was a
painting contractor in San Francisco and his wife, Florence,
painted in her spare time as a "profitable hobby."
Their son, Lawrence K. Michaelsen (better known as Ken) was
born on October 1, 1936.
By the time Ken was eight years
old, his artistic inclination began to surface. He and his
father would entertain themselves by sitting at their kitchen
table and drawing outlandish cartoons for each other. It was
good, wholesome fun and it served as a vehicle to improve
At age ten he began entering
poster contests, several of which he won. He was disqualified
from one contest when he was twelve because the judges assumed
that his entry was that of a professional and, therefore,
ineligible. It delighted his parents to see that his work
was being taken that seriously.
Continuing in the vein of "starting
young," he accepted his first commission, a wall mural
for a child's bedroom in a neighboring house, when be was
14. He devoted two hours per day for three weeks to the work
and on completion, he received his fee of $25.00.
After graduation from Menlo-Atherton
High School in Atherton, California, he enlisted in the United
States Air Force. Unlike most military hitches in those days,,
Ken held a job he enjoyed. He was assigned to the Air Force
art department for his entire tour of duty. He also moonlighted
in various art-oriented jobs.
After his military obligation
was fulfilled, he took a job as technical illustrator with
Lockheed Aircraft. During evenings and other "off hours,"
he attended the San Francisco Academy of Art and then Foothill
College in Los Altos.
One day while Ken's partner was
interviewing applicants for a staff artist, he happened to
wander through the... reception room. Waiting to be interviewed
was a very pretty young lady by the name of Judy Schmelzer.
He suddenly decided to take over that portion of the interview
for his partner. Apparently the interview went well; six months
later they were married.
From 1967 to 1969 he held a number
of jobs involving commercial art of some kind in an effort
to find his niche in the art world. He even tried free-lancing
for two years, but that proved equally unsatisfactory.
Finally, he decided to break
all ties and follow a star which had been beckoning to him
for a long time. He and Judy packed up the family and with
all their belongings moved to a farm in Peace River, Alberta,
Canada. His plans were to farm in the summer and paint in
the winter. However, the land and Mother Nature were more
cruel than he had anticipated. Three months later, they returned
to California, financially broke and physically exhausted.
Again he entered the maddening
world of commercial art, but the desire for freedom never
left him. Then, in 1972, a hunter friend of his commissioned
him to paint the first wildlife subject he attempted -a dall
sheep. He thoroughly enjoyed doing the painting and when he
finished, he knew that he had found his calling. He continued
to paint wildlife subjects and after several other commissions,
he once again decided to drop out of commercial art and paint
wildlife subjects only. This time the break was permanent.
He has done well and winning the Federal Duck Stamp Competition
has paved the way to a secure future.
All members of the Michaelsen
family lead very active lives. Ken spends many hours in marshes,
fields, and woods photographing the subjects of his art work.
He is an accomplished photographer and has a myriad of equipment.
Other things which occupy his leisure time are tennis, canoeing
hiking, fishing, and playing the guitar.