Artist Profiles | Visual Arts

Mark Knudsen & Leslie Thomas: Another Look

In the month of February we published a series of posts taking another look at the artist couples featured in our February edition of 15 Bytes. We saved one of these posts — on Mark Knudsen and Leslie Thomas — until this week to coincide with the opening of Mark Knudsen’s exhbit, Horizon Event, which opens at Phillips Gallery on Friday. See more of Mark’s work at


Leslie Thomas & Mark Knudsen in their shared studio, Photo by Bill Fulton

Leslie Thomas & Mark Knudsen in their shared studio. Photo by Bill Fulton

Kemosabe … that’s what Mark Knudsen “made” Leslie Thomas call him early on in their 12-year relationship. That loving and teasing back-and-forth is still evident today in the couple that spends most of their day together, either in the studio, or on the road collecting material for their art.  Leslie says her “outlook was developed under Mark, and that makes us dove-tail easily.” As they work together in the shared studio at King’s Cottage, they check on each other often, appreciating the helpfulness of a fresh pair of eyes. Even when not in the studio, they talk about art constantly, leafing through art publications together at home.

Leslie Thomas and Mark Knudsen paint in their shared studio at Kings Cottage, Photos by Bill Fulton

Leslie Thomas and Mark Knudsen paint in their shared studio at Kings Cottage. Photos by Bill Fulton

They try (stressing the word ‘try’) to maintain a routine of being at the studio by 10 a.m. and leaving around 4:30. That’s still a pretty lengthy time to spend painting, so they have taken up yoga as way to stretch their bodies and brains during the day. Often they bring their dogs to the studio with them.

Leslie feels very lucky to have started painting again, to be living her dream life-style, something that has happened since meeting Mark. He has been, and continues to be her mentor. When she earns accolades, she says that any glory reflects on him. He keeps encouraging her and thinks she should try printing at some point.

Leslie Thomas stands in front of her painting " ", Photo by Bill Fulton

Leslie Thomas stands in front of one of her finished works. Photo by Bill Fulton

When Leslie suffers from what she calls ‘the mid-painting blues’, Mark provides input. Sometimes they disagree on each other’s advice, but Leslie says, “we take turns pushing each other from behind.” Disagreement doesn’t ever morph into jealousy, though, as they are very much for each other’s success.  The only incompatibility (and Leslie is quick to say that that could be too strong a word) is the camper they bought. She dreamed of going out on the road together and painting, but he pretty much is done with that, having camped a lot earlier in his life.

Marks sees them as being on parallel roads based on their lives and experience before they met. Their philosophy about plain old living, their intellectual pursuits, the subject of art,  is very similar. He acknowledges that it would have been harder to achieve that kind of compatibility had they met when they were younger. This is a second marriage for both of them –their previous spouses were not artists, but were interested in art.

Mark Knudsen stands in front of his painting " " , Photo by Bill Fulton

Mark Knudsen stands in front of one of his paintings. Photo by Bill Fulton

Their outlook on life and art provides a rich and nurturing environment for their relationship to continue strengthening, and reflects what we have learned from all the couples who were interviewed for our February 15 Bytes issue. To paraphrase a very old song that some of the couples might never have heard … “Love and art, love and art, go together to enrich the heart”.

Leslie’s work can be seen at the Patrick Moore Gallery. Mark Knudsen’s Horizon Event opens this Friday at Phillips Gallery.

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