‘There’s an inner need for me to create’

Published 7:48 am Wednesday, April 8, 2009

When she’s not working as president of the board of directors of the Albert Lea Art Center, Lucille Callstrom spends her free time painting flowers.

“For me my art is a gift in many ways, especially with being retired,” Callstrom said. “It’s given me an expansion — friends and commitment.”

Callstrom began painting with watercolor paint in 2004, but she said art had always been a part of her life through things like cooking, gardening and making clothes.

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“I think that art, that creativity has always been a part of me. …There’s an inner need for me to create,” Callstrom said.

Even though she took a six-week oil painting class when she lived in California for $5, Callstrom said she prefers watercolor because the paint is non toxic.

Callstrom said watercolor is challenging because adding water spreads the color and changes the color tones, so she said she often combines several layers of paint to find the color effect she wants.

While Callstrom said oil painting can be easier to control, she also said adding water to spread the paint in watercolor can often produce unexpected things in a painting.

“A lot of times if you look at the paper, you can see different formations actually forming themselves, creating themselves,” Callstrom said.

Callstrom typically paints flowers, but she’s participated in a class on painting buildings, which she said is difficult for her because of the need to paint objects to scale.

While beginning a piece, Callstrom said she looks for pictures of the flowers she’s painting, and she’ll then draw an outline to use when she’s painting. While she usually paints on paper, Callstrom is painting her most recent work on clayboard.

The idea for this piece came when Callstrom visited her brother in Texas. While helping her brother rearrange his kitchen, she looked at a wall and told her brother she could see a painting of poppies in that spot to go along with the house’s red and gold theme.

While Callstrom usually paints on paper, she is currently using clayboard for her brother’s painting. The new surface offers vibrant colors, but she said it can be challenging because it’s a smooth surface.

Callstrom said it’s a learning experience every time she picks up a paint brush, and she said she’s learned the benefit of setting a painting aside when it’s not going the way she wants. Callstrom recently did this because the coloring was off on a painting, but she said she’ll work on the painting again in the future.

Callstrom said she wants the art center to be welcoming to people in the community, and she offered advice to new artists, telling them to not give up.

“From my own experience, the word can’t does not exist,” Callstrom said. “Take a class and be open to another person’s suggestions, because I really believe that’s how I’ve grown. And that every painting is, for me, it’s an accomplishment. Some paintings don’t come together, but there’s self-expression in that.”