Meet the artist: Tom Mullen

Published 2:22 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Albert Lea Artist Tom Mullen gained a love for black and white photography while working on his master’s degree.

Albert Lea Artist Tom Mullen gained a love for black and white photography while working on his master’s degree.

Age: 73

Hometown: LaCrosse, Wisconsin. He moved to Albert Lea in 1969 to serve as the audiovisual director for Albert Lea Schools.

Tom Mullen

Tom Mullen

Art background: He has always had an interest in art. It was his favorite subject. His parents encouraged all six of their children to get involved in art, music, writing and drama — probably to keep them from fighting. By the time time he graduated from high school he decided to enroll in the new art major program offered by a local college. After graduating he taught K-6 art in Plattville for four years and for one year in LaCrosse. He then earned a master’s degree in audiovisual media and served 25 years as the audiovisual director in Albert Lea. He finished his career in Albert Lea teaching art at Lakeview Elementary School.

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When teaching art, his favorite mediums were drawing, sketching, 3-D sculpture and painting. When working on his master’s degree he was introduced to a lab course in black and white photography. He was required to process his own film and print his own photos. He thinks it was probably one of the most important classes he has ever taken. Mullen has used photography in his teaching and personal life and said it has evolved into his primary retirement hobby.

He said he is not a professional photographer, and that photography is his hobby. His training and teaching of art easily transferred to photography. The basic elements of art — line, shape, form, color, texture — apply to photography as well as painting or sculpture. He thinks good photographs are the result of slow walks, interesting objects and being aware of how light touches the subject. The best times usually occur early in the morning and late afternoon. He said it also helps to have a patient spouse.

Immediate family: Wife, Judy, and a son, Mike. Mike lives in Oregon, a wonderful place to take photos, said Mullen.

Hobbies: Other hobbies include gardening, volunteering at the Albert Lea Art Center and his church, and having coffee downtown once in awhile.

Why he likes art: Art is personal. He said it is your impression of what you want to see or feel about a subject. You can share or not share, but sharing can be more fun.

— Colleen Harrison