Harold Mahlmstrom, OT Artist


Harold Mahlmstrom has been a member of OT Artists for the last seven years or so.  He agreed to share his story of his artistic journey.  

Q:  How did you get started as an artist, Harold?

A:  I worked in a hands-on job in the mechanical-electrical field, and retired when I was 70.  My wife, Sallie, was a member of OT Artists, and she participated in plein-air events.  I’d go with her, and while she was painting, I’d take the dog for a walk, then come back to see how her painting was coming along.  

Then, I started watching Sallie paint.  After a while, Sallie invited me to paint on my own, so I thought I would try it.    

Q.  So you hadn’t painted before you retired?

A:  Not since I was in kindergarten and painted with those tempera paints on big sheets of paper!

Q.  How did you learn to paint?

A:  Sallie was a member of OT Artists, so I would watch her when she painted in the studio.  I also went out on other Outdoor Painters Minnesota (OPM) events.  But I also watched YouTube videos.  I would wonder, How do you paint a leaf?  And I found online videos that showed me how.  

Q.  So what was it like to start “from scratch” learning how to paint?

A:  Learning to paint is like learning how to ride a bike or how to roller skate…you’re going to be wobbly at first, but if you stay with it, you’ll get better.  I found it relaxing and fun.  I wouldn’t get upset with how a painting turned out…I saw it as a way to keep improving.

I’d paint for hours at a time.  Sallie invited me to join the studio, and other OT Artists encouraged me.  I went to a class taught by an advanced professional painter, who could be demanding of his students, but he was very kind to me.  

Q.  Where on your journey as an artist do you feel you’re at?

A:  I can see I’ve made advancements, and I’m happy with the results I’ve achieved.  I’ve sold about a dozen paintings, and I’ve been commissioned to create a painting.

I like painting farmlands, open areas and animals.  I’ve painted a portrait of my dog for one of my grandsons (who loves dogs), and one of a blue jay for another grandson (who loves birds).

I work in oil, and sketch in pencil.  I'm always learning.  Sallie and I go to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum a lot, which is great for sketching and painting.  While I can no longer participate in OPM events due to health issues, I continue to love to paint in the studio.  I'd like to get a few more pieces done before the next St. Paul Art Crawl in April.  

Q:  What advice do you have for beginning artists or those who would love to paint but don’t consider themselves “good enough?”  

A:  Don’t rule yourself out before you’ve even tried it.  Don’t be afraid.  If your early work looks crude, know that it will get better.  You can learn by watching others.  And you’ll have fun. 

Comments

Popular Posts