Faith Lowell was the daughter of a traveling Methodist minister during the Great Depression — a little girl who moved from town to town with her family, dressing in castoff clothing and living on coins from the collection plate.
At one stop, a parishioner handed Lowell a set of paints, a gift that became her obsession and led her to a career as an illustrator and painter who ultimately produced more than 2,500 original works of art, many of them now in private and corporate collections.
Lowell, who continued painting until she reached 91, died Nov. 12 at age 93.
Lowell was born in St. Paul and, as an adult, became part of an enclave of visual artists in the city’s Lowertown district who supported each other and worked side by side in a studio near Mears Park. One of the group’s leaders was the late Paul Kramer, a highly regarded Minnesota painter.
Lowell was talented enough as a water colorist to mentor others, but favored oils for her own work.
“To get my mother’s attention, you had to do art,” said Patricia Lowell Hammarback, owner of Custom Framing and Art in River Falls, Wis. “It’s been her obsession and her love and her gift.”
Ruth Oseid Johnson, a fellow painter and longtime friend, said Lowell loved the outdoors and painted in meadows and forests, including at campsites in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and along the North Shore of Lake Superior.
Lowell and her late husband, John, a former vice president at Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance Co., camped and traveled well into their 70s.
“She lived her art and it showed,” Johnson said. “She delighted in it, was marvelous at it and she shared everything that she knew.”
As a young woman, Lowell attended a commercial art school in Chicago and studied at Wheaton College before returning to St. Paul, where she and her husband settled down and raised five daughters.
Early in her career she illustrated nursery books for Scripture Press, a publisher of religious education books and texts.
She dropped illustrating and began exhibiting her paintings in about 1964.
Hammarback said her mother painted portraits, but was most drawn to interpret the “magic” of outdoor scenes that included clouds, wind and trees.
Her paintings were sold mainly in the Midwest through Sivertson Galleries, Art Resources Galleries, Busch Galleries and many art shows and fairs.
Lowell’s work is represented in a number of large institutional collections, including those at the University of Minnesota, 3M Co. and the Hazelden Foundation. But her three living daughters also hope to commemorate her art in a coffee-table book. They plan to contact collectors who own their mother’s works in order to make a digital record and catalog.
Faith Lowell was preceded in death by her husband, John; daughters, Margaret and Elizabeth; brother, Robert; and sisters, Ruth, Betty, Grace, and Margaret. She is survived by her daughters Jane, Faith Ann, Patricia, and by three grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Wulff Funeral Home in St. Paul. A funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Friday at House of Hope Presbyterian Church, 797 Summit Av., St. Paul, with visitation one hour prior.