Carol Lutgen was born in Alexandria, Minnesota, and grew up on a nearby dairy farm. She had a simple childhood that was filled with hard work, family, and reliance on the volatile forces of nature. "So many aspects of farm life were dictated by the weather," Carol says. "Hail could wipe out a field of corn, for example." As a child, Carol herself was a force to be reckoned with. She first discovered her creative side at four years old, when she took a pair of scissors to her little sister's hair and created her first unique masterpiece. After that first fateful haircut, she went on to become a hairdresser and salon owner — a career she thrived in for 20 years.
After raising a family in the Twin Cities area, Carol and her husband moved to Florida, where she began taking her first art classes. She had always loved and collected art, and she enjoyed learning to create it in various media, beginning with watercolors.
From there, Carol Lutgen went on to study with a number of artists, including Barrett Edwards, Douglas Flynt, Dan Petrov, and Clara Berta. Each of these artists influenced her technique and love for painting, but it wasn't until she studied under James Scherbarth that she discovered her true passion: oil and cold wax. "Something about the texture and the way the oil is applied with a palette knife just spoke to me, and I find I cannot paint enough!" Carol says. Carol Lutgen has adopted the unique techniques she learned from Scherbarth and made them her own, creating rich, textural abstracts. "I apply numerous layers of the mixture of oil pigment and cold wax," she explains. "Some layers are opaque and some transparent. Some layers are scraped, marked, scratched, removed with a palette knife either in a semi-dry or dry state, then more layers added. I let the painting speak to me and feel a little bit like an archaeologist as I am uncovering and searching for what is underneath and how the layers react to previous layers." Because she works in so many layers, Carol's paintings can take weeks or even months to finish, but she believes the final result is worth the long process.
When she is trying to decide what to paint, Carol looks for something she can connect to deeply and stay interested in through the long creation process. She finds inspiration in nature, water, the four seasons, colors and textures that excite her, and photographs she takes on her travels. She also finds inspiration in the work of her favorite artists, who include Monet, O'Keefe, Picasso, and Klimt. Carol belongs to the Center for Visual Arts in Bonita Springs, Florida. Her art was on display at the center's Members Only Juried Exhibition in February 2018. Viewers have described Lutgen's work as "mystical," "ethereal," and "mesmerizing."
Carol now lives and paints in Bonita Springs, Florida, for nine months of the year, spending the summers in Minnesota. When she is not painting, she enjoys world travel and gourmet cooking. She is also the volunteer president of the Hope Honduras Foundation, which is a nonprofit charity that feeds and educates children in Pinelejo, Honduras. "These children live in Third World living conditions, and often their only meal for the day is the one we provide for them at school," Carol Lutgen says. She supports this cause passionately and is happy to devote much of her time and resources to it.
There is a creative spark inside everyone, and Carol believes that it is important to "do what you love" and "do it with love!" This mantra has helped guide her through her journey as she has discovered her own path to creativity. Her artistic mission is "to take the viewer to their own personal time and space, where a pleasant memory or thought is brought to mind while looking at a painting I have created. Taking them on a journey, so to speak...and a personal one at that."