MARSHALL - Ellen Skramstad of Marshall lived for her art.
"That's what kept her alive," said Skramstad's friend Linda Grong of Marshall. "She loved to create whether it was on the canvas or in her garden."
Artworks by Skramstad will be on display through April 6 at the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council's downtown arts center.
Skramstad died of cancer in 2010. Her works are mainly acrylic and her subject matter was diverse and always changing.
Skramstad graduated from Marshall High School and received a degree in art from Southwest Minnesota State University. She was a strong arts advocate in Marshall and was also interested in the area's history. Skramstad served on the MAFAC board of directors, MAFAC's education committee, and the Marshall Mural Project. She also served as a volunteer on the Imagine Project, Choirs of Note and served on Community Services committees in developing art projects for the community.
"I thought she was unbelievably gifted," said fellow artist Coleen Behm, formerly of Marshall. "Her ability to sketch and create what she saw. She had a great sense of color, her work was always filled with emotion."
After working at Olson and Lowe Clothing for more than 25 years, Skramstad was finally able to experience working with art and creating her own pieces, Behm said.
"I was so happy she was given that time," Behm said. "She had so much ability and so many skills."
"Ellen was a relatively private person and yet she had the ability to share everything with whom she chose to share," Grong said. "Her energy was totally driven from her creativity. If she couldn't create, she didn't know what to do with herself."
Behm said that Skramstad was a wonderful teacher. Skramstad had taught painting with Southwest Minnesota State University's Senior College and gave individual painting lessons.
"She was always so well-prepared," Behm said. "(The classes) were never boring. She could teach to any level." Skramstad even taught painting to a then 107-year-old Ruth Anderson.
Behm said that she and Skramstad worked together at House of Hope to teach art classes, plus they also did an after school program in pottery at the Marshall Middle School.
"She was just so willing to do anything without any hesitation, right there helping the kids," Behm said.
Behm said that Skramstad was willing to lend a hand wherever necessary.
"Ellen never said no, she was always there to help," Behm said.