This year’s Encore Art Show and Sale’s featured artist, Marlene Kallstrom-Barritt, has always come back to making art.   

Kallstrom-Barritt found her passion for painting when she was a young mother, but her art career has been very off and on throughout the years.  

“I call it binge painting. I would paint, and then life would throw me a curve, and the brushes would be put away and it could be a few years later I'd look at the brushes and think I should get painting and I'd start up again,” Kallstrom-Barritt said. “That's kind of how my life has been. It hasn't been a continuous process by any means. I wish it was in retrospect.”  

When she didn’t paint, she found other creative outlets, such as designing gardens or renovating her home.   

Eventually, Kallstrom-Barritt attended an art program through Red Deer Polytechnic, where she developed her artistic abilities.   

“I was delighted to be able to take that. I never, ever thought I would do it. It was definitely a career change for me,” she said.  

In 2017, Kallstrom-Barritt made a commitment to herself that she would be more purposeful in continuing to make art.  

“Sometimes it was very hard to get back to doing the art again, and now I'm really purposely making an effort to keep art on the front burner rather than on a distant back burner,” she said.   

Through the years, Kallstrom-Barritt's preferred medium has been oil paint, but when she moved and downsized her studio, she found her love for watercolour.  

“I do a very loose watercolour painting that is very basic and really isn't much of a painting until I start going in with my pen and I separate all the colours,” she said. “From a distance, the painting looks like a scene, but up close you see all the different colours all outlined.”  

Mixed media painting of a cow.Mixed media piece titled “Grassy Snack," by Marlene Kallstrom-Barritt.

Recently, Kallstrom-Barritt has started experimenting with acrylic paint.   

“I really am trying hard not to paint with acrylics like I would paint with oil because then it gets very frustrating. I'm trying to take advantage of all the positive characteristics,” she said. “I'm kind of in an experiential state right now where I am doing a lot of mixed media, adding things to my paintings other than paint.”  

Kallstrom-Barritt is inspired by everything and everyone and typically will paint from her imagination.   

“The most fun I have with painting is creating something that was never there before,” she said. “Making really nice colours, sometimes that's more fun than the actual painting. Mixing the colours up and finding out that just with a stroke of a brush, I created something I really like. I love it.”  

When painting, the biggest challenge for Kallstrom-Barritt is knowing when the piece is finished and leaving it alone.   

“I try not to be a perfectionist, but I fiddle and fiddle, and then I have to realize what I'm doing, and just stop,” she said.    

To prepare for the Encore Art Show and Sale, Kallstrom-Barritt has spent the last year working on a new series of art, adding different textures to the pieces.   

“I'm looking forward to the show, I love to see all the other artists and their work,” she said. “I hope a lot of people come because it's really important to support the arts. This kind of show brings people out from hidden places, and people can really see the talent.”  

The Encore Art Show and Sale is on April 26 and 27 at the Lacombe Memorial Centre.