BY MARK WEBER
Central Alberta artist Marianne Harris continues to branch out with her artistic expression, including via several Lacombe-related ventures.
Her remarkable capabilities as painter aren’t limited to that concept by any means – as any visitor to her home can see, she captures all kinds of scenes and images in a range of compelling ways.
Harris, who is based in Red Deer, runs Paintwerx Studios and regularly shows her work at The Gallery on Main here in Lacombe as well. She has also taught, over the years, through the local art guild and The Gallery on Main, too.
“I’ve been showing in the Gallery for over 10 to 15 years,” she explains during a recent chat. Harris, who is originally from Edmonton, said her love for artistic expression was sparked back in her elementary school years. As the years passed, she kept at it and her skills flourished. She took courses but mainly Harris is self-taught, with an obviously natural flair.
Some work by Harris will be featured in the Spring Equinox Show/Sale set for March 17th to March 19th at The Gallery on Main as well. Work from more than 70 artists will be featured during the event.
“Some of my art is in there year-round, and twice a year we give them a new load of work as well. There are about, at any given time, between 10 and 20 pieces of mine in The Gallery on Main.”
Harris has said she is inspired by a variety of subject matter, but that adventures from her travels and people in any setting are among her favourite subjects to paint. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of limitations in terms of what she can do – her paintings are a wonder in balancing both subtle and bold nuances of shimmering light and vivid colour.
She took an early course in art in Stony Plain that really got her going. With raising a family over the years and other factors of life, finding time to fit in some painting has, at times, been something of a challenge.
She’s also taught several courses and classes over the years, and loves sharing her skills with others in a number of age groups. Still, she finds the pursuit absolutely exhilarating – and fulfilling.
These days, she’s also excited about Art Battle – which is an event that runs locally, with selected artists then moving onto the provincial and ultimately the national level. Art Battle provides participating artists just 20 minutes to complete a painting, which is then voted on.
“I’ve qualified to be the provincial representative for this summer,” she said, adding that she took part at the national level 2014 with the Art Battle Canada group in Toronto as well. “We got to paint in front of a couple thousand people – right in Maple Leaf Gardens.”
It’s an exciting venture to be sure – 20 minutes can go by awfully fast when one is tying together all of the aspects of finishing up an attractive work of art. “You have to pull the idea out of your head – you can’t take reference photos or anything – and you have 20 minutes. The music goes and they count you down. After 20 minutes, the brush is down and you step away from the canvas!
“You never know your competition – for starters. And you never know what is going to the public. It’s really a toss-up as to what’s going to be out there. I’ve done everything from landscapes to figures to a bird’s nest,” she added with a smile. “It’s always a matter of what can I do this time around?
“It keeps me on my toes a little bit, and it also keeps me attempting new stuff.”
These days, Harris’s own style continues to evolved. “Art Battle has really pushed me into changing my style a bit, so now I’m doing more acrylics. I still love the water-colour, where I prefer to do my more high-realism pieces.”
Harris is also an avid photographer, and draws much of her inspiration for painting from photos she takes while on her travels.
Meanwhile, Harris has also launched Away to Play, where she hosts painting events either in her own home or at a venue. Folks can enjoy a time of exploring their own creativity in a fun and relaxed atmosphere with friends, co-workers or family members for pretty much any type of special event or celebration.
According to her web site, “No previous painting experience is require. There are no expectations to be worried about. Simply enjoy being creative at your own level in a casual and relaxed setting. Visit and enjoy the company of your friends.”
To top off her already busy schedule, she’s also completed illustrations for a friend’s newly-written children’s book. Penned by Ann Campbell, the book is expected to be available this spring.
Meanwhile, Harris is a firm believer that painting is a skill that can be learned, given that the person applying themselves to the craft is willing to invest the necessary time.
“If there is a desire and an interest to learn,” she said. “You’ve just got to want to do this – if you want to, I can teach you how! There are so many technical aspects that can all be taught. Then as far what you want to do with it – you can go in the direction you want to.”
For her personal work, Harris feels like there is always something new to learn.
”I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface.”
For more information about Marianne Harris, check out www.paintwerxstudios.com.