While deciding which pieces to hang at the Showcase Gallery in 100 Mile House on Jan. 7, Michelle Brown talked about a move that changed her life and renewed her passion for painting and focus on family.
Tired of the “rat race,” she quit a finance position with the Abbotsford Police Department and moved to 108 Mile Ranch a year ago. She, her husband, Kevin, and their daughter, Dakota, are building a house there.
Giving up a career and financial security for more time for art and family was a big tradeoff, Brown says, adding it was a worthy one.
“The last 15 years were really hectic with my career and it was really hard finding time for my art, and seven years ago my daughter came along.
“It was really hard at first [moving to 108 Mile Ranch]. Being career-orientated for 15 years and working 60-70 hours a week to no financial control, not having a career and not working.”
Now, she paints as much as possible. It’s her first time hanging multiple pieces in 100 Mile House, though she has had the odd painting on display at Parkside Art Gallery as part of the Cariboo Artists’ Guild.
Brown has done a number of small and large size acrylic paintings in the past year, some of which are on display at the Showcase Gallery, located inside the South Cariboo Business Centre at 475 Birch Ave., for the month of January.
The paintings feature a variety of themes – landscapes, flower gardens, sunsets, winter scenes, a lighthouse, rocks, a group of hikers winding up a trail on Whistler Mountain, a vineyard in West Kelowna – all of them extremely crisp and colourful.
“I love intense colour,” Brown says, adding it wasn’t long before she found inspiration in the South Cariboo.
“I thought I better get ‘Cariboo-ized’. Driving up here, I’m taking pictures [with a camera] out the window on the fly….
“Up here, it’s so different. I miss the mountains a little bit, but I’m in awe everyday of seeing deer outside in your front yard and back yard. The mass of expansive sky, sunrises, sunsets, and my daughter, snow. It’s beautiful.”
She’s planning a show, which will feature paintings of landscapes, later this year at Parkside Art Gallery in 100 Mile House.
Drawing and painting were actually Brown’s first primary forms of expression, she explains. She was born with a rare throat disorder that went undiagnosed until she was five years old.
“I couldn’t talk. I was so quiet. The way I communicated when I was quite young was just by drawing. I think that’s where it all started.”
Before working in Abbotsford, Brown worked for TELUS in Burnaby as an entertainment website producer and travel writer. One of her paintings at Showcase Gallery is a scene from Africa.
“I found there’s something beautiful everywhere you go.”