Marlene McPherson was born in Vancouver, B.C. into an ethnic Mennonite family. Raised in the faith with a deep appreciation for music and respect for the land has all influenced her creative journey. Desiring a career in the visual arts from a young age was foreign to her family and Marlene is the first practicing artist in her known family history.
Marlene considers making art to be an enjoyable, life-long, learning activity. As a child she studied classical piano with the Royal Conservatory Program but drawing was her favored activity. Later as a preteen Marlene had an opportunity to regularly visit a neighboring artist’s studio, Mr. Janzen, and spent many hours quietly watching him paint. She attributes this unique experience to helping strengthen her commitment to become a practicing artist. Marlene began her formal studies during her teen years with Abbotsford artist Gladys Murray and then enrolled in the fine arts program at the University College of the Fraser Valley for post secondary studies.
After acquiring on-the-job experience in commercial printing and graphic arts with Hacker Press Ltd. in Abbotsford, B.C. and later owning her own Graphic Design Company, M.G.M. Graphics, Marlene moved to the Okanagan with her young family in 1992. Soon after, she founded M.G.M. Fine Art Studios, offering art instruction to children, teens and adults. Discovering a passion for encouraging others to also explore their creativity, Marlene developed a unique teaching style and curriculum. She has also been an instructor with the City of Kelowna and led many workshops for schools and local art groups. Marlene’s teaching is skill based and covers acrylics, cartooning, mixed media, pastels, watercolours, pencil, charcoal and ink. Her art programs are accepted by B.C. Provincial schools as an alternative to the B.C. Provincial Art Curriculum.
Marlene works in a variety of media and has held active status with the Federation of Canadian Artists since 1998, which she exhibits with regularly. Her artwork is in the permanent collection of the District of Lake Country as well as being featured in C.E. Krueger’s book, Beauty is… A Collection of Okanagan Art. Marlene exhibits regularly with the Lake Country Public Art Gallery, Vernon Public Art Gallery's Rental Program and Members’ Shows, the Central and North Okanagan F.C.A. Chapter Juried Shows, and on occasion at the Federation of Canadian Artists' Gallery on Granville Island in Vancouver, B.C. Most recently her painting; Rich with Promise was displayed in the Mennonite Heritage Gallery in Winnipeg, Manitoba. In 2008, Marlene was nominated as 'Teacher of the Year' through the Okanagan Art Award recognizing her teaching contribution in the Fine Arts and in 2010 Marlene was nominated for the ‘Creativity in Business Award’ through the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce.
Marlene’s artwork often contains personal narrative reflecting her life. It illustrates her community of Lake Country, ponders her Mennonite heritage of the Christian faith and mirrors the daily rhythms of her life. She is presently working in acrylic, pastel and watercolour, sometimes combined, and focusing on personal interpretations of local landscapes and experiences.
“Through the various seasons of life, I have continually sought to explore my creativity. My artwork has evolved, fit into precious moments of time between teaching, work and family.
Moving to the beautiful Okanagan from the B.C. Coast in 1992 brought a fresh focus to my work as I embraced my new community of Lake Country with its warmer palette of colours and gentle horizons.
Since then, my artwork consists of reoccurring themes which I now recognize as ongoing series developing over time which I often hold onto for continuing inspiration and exploration. I enjoy walking the land with my husband, who is a keen outdoorsman, experiencing nature firsthand. Making sketches, taking reference photos and, when possible, plein air painting, I record and interpret the feel of the land. I am influenced by new ideas and experiences which I ponder and process, while my working methods adapt as I study, experiment and explore.
Currently I'm working in acrylic, pastel and watercolour, sometimes combined, and focusing on local landscapes and experiences creating personal interpretations. Recently, I've become more contemplative in my work as I reflect on my Mennonite heritage of faith, respect for the land and the sanctity of life. My art echoes this as a sense of life's deeper meaning and purpose impresses on me. The opportunity to personally experience this mystery fills me with gratitude and wonder as I feel inspired to share this story with my art.”