I spoke with St. Albert, AB-based artist Lorraine Bérubé recently. She’s watercolour painter who also will jump into acrylics, pencil crayon, and alcohol ink. She has some rich, colourful pieces mostly focused on flowers and scenery.
She is a big part of the St. Albert Painters Guild, serving as vice president and being their go-to person for publicity. That latter role definitely came out in our chat.
Later in our chat, I also had the opportunity to ask her husband, Paul, a question, which was a good piece of fun. I hope you enjoy my chat with Lorraine (and Paul) as much as I did!
[Featured Artwork: “Hollyhock“ by Lorraine Bérubé. Watercolour pencils on 10″×14″ Arches hot-pressed paper]
The following responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.
01. Rock, paper, or scissors?
Fire. *laughs* I just learned that one.
02. What are three interesting facts about you?
A. I’m short.
B. I have five tattoos. My son is a tattoo artist so I support him and we collaborate on some art together.
C. I’m an active member of the St. Albert Painters Guild. I do the publicity and I’m also the vice president. I also spearhead with another member, collaborating with local businesses. We have artists that hang their art in a business for three months to help beautify their offices and then we trade it out for another artist. All transactions are done between the artists and the buyer.
03. What is the main medium you work with?
Watercolours and acrylics, pencil crayons, and alcohol ink.
04. What inspires your art?
Something that’s appealing and something may be a bit challenging for me to do.
Doing animals is a big challenge. In particular, I did a wolf and getting all the fur, the individual blades of hair, taught me a trick with pencil crayons. I’ve actually done quite a few pet portraits. I enjoy it because it’s different from the flowers and scenery, so it’s a challenge.
My watercolours are watercolour pencils. I have the palettes and I have the tubes, but my preference is to colour with the pencils because I get the colour intensity and I can paint on difference surfaces as well with the help of mediums, like fibre paste, which gives a lot of different textures. *shows a bottle of fibre paste*
05. Are you more productive at night or in the morning?
But I’m most productive at the lake. We spend our summers up at Beaver Lake. We have a trailer with an add-on covered deck. I get more painting done there than I do at home. At home, there’s too many distractions, going here, going there.
06. Is your art your career or a hobby? Something else?
I’m retired. So now it’s kind of my part-time career. I’m very active. I do three-and-a-half shows a year with the St Albert Artists Guild. We have a spring show; we have Art in the Open, which we added when COVID hit us and brought back by popular demand; and then we just finished having a fall show. The next one is a country craft fair, which is a collaboration with the painters guild, potters guild, quilters guild, and botanical guild. We fall under the umbrella of St. Albert Place Visual Arts Council.
07. What is the most unique thing about the city you live in? (St. Albert, AB)
We have a lot of talented artists here. There’s more than people think.
It’s a beautiful city. It’s very green in the summer time and it’s very picturesque. There’s a lot of photo-ops for people. I’ve been here since 1981. I wouldn’t move out. It’s a nice, quaint city.
08. What kind of training do you have?
My parents recognized I had a talent at a young age, so they had me set up with private lessons. I took art lessons at a convent where some nuns were teaching programs. I also had more formal lessons from Evelyn Friesen who expanded my knowledge in all mediums. She taught me all the aspects of oil painting. We didn’t do acrylic but we had the oils and the watercolours.
I kept that up for a long time, until I was 17. Then I found my husband-to-be and things changed. Even after I got married, I was self-taught as a calligrapher so I would do small things in that area. Art has never been out of my life, but was on a smaller scale at that point.
But I didn’t do any formal training at university, like taking Fine Arts. I took workshops and learned on my own, asking questions and really connecting with people here in St. Albert, especially after learning about the Painters Guild.
09. Where did your passion for art start?
I’ve always loved it. I would draw figures of my friends when I was young. Not necessarily the faces, but the side view. I was always drawing.
In school, my teachers would keep all my science books because I would draw the fish, the mason jars, anything. If there was anything to draw at school, they would ask me to do so.
10. What is your favorite drink?
Caesars, beer, and clamato juice in the summer time, and piña coladas . My favourite colour is red. *laughs*
11. What household chore do you actually enjoy?
I enjoy cooking. I don’t like doing the dishes.
12. The art is one thing, but what’s your secret to generating interest and ultimately selling your art?
Promoting myself using social media and then having some good contacts. Through the art shows that we’ve had, I’ve been very successful at selling my pieces. You have to promote yourself.
13. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t got around to?
I’d love to learn Spanish. I speak French, so I think that Spanish would be fairly easy to learn. We do like to go to Mexico, but we haven’t gone in a few years.
14. What would be the most annoying thing about having yourself as a roommate?
*calls her husband, Paul*
Paul: I’m going to open up a can of worms here, if I’m not careful. *laughs*
Lorraine: Maybe all my art stuff all around the place?
Paul: But we moved, and at least you’ve at least contained it to this room now.
Lorraine: Where we used to live it was in the living room, the kitchen, everywhere.
Paul: Maybe sometimes she’s not organized.
15. What is your go-to band or singer?
I like Phil Collins. I would love to go see a concert of his.
16. What app do you use most often?
I have a routine: I check my emails, then my messages, and then I check Facebook. Then, I have to check it for the St. Albert Painter’s Guild; Instagram too. I like to play games like Scrabble and I’m back to playing solitaire now.
17. What is one common misconception about being an artist?
There’s a few things: “Did you really draw that? How long did it take you? I haven’t got much money to pay for it, but can you draw something for me?”
When you give some people the price, they lose interest. But they forget the time it takes to do it. They will buy a $300 coat, but if you ask them to buy a $300 painting, they’ll balk at it. It’s a hard sell.
18. What do you hope people get out of your art?
Enjoyment. If it’s somebody that I know: That they know the person who painted it for them and that there’s a lot of meaning to it. And, that it brings beauty in to their house.