Interview with Edmonton Artist Barbara Mitchell

 by Monika Blichar
It’s always very exciting to meet artists who push boundaries and really go for it creatively. Barbara Mitchell is one of those kinds of artists. She mixes, changes, adds and alters things that we wouldn’t normally think of to create really wonderful and unique pieces of works. She is also an avid teacher and welcomes all kinds of people to take her workshops. I caught up with her today to learn more about her process and her work.

When did you start to make art?

I began doing acrylic mixed media in 2008. Never having done any form of artwork before that, I was surprised to find out that I loved the outpouring of the creative muse on the canvas, which was different than how I had expressed myself previously. Ever since quite young, I had always written articles and stories,  but mainly poetry, and I was blessed in having been published many times. Writing was my expression.
But in 2005 my mom died and from then on, words became too heavy and so I was looking for a new way to say what needed saying. Art is a wonderful way to do this because one can disengage from emotion and just paint with feeling, whereas for writing, one must be involved fully, emotionally, so that the words can make it to the page in the manner we want them to be heard/read.
I went on from acrylic painting to encaustics to water-media to many forms of mixed media…alcohol inks on tile and yupo paper, shadowboxes, mix media ladies, altered bottles, jewelry…and it continues to this day, always changing things up. I  create late into the night, and because I am retired, I paint all day too! How lucky can a gal be!!
You are teaching workshops – can you tell us about your programs and how people can sign up?
In my studio I hold many women’s classes focusing on art, techniques, demos, but we enjoy a lot of sharing and camaraderie also. I do instruct outside my studio too, and have been blessed to teach frequently at the Treasured Memories Scrapbook Store, Camrose Chuck MacLean Art Center, Central Lion’s Senior Center,  North Edmonton Senior’s Association and Smeltzer House, along with visits to Calgary where I have taught also. Recently I enjoyed a day-partnership with Darlene Madden from Inspiro Mix Media Works,  co-instructing with her in her own studio in St. Albert…I led the group in poetry, Darlene guided us making spirit boxes. We will be adventuring again, together in this, on March 10th.
You can contact me by email : 
Or by phone/text – 780-289-2121
It is best when you just contact me with your interests and tell me what day or weekend works for you. I get back to everyone and send images by email of my workshops and what you can expect. I do a lot by word of mouth, or when I am at markets, shows, gallery showings or teaching, I hand out brochures.
I teach alchohol inks on tile (tile whimsy), vases, cupboard doors also  “art in the round” where we take upcycled light fixtures and turn them into beautiful globes that come with a stand. They are decorative and usually displayed indoors, though I have found they can sit outside in a covered area if there is no direct sunlight. Alcohol inks though brilliant in color, will, like anything, fade quickly in hot direct sun.
I love teaching altered bottles, mix media ladies, encaustics, tissue painting and acrylic such as The Socerer’s Forest (shown above), and lately I am instructing alot of pour workshops where we utilize acrylics in our pours but mix it up with other yummy ingredients.

You say you are an experimental artist. Can you tell us what that means?

Experimental to me, means I am not bound or guided by rules. If it is suggested not to mix two ingredients together, then likely I will want to pursue it just to see what effects I can get. Most often I am very pleased. It might mean painting on cupboard doors instead of canvas, mirrors instead of wood, integrating leather and lace in a perhaps “conventional”  painting, which then makes it more avante garde and not so conventional.
I guess in a tiny way, I am a rule breaker.  I do follow some fundamentals of basic art principals, like using the right brush to create clouds, or the right watercolor brush for a certain watercolor affect, but generally I am happy “dancing in a pot of paint” creating my own adventures, that I then share with the public at markets and workshops.
Dancing in a Pot of Paint is my website name which I hold onto and pay for, but no longer have the actual website. After being severely hacked a couple of years ago, I just didn’t quite find the time to put myself back out there….so I guess I am also ‘experimenting’ with having no website and no social media. But the experience has shown me I am very busy by word of mouth and I email a lot with potential seekers of art and workshops, by just sending my photos and information through the one-on-one channel of communication.
For me, it works.
It would not be everyone’s way to go.
Will you have any show specials, promotions or exclusive offers for Art World Expo Edmonton attendees on March 16 at the Muttart?
I do have a draw at my table where I give away an art item I created. Please stop by, say hello, enjoy the art and put your name in!
I will be showcasing many of my tile art pieces and will have an “Art World Expo special”  where anyone who purchases two tile art can have a third at half price.
I will also have many of my altered bottles on display as well as a few mix media ladies and my curved glass pieces.
Where would you like to see your art/business in 5 years?
In all honesty I am very happy where I am at now.   I love to hold the classes while people wish for them and the interest is there. But I also love time for my kids and family and friends, travelling and enjoying my yard/garden. So I re-evaluate each six months or so, and change things up according to how I feel at the time.
Certainly in five years time I still want to be creating, enjoying color, and dancing with the muse!
Just for fun:  If you could interview any artist living or deceased, who would it be and why?
I would wish to interview Rumi. He was a poet and sufi mystic, born 1207 and died 1273, whose treasures of wisdom and colorful insight offer me constant poetic uplifting. His poems make me think, ponder some more, want to change the way I live my life, embrace all things good and beautiful and find joy in the not so happy moments as well.
I would want to ask him….who did you love that you write of such joy…and such sorrow? Where did you walk that you know not only the beauty of the landscape but the inner landscape of emotion of the heart and soul as well? What pictures did you draw in your own mind that you can so readily impact me 870 years later, with your simple but profound language and make me paint beautiful and invigorating artwork, just by reading your words?
To learn more about Barbara Mitchell, send her an email or visit her at the show! You can’t find her online so you must be sure to get a ticket for the show on March 16, 2018! See you there!


Monika Blichar is an Entrepreneur and Artist. She is owner of Monika’s Art Boutique-Studio & Gallery in North Vancouver and producer of Art World Expo and Painting Dreams International Art Tours. She is always pushing boundaries as an artist and creative entrepreneur. Her love of the arts has been a part of her life since childhood.

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