Like many fine artists, oil painter Marie McCallum always loved art, but practicality led her to pursue a related career with greater earning potential.

After almost 20 years as a sign artist and gilder, Marie finally made the leap to oil painting in the early 1990s. Her interest in graphic design and background in mural work shines through in her fine art, which often features bright colors and lively portrayals of urban environs.

Marie shares her other sources of artistic inspiration here.

How did you get started in art?
I’m probably like most little kids. I did my first painting, or crayon job, at three years old on my wall.

How has your art evolved?
[I started with] art in high school, drafting. College was graphic design and basic drawing, painting, all that stuff. Then, I thought I wanted to be a graphic artist, but it was such a flooded field. I kind of fell into the sign business, and I was a sign artist and a gilder for almost 20 years.

It was a great way to make a living, but it wasn’t very artistic because you’re doing somebody else’s logo. You’re doing letters, you’re doing hamburgers on the side of Frank’s Burgers. I wanted to expand my sign business, and I started doing murals and then I learned trompe-l’œil. Then I got into oil painting in ’93.

What inspires your work?
Anything and everything. I have a dressmaking background, too. I’ve been a sewer since I was a little kid because of my grandmother. So, I have a really deep interest in clothing. That was [the inspiration behind] my first series —— the window shopper series.

That’s about clothing and image and those mysterious places that shop windows are, and who you can become inside those clothes. But then, you can put those duds on and walk out into the world that’s reflected in the shop window. So, that’s a big inspiration.

What is most challenging about your process?
Sometimes just trying to interpret shapes and composition can be tough. Sometimes I think, “Oh, this is a great idea.” I get it laid out, and then I get part way through it and it’s all wrong.

What makes the Celebration of Fine Art unique?
It’s really neat because you’re with all these other artists, and you get to talk shop, learn new things and hang out with really creative people. Then, the collectors and the public that come through here —— you’re getting this feedback every day, all day. People are happy because they’re looking at all these beautiful things, and that’s just a really nice environment to be in.