Vernon artist Michelle Britton is one of the many artists

Vernon artist Michelle Britton is one of the many artists

Artist paints with determination

Michelle Britton was left a quadriplegic after a stroke 13 years ago, but she has managed to pursue her love of art and forged a career

From an exotic Hawaiian beach to the familiar beauty of Kalamalka Lake, Michelle Britton’s landscapes take the viewer on a vibrant and colourful visual journey.

The Vernon artist is one of many who will be showing and selling her work at this weekend’s annual Shoparama Holiday Gift Sale.

Getting to this point has been long and arduous for Britton who 13 years ago had a brain stem stroke that left her a quadriplegic.

Then living in Victoria, she had earned her business degree and was close to getting her pilot’s licence.

After moving to the Okanagan to be closer to family in Vernon, Britton began painting four years ago.

“I started painting with the help of the recreation department at Creekside Landing, where I used to live, and I was shown that I could do it,” said Britton, in an interview via e-mail. “To paint, I put my right arm into a sling and the canvas is on an easel in front of me.”

On her web site, Britton sells her prints, cards and calendars, which helps to supplement her monthly disability cheque.

Without the use of her arms or legs and the inability to speak, Britton clicks morse code into a computer that speaks for her.

“I always use a photo to paint from, so the person helping me knows what I need, such as the paint colour. Some are of places I’ve been, pictures people have given me or from friends on Facebook.”

While she particularly admires the work of French impressionist Monet, Britton likes any work with bold colours.

This isn’t Britton’s first time at Shoparama, and she also showed at Creative Chaos last year.

“Ingrid (Baron, show organizer) has good shows and it allows us to get exposure and network with other artisans.”

With a biography coming out that details her life, Britton hopes to show others that anything is possible.

“It’s always been my personality to just do things and think later. This isn’t that different‚ anyone can really do anything if they try.”

The Shoparama Holiday Gift Sale takes place Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Vernon Recreation Centre auditorium and gymnasium, 3310-37th Ave.

“We promise a merry mix of artisans, entrepreneurs and home-based businesses — baking, too,” said Baron. “We’ll have a visit from Santa, door prizes and a concession on site.”

Admission is free, but you are invited to bring an unwrapped toy for the KISS-FM Santa Toy Club or a non-perishable food donation for the Salvation Army Food Bank.

For more information, call Baron at 250-542-5983 or