Thursday, February 28, 2019

DPW Spotlight Interview: Jan McLean

Each week we will spotlight a different DPW artist who will give away one of their best paintings. To enter to win Jan's painting "Charleston Basket Weaver" go to Daily Paintworks and click on the link at the top of the page announcing their interview.

From Jan's DPW Gallery Page:

Hi, I'm an artist specializing in landscapes. Clouds are especially fascinating to me, as well as the effects of light on the landscape. I try to capture the feeling of a place in my work. (click to view gallery)

Tell us a bit about how you first started painting.

I would spend a lot of time as a kid drawing typical little boy stuff like police cars, cowboys and helicopters. One day when I was maybe five or six years old I couldn’t think of anything to draw, so I remember asking my Granny and she suggested I draw the flower garden. I wasn’t sure how to go about drawing a garden so I just tried to draw what I saw instead of drawing “symbols” for things like I had been doing. That way of thinking and seeing that I had stumbled across back then was a bit of a revelation to me. I was fascinated by drawing but eventually I began to feel the need to also explore color because there was simply too much color in the world to ignore. I was in my twenties when I began oil painting and it just seemed to fit.

Did you have any stops and starts in your painting career?

Many starts and stops over the years which I like to think of as taking the scenic route. My day job as a graphic designer left little time or energy for painting, but now that I’m retired, I’m able to devote more time to painting and just the enjoyment of making art. I love painting large canvases but I also want to work on some smaller daily (daily-ish) paintings and possibly explore a slightly looser style.

Charleston Basket Weaver
(click to view)

Enter to win by clicking on the link at the top of the DPW home page announcing Jan's interview.

What mediums and genres have you experimented with?

Lots of graphite drawings, some pen and ink, colored pencil, and watercolor, all of which I love, but I plan to concentrate on oil painting. My style has always been realist but I have tried to make my work not as much about realistic details but about how those details combine to create a cohesive composition.

Which ones have "stuck" and which ones have fallen away?

I still love drawing, which has the added benefit of being one of the best therapies in the world. Nothing can quiet and clear your mind like spending thirty minutes with a pencil and sketchbook. I think oil painting will always be my favorite medium.

Thunderhead
(click to view)

Which ones are you looking forward to exploring?

Oil painting offers so many possibilities of expression in terms of color, surfaces, types of brushes, palette knife, thick impasto or wash, etc. It’s one-stop shopping for creative exploration.

Who or what inspires you most?

Nature and how light affects the landscape are constant inspirations. Clouds are some of my favorite subjects to paint and also to just sit and watch. I love seeing what other artists are creating and there are so many incredible artists who are willing to share their thoughts and methods online. I’ve learned a lot and continue to learn from and be inspired by them.

February Evening
(click to view)

What does procrastination look like for you?

Some days it’s hard to focus for one reason or another, so I’ll get away from art for a while and go fill up the bird feeders or cook something in my cast iron skillet.

What techniques work to ensure that you make time for your art?

Sticking to a routine helps me. I usually wake up early, make some coffee and start working on a painting. I can usually get several hours of good painting time in before other responsibilities distract me.

Summertime
(click to view)

How do you generally arrive at ideas for your paintings?

I look for interesting light, interesting shapes, subjects that evoke a certain feeling. Usually while I’m looking for ideas, the ideas just seem to find me instead.

How do you keep art "fresh?" What techniques have helped you avoid burnout and keep your work vibrant and engaging?

In the past, when painting time was scarce, I would generally begin with a quick outline sketch of a subject on the canvas without much prep work and hope for the best. But, lately I’ve been starting out with some basic thumbnail sketches to work out the composition and become familiar with the subject. This always leads to “what if” ideas—what if this tree were bigger, what if the road went more over this way, what if the shadow was darker, etc.—which makes creating art much more exciting for me.

Miss Lucy
(click to view)

What do you feel you are learning about right now as an artist?

Picasso said “It takes a long time to become young” and I feel like I’m starting to understand what he means. Art requires some discipline but at the same time it has to be fun, a sort of controlled abandon.

What makes you happiest about your art?

The entire process of creating art makes me happy. Painting, drawing, stalking clouds, waiting for the right light. I feel lucky to be where I am in my life right now and I’m looking forward to some quality art time ahead.

Thanks, Jan!

© 2019 Sophie Marine

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