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Art & Life with Jill McLean

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jill McLean.

Jill, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve always created worlds of my own through projects, stories and artworks. Of course, as I grew up, this became a serious endeavor and I went to art school in Oregon, culminating with a Bachelor of Science in Fine Art. From there, I invested myself – for over 25 years! – running an independent graphic design business. I was completely energized by the business side in tandem with the creative side … I always felt so grateful to be allowed to problem-solve AND be creative!

Eventually, I came back to my one true love … making art. It took me a few years to shake off the layers of commercial design and get down to business showing the world what I was really about and what I had to say. By this time, I found out what I was made of and never looked back!

Since then, I have been a full time, professional artist and I never doubt – even for a single day – that this is my gift to enjoy in life. It’s always in all I see, breath, taste, hear, and experience spiritually, and I adore sharing this with others.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
“Create Life” is my constant light and guiding principal, my True North.

In contrast with today’s world and the ever-increasing culture of death, all of my work presents the idea of regeneration, and illuminates my trust that there is much more than what our simple minds tend to define as life. My stories are faith-centric, and I use color, movement and energy to capture the fullness and gratitude I experience each and every day. Although visually energizing, the works are also – in contrast – extremely deep and profound in meaning.

In essence, my creations are a translation of the words written upon my heart, and ultimately a private view into the true love story between myself and Life.

Each work is formed in an abstract expressionist mode, with vivid, fresh, lively colors being a huge part of the story. I’m happiest working with oil paints, so this medium on canvas has been my mainstay for many years. Recently, I’ve also branched into working on paper again, one of my first loves! I particularly missed drawing, so in combination with oil washes, I have introduced chalk pastels into these wonderful new compositions on paper, allowing me to create line again, even though still highly expressive.

Currently, I am working across a wide range of sizes, but particularly enjoy working in a large format with the new pieces, many of them 50″ x 50″ and 50″ x 72″, such a beautiful sight on paper! Last year, I discovered a love for developing small wire flower sculptures and intend on advancing in this medium over the next 2 years so that it is an extension of my body of work.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
One challenge that seems to be most prevalent is the demand of our time beyond just working in the studio all day in order to be a sustainable artist. There is marketing, having a proper online presence, consistency of posts in social media, and cultivating our own relationships with collectors, the public, exhibition opportunities and SO much more … It’s a lot to manage!

Personally, I am invigorated by the entire process of having a holistic professional career as an artist, and I’m a huge advocate of building it as an actual business. With 25+ years as an independent graphic designer, I always cultivated a solid business approach to my work, which serves me well now, to say the least. Yet, even if I didn’t have this underpinning to support my efforts, it is very clear that to succeed as a professional artist, one must be on board with these elements at least to some degree. It has become central in staying fresh in the art world, in addition to consistently producing new work and growing creatively.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
My studio is in the Zhou B Art Center and participates in the official 3rd Fridays each month … my doors are always open, so stop in to see new works!

Both commissioned and studio works are always available,

Soon I will be launching a section of my website as a place to acquire smaller pieces, but I regularly have studio visits with new and potential collectors for all of my larger paintings and commissions. I am developing relationships with a number of galleries and art consultancies as new venues for artwork acquisitions in 2019.

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