Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creatively Featured - Jennifer McClean

Hi all! This week we are getting to know Jennifer McLean. You can find Jennifer at her blog, and her Etsy Shop,

Ocean's Tempest
Tell us about blogging and how it's worked for you.
I started blogging ostensibly to support my Etsy shop and try to get my name known on the blogosphere. Everyone always says, engage in social media etc. to get more exposure so that's what I did. What I unexpectedly discovered was that I LOVED blogging. I truly love the writing process and illuminating subjects for others. It's freeing to be able to explain my own artwork and also do features on other artists. My two new forays into blogging are starting an artist's weekly challenge I've called The Artist's Play Room and Blogging 101, from the artist's perspective. The blogging 101 series started recently because all my bloggy friends started begging me for help tweaking their sites and since I had learned a thing or two over the few years I was glad to help. Those friends then told me I should write down these tweaks because I had an easy to understand style. I never thought I'd teach how to tweak a blog but I'm having such fun! I've found blogging an invaluable addition to the artist experience, having the blog community support and comments is invaluable.

How did you discover your favorite art medium?
My mom used to paint in oils, it fit her personality. When I thought about painting I therefore kind of eliminated that medium as a possibility, it was her thing. I guess the most influential thing was the art we had in our house. We still have my favorite painting from childhood. It's a watercolor of a Prairie  (Saskatchewan) scene of a silo, barn, old fence in the foreground and stormy sky. It's spectacular. I would say this painting was my biggest influence. Beyond that, I just loved the translucence of the paint, it fits my personality just as oils fit my mother.

Raggedy Ann
What inspires or influences you artistically?
I am in love with color and movement within a painting.  I find just trolling the blogosphere and Etsy inspires me immensely. Finding beautiful art always kick starts my need to create. I have a HUGE collection of pictures culled from the internet so that if I'm feeling uninspired, I just go through that file and ogle at the beauty of both photographs and artwork. Either one can easily infuse my need to create. When it comes to the masters, the artists I am inspired by are Van Gogh and Monet. I love Van Gough's paintings for the movement and texture in the pieces, my favorite is Starry Night. For Monet I think it's his use of colors and his romanticism. When it comes to modern artists, I love the work of Tracey Fletcher King, Stephanie Corfee, Andrea Joseph Katherine McLean and Dion Dior.

Which aspect of your art do you enjoy most?
I love watching the subject matter come to life as I draw and paint. It always amazes me as a piece comes together. I do enjoy it all though. I've done many, many kinds of art and craft in my day, from crochet to Piysanka (Ukrainian Eggs), from jewelry making to ceramics. I even had a designer wedding cake business for years, where I created three dimensional realistic flowers that I put on stacked wedding cakes. You know, those cakes you see at celebrity weddings? That's what I did here in BC. The problem was I really only wanted to paint. None of the other kinds of art made me happy. It didn't matter if I had talent in the mediums, I only really wanted to paint. So, now that I am, I love all aspects of it, even reworking pieces that I think are less stellar!

You've Got Mail!
How do you see your future work and style developing?
I am a perfectionist. I fight against that trait as I try to loosen up my style. Right now, I'm learning to doodle, using Stephanie Corfee's new book Creative Doodling & Beyond. I'm hoping that learning to be more creative with doodles will translate to allowing my watercolor paintings to be more flowing and less exacting. My micromanaging of my artwork works in some ways, I'm not happy until a piece is perfect, that can make for good art. But it can also stifle my creativity. In the future I'd like to learn how to allow the water in my watercolor paintings to do more of the work, it means I give up some control but the results will be worth the psychic pain I feel in allowing myself to let go. I'm trying to develop my style, find my niche. It's a process and I hope to get there this year.

How do you manage your time?
LOL, I don't! I'm a terrible time manager. I find that whatever I'm doing takes up my whole focus and time is irrelevant. When I'm creating, time stops for me, when I'm blogging time flies by and I find myself skipping lunch, coffee breaks, even bathroom breaks! Time is always getting away from me, but I figure it mean's I'm engrossed and enjoying whatever task I'm involved in. That can only be a good thing! (time management is perpetually a work in progress though, lol)

Bob's Rose
Have you exhibited work or taught classes?
I have not had my work exhibited but I'm about to be published in the premier issue of a new Artist's magazine called "Featuring". I wrote an article about Holocaust Museum Houston's "Butterfly Project" which is an effort to collect 1.5 million hand made butterflies to represent the 1.5 million children lost in the Holocaust. I was privileged to write the article and include my own and three other artists' butterfly submissions.

I also have not taught a class but would love to do that in the future. There is a space in the commercial building next door to my apartment building where art classes are sometimes given and I'd love to teach there. I'd also love to give online classes like many of my blog friends do. It's a future goal.

How do you go about the design process?
I draw/paint when I feel inspired, which is almost daily. I have no design process, I just follow my heart. I ask myself questions when I have trouble choosing my path that day. What do I want to create today? What art supplies do I feel like using? What colors do I want to use? How big do I want to go? Do I want to try something new or stay with what I'm comfortable with today? Then, with those answers, I winnow down my "to do" list to one project and start that. I also have at least a dozen half completed pieces so I can also choose one of those too! I just let the inspiration guide me.

Do you work to a design or theme or just go with the flow…or something else entirely?
As I was saying above, I don't really plan anything, I choose generally what my subject will be then what art supplies I feel will illuminate my subject the best. Then, as I create, I modify my process as I go. If something isn't working I'll switch to another way or medium. If a piece REALLY isn't working that day, I'll put it away and let it marinate for a week or two, usually, by some unconscious process, I find when I go back to it I've worked out how to proceed. I must admit, though, sometimes when a piece isn't working I get MAD and this can be the best thing! When I get mad or really frustrated I create differently and stop micromanaging HOW to make the art. I just DO it, angrily pushing paint around, just going with the emotion. I've created some terrific pieces that way.

They Call Me Mr. Hosta
Is/was there a significant turning point or defining moment in your style of work?
Yes. When I first started painting about 2 and a 1/2 years ago I was so afraid that I wouldn't be good enough. If I wasn't good enough then my heart's desire would never come to fruition, I'd never really be a prolific painter. That fear was stifling. I didn't believe in my abilities at all, I thought each good piece was a coincidence and the NEXT piece would be awful. Then, one day I tried Plein Air. I'd been (once again) afraid to try as I didn't think I could look at an object and actually draw it satisfactorily, especially when my subject was moving with the wind! I drew out the painting called "They Call Me Mr. Hosta". It came out so realistically that I had to admit, right then and there, that I did have talent, it wasn't a coincidence and my talent wasn't going anywhere, it was here to stay. I owned it, it was part of me. That was my turning point. It changed me and how I thought of myself as an artist. Although we have moved, I still have the hosta that I drew that day. It was dug up and planted it in a large decorative pot which now sits on my balcony. I'm thrilled to see it's leaf stalks popping up through the soil this spring. I can't wait to draw him again this summer.

What have you done this past year?
This past 6 months have been the most creative time in my life. I've stopped being afraid to try something new and have also stopped punishing myself if a piece doesn't work. I just enjoy creating so very much and am reveling in my newly found sketching/drawing skills. I'm blogging more and making more and more art. Soon, by the end of the year, I'm hoping to find a few brick & mortar stores that want to carry my work. I intend to start selling prints & cards etc., not just the original paintings. I am also just creating a new line of jewelry, glass lockets with tiny double-sided original pieces of art within.

With my blog I've added several series this past month. Once a month I'm featuring an artist's interview, much like the interview I've just done here! I've added the Blogging 101 lessons, also once a month and I've started the Artist's Play Room challenge that is posted every Saturday. You're all welcome to come on over and participate, I love see what people create!

Loving Pears
What artistic plans do you have for the coming year? 
I have so many plans I run out of time just thinking of them all! As I mentioned above, I want to be in several brick & mortar stores. I'd like to start entering juried competitions and join Nanaimo's Artistic community in showcases. I would also love to write for the Featuring magazine again.  In addition to the original art, bookmarks and jewelry pieces I already have in my Etsy shop, I plan on offering less expensive art in the form of prints, cards, notebooks and moleskines (altered). To do this I've got to find a good scanner and printer in our city. The next few months will be a lot of behind the scenes work but creating a brand is arduous, especially when trying to expand. It is exciting though!

Would you like to be interviewed for Creatively Featured? If so, please contact Heather.


  1. Thanks so much for featuring me in your amazing AIB. I'm humbled to be included. What a thrill!
    Jenn of

  2. It's wonderful to get to know you, Jennifer! Your artwork is amazing. I am in love with Mr. Hosta! :) I have added you to my Etsy circle - love the bookmarks, too! Thanks again to Heather for a great feature.

  3. I really love your drawings! And your blog, of course!

  4. Hi Jennifer,
    These are really beautiful. I especially love the Raggedy Ann doll. Congratulations on being in "Featured". You have accomplished so much in a short amount of time. Good luck in future endeavors.