Who am I? What defines and excites me? What is it that I have given meaning to in this world? What is the most personal, close and dear to me story that I have ever shared?
There are some people who spend their entire life seeking meaningful answers to these questions, and when they do find them, they preserve them in the form of art. When I spoke to Jill McLean for the first time, I was taken. She had perfect answers to many of life’s questions and somehow, I knew why. If you look at her work, you will know too!
“As an artist, I have always been fascinated by life. The victory of the human spirit, that spark inside every human being that encourages them to follow their heart, look beyond, overcome challenges, illuminate themselves and the world around them attracts me. Life is like a gift every day. We don’t know how it will turn out as we open it, but a lot of what we do know as individuals, is a perspective on how to receive it. For every suffering that we encounter, there is a healing path. There is light to every darkness, so continuing to rise despite adversity is the key. You know, travel has been a prominent part of my childhood, I have seen people, places, different cultures and what captured me most is that despite being unique, all of them share a common thread of deep value towards humankind, and resilience of the soul, a lot of which I focus on in my work.”
Jill was born in Los Angeles, CA and grew up in Corona del Mar. Her education concluded with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fine Art at the University of Oregon. Her early career included an independent communication design business. She now lives and works as a professional artist in Chicago, IL. Jill is extremely faith-centric in her work and her art reaches out to people of all faith systems.
Jill McLean / Shimmer / Oil and chalk pastel on paper / 2018
Jill McLean / Emerald Memories / Oil and chalk pastel on paper / 2018
Art is a beautiful reflection of courage the artist takes to present itself in the most honest and real form. It has a meaning, a relevance, a concept, a story attached to it and above all, an artistic thought process. In Jill’s artwork, one would find an exquisite combination of emotion and intellect, a desire for cohesion. Colors merge to create a pattern, an eternal story, a look into one’s soul.
Although she mainly works in oils, when I saw Jill’s drawings for the first time, I noticed humans in the most basic form; she calls it “The Nudes”. I wanted to know if she was inclined towards roots, and yes, I was right!
“Family is very important to me, they are my roots. Like every family, we have our share of challenges, but we have always been supportive of each other. I pull a lot from my foundation, the teachings I have received not just from my parents but also from experiences, or people that I have met in life. This allows me to illuminate humans without any external filter, in their original form – imperfect yet unadulterated. I call them ‘Nudes’, they are not contained by any barriers, they are not held in chains, they are free-spirited, like we all should be.”
Jill McLean / Jenny 1 / Charcoal and Graphite on Paper / 2002
For Jill, life is not about perfection, but rather discovery. She finds new meaning to life every day, a new promise to fulfill. She loves Mondays because they bring her a new set of possibilities and challenges to overcome. “I feel if something is not working, I would try to understand ‘why’, but I wouldn’t overthink it. I believe in natural flows, they are authentic. For the ones who feel it’s easy to transform a thought process into an art form, its not. We too face challenges, we also feel like we’ve given all of ourselves. The whole intention of telling a story, being confident and courageous about it, preserving it – it’s a spiritual experience and definitely very consuming.
Contrary to what the world thinks — that a lot of artists fear their own elusive genius — I can say for myself ‘No, they do not’. The fear is more about what others would think about us or our work, because we lay ourselves bare in every way. For us, the story can be strange, dynamic and vulnerable, but we have to show the truth, telling everyone our story the way it needs to be told. This can only happen if we keep our belief system intact.”
Jill McLean / Epiphany (Detail) / Oil and chalk pastel on paper / 2018
Jill McLean / Walking With You (Detail) / Oil and chalk pastel on paper / 2018
The more I was diving into her work, the more I became curious to know if she has ever been influenced by another artist. “Yes, I have!” She chuckled followed by a short pause. “I love the work of Scottish architect and artist, Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but if you closely observe his work you would find how structural and methodical it is. His watercolors were transparent, the lines, shapes, colors would overlap and create a beautiful pattern. Then, there is another artist Mark Rothko, I love his work for the exquisite flow of bands of colors, the gradients he uses, his compositions are very intense. And, the last one I would say, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, his work is very special to me, but I feel most inspired by his personal story. How he conquered his deteriorating health condition and continued to create until the end, he painted and painted and never stopped. His paintings had no lines, just colors flowing into one another and if you take a step back, you could actually see a picture.”
Jill opens her studio doors during the monthly 3rd Fridays at Zhou B Art Center, showing new works and socializing with collectors, patrons and friends. One of her larger works on paper is on display in the group exhibition “Centerline” on the 2nd floor of Zhou B Art Center this month. She’s currently developing a new collection of works on paper titled “Jewels In My Eyes”.
Jill McLean / In Your Fullness / Oil on canvas / 2018
Looking ahead to 2019, she’s forming a new line of creative works for her art business that relates to the fashion industry. This week they just completed a video interview in her studio with Zhou B Art Center that talks about her creative life.
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To learn more about Jill McLean and her beautiful artwork, connect with her below: