Elspeth McLean’s home is a reflection of her personality — bright, colourful and full of life. Paintings, fabrics and bits of travel memorabilia adorn the walls and surfaces, reminding one of a gypsy caravan. The window where her work surface is overlooks the Strait of Juan de Fuca and this is where she draws her inspiration. The distant Olympic Mountains are the backdrop to the forests and beaches she has come to love and paint.
Born and raised in Australia, McLean brings a down under influence to her work. She paints dots, millions of them. Those dots become mandalas, landscapes and night skies.
McLean transferred her skills from pen and ink to the more complex and intricate dot work she now specializes in. Her work can be described as pixilated, pointillism or just plain dots. She prefers the dot description. Her work also bear a resemblance to Australian aboriginal dot paintings,Tibetan mandala sand paintings and Impressionism.
She loved the actual process of painting millions of dots and creating an image. She finds it relaxing.
“I enjoy it, it’s time consuming. I like anything intricate and detailed.”
A piece measuring 20X20 inches can take upward of 50 hours to complete. It’s one dot at a time.
McLean, also known as Elspeth Dobres, is married to Sooke musician Adam Dobres. They met on-line and when Adam came to Australia on tour with Toni Childs they met up and the rest is history. McLean immigrated to Canada two years ago and has fallen in love with the West Coast. She misses the warmth and her friends in Australia but she is content with her life in Canada with Adam.
Her art background includes going to a special art high school. She studied psychology and art therapy and traveled to places far and wide.
While large gallery exhibitions have eluded her, she has had market stalls and has exhibited in New Zealand. She does lots of random things to get her work out there and sells online through Facebook and Etsy, at music festivals and wherever she can. She will be at the Moss Street Paint-In on July 20 selling her art and demonstrating her technique.
In her work she is very focused and in the moment.
“Each dot is a decision, a choice, they are mindfully put there.”
She starts with an idea and then interprets it into her own style. She calls it a soulful journey.
“I have lots of dreams or from meditation and these flow through into my art works,” she said. “I’m very influenced by my surroundings.”
She loves beach combing and when she’s out there she fills her pockets full of rocks. These tumbled, smooth stones become mandalas – little treasures from nature.
“Mandalas are used in art therapy,” she said. “They are a window into the soul and a safe contained space.”
These days McLean is the resident artist at Shirley Delicious. Her work is selling, especially the ones with trees and familiar West Coast landscapes. She said it’s inspiring to have people enjoy her work and urges her on her artistic journey.
“With my art I’m always looking for new things, always looking for the next thing.”
For more information go to: www.elspethmclean.com.