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John McClelland

john mcclelland we are lions collection

With few exceptions John McClelland’s subject matter was mainly confined to cars and houses.  He preferred to present these images in starkly iconic silhouettes. When working with drawing materials, oil pastels or colored pencils, he chose to lay the image on top of a white background, placing even more emphasis on its pared down form.

McClelland also placed a premium on the expressive and tactile qualities of his art.  His pigments were always applied thickly, sometimes building up multiple layers of the same color within the outlines of the image being working on.  In his drawings this results in emotionally charged forms which display a depth of coloration unobtainable in any other way.  Details are perceived only by following the contours of the strokes within the unbroken color fields he has created.

The same is true in his acrylic paintings.  However, he approached his paintings differently.  Rather than a white background, McClelland always provided his paintings with solidly colored backgrounds of either one color, or two colors separated by a horizon line.  As his colors are usually undiluted and rather dark, it was sometimes difficult for the eye to find separation between the foreground forms and the background.  A breakthrough came when McClelland began to draw on top of the paintings with oil pastels.  Not only was a needed degree of separation obtained, but the pastel tended to cling to the ridges of his brushstrokes, revealing their expressive power even further.

Learn more about John's nonprofit Little City Foundation here.

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