5 Quick Questions with Meg McLean

By Paige Roehrig on June 7, 2019

In this week’s blog we’re getting to know Meg McLean through our Five Quick Questions series, in which we interview different Co|So members about their lives as artists. This week, Meg shares how she kept “accidentally” signing up for art classes in college, how she views the world, and all that inspires her to create art, from tea cups to Wayne Thiebaud.

Meg McLean, Twenty Foot Plunge, oil, 2016

Question 1: When did you decide that you wanted to be an artist?

I didn’t really have a choice; I came out that way. I certainly didn’t consider myself an Artist with a capital A, I just knew I reacted to the world very visually, and I wanted to draw everything. As a kid, I was mostly at home making things; pictures, little illustrated books, clay animals… It never occurred to me that the other kids didn’t also run home from school to pull out their TV table and sharpen their crayons. When it came to college I tried to major in something else but kept falling off the wagon and signing up for art classes, and ended up with – surprise – an art degree. My smorgasbord of jobs since then have always been creative, so what was I thinking wanting to be an archaeologist? Being an artist has been the best decision I never made. As the saying goes, ‘If the shoe fits, wear it’.

Meg McLean, Beacon Hill Blooms, 10” x 8”, oil on board

Question 2: What inspires your artwork?

Certainly landscape, but also architecture and skies and rocks and flowers and puddles and tea cups and the list goes on and on. I see paintings everywhere. A constant ‘harvesting’ of compositions goes on in my head as I look at the world through virtual picture frames. A few of those ideas eventually find their way to the canvas. I’m also constantly inspired by other artists, visual and literary, who catch light and atmosphere in their work or simply make enviable marks with their medium.

Meg McLean, Acorn Street Afternoon, oil on panel, 6” x 6”

Question 3: What artists (living or deceased) do you draw inspiration from?

I draw inspiration from a long list of book illustrators, like Trina Schart Hyman, Lisbeth Zwerger, Carl Larsson, and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and painters such as Constable, Sargent, Wayne Thiebaud, Matisse, Diebenkorn, Hockney, Hopper, Grant Wood, the Canadian Group of 7, Ann Ward, Mary Sumner, Anna Dillon, and Japanese and English woodblock artists of the early 20th century.

Question 4: What do you consider your most important tool when it comes to making art? My sketch books. They hold ideas and initial responses to places and things I would tend to forget otherwise. They’re my brain in a spiral binding.

Meg McLean, Back to the Ferry, Devon, gouache, 4” x 4”

Question 5: How do you know when a work is finished?

Someone famous said a painting is never done, you simply walk away from it. I find that a painting has a way of saying “Hey, YOU!” from its place on the easel until I fix whatever it is that’s keeping it from seeming complete. If I try to walk away too soon it always calls me back.


See Meg McLean’s work at Co|So in Small Works: Evolving on display now through August 18th, 2019.