Bio: Christopher McLean is an artist who works mostly in oil, ink and mixed media. His work incorporates a precise technical style that is influenced by Art Nouveau and Pop Surrealism. The goal of McLean’s art work is to create images that are captivating from a purely aesthetic viewpoint, but also contain much to ponder in terms of content. He sees his art as successful when it comes together to create a complete visual identity without presenting his subjects as closed. Perhaps most importantly, while some very specific ideas can be culled from his images, McLean is careful to leave a generous depth of space for the viewer to explore and develop their own interpretations of the work, resulting in art that can be viewed again and again, always offering some fresh insight.
More of Christopher McLeans art work can be seen and bought at http://www.christopher-mclean.com
Painting My Tiger Gold
I can tell you what went into making this piece of art for the September almanac. I could tell you that I painted it on reclaimed wood from a platform, which sat at a home that housed all of my hopes and dreams. I could tell you that at the time of its commission, I knew that the meaning would be quite significant. I could tell you that as I stained each stripe and carefully drew each line, that I was in the process of figuring out how to become just what the theme was meant to be. Because of this, it is easier to explain this piece by sharing my journey while creating it.
This year has been the most difficult time of my life. It is almost impossible for me to figure out how I have been able to get through what I already have, but almost equally impossible to figure out how to walk down the road ahead. For a while, I thought that the answer was being tough.
I tried looking tough, keeping an even demeanor, acting as though nothing was wrong. If anything gets in my way, I will simply be…tougher. Toughness, as I came to know it, was rooted in my fears. I was scared of what was happening to me, to my life. Hurt by the things I could not control. Moving into unknown territories and having everything I had loved and become familiar with evaporate. I was, I am scared.
In this dark place I found out that this heavy armor of toughness was not going to help me find my way, and in fact, it was wearing me down. I had placed myself on mute and coasted across the landscape afraid of company. I had begun to rely on being something that would never allow me to heal.
You see, while I wanted to hurt, trying to simply be tough forced me to extinguish my emotions, my problems, my mistakes and my pain. Tough wanted me to be scared, because the second I let my guard down, well, that is when life gets you…or so I believed. Tough wanted me to be scared and all the while brave let me be scared and I learned the difference.
Here’s the truth about bravery. It makes you want to throw up. It makes you cry. It makes you lose sleep and weight. Being brave means you are scared. It’s ugly and messy and not at all heroic looking when it’s happening. Most of all, brave wants you to heal past pain and find joy again. It helps you reach each problem, turn it into a puzzle and with a deep breath, solve it.
In the end, this golden tiger represents my fears, my doubts, my restless nights and it was while I was painting it that I was learning about bravery. I still have a long way to go on my current journey, but there are a few things that I know I must do. Sing into my most terrifying moments. Avoid being alone, because we need each other. Use the currency of joy wherever I must pay my tolls, but most important, be brave.
By Christopher McLean