About Art Artist Interview with Barbara McLean


When speaking about abstract art in Nova Scotia, Barbara McLean’s name is imperative. Her work has been purchased by the Shannex Corporation, Nova Scotia Art Bank, GPI Atlantic, as well as many private collectors across Canada, USA, and Korea. She also conducts workshops for art associations throughout Nova Scotia.

A solo show of her work, titled “In Transition” is on display until July 28th at Visual Voice Fine Art, 128 King Street, Truro. McLean’s large abstracts and landscape paintings are charged with energy and optimism. They glow with colour and engage the viewer with confident intuitive brush strokes. Dynamic gestures often lead into areas of more subtle investigation. There is a sense of mystery in many of the pieces, hinting that a discovery is just beyond view, perceivable if only one could look long enough. They reveal a compelling personal philosophy: a welcoming of change, a belief in serendipity and the courage to investigate the unknown, a philosophy presented through the medium of paint.

Originally known as an expressionistic landscape painter, McLean’s show “In Transition”, is about her work evolving more into abstraction with the passing of time.

What is your background?

I graduated from Sheridan Collage in Graphic Design in the early 1970s and completed a fine arts degree at NSCAD University in 2001. I have been working steadily ever since.

How has your practice changed over time?

I began as a landscape painter, more expressionistic than realist. Some of the pieces in this show illustrate that stage in my development. Gradually my work became more and more abstract and shifted from oils to acrylics combined with other media. Abstraction is where I “feel at home”.

Which artist has inspired you the most?

I like many abstract artists. We have some very good ones right here in Nova Scotia, Wayne Boucher and Leya Evelyn for two. However, my all time favourite abstract artist is a young Canadian, Anne Laure Djballah.

What are you working on at the moment?

Currently I am working toward two solo exhibitions: The pieces for “Marks in Time” to be shown at Craig Gallery, Dartmouth in September 2017 are nearly completed. They respond to entries from my journals over 20 years. The other large exhibition is “Embodiment” curated by Tila Kellman and will be on view in St. F.X. spring of 2018. I will also have work with other Peer Gallery artists at the Archives, Halifax, fall of 2018.

Where do you sell your work?

I sell my work through Harvest Gallery in Wolfville, Peer Gallery in Lunenburg, Teichert Gallery in Halifax, and this is my entry into Visual Voice in Truro. I am very much looking forward to working with Nuri Guerra.

You can also find me at my website:  http://barbaramclean-artist.com/ and on Facebook where I occasionally post my work. I do also welcome people to my working studio in Lunenburg, 59 Green St. but please call ahead – (902) 634-2450.

Recently McLean was also featured in another article in the Truro Daily News prior to her show opening: