An interview with American artist, Jean McGuire

This week I am moving ever so slightly off-piste and stepping away from my author interviews. Instead I am proud to introduce the acclaimed American artist, Jean McGuire, to my blog. It has been a privilege to showcase some of her work and hear about some the successes and failures she has encountered during her creative journey.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a Kansas City native who works primarily in oils. I returned to painting 3 years ago after a 40-year hiatus. Most of my paintings are done with my fingers, creating all the colors in my paintings from four colors: red, blue, and yellow, and white. I love watching the paints flow, shifting colors and shapes almost of their own volition.

2. What kind of artist are you and where do you get your ideas?

I paint primarily in oils on canvas, but I have been exploring other mediums and surfaces. My ideas come to me from all over: the pattern of leafs on the sidewalk; pictures I see on the internet; a glimpse of color or shape that I observe in nature; inspiration can be found almost anywhere.

3. What is your Background and has it had an impact on your creativity?

I was always considered one of the “class artists” growing up, but when I was unable to make my pictures look exactly the way I had them in my head I gave up painting. If I couldn’t be another Rembrandt I wasn’t interested in even trying. When I returned to painting after walking away from the corporate world, I set the intention that I would allow myself to play with the color and not be as invested in the outcome. This path isn’t always easy to follow, but I feel it makes my work uniquely mine.

4. How do you work? What drives you? Are there any guidelines and/or procedures you adhere to which aid the creative process?

I have found that my work ethic is better when I have a studio to go to work. I paint with my fingers a lot, so you can usually find me in a lab coat, non-latex gloves on my hand, barefooted and covered with paint. I usually start by throwing some paint on my canvas just to get started and let things flow from there. Sometimes I have a vision I want to create, and sometimes I just let the paint tell me what it wants to be.

5. Can you tell us about your most recently completed work?

A few weeks ago I painted a rooster for my home, to commemorate my house’s origin as a chicken coop. The painting turned out well and reflects a new look and some new processes for my work.

6. What project are you working on now?

Because of the success of my chicken painting, an artist friend has challenged me to complete a series of 5 chicken paintings. This is very challenging because it’s so easy to rest on the laurels of one project done well. Pushing through to do five on a theme is going to really push me into areas I’ve resisted in the past.

7. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an artist? What has been the best compliment?

The world has been amazingly supportive of my efforts since I’ve returned to my artistic self, but I constantly judge my own work if it strays from my original vision instead of accepting it for what it is. My favorite compliments come from fellow artists. I am somewhat insecure about my lack of formal training, so it means a lot when an artist with that training tells me they like my work.

8. What role do you think Artists play or should play in society?

We are living through a period of unrest and turmoil. While I believe we should all be involved and speak up, I also believe our souls need a break from the severity of reality. Walking into a museum or a concert, or any other source of artistry, is necessary for the balance we need.

9. What is your favourite artwork/artist and why?

I love art in almost every form. Even if I don’t like a specific piece, I always appreciate the work and creativity the artist put into it. I never thought I liked Picasso until I saw an exhibit that connected his work to his experiences in New Guinea. That fresh look at his work made all the difference in my perception of him.

10. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring artists? 

You grow by doing. There is a saying that says that whatever you do 10,000 times you become an expert in. As I continue to paint I can see my work growing and changing with each piece. Even if I don’t like a piece, I always learn something from everything I paint.

11. Is there anything that you would like to say to your followers?

I love what I do and consider myself the luckiest person I know. I would love to have you follow my work, but even more important, follow your own dreams. It’s so hard to risk stepping outside the norm and following your passions, but it’s worth every moment of discomfort once you know how it feels to live your dream.

Please join me in thanking Jean for her candid and open replies. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Jean via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out her work on her website:

Social media contacts:
Instagram @artbyjeanmcguire;
Facebook: @artbyjeanmacguire;