John McLaren – Featured Artist

86th Annual Paducah Woman’s Club Art Show

April 2023


I am just an old man that enjoys experimenting with watercolor. Over the last decade I have gradually moved my emphasis from realism to emotionalism in my work, and I hope it shows in this collection. People have always been primary inspirations to me, perhaps because they portray and invoke emotions so well. When that emotion can be felt in my art, it makes me happy.

Painting began at an early age for me, but I only discovered the magic of watercolor a decade ago. My earlier efforts were mostly realistic portraits and figures. More recently I have endeavored to emphasize shapes and values, putting less emphasis on color matching. This approach has allowed me to explore my ‘favorite’ pigments based on their characteristics rather than their hue. By using various masking and pouring techniques I can control shape but allow the medium to ‘do its thing’ on the paper.

“Jenny on High Country”

February 2009
Framed 24×28

Jenny and Rick were ‘neighbors’ of ours at Jennings Boat Yard in Reedville, VA. They were originally from Montana, and named their boat High Country. Jenny was working on High Country, reseating the lifeline stanchions when I took her picture. The painting was the first one I did once we had moved back home. It was to always remind us of that period of our life when we lived aboard our boat and shared the ‘simple life’ with those we met along the way.


“On the Chesapeake”

October 2017
Framed 22×28

During our years at Jennings Boat Yard, we made a lot of acquaintances in the Chesapeake Bay area. This painting of D. P. Newton captures the rugged, confident, and calm nature typical of the boatmen of the Chesapeake. A veteran boatman, Mr Newton was inspired by his Mom, who advised him to save everything he could. His recorded stories, drawings, and sketches of life in the Chesapeake Bay area during the Civil War are housed at the White Oak Civil War Museum in Fredericksburg VA.




February 2018
Framed 28×37

“Serenade” was the first large painting I did involving relationships between men and women. It began my fascination of complex patterns as backgrounds.

Best of Show, Visual Evidence Art Show, April 2018, Murray KY


“The Space Between Us”

April 2021
Framed 29×36

“The Space Between Us” was a continuation of the yin/yang relationship thing but was also the first large experiment of my ‘shape-controlled pours’. I did several versions of this, each one morphing slightly until I reached this one. Three layers, Quin Magenta and Phthalo Green on each layer.

Best of Show, Paducah Woman’s Club Art Show, April 2022


“Hula Hoops”

June 2021
Framed 36×28

I played with masking, extra Gum Arabic, and randomized geometric background over loose initial washes. A ‘flying dream’  was the inspiration.

Best of Show, Impressions Art Show, November 2021, Mayfield KY

It remained on the wall of the Ice House Gallery and survived the devastating tornado that occured on December 10.


“On Earth”

July 2022
Framed 30×26

 Another of my loves is geometry. “On Earth” is a study in one-point perspective and makes its debut in this exhibit. Views from above have become a new subject I enjoy exploring. With sources like Google Earth and millions of drone videos and photos, there is a multitude of inspiration.

Loaned courtesy of Maya Arb, Glasgow, Kentucky

Cindy and I are both thankful for the support and inspiration over the years from Maya and her Mom, Carla Clauschee-Black.

“57th Avenue”

August 2022
Framed 30×36

This painting was built up with 7 layers of poured paint, with shapes controlled by masking. I enjoy painting cities with this technique. Painting these urban environments is therapy, reminding me how much I like living in the country.

First Place Painting, Impressions Art Show 2022, Paducah KY

Loaned courtesy of Maya Arb, Glasgow, Kentucky.

“Lunch Counter”

October 2022
Framed 38×29

“Lunch Counter” is making its debut in this exhibit, and includes one of my favorite subjects- old men. The scene comes mainly from a Paducah landmark, the G&O Pharmacy and Grill. The red stools were added to liven up the colors in the painting.

Reference photo and inspiration courtesy of Paducah Life Magazine, January 2021 Edition.

“John at Victor’s”

October 2022
Framed 16×20

This is me waiting for an authentic Cuban at Victor’s Sandwich shop in Murray KY. A milkshake from the DQ right next door makes the meal complete. A tradition for many years in our home town.


86th Annual Paducah Woman’s Club Art Show- Featured Artist

Paducah City Hall Rotunda
300 S 5th St, Paducah KY

Exhibit Dates/Times:
April 24 – May 5, 2023
9 AM – 4:30 PM (Monday-Friday)
Plus Saturday, April 29, 1:00 -3:00

Visit a local art gallery near you.

PAPA Gallery, Paducah KY 
Ice House Gallery, Mayfield KY
Murray Art Guild, Murray KY 

Enjoy Life ~ Enjoy Art!