'Still Seeing Green' art exhibit showcases local landscapes

The exhibit includes a collection of oil paintings by Meg McLean.

by Kylee Sibilia | 4/6/17 1:00am

New Hampshire residents that have missed the sight of nature underneath all the winter’s snow could look to Meg McLean’s exhibit, “Still Seeing Green,” for a welcome glimpse. The exhibit, sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Dartmouth, includes a collection of oil paintings depicting various New England landscapes. 

McLean, a painter who currently lives in Lyme, New Hampshire, said she is particularly inspired by her New England surroundings because of the sense of history that pervades the landscape here. 

“I’m from the Midwest, but one of the reasons I’m here now is because of the way it looks here,” McLean said. “I just love the atmospheric perspective that you get from all of these hills, and the depth that that gives a landscape, as opposed to flatness. I love the history. I like to see the stone walls, and the old houses and the mark of the person on the land.”

McLean’s attention to the color and character of the land and buildings she paints imbues her artworks with a whimsical element, which is evident to anyone who views them. 

Caroline Lee ’20 commented on the sense of serenity conveyed by McLean’s work.

“You can tell that she really enjoyed painting them,” Lee said. “It’s something I would hang in my apartment after college because the paintings look very peaceful.”

McLean obtained her Master of Fine Arts in painting and drawing from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Also a member of the Copley Society of Art in Boston, Massachusetts, McLean has shown her work at various galleries throughout New England.

In addition to her work in painting, McLean has also worked in children’s book illustrating, though she prefers the process of discovery that comes with the creation of a painting to the choreographed act of producing an illustration. 

“It’s funny, when I illustrate, I can listen to podcasts, but when I paint, I listen to music,” McLean said. “I think it’s a different part of your brain. Illustrating is watercolor and pen and more exacting, whereas when you’re painting, you’re kind of learning as you go along, and you never really know how things are going to turn out.” 

Laura Belback, the program assistant at Dartmouth’s Osher Institute, explained that McLean’s ability to transport viewers through her art is what made her such a well-received choice for the exhibition. McLean works primarily in the oil medium when she is painting, and this is one of the qualities that interested Osher in featuring her work, Belback said. 

While Osher has featured artwork in watercolor, photography, quilting and other mediums, McLean is the first oil painter whose work has been featured there, Belback said.

“If [a work of art] is supposed to be in a specific spot, I’ll include that in the label,” Belback said. “[McLean] actually purposefully didn’t put a location because she wants people to look at her work and see what they want to see and see something that they can relate to.”

McLean is one of many artists whose work has been featured at Osher. The institute is a volunteer organization that provides educational programs for locals and Dartmouth students alike and features artwork from a new artist about once every month. 

Belback explained that Osher aims to expand the arts community around Hanover by featuring a variety of artists in its exhibits.

“It’s really great bringing in people from the community and giving them a space to show off their work,” Belback said. “We have 1,500 members [at Osher], so we have a lot of people coming into our office that might not necessarily see their work, and it really brings a different eye to their work.”

Despite the institute’s work in expanding Hanover’s arts offerings, the organization is also striving to increase the number of Dartmouth students who participate in its programs by offering free membership to students at the College, Belback said.