Painting on canvas is not the only way to create a stunning work of art. Working with found materials can produce equally striking results, and one artist has been adorning found stones with mesmerizing designs for almost 10 years. Based in British Columbia, Elspeth McLean channels her love of nature and mandalas into exquisite rock paintings.
With a background in painting and art therapy, the Australian-Canadian artist was first inspired to paint stones after visiting a beach in New Zealand in 2013. “While there, I found a few beautifully round stones. They intrigued me, and an idea began to flourish,” she explains to My Modern Met. “The mini mandala paintings I held in one hand and the round stones in the other merged together in my mind and inspired me to create something new—using a piece of the Earth—these round stones as a new kind of canvas.”
Eventually, this resulted in a series of rock paintings that can be held in a person's palm. “I didn't set out or expect for my mandala stones to become so well-loved—it was a ‘happy accident' and one that I am so grateful for.”
Aside from the bold dotted designs that covered every inch of the stones, the other noticeable aspect of these works is their kaleidoscopic colors. While some resemble entire rainbows, others possess more monochromatic palettes in red, blue, green, and so on. These variations are meant to echo the beauty found in nature. “I draw my inspiration from life around me,” McLean continues. “Color and playing with color combinations is a big influence in my more abstract works and mandala stones. I am always searching and exploring color in new and different ways.”