Found Ocean Stones Are Transformed Into Vibrant Mandalas You Can Hold in Your Hand

Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean

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.”

You can purchase original stones, prints, and more via McLean's online store, and keep up to date with her latest projects by following her on Instagram.

British Columbia-based artist Elspeth McLean transforms found ocean stones into colorful works of art.

Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean

She covers these smooth rocks with colorful mandala designs.

Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean

Each one is composed of numerous dots in varying sizes and hues.

Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean

These patterns and color combinations echo the beauty of our environment.

Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean Mandala Stones by Elspeth McLean

Elspeth McLean: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Elspeth McLean.

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Margherita Cole

Margherita Cole is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and illustrator based in Southern California. She holds a BA in Art History with a minor in Studio Art from Wofford College, and an MA in Illustration: Authorial Practice from Falmouth University in the UK. She wrote and illustrated an instructional art book about how to draw cartoons titled 'Cartooning Made Easy: Circle, Triangle, Square' that was published by Walter Foster in 2022.
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