14 April 2023
Jeanette McClelland’s art career has come full circle.
Seventy-three years after winning her first art award at the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede in 1950, 85-year-old Jeanette’s artwork will be back at the Stampede this summer.
Jeanette, who now lives at Silvera’s Westview Town Suites, won her first art award at the Stampede as a 12-year-old. This summer she will see several of her large, pastel works featured in a special exhibition.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to be featured at the Stampede this summer,” she says. “It is such an honour.”
The contemporary artist, whose portfolio consists of portraits, landscapes and florals in a variety of media, studied physiotherapy at university. “My studies included many anatomy classes and helped me learn so much about the human body. It made me fall in love with portraiture and characters,” she says.
She has a particular interest in painting Indigenous people after a chance meeting with Chief Walking Buffalo (George McLean) when she was young. Her family encountered Walking Buffalo enroute to the Stampede one day on their way home from Banff. The family became close friends with him, and he visited their home often, inspiring Jeanette to capture his likeness in paint and pastel.
As she raised her three children and continued her physiotherapy career, Jeanette fit in painting anytime she could, garnering many awards along the way, including the Premiere Pastellist of Canada from the Pastel Society of Canada in 1996.
She has received several other awards, honorary positions, exhibitions, and presentations at prestigious art galleries, auction houses, museums, and cultural centers throughout Canada, the US, and France. She has also travelled extensively throughout Canada, the US and Europe, attending workshops and exhibiting her art at events including the World International Pastel Exhibition.
Her works were exhibited at the Stampede many times and for 25 years she took part in the Stampede’s QuickDraw competition, where several artists have an hour to each complete a piece that is then auctioned off.
Jeanette’s works are included in the collection at the Nickle Arts Museum at the University of Calgary (including a portrait she drew of Carl Nickle, the museum’s founder) as well as many other public and corporate collections.
Only a few months after Jeanette moved into Silvera last fall, Westview held a watercolour show of some of her remaining landscapes. “It was so wonderful and overwhelming to have people so interested in my art,” Jeanette says. She is considering helping others at Westview learn to paint.
She says she’s most proud and grateful of her pieces that honour Canada’s Indigenous people. “It’s my aim to make them proud of who they are and were – to help tell their story.”
Jeanette says her mother, Mary Lammle Blunt, provided endless support of her painting career by helping care for Jeanette’s children when she was travelling or working. “She truly understood there are some things in life you cannot pass up, you just have to do them when the opportunity arises!”