UNION CITY, Tenn. -- A skipper? A professor? An artist? Who is John Duncan McLaren? A husband. A grandfather. An art teacher. Yes, all of these, and, most recently, the winner of the Local Artist Showcase at Discovery Park of America.
Eight of McLaren's works will be on exhibit July through December at Discovery Park of America. The collection, titled "Women in Hats," will be found on the lower level of Discovery Center near Art Hall.
The community is invited to a reception to meet the artist and be among the first to see the exhibit. The reception will be held at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 7, in Discovery Center and is free to attend. There will be light hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar available.
"I've always sketched and drawn people," McLaren said. "Even as a little boy, I loved to draw faces." And though, "life happened," as he says, he never stopped honing his skills and practicing art. "It was always my hobby."
Although McLaren has created art most of his life, he didn't submit anything into competition or show his work publicly until 2015. Since then, he has won numerous awards and regularly shows his work at the PAPA Gallery in Paducah, as well as other regional gallery exhibits, in addition to Discovery Park. He has also begun to teach art and do commission work.
After a full career as a physics professor at Murray State University, McLaren and his wife, Cindy, cruised the East Coast and Bahamas for 10 years, living on a sailboat. During this time, he honed his skills with watercolor, due to its convenience in a limited space environment.
Many of his works were inspired by photographs of people that he met along life's way.
Recently, he has also begun to paint live models, and offers a "life-art" workshop every-other Monday night at the Murray Art Guild in Murray, where he and his wife now make their home.
Cindy frames the pieces that McLaren displays in galleries and enters into competition. John McLaren also makes frames out of raw lumber and reclaimed wood that he finds in his explorations. "The frame around 'Jenny,' which is part of the collection on display at Discovery Park, was made from an old teak cap rail that John salvaged from Jenning's Boatyard in Reedville, Virginia, where we often kept our boat," Cindy said.
For more information about John McLaren, visit his website at www.teaksouls.com.
Discovery Park of America is located at 830 Everett Blvd. in Union City, Tennessee. The park's website is www.discoveryparkofamerica.com and the phone number is 731-885-5455.