The Magical Art of Cathy McClelland

February 11, 2018

Art has always been her escape, taking her into the realms of her imagination where she creates. […]

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Cathy McClelland has lived and created on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe for many years. Her love for Tahoe is shared with her love for painting Tahoe’s environment, as well as many other magical themes in life.

At Lake Tahoe Cathy has freelanced as an illustrator, art director, graphic designer, muralist and painter. Her art interests have gone in many different directions from handmade paper creations, watercolor/dye illustrations, paintings, hand painted tapestries and murals. While painting murals she developed her own technique combining acrylic paint, using both airbrush and hand to enhance and detail her work, giving her creations a feeling of depth and the soft magical beauty of nature. She also incorporates glazing into her acrylic painting, which compliments the technique further. As time has evolved, painting became the priority and focus in her creative life.  Her imagination is where she creates her art.

Lake Tahoe’s magical summers were a whole new experience and fall was especially delightful. When winter came, a new love developed – skiing, which is still is a strong passion for her. Lake Tahoe’s beautiful environment is always a constant inspiration for Cathy, bringing her close to the heart of nature. The mountains, water, forest, moon, animals and stars feed her creative spirit. One of her fondest themes inspired by living at Tahoe are the animals, especially the bears. Her intention is to create the magical and innocent qualities of the bear, before his environment was interrupted by development.

Mcclelland spirit of the mustangs The spirit and plight of the wild mustangs is another subject that speaks to her heart. Other themes and inspirations come from her journeys to sacred and mystical places which result in paintings about stone circles, fairy glenns, dream temples, meditations, animals and nature spirits, angels and messengers. Whatever speaks to her heart and soul comes through her on to the canvas or board that she is painting.

“Nature and the mystery of the universe play a big part with my inspiration. I like to weave the two together in my creations, hoping to inspire others to enjoy the beauty of nature and the wonderful creatures around us. Our world is full of miracles and magic. We just need to recognize the beauty and truth of this, and bring it into our lives and into our hearts. I hope that my artwork can be a contribution to others in that direction.” – Cathy McClelland

McClelland grew up in the northern California town of Fairfield, which at that time was surrounded by fruit ranches and farms. Her love for animals, nature and the seasons grew from this place. Throughout her childhood, she drew and painted her daily experiences with a magical flare. She studied illustration at the Academy of Art College, in San Francisco for 3- 1/2 years. In 1979 she moved to the north shore of Lake Tahoe for the summer and never left.

Cathy has been involved in many art exhibits including six successful one women shows. She has exhibited in Nevada and California and is collected nationally and internationally. Her murals grace walls coast to coast. Most all of her work is available as greeting cards and some pieces available as limited edition gilcee prints. Whether it be a mural or painting, her artwork reflects her love of nature and mythical subjects. You can visit her website at

Featured Acrylic Paintings by Cathy:

Coyote Reflection
Size: 12” x 18”

Spirit of the Mustang
Size: 8.5” x 12.5”