GVG Studio Tour: Elle MacLaren

Elle MacLaren in her studio with several works in progress, 2017


I visited Elle MacLaren in her Santa Fe studio to see her new encaustic paintings and get to know a little bit more about the artist who makes them.

Elle MacLaren’s creative process manifests as an exploration of environmental images.  Material, color, and texture are the important elements of this exploration using encaustic, metal, cement, oils, graphite and various other media.  Her work references landscapes, cityscapes, and “planetscapes”.

“I am interested in the relationship between people and natural and manmade environments. There are many layers to observing the familiar.  There is an imprint, a memory, a feeling that goes beyond observation.  The images I create aim to bring the viewer into seeing the environment on a deeper level.  It is my intention to evoke a response from the viewer that gives them a larger sense of knowing the source when looking at the familiar.”

The artist’s easel with work in progress


Renee: Tell me about a formative experience early in your life as an artist.

Elle: When I was ten years old my mother took me to an exhibit of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings at the Detroit Institute of Arts. I had been drawing with crayons and pencils ever since I could hold them.  When I looked at those oil paintings I fell in love with them, the richness and depth of color pulled me in.  I was given a set of oil paints shortly after that and have painted with oil ever since.

Renee: What is your favorite medium to work with and why?

Elle: I love paint.  I love everything about it, I even love the word itself.  I love oil paint and the way it glides onto and into the canvas with my brush.  I love mixing the colors and dipping into the paint.  I love encaustic paint and the way the melted wax flows through the brush in the truest colors I can imagine.  I love oil paint sticks for their sensual and buttery quality when applied to different surfaces.

Antarctica | encaustic on panel | 26 x 35


Renee: How has your practice changed over time?

Elle: From age 6 until about 26 my style was strictly representational, including portraits and some commercial illustration.  When I started working with mixed media I learned to play and loosen up.  The media itself was inspiring me more with imagery in the sense of using shapes and color to express myself. My work became abstract/conceptual which I find much more freeing and expressive as it allows both myself as the creator and those who view it to have a more personal experience.

Renee: What are some of your future career goals you’ve set for yourself?

Elle: I plan to continue to play and experiment – to push the limits of what medium can do. My current and future intention is  to make statements about relevant issues in the world and have as many people as possible see those issues expressed through my art, and, when viewing, respond in ways that give them a deep sense of knowing and understanding.

Elle MacLaren | Moulin I | encaustic on panel | 30 x 30


Elle holds a BFA in drawing and painting from Alma College.  She continues her ongoing experimentation with media, exploring new materials and pushing the limit of what they can do.

To read more about GVG’s artists through the GVG Studio Tour Series, click here.

All interviews have been conducted by Renee Lauzon, Gallery Manager at GVG Contemporary. If you have any questions you can email Renee at renee@gvgcontemporary.com.

To see more of Elle’s work, stop by GVG Contemporary @ 241 Delgado Street in Santa Fe, NM, or visit her online gallery page, by clicking here.