Artist Login Donate


Connect with us

ArtStarts in Schools Logo

Roz MacLean

Discipline: Storytelling, Visual Arts
Homebase: Vancouver
Languages: English
Contact Me: Email , Web

Roz MacLean is an award-winning author/ illustrator, visual artist and educator working in traditional and digital mediums. She has illustrated four children's books, two of which she was also the author. She works in watercolour and ink, oil painting, and draws in ballpoint pen. Her books and personal practise centre on themes of emotional well-being, self-knowledge and self-compassion, as well as community connection building. Working as an educator for the past eight years has helped her to understand the importance of emotional literacy and positive imagination, both of which she promotes through her art workshops. Roz has found that the combination of abstract and process-based art with technique and design knowledge can allow students a unique opportunity to recognize themselves as creators and artists in a nonjudgmental space. Roz works mainly in elementary schools, though is also comfortable teaching teens. One of her passions is working with and facilitating creativity for students with disabilities or other complex needs, especially in alternative programs or Lifeskills classes. Roz attended Simon Fraser University's Contemporary Arts Program as well as Emily Carr University, and her work can now be seen in gallery settings, print and digital publications, children's books, and in commission design projects such as albums, posters and logos.


Roz came into our Lifeskills classroom in the Fall and Winter of 2017 to lead an ArtStarts sponsored project, entitled "The Art of Belonging." She and I worked collaboratively to combine her artistic expertise and skills with the unique needs of our students. We chose to highlight social emotional learning component specifically targeting "emotional literacy and self-regulation" based on the Zones of Regulation curriculum. By inviting mainstream peers into our class to make art with us we experienced the added bonus of promoting social integration. While each week's sessions centered on principles of design and themes of exploring internal emotional states, Roz did a wonderful job of making sure each student was encouraged to connect to the medium and materials of their choice in order to fit their unique abilities and tastes. By introducing the class to abstract and process-based art, Roz helped many students learn a new way to create in a state of non-judgemental flow. This way of art making has proven to be a great discovery for many of our students, especially those who can be self-conscious or do not have much opportunity for expression and choice-making in their day to day routine. Every week has been incredibly fun and meaningful for students and staff, and many students who are often shy or non-expressive have really come out of their so-called shells, making images that are both vibrant and filled with intention. Roz was truly instrumental in being able to provide for students the opportunity to access the fine art curriculum. She was a positive influence in fostering inclusiveness and visibility both within the classroom and wider community settings. Her supportive, caring and enthusiastic nature reverberated throughout the entire Art of Belonging project, transforming self-doubts into self-confidence in all the students that she taught during her time at John Oliver Secondary. Eddie Cruz, Teacher, John Oliver Secondary School
Roz visited my kindergarten / grade one classroom to read 'The Body Book' and lead an art workshop. The kids absolutely loved the book! The art activity really helped them to connect with themes and to feel like they were illustrators themselves! It was a wonderful starting point to talk about how we think and feel about bodies. Roz had great energy and was very encouraging. The kids loved connecting with her on a one to one level. Donna Greening, Kindergarten / Grade 1 teacher, Quilchena Elementary
Roz visited my classroom and read Violet's Cloudy Day. She led my class through an art activity that helped the kids realize that they have the ability change their thoughts from negative to positive. This is a mindful activity that students can benefit from in so many ways. Jane Brown, Grade 5/6 teacher, Moberly Elementary

Project Examples

Being in My Body - My Favourite Way to Move

Inspired by my children's book, "The Body Book" (pre k-2), this project is all about helping students develop a positive and healthy relationship with their body based not on appearance, but on what they enjoy doing in their bodies. Today kids are exposed to a media saturated world featuring hyper-idealized bodies alongside diet culture and fat shaming. This leaves many children, even at a very young age, feeling that there is something wrong with their bodies, or that it is okay to make fun of others because their bodies are larger or otherwise somehow different. In the spirit of body acceptance, children will create full body self portraits in the style of "The Body Book" in which they do something that feels fun and great. We will practise skills around drawing, painting, basic anatomy, patterns and colour choice. This bright and celebratory artwork can become a classroom gallery or a classroom book that will always serve as a counter to body negativity in the world.

Resilience Through Story and Metaphor

Being the hero of our own story is very powerful, and developing a narrative of overcoming difficult circumstances can help to develop resilience and self-esteem. This project is inspired by my book, "Violet's Cloudy Day" (for readers gr. 2 - 5) in which the protagonist's anxiety and worries take the shape of stormy "worry clouds". These overwhelming worries are only eventually calmed when she learns to grow "helpful thoughts" that take the form of leaves growing from a tree. The key characteristics of "helpful thoughts" are optimism, self-compassion, and self-esteem. Students will be encouraged to visualize their own interior world through visual metaphors that they develop themselves. Each student will write their own story of overcoming a personal (or imaginary but possible) struggle with the help of these metaphors. This activity situates kids as their own heroes who are powerful agents in problem solving. Students will learn about the book making process, from layout, to creating rough drafts, to creating finished artwork and hand binding their own book.

The Art of Belonging

The goal of this project is to help students to better understand their emotions by visualizing them through abstract art making processes while learning to use art making as a tool that can be used to work through challenging emotions. This project also has the possibility of acting as a connecting space and activity for students with disabilities and their peers (for example in a lifeskills classroom by inviting in typically abled peers). In this case the project serves to create opportunities for expression and agency with students with disabilities, and to shift relationships from "helper; helped" to a more natural peer and to co-creator relationship. Each session we use abstract and process based art to explore a principle of design, such as line, colour, texture, etc., alongside a major human emotion (or "zone of regulation" if that concept is in used in class curriculum). After a number of these session, students offer some of their artwork into a classroom pool to be used as collaging materials. Through drawing, collage and painting, each student creates a self-portrait that is, conceptually, made up of their different emotions. This action underlines not only that each person is an emotional being, but that each member of the classroom community has certain emotional elements in common.

Browse Artists in the Classroom Directory