About Ellen McMahill
I graduated from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL in 1973 with a degree in art unaware of the labyrinth my life would take on the long journey developing myself and my artistic expression. In 1977 I learned to make tapestries on a small hand loom and bought a large tapestry loom (6' x 6') the same year. From then until 1999 I made large tapestries. I participated in art shows, winning one Best of Show and some honorable mentions. I was the area director of Florida Craftsman, a large fine crafts organization, for Northwest Florida for a year in the 1980s. I had solo shows in Tallahassee, Florida. I say all this to explain that I understand the necessity of participating in the political process of art, and that all this happened while I was involved in my personal life of relationships and work.
In 1999 I decided to switch mediums because I felt that tapestry weaving was no longer the direction I wanted to go in. I went through a period of making pen and ink drawings with one solo show in Tallahassee, FL in 2002 at a small gallery called Nomads. In January of 2003 I felt a strong desire to paint though I had never felt like painting before. The feeling became so overwhelming that I finally got all the materials together and started painting. It was the most satisfying creative activity I had ever done. It was simply my time to paint.
In 2004 I moved from Tallahassee to Atlanta, GA, the largest city close to where I had spent most of my adult life. It was a very lonely time for me, but I got serious about painting and being an artist and met a couple of experienced artists there who helped me become more focused and professional. After several months and some additional moving around, I moved to Los Angeles in January 2006. I learned a lot more about painting in Los Angeles before packing up again to move to Sacramento in late 2007.
Until September 2011 I was painting in a magical realist style. I've become more aware of the possibilities of abstract art in the last three years and have been studying color, color theory and new innovations with acrylic paints and new mediums. I've made the transition to abstract using my own method for pouring acrylic paints mixed with various amounts of water. I'm interested in expressing my internal dialogue with color and organic forms, exploring the themes of the essential nature of existence and the effect of color and form on perception as I continue to explore and experiment through the medium of acrylic paint on canvas.
I have been painting for eight years in acrylic paint. It has taken me that amount of time, painting daily, to understand the nature of acrylic paint and how I can use it within my own style of expression.
I paint now without brushes by pouring acrylic paint mixed with varying amounts of water onto the prepared canvas. The use of rich, brighter colors creates complex interactions that emphasize the particular meaning and beauty of each piece. The patterns that occur fascinate me as they reflect patterns in nature, including human interaction. Two or more paint colors or human beings can come together, but we can never quite predict the outcome of the interaction that will take place.
I control the particular color, vicosity and where the paint will be on the canvas, but the uncertainty of the actual patterns formed is what energizes the finished piece. The essential nature of existence and the effect of color and form on perception are two of the main themes that I continually explore. Organic forms, concentrated colors interacting with neutral colors and the natural viscosity of acrylic paint allow me to express my internal dialogue of ideas and emotions.