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Ellen McMahill graduated from Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL in 1973 with a degree in art unaware of the labyrinth her life would take on the long journey developing herself and her artistic expression. In 1977 she learned to make tapestries on a small hand loom and bought a large tapestry loom the same year. From then until 1999 she made large tapestries. Participating in shows for several years, as well as being area director of Florida Craftsman, a large fine crafts organization, for Northwest Florida for a year in the 1980s, she slowly discovered that tapestry weaving was not satisfying as an expression of her evolving creative voice.
In 1999 she began to search for a new medium, renewing her skills with pen and ink, having a solo show at local gallery, and then realizing that painting might be the medium that would challenge her and would provide her with the means to discover deeper layers of expression.
From January 2003 until September 2011 she painted in a magical realist style, studying the masters and other prominent, contemporary artists, traveling throughout the U.S., and continuing to create a large body of work. By October 2011 her studies with color and form and discussions with other artists lead her to the possibilities of abstract styles. New innovations with acrylic paints and new mediums became her focus. Intuitively knowing that her future would ultimately be in this area, she experimented with mixing water with acrylic paint to test its boundaries, finding it to be a medium perfect for expressing her ideas and emotions with complex color and organic form.
Her themes are nature and fantasy. Browns and warm grays combined with color are her palette. She is fascinated with this particular placement of passive, calm, neutral colors with vivid, bright, emotional colors. Through her images she creates an ambiance of fantasy worlds drawing the viewer into swirls of color and detail, delighting the mind and the eye.