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05/24/14
Bio Update
Filed under: General, About
Posted by: Mary @ 9:08 pm

My grandfather gave me my first camera when I was 8 years old and I have long enjoyed capturing that special moment on film and now digitally. I learned to sew on my mother’s old Singer sewing machine at the age of 11 and remember sewing over pins and breaking the needle. Quilting and sewing have been a passion for many years because of my love for fabric and all things fiber. Having been imbued with a strong sense of color and design from an early age, I am always making or creating something out of paint, glue, bits of paper, photographs, ephemera, fabric, yarn, buttons, beads, found objects, and my imagination. Mixed media art journaling captivates me and I have filled a number of art journals with expressions of my thoughts and feelings about things that are important to me.

I live in a small town in Connecticut, one of the six New England states in the northeastern United States. I have two grown children, a son and a daughter: they are the light of my life and my best friends. My career world has touched many areas including computer science, research, web design, graphic design, administrative, marketing, and volunteering. The best part of all has been the people I’ve met along the way.

Enjoy in the doing and be happy in following your own path to express yourself creatively.


Mary MacIlvain

maryweb {at} macilvain.com

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Two Totem Quilts
Filed under: General, Quilt Art, Mixed Media, Creativity, Inspiration, Design
Posted by: Mary @ 4:30 pm

Today I attended the regional SAQA-CT meeting which was held at the Windham Textile Museum in Willimantic. The Connecticut Region of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) supports and promotes professional fiber artists and teachers as well as quilters working to develop their fine art skills. I was so thrilled when I viewed the Local Color exhibit and discovered that there was a local chapter for the national organization. It is so exciting and inspirational to be a part of a group that is exploring art quilts and pushing the envelope on quilting, taking this art form to a new level. I have both an art background and a quilting background and have been thinking about trying to combine the two, all the while working in somewhat of a vacuum locally with online groups being my main inspiration and support. I have one hand in paint/mixed media and the other hand in fiber/quilts.

These two totem quilts were placed side by side and scaled using Gimp, a free photo editing program, for ease of display. Totem-1 (7″x22″), the wavy piece on the left, was made from decorator samples that I obtained from a friend. I never say no to found fabric! The heavy fabric was free-form cut with scissors, stitched down flat, and then stapled. Totem-2 (8″x24″), the piece on the right, was free-form rotary cut and pieced intuitively, then decorative yarn was arranged and stitched down in place of quilting. I develop a piece as I go along in an intuitive way. I used to plan everything out but I have let go of that to a great extent and prefer to let my muse have her way.


Mary MacIlvain

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Unfinished Canvas
Filed under: General, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration
Posted by: Mary @ 3:44 pm

It can confuse people when I show unfinished work but unfinished work shares a lot more about me and my creative process. This piece is actually the first canvas I started in the Bloom True workshop and the finished piece I showed in the previous post was the second canvas started. There are 2 other canvases that I am currently working on as well, one larger (24″x30″) and one small (9″x12″). This one and the previous one are 24″ square, larger in scale that I have worked with paint before. And this is my first time painting on canvas instead of watercolor paper, bristol board, foam core with a crumpled tissue paper base, or fabric. I make quilts as well and have worked on a large scale primarily on traditional quilts although I now prefer to work on art quilts on a smaller, more intimate scale.

The finished canvas progressed naturally and with ease. I have struggled with this piece and almost gessoed over the whole piece to start over about half way through. I’m very glad I didn’t do that. And do you know why? Because my personality is coming through at this point, showing joyfulness, spontaneity, perseverance, courage, and so many other things. Is it finished? Almost. How will I know when it is done? It is intuitive and hard to put into words. I will listen to the voice inside… my voice… and then I will know.


Mary MacIlvain

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Finished Canvas
Filed under: General, Painting, Creativity, Inspiration, Quotes
Posted by: Mary @ 3:18 pm

I took an online painting workshop this winter with Flora Bowley called Bloom True. It was much more than a painting class… it was lessons in life and a way of being. There was so much wisdom shared and gentle touches from Flora along the way as she patiently guided students from all over the world in venturing into new creative territory. I have painted off and on for years, initially with watercolors and recently with acrylics, but this class gave me a fresh perspective on the whole painting process. I have also taken a number of online art classes and have to say that this class was absolutely awesome! I finished this canvas last month and am entering the piece in a juried art show that will be held at Wesleyan University in June. I have entered juried shows before and there is always the fear of rejection but you have to get past that and believe in yourself no matter what the outcome.


Mary MacIlvain

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