Item 12422 - Mary Lane McMillan, ca. 1910

Item 12422 - Mary Lane McMillan, ca. 1910
Contributed by Hollingsworth Fine Arts
Item 12422
Mary Lane McMillan, ca. 1910
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Artist and illustrator Mary Lane McMillan and her musician husband George McMillan established the McMillan School of Fine Arts Vacation School at their summer home in Rome.

The home on Crystal Springs Camp Road was used as an arts camp in the 1920s and 1930s their summer home in Rome. Those who attended were students from their residence-studio school in New Rochelle, New York. George taught piano and Mary taught sketching and painting.

According to the 1933 McMillan School of Fine Arts brochure, "The Vacation School is located in the small town of Rome, fifteen miles from Oakland, Maine, a village on the Maine Central Railroad... The School buildings, including our Camp-home, are removed from state roads and set among hills and trees on the shore of Great Pond, (the) largest of seven of the Belgrade chain of lakes... Fees cover board and room, occasional use of row-boats, canoe, power-boats and camp facilities provided for the enjoyment of resident-students..."

Summer sessions lasted 14 weeks beginning the third week of June and ending the second week of September.

Mary Lane McMillan began spending time in Maine in 1922 where she enjoyed painting in "The Afterglow," the garden at the McMillan camp. She taught outdoor sketching and painting in various mediums including pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, watercolor, pastel and oils. This was the result of her "plein air" painting experience in Italy in 1910 under the instruction of the noted American impressionist William Merritt Chase, who encouraged his students to work from life outdoors rather than in a studio.

Mary continued to vacation at her summer home in Maine for over 30 years; however, it is currently unknown how long the Vacation School was in existence. In August of 1956, at the age of 72, she is known to have performed puppet shows in her home for the local children and campers in the area. A miniature theater with two stages was set up in the main room of her camp to showcase her original puppet creations.

During that summer Mary was assisted in her puppeteering by visitors from nearby camps including Beverly Stevens, age 12; Louise Cummings, age 13; and Margaret McMullen, age 15. She also had the help of neighbors who served refreshments to audience members. As many as 50 people would crowd into the camp each Friday to catch a show.

Mary's time in Maine began after a successful career first as an art teacher at Polytechnic College (now Texas Wesleyan University) in Fort Worth, Texas from 1906 to 1912, then as a book and magazine illustrator in New York from 1912 through the 1930s.

Her illustrations appeared on the front covers and in stories published in numerous magazines.

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