A Painter’s Evolution by Tommy B. McDonnell, PHD

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I have only been painting since 2007 when I saw an advertisement in NYC that said I didn’t need to know how to draw to take a watercolor class. My private school told me never to try art because I was awful. And even at the Artist League of the Sandhills (ALS) I was told my colors were too bright, and to be a true artist I had to be able to draw.I am not sure what makes a true artist, but I have won many awards, had shows and some of my work hangs in interesting offices. And trust me, I doodle but don’t let me draw your child or pet.

My artwork is abstract expressionism and is silently whispering to me to become more abstract. So far, I haven’t listened. People who know my work can pick it out, whether it is signed or not. I have a defined style.

For the last two years I have won First Place in Mixed Media at the Artist League of the Sandhills. These two paintings couldn’t be more different. Prior to that I won a second place in Mixed Media at the Campbell House and that work too was very different. I work in collage, Alcohol Inks, Acrylics, Encaustics (hot wax), oil pastels and more. I also often use stencils.

I moved to Moore County in 2008. I’ve studied with Karen Walker of Sandhills, Linda Bruening from ALS, Linda Kemp’s workshops and others. I also have taken more than several online classes. However, my work remains my style. I use colors, shapes, stencils, and my dreams as I work. I believe that both the texture and the bright colors are important in my paintings.

While I am a retired Jack of All trades and have an educational background, I regularly paint about 20 hours a week. I also watch videos and travel the Internet looking for art shows. Painting is important to me in many ways. I have MS and painting keeps me grounded and helps with pain; painting Mixed Media is important to me also in that I have cognitive problems with my MS in ordering information and making sense out of what I want to say. And even though my work is abstract, most people do come away with thoughts or feelings.

I recently moved into Penick Village and I have two studios there. I welcome anyone who wants to see me do my work. While my website is never up to date, you can always see new work through my individual Facebook page or my art page. I look forward to hearing from you.