A BFA graduate of Moore College of Art, where she was recipient of the Emily Sartain Traveling Fellowship and the Lila Acheson Wallace Scholarship, Eileen McDonnell was also primarily educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Post Bacc; the Violette de Mazia Foundation at the Barnes Foundation, in Merion; and Takabijutsu Atelier Mura, in Tokyo.
Following undergraduate years’ drawing experimentation, McDonnell focused on plein air as a mode of interpretation, her favored medium initially emerging as pastel. Subsequent landscape classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts produced a more vigorous and spare spontaneity to her work. Having established and exhibited several bodies of work in this fashion, a more painterly tenor began to inform her compositions, largely influenced by a concentration of figurative work, in oil.
While living in Tokyo, McDonnell studied sumi-e with Faure Harada; the discipline of this tradition’s tonal accuracy and economy of brushwork marked a departure from her previously academic strategies when first addressing a blank paper/canvas. It was while writing observational assignments during Violette de Mazia scholarship tenure in the galleries at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, that she became immersed in a more modernist approach. Most recently, she has incorporated the aforementioned experiences into a progressively abstracted body of mixed media work. Having shown in numerous juried exhibitions and frequently commissioned for large scale panoramas, she is represented in both public and private collections.
Locally, McDonnell has represented the Conshohocken Art League, Woodmere Art Museum, Whitemarsh Community Art Center and area libraries, via lectures (composition) and painting/drawing demonstrations (watercolor, alla prima and pastel). Presently McDonnell is instructor of both the figure drawing and junior/teen fine art programs at the Conshohocken Art League.
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