McDonnell determinedly lives close to nature, often in remote locations, in order to inform his art practice with distinctive visual experiences. By this means the artist’s choice of subject is directed / imposed.
Originally from Toronto, Murray McDonnell attended the University of Toronto (BA 1977, B.Ed 1978). After which, he moved to Saskatchewan to teach High School art and music, where he also works as a wilderness guide-instructor and plays with a jazz/contemporary music ensemble.
The penultimate statement of an artist is contained in the body of the work produced. That is where one goes to see (the) ‘what’ the artist is doing. To sum up in a succinct way what your eyes have told you about the work, the paintings are, generally, atypical compositions characterized by the flattening of space, an emphasis on precisely rendered surface pattern, and the use of saturated, focused colour….
The ultimate statement of an artist ought to deal with the why of production – why these paintings, why these images? In my case the strongest, most affecting visual experiences in my life have come from three sources: vistas of the natural world (landscapes that are expansive, landscapes that are intimate and the landscapes of the in-between); the contemplation of still, perfect moments (think of a still life by Robert Mapplethorpe); and being in the presence of great art. It is the last of these three that turned me into an artist. As an artist I believe, and I attempt to convey in my production of these paintings and drawings my belief, that it is not the image [n]or the subject that is important, rather it is the need to make and to share something with others that will reflect that initial powerful internal visual experience that is both important and essential.
McDonnell’s work is in private and public collections across Western Canada, Ontario, the United States and the United Kingdom.