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 sumi-e private tutelage 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 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, compositions became more painterly, 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. Subsequently, while writing observational assignments during Violette de Mazia scholarship tenure in the galleries at the Barnes Foundation in Merion, she became immersed in a more modernist approach. Most recently, she incorporated her 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 (CAL), Woodmere Art Museum and Whitemarsh Community Art Center, including lectures at the art league and area libraries featuring basic composition and painting/drawing demonstrations (watercolor, alla prima and pastel). Presently McDonnell helms adult underpainting workshops, monitors the figure drawing/painting program and instructs junior/teen fine arts classes at CAL.