A 1975 graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, Mike McConnell worked for more than 30 years as an illustrator before focusing on his fine art. He often turns to nature for inspiration for the vivid visual stories he tells. He uses paint in a collage-like way, cutting out shapes with vibrant colors on handmade wood panels, paper, and found material.
McConnell won the President’s Best of Show award for the 2016 Biennial Maryland Regional Juried Art Exhibition for his painting Bear Carver. He is also a 2016 and 2019 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award winner and a 2017 finalist for the 13th Annual Bethesda Painting Awards.
My paintings, drawings, and constructions are fueled by life experiences and nature. I work intuitively, combining, editing, and recombining marks into compositions that are unexpectedly recognizable. I don’t set out to tell a story, but my many years as an illustrator inevitably weave their way into my work. I don’t want to learn anything from what I paint. I often look at things in my work and wonder what I did to make them. What I want from finishing a piece is the confidence to start the next one and know it will end up making me happy. In the process of finishing a piece, I want to step back and giggle.