Tommy Buell McDonell was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in Grosse Pointe Farms. While she loved art, teachers told her that she should never pick up a paint brush again. Tommy was stubborn, however, and so she continued to doodle. And one of her favorite places was the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Educated at Lindenwood College (now Lindenwood University), where she concentrated on English Literature with a concentration in Renaissance Art and Literature, she received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Communication Arts in 1974. During her time in college she studied art history during the January classes, living in London, Greece, and Italy. During the summers she traveled with her mother to Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
Tommy lived in New York City from 1979 to 2008. She received her Masters Degree in Interactive Telecommunications (ITP) from Tisch School for the Arts at New York University in 1997. And in 2006 she received her PhD in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at the Steinhardt School of NYU.
Tommy has worked for both for profit and non profit companies and institutions. However, her primary work has been in education, teaching immigrants and refugees to speak English and teaching college and graduate students research writing. She taught at programs for NOW-NYC with the Jobs Training Partnership Program and at the Learning English Adult Program. In writing she taught at Marymount Manhattan College, New York University, College of New Rochelle, and Teachers College, Columbia.
During the fall of 2007, Tommy saw an advertisement for watercolor classes. As she wasn't teaching, she decided to do something fun for a change. She knew her husband would be retiring soon, and Tommy just wasn't the type of person to sit at home or go to luncheons. She wanted to be able to do something where she could continue to learn and talk classes. Lifelong learning was important to her.
She fell in love with watercolor and took classes and private tutoring in NYC from 2007-2008. She then moved to Pinehurst, NC where she became a studio member of the Artist League of the Sandhills in Aberdeen, NC. Tommy has studied watercolor with Linda Kemp, Sterling Edwards, and others. She has also studied Alcohol Inks with Karen Walker of Sandford, NC. And she has taught Alcohol Inks at the Artist League.
Tommy's main work is in Inks: Acrylic Inks, Alcohol Inks, and Watercolor Inks. She is an award winning artist in Pinehurst, having won awards at The Artist League of the Sandhills and The Campbell House. Her work has been seen in NC and in Dallas, Texas.