A self-proclaimed free spirit, Reba McConnell was the child that would spill the paint on the walls and color outside of the lines.
Sometimes on purpose…just to see what happened.
“I was that guy in the family,” she laughed.
But it was also how she learned what she could create, that she should create.
And because that all clicked, it’s also how she became that gal responsible for creating the dreamy artwork for The Williamsburg Winery’s canned Dry Rosé, as well as the regal wall mural inside the winery’s new Wine Bar in La Promenade Distinctive Shoppes in Virginia Beach.
Self-made and self-taught, McConnell didn’t grow up dreaming to be an artist. In fact, she held a corporate job in the food and beverage industry for many years before being laid off in 2009.
While that experience may have floored McConnell in the moment, it also served as the catalyst for a new career.
“I told myself that I wasn’t going to be disposable anymore,” she said. “I knew I had it in me to be an artist. I knew that if I just stoked this fire inside me, that I could do this.”
And she did.
Though she’s only been a professional artist for 10 years, McConnell – a mom of two –
has made a name for herself both locally and internationally.
She specializes in watercolor art, a tricky medium for many artists because the water is hard to control and can be unpredictable.
Self-taught, McConnell is one of those rare, special artists that can take the beauty and emotion of the moment and put it on paper.
Her pieces have an organic, effortless feel, which fits beautifully alongside her love of painting beach-themes.
“I love my coastal roots, and I love being a native here,” said McConnell. “I don’t necessarily paint sunsets and sunrises, but those colors are like my soul.
Her style is not abstract and not impressionist. It is a perfect mix of form, color, texture and visual interpretation that brings out memories, emotions and thoughts of special times.
“Think of me as ‘your mom meets Jackson Pollock,’” she quipped.
Working with The Williamsburg Winery
Several years ago McConnell was at an event and met the winery’s vice president of marketing at the time who was expanding partnerships with more local businesses.
“Her art stopped me in my tracks,” said Michael Kimball. “I have never had a piece of art speak to me the way her work did – and still does – and I immediately went up to meet her.”
He knew they would work together one day.
“And about a year later he called,” said McConnell, who started first by designing labels for two special wines benefiting the Virginia Aquarium’s Sensible Seafood Program.
Then came the can.
No Way Rosé!
When it comes to inspiration, McConnell says she finds it everywhere and sometimes in the strangest ways.
When The Williamsburg Winery set to release its first canned product – a Dry Rosé – they knew they needed epic art to anchor the can.
They needed McConnell, who immediately spent several hours laying down color and “splattering paint around.”
“I had all these different little paintings all around me, and I looked at them and thought ‘Oh, wait a second, that one over there looks cool,’ so I started ripping them up, and then I could see the layers. I was putting all these pieces together like a quilt and exposing the colors that had the best juju. And that’s how it came about – it’s literally pieces of a puzzle – pieces of other paintings that I thought would go somewhere but didn’t.”
The result was a magical mixture of pastel peaches, pinks and blues – colors reminiscent of a beachy sunset. Perfect for a summer time beverage.
“Everyone loved it, and I felt like I nailed it,” she said.
Following the success of the Dry Rosé, McConnell got even closer to her beach roots and was commissioned to paint the mural inside The Williamsburg Winery’s new Wine Bar in Virginia Beach.
“My first instinct was to create something blurry, something super abstract, but then it evolved into this majestic cluster of grapes – it’s really beautiful,” she said.
McConnell said working with The Williamsburg Winery has been a dream and she loves that the team there has faith in her and her art.
“They completely trust me and just tell me to do my thing” bringing imagination to life.
To see more of Reba McConnell’s art, visit eastbeachart.com or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.