McDonnell has persistently lived close to nature and often in raw wilderness, this provides the artist with a distinctive visual experience which informs and frequently imposes a choice of subjects.
For the artist the strongest, most affecting visual experiences in his 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 a still, perfect moment and being in the presence of great art. McDonnell believes that it is not the image 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.
Originally from Toronto, Murray McDonnell attended the University of Toronto in 1977, where he received a Bachelor of Arts; he relocated to Saskatchewan in 1978.
McDonnell’s work is represented in private and public collections across Western Canada, Ontario, the United States and England.