Reba McConnell, Professional Artist and Photographer

Tidewater Women's Fran Ward recently interviewed Reba McConnell in her Virginia Beach studio.

Tidewater Women (TW):  Reba, tell the readers about yourself, please.

Reba McConnell (RM): I am a watercolorist and a  photographer. I am also a mother of two. I was born and raised in Virginia Beach. My parents grew up here, too.

TW: What is it that really makes your heart sing?

RM: I have always felt connected to the water, especially the Chesapeake Bay. It’s a special place for me. My connection with the water is what shows up in my art.

TW: You have a wide range of talent from photography to painting. Can you describe your artistic process?

RM: I can describe the result first. I always end up with a surprise. I start with a surprise, too. 

TW:  What sets your art apart? What makes your art recognizable as yours?

RM: What stands apart is how I see it from the beginning before I have used any artist materials. I start by seeing the image in reverse. It’s like looking at the negative of a photograph. I see the shadows of the image, and then I tap into my inspiration to see how it will develop. Just like a photograph.

TW: What comes next?

RM: I see the color scheme.

TW: All of that has been envisioned first. Then how does it become an artwork?

RM:  It is applied in layers. I sketch first to establish guidelines. Then I add watercolors. I let the paint do the painting. Finally, I add the ink element to follow the lines and shadows. It is like developing a photographic negative. I wait and see what shows up.

TW: Have you always been an artist? 

RM: No! I was in the food and beverage industry for years and thought I always would be. But a fire was burning inside me. I needed to express myself artistically. I am self-taught. This is a method I have developed. This is the process that works for me.

RM: As a parent, I am being an example for my children. I want them to know that I am doing what I believe in. I hope my children can follow their passions when they discover what they are. I have a passion for service. I listen to what people want, and I can provide that through my art. 

TW: Can you give an example? 

RM: I paint curvy women, real people. I like to help women appreciate their sizes and shapes and show them how beautiful they are realistically and naturally. 

TW: My final question is always: What would you like the readers of Tidewater Women to know?

RM: It took a lot of years for me to give myself permission to be myself. Don’t wait. Find your passion and express it. Do it a little bit at a time. “Fake it until you can make it!” I used the ends of pencils to practice my skills until I could get art supplies. 

TW: Thank you, Reba, for sharing your philosophy, your art, and what’s in your heart.

Contact Reba McConnell, professional artist and photographer, through her her website

Fran Ward

Fran Ward is an artist and writer with a Ph.D. in Metaphysics (the body, mind, spirit connection). She is an active art and music lover who enjoys traditional cultural productions as well as seeking events off the beaten path. Reach her at

back to top

More from Lifestyle

Weaving the Threads of Life

Weaving the Threads of Life

Art Folks 03-01-2018

Artist, managing editor of Op-Ed News, and author of 90-Minute Quilts, Meryl Ann Butler teaches and creates art in her studio in Ocean View... Read more

Instilling Excellence at GSA

Instilling Excellence at GSA

Art Folks 02-01-2018

Deborah Thorpe has been a passionate advocate for the Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA) since its initial pilot program in 1984. Today, Deborah... Read more

Changing the Arts Landscape

Changing the Arts Landscape

Art Folks 12-30-2017

The Virginia Arts Festival was founded nearly 23 years ago by Virginia Beach native Robert Cross, a man many call a visionary. He stays... Read more

Artist Paints Eclectic Mix

Artist Paints Eclectic Mix

Art Folks 09-30-2017

One exhibit you won’t want to miss this month is artist Elaine Fleck’s captivating work on display through Oct. 21, 2017, at Norfolk’s Transit... Read more

In the Moment with Court Watson

In the Moment with Court Watson

Art Folks 08-30-2017

Court Watson grew up in Chesapeake and studied acting with the Hurrah Players. In college Court studied scene design and costume design and graduated... Read more

Juggling Art and Life

Juggling Art and Life

Art Folks 05-30-2017

A flash of saturated color; bold ink lines; a curvy, spirited mermaid; a grumpy blue crab who looks ready to pinch your fingers. You’ll... Read more

Saving Elephants with Art

Saving Elephants with Art

Art Folks 10-29-2016

Tidewater Women’s Stephanie Allen sat down with California-based artist, educator, and furniture maker Wendy Maruyama at the site of her latest exhibition, The WildLIFE... Read more

Theresa Caputo: Embracing Gifts

Theresa Caputo: Embracing Gifts

Art Folks 09-22-2016

Tidewater Women’s Stephanie Allen had the opportunity to chat with Theresa Caputo, star of TLC’s hit television series Long Island Medium, who appears in... Read more

Meet Chris Hanna

Meet Chris Hanna

Art Folks 08-30-2016

Tidewater Women’s Stephanie Allen spoke with Chris Hanna, artistic director for the Virginia Stage Company, about his experiences in the theatre business and VSC’s... Read more