top of page

Dorna McDonald May

Dorna was born in Rhode Island on June 27, 1943. She relocated to Nashville, Tennessee with her parents at an early age. As the only child of architect, horse breeder, farmer, and notorious business man, Duncan James McDonald and Willowbell Singleton, Dorna became a championship Equestrian at a very early age. A conservative home and high expectations created a disciplined childhood that proved beneficial to her interest and success with horses, archery and badminton throughout her middle and high school career.

After graduating from Nashville's Harpeth Hall School in 1961 she studied painting in Arezzo, Italy. She attended Vanderbilt University, then transferred to the University of Colorado. In 1963 she enrolled at the University of Georgia, where she received her B.A. in Painting & Drawing. She also earned an M.F.A. in Fine Art from the University of Georgia. She had a successful career as a painter, a commercial artist, and art director for film and television. There were many gallery showings along the way including a residents at The Belden Stratford Hotel in Chicago. In April of 2009 several of her "dream works" were included in a juried group show in New York City. Her final posthumous exhibit occurred at the Nashville Jazz Workshop in 2010.


Following her ovarian cancer diagnosis she fearlessly devoted her time to family and painting, putting forth some of her most dramatic and emotional work. She also painted final portraits of her immediate family members. Her perspective on transitioning beyond this physical world was an inspiration to those around her during her final months. She spoke of acceptance and gratitude toward the natural world and remained graceful through her discomfort. She is survived by her husband, two children and two grandchildren,

Dorna McDonald May died November 30, 2009 at her home in Tennessee. She is buried in the family Cemetery Park on her farm in Bon Aqua, Tennessee.

bottom of page