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Part 1

When it’s time to start a new project, the shape and scope of it aren’t always clear.  Sometimes, the supplies on hand are enough of an inspiration; Chris came home the other day with used portraits on which he can paint over to reuse the canvas.  The supplies came first and the concept will follow. Other times it starts with an idea in his head that eventually finds its way onto some canvas or other. For Chris’ latest project, he wanted to complete a series of paintings.  He bought 4 panels and decided to use them to create a series on time, specifically the four seasons. Here is a look at the first draft.


Not only will these four depict the seasons, but they will also reference time in the broader sense.  For example, he will explore themes such as nostalgia and memories. If you look closely, you may notice a doily in the paintings.  Chris used the same one as a stencil in each piece to create a sense of continuity and theme.

Next month, we’ll post more pictures so you can see their progress.  Stay tuned for part 2!

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Showin’ Off

May has been a good month for art!  Chris was in two shows, “2019 South Carolina Arts Awards Art Sale” by the South Carolina Arts Commision in Columbia, SC and “Biennale National Juried Exhibition 2019” by the Art League of Hilton Head in Hilton Head, SC.  It’s not everyday that he is accepted into a show, so to get into two in the same month is definitely something to brag about.

Chris entered three paintings for the Columbia show, “Minutiae 1”, “Minutiae 2”, and “Make it Rain” (all below).  Both Minutiae 1 and Minutiae 2 sold, which was an added bonus!

Chris entered “Universal Appeal” (below) for the HIlton Head show.  Although that did not place or sell, he got a nice trip to the beach out of it.

It’s always fulfilling to get involved in the local art community.  With more shows around the corner, I’m sure there will be more to come!

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What makes an artist?

How does one become an artist?  Is a person born to it, or do life and circumstances merge to forge an artist?  Is it instinctual, like when a bird builds a nest and knows just how she wants it to be?  Or is it something that can be taught? Perhaps all one needs is a creative spirit and the skill necessary to create can be learned through lessons and practice.  Although this is a complicated question, my simple answer is that it’s not either/or but some of each. Just like Chris, our son seems to possess some natural talent.  When he reaches his screen time limit and is forced to amuse himself in other ways, he often goes straight to the colored pencils and paper. As Chris puts it, “Art was always my thing. I knew it meant something to others when I became the popular kid in art class at my elementary school.”  He may not have been the first picked in the dodgeball teams, but he was definitely the first chosen to draw a favorite musician or movie star (if anyone wants Bon Jovi on the cover of their Trapper Keeper just let us know). Whatever the specific combination of natural talent and learned skill may be, Chris has managed to create some truly beautiful pieces.  

This piece is titled “Eye in the Sky”.  

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What’s New

Chris has been hard at work in his studio the past couple of months and has recently finished some wonderful pieces that I want to share with you.  Neither has been titled yet; most of the time the title is the very last part of the process. Take a look below.

Here’s one of Chris standing next to the finished piece.  He’s wearing his favorite painting outfit – Marvel t-shirt and sweatpants.  It’s important to be comfortable while creating!



If you have an idea for a title, feel free to email it to christophermurphyart@gmail.com.  It’s always wonderful to get fan feedback.  Happy spring everyone!


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The Unexpected Benefits of Art

One of the many wonderful things about living with an artist is that the house is filled with…wait for it…art.  With a few exceptions, the paintings in our house are Chris’. One of my absolute favorites is “The Butterfly Effect”, which hangs in our bedroom.  Almost every night before I fall asleep I look at that piece, even if just for half a minute, and admire it. It’s peaceful and soothing and I always feel lucky that I get to look at it every night.  I can’t prove it, but I have a feeling that it actually helps me fall asleep.

Or maybe I can prove it.  Chris found an article on artsy.net titled “Looking at Art Could Help Med Students Become Better Doctors”.  It describes a class in which medical students are taught to look at art.  After the class, research found that the students improved their observational skills, were more able to maintain objectivity, and better understood the value of being able to see something from another person’s perspective.  All of these skills enabled them to be better at diagnosing and helping patients. Taking an art class while learning to become a doctor also provided a stress relief and helped them to complete their studies. The article provides an excellent example of how art can positively affect our lives.  Think about that the next time you’re in a doctor’s office. In addition to their hard earned diplomas, they should also hang a good piece of art on their walls. It could be not only decorative, but also consoling. If I could see the painting below the next time I’m in a waiting room, I know I’d feel better.

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Art in Unexpected Places

Abstract art can be hard to understand.  As I’ve stated many times before, a common reaction to an abstract work is “But, what IS it?”.  If a person fails to understand and connect with a piece it is nearly impossible to appreciate it.  As a non-artist, this is something that happens to me all the time. “Isn’t this work AMAZING!” they say, to which I respond with my most enthusiastic “Uh huh!”, wait for an opportune moment and then pull Chris aside and ask him to explain it to me.  But every once in a while, I discover something that helps alleviate this.

According to the Netflix show “The Toys that Made Us”, Legos are inspired by abstract art.  How cool is that? Legos! The creators chose the iconic bright red, blue, and yellow of the first Legos after being inspired by the work of Piet Mondrian, a Dutch abstract painter most famous for his work depicting squares and rectangles of (shocker!) red, blue, and yellow.  Legos are a big deal in our house. A few new sets were on Santa’s sleigh for our son this past Christmas and he’s barely parted with them since. So the fact that one of our favorite toys was inspired by abstract art is a pretty cool connection. I’ll likely never again look at a Mondrian without thinking of Legos…and smiling.

Check out one of Chris’ latest below.  This one makes me smile too.

 

“Simple Solution”

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All I Want for Christmas is…Art!

Spoiler alert: This post is shamelessly self-promoting.  Well maybe not shamelessly. Okay yes, shamelessly but not in the bad sense of the word.  Of course we want to promote Chris’ work with the ultimate goal of selling it; there’s certainly no shame in that.  And what better time to reach out to his biggest fans than the holiday season? So if you’re looking for a unique gift made by a local artist that will make a beautiful addition to your home or office, you are but a click away from a Christopher Murphy original.  Take a look at the works below.

The sizes and prices vary making it easier to find the perfect gift.  There are some that are postcard size while others would fill up a wall nicely.  If you’re in the Charleston area, stop by Havens Fine Framing where Chris displays his work, most of them already framed. You can also buy his work as a print (a poster, basically) on this website.  With all of these options, why not give the gift of original art this season?  Happy holidays everyone!

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Artists = Good Decorators

As I write this, Halloween is just around the corner (and as you read this, it will have just been over).  We love Halloween in our house; it’s the beginning of the holiday season and it’s a fun night with friends, dressing up in our favorite costumes, and eating TONS of candy.  What’s not to like? We’re lucky because our neighbors also like to celebrate Halloween. We are far from the most decorated house, but we do our best. And by we, I mean Chris.  He does it all, usually, and this year is no exception. He uses his talents that would otherwise go towards his latest painting and makes the front porch look festive and spooky. This is one of the many instances in which I’m very grateful to have an artist for a husband.  I have a hard time with creativity, but it comes so naturally to him. He and our son designed the jack-o-lantern and carved it last weekend. He trimmed the Carolina midnight, which is near the front door and needed to be trimmed anyway, and added the scraps to the decorations.  He tore up a sheet and used it to make tentacles. He picked out the wreath and door mat at Joanne Fabrics (it was my idea, however, to wait until close to Halloween so they would be on sale). All of this will let the neighbors know to come and get some candy at our house and will hopefully make them smile and help them to enjoy the holiday.  Yes, sometimes it’s really wonderful to have an artist in the family. Happy Halloween!

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Anything you can do I can do better

To find inspiration for this month’s blog, I began reading a book Chris recommended, Abstract Painting: Concepts and Techniques by Vicky Perry.  It was on the first page of the preface that I found just what I was looking for.  She included a quote by Clement Greenberg that I immediately thought was brilliant and was totally jealous that I had not thought of.  He said “…the onlooker who says his child could paint a Newman may be right”, but “Newman would have to be there to tell the child exactly what to do”.  He was referring to Barnett Newman who, according to his Wikipedia page, was a major figure in abstract expressionism.  The quote hit home so well because the criticism “My five year old could have done that” is perhaps the most common one Chris hears.  It’s one of those things that’s definitely not true, yet difficult to put into words exactly why. The crux of the comment is that the skill and expertise in a figurative painting is obvious whereas in an abstract painting, it’s equally obvious that there is neither mastery nor technique.  It’s just a bunch of paint on a canvas that is moderately pleasing at best and void of talent at worst. What this idea gets so wrong is that there IS technique to abstract work (as the book excellently demonstrates), but it may not be obvious. To prove my point, let’s look at two works, one by an actual five year old, and another, one of Chris’ latest.  Here is what a five year old is capable of.

It’s not the best photo,but you can see my son and me and our house.  Cute, right? By contrast, below is one of Chris’ latest.

Both artists completed their works using an easel, acrylic paint, a paint brush, and an idea of what they wanted to express.  The similarity ends there, however. I don’t mean to demean my son’s creation in this exercise (it was a birthday present to me, after all), but rather to demonstrate the ridiculousness of the my-kid-could-do-that criticism.  No. No they could not. It may not be readily apparent, but the technique, skill, mastery, and training that all come together in an abstract painting are absolutely there.

If there are any five year olds who can get into an art school, this may not apply to them.