Monday, November 5, 2012

SJ Creatives Interview November 4, 2012

Beardos 2012

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Murphy Adams

Name:  Murphy Adams

What do you do? 
Primarily I make small, quirky paintings, but I also work in clay, mosaic and make art dolls.

Where can we find your work? 

Kaleid Gallery in San Jose, Studio Gallery in San Francisco, and a number of smaller shops, as well as my Etsy store Murphy Adams Studio .
I've also done several murals and public art projects throughout the South Bay and am currently starting a slab clay and mosaic project at Ace Charter School in East San Jose.

What inspires you to create and how do you keep motivated when things get tough?
I tend to be a bit of a hermit, hiding out in my studio at home, so when I hit a creative slump I just need to get out.  My work is about relationships, emotion, the stuff that makes us human, all squishy and pathetic and ding dang lovely at the same time, but if I don't get out and live it I've got nothing to paint.

I also get inspired when people tell me how they connect with my work, or how a specific piece seemed to be painted just for them. Again, it's tapping into emotion, and you can't do that alone, it would be boring.

What do you think is more important content/finished product or technique/process?  
Well I can't believe I'm saying  this, but the finished product. As someone who sells art, the end product is ultimately more important. Of course  experimentation and process has played a big part in developing who I am and who I continue to be as an artist. I still spend hours testing new techniques and combinations of materials.

Who are some people who influence and/or inspire you?
I love that SJ has this cool little, tight knit art community, it's very inspiring. So many artists here work really hard at surviving making art, and consistently create...friends like Christine Benjamin, Lacey Bryant and Katy Kindig  to name a few.

I'm also really into reading the Etsy Blog "Quit Your Day Job," where artists and craftspeople tell their own personal stories about how they've grown their art businesses and been able to stop working a day job...someday.

As far as influential art figures currently and through history, people like Alison Saar, Squeak Carnwath, Linda Barry, Maira Kalman, Reverend Howard Finster, Margaret Kilgallen, Joe Sorren, Jean Michel Basquiat, Mark Rothko, Frida Kahlo, Henry Darger, Jacob Lawrence... their creative expression always blows me over, makes me cry or just hits me hard across the face, in a good way.

If you could be any fictional character who would you be? Ha! Somebody kickass like Game of Thrones Khaleesi, the one with the dragon babies, Zena Warrior Princess or a Bond Girl.  If you watch Adventure Time, I'd like to be Marceline, but I'm the Lumpy Space Princess.  In other words, somebody completely opposite of my marshmallowy, goofy self.

When do you get your best ideas? Laying in bed in the morning , kind of lucid dreaming, I think about things that I've witnessed the day before, what's been said to me and what was meant by it, sometimes about the underlying meanings of things.

I  also keep a sketchbook in my bag at all times and I'll often sketch a situation that I've seen, or write down a phrase or title that gets stuck in my head. I like to listen to people, things they say when emotions run high are most interesting. I'm especially drawn to awkward and embarrassing situations, the immense power of love and hope and the sad but sometimes funny side of misfortune. Laughing inappropriately has gotten me in trouble more times than not, but it's those situations that provide substance for my paintings.

What materials/tools do you use most to create your work?
I like to start with good thick cold press watercolor paper, then I use a combination of acrylic and colored ink, sometimes some colored pencil and I love Tombow art pens.  I layer multiple jewel tone colors over colors with matte medium. I know, it looks deceivingly simple.

Are you self taught or formally educated? How do you think that has influenced or affected your work?
I started out as a fine arts major in college, but it was the 80's (I'm aging myself here) and abstract, minimal & light and space paintings were what was popular, so I wasn't taken seriously. My art wasn't art with a capitol A; I suppose it still isn't. In any case I got a degree in art history and worked as a gallery director and curator for much of my adult life. I took a few studio classes but I consider myself largely self taught. Overall I think it's influenced me in a positive way. No one got to tell me what to do or how to do it. Of course I missed out on the how to do things part and I admit that would have been helpful. However, I was able to draw my inspiration from the art that was important to me, form my own opinions and discover things outside mainstream trends. Outsider, visionary, and folk art is a big wow for me as is the bravery that children's work possesses, I would have never found that during a  traditional arts education. 

What would your creative work taste like?
Pigs in a blanket and a beer, and maybe some Hot Tamales candy for dessert. Something so bad, but really so good.

When you are not creating what do you like to do?
I sew, I'm a compulsive baker, my extraordinary husband Patrick & I raise chickens and keep bees. I like homestead-ish type stuff, we've been looking for a little farm down in the Santa Cruz/Monterey area where we can do more of that kind of stuff, and my man has promised me goats! I like taking my dogs to the beach, I love music and going to shows, I'm a word game junkie and I like TV, way more than I should. I also love hanging out with my kids Ivy & Kasten who are now 20 and 17; they're amazing, hilarious and creative beyond belief. Ivy is starting her 3rd year of a BFA program in illustration at PNCA in Portland, and I'm sure my son will follow his creative vision. Seriously, they're my greatest creation. Everything considered, I'm living the good life.

How did you learn to access your creative talents and gain the confidence to put it out there for everyone to experience?
Putting your art out there at first is tough. I had tons of support and encouragement from friends and family. The first time I showed my work I made 40 small paintings and nearly all of them sold. It suddenly hit me, after years of working in galleries, teaching art to kids and a multitude of odd jobs in between, I can do what I love doing most of all. It took me a really long time to come to that realization and to feel comfortable enough to call myself an artist. I wish that I made it happen sooner, but I had to get to the "why the heck not," phase of my life where I stopped worrying about failure. I also just think creative people are naturally more fearful & sensitive, and I needed time to get over that.

What advice would you give others just beginning their creative adventures?
It's not easy, but if you're the kind of person who puts creating above all else for all means go for it. Eat it, sleep it roll around in it. Your work should be completely your own, don't  try and be somebody else. Think about content, not just style. Most of all treat it like a business, put some serious hours into it, market yourself,  get yourself out there. Oh and don't be a flake, don't perpetuate the artist stereotype, it makes us all look bad.

Upcoming Shows:


Reception: 11/11/2012 2-6 pm
Location: Studio Gallery
1815 Polk Street
San Francisco California 94109



Reception: 12/7/2012 7-11 pm
Location: Kaleid Gallery
(408) 947-1785
88 S. 4th Street,
San Jose California 95113
A holiday group show of affordable small works.


Saschi said...

first of all murphy, you are so hot! wow, you are just moving right along! you know that i have always loved your art. the feel is so genuine. it always takes me to a sunny place. surely you are a sparklie girl!

and your new blonde doo! how about that blonde doo!! man! keep on rockin' in the free world murphy!!

Abi said...

Awesome interview! I feel like I've gotten to know you :)

Being an artist can be a tough job, but luckily the Internet has made it a lot easier than in the 80's. At least there's a widespread medium for you to share your work, which is always good.

Thanks again for sharing so much about yourself and keep on smiling (and creating!)