I was born in March 1963 in the North of England, just a few days after the end of one of the worst British winters since records began, apparently I was hanging on a bit until things warmed up a little.
Childhood memories of me growing up always seem to come back to one of two things: I was either round the table working on a drawing, or out with my mates on some adventure; the local industrial environment was certainly our creative playground.
It was no real surprise that once my art education got underway at high school, my choice of subject matter for drawing was always going to be outdoors. In fact, to me, my local area was a real “Aladdin’s cave” of stuff to draw; gritty, no nonsense places like canal locks, railway yards and mine workings.
Atmosphere and mood
My first go at drawing with mood and atmosphere came at about the age of 15, when I decided to venture into the unknown. I opted to nip into a nearby cemetery at dusk and have a go at drawing a few of the broken gravestones. The drawings were not too bad, quite dark and gloomy which was the main objective, in fact the hardest thing was getting out of the cemetery once everything was locked up. Once I knew the best spot to climb over the wall, it proved to be one of my favourite drawing places; somewhere I returned to again and again.
Exhibition and sales
My first taste of exhibiting came a year later, making the finals of a national student art competition which resulted in a show in London. My first trip to the Capital city left a lasting impression. My first sale came shortly after this, and I think by then all the seeds had been sewn as to where my future lay.
After high school my art education route was fairly straightforward, going down the path of “A” levels for two years followed by a one year foundation course and then onto a degree course. I was very single minded wanting to work solely on my own ideas and as such a degree in Fine Art was my only consideration. I opted to go to Sheffield, to the Art College at Psalter Lane. It was a great place, mainly because it had fantastic large studios; the city at the time was littered with old and derelict steel mills and, geographically, it was handily placed for ventures into the Peak District.
Hard Work and endeavour
Graduating with a first in Painting and Printmaking was something that I worked hard for. I have always stuck to the approach that you should make the most of any opportunities you get and I think for those first steps into the big wide creative world you need to be well armed and focused on the job at hand. I had a simple game plan, draw and paint, exhibit and sell. I have always tried to keep things uncomplicated.
Exhibitions and sales continued in earnest and my big break for a workspace came when I secured a year long residency in the Turnpike Gallery with a very large studio and a salary; a perfect scenario. The most important point however was that it brought me into the educational arena for the first time; school groups were regular visitors to the studio, all eager to learn my working techniques. I quickly developed strategies to communicate with a wide age range to ensure everyone left with a good idea of what I was about.
I have always thought of my career as a long term project that will require all my enthusiasm and energy, whether that is as the artist in the studio, striving for new ideas, or the artist exhibiting; hoping that the public will have an affinity with the work on show.
The reality is that being an Artist Educator fits perfectly into my creative world. Today, my working week is always full, dividing my time between the studio and my commitment to all my educational contracts. I love the interaction with art students during residencies and workshops, and having the opportunity to be able to generate enthusiasm and passion for drawing and painting.
Students often ask “what is the best part of being an artist; selling paintings, or exhibiting in a big gallery”? “neither”, I always reply, “the adventure of searching for new drawing locations or working in the studio is far more rewarding”. I just relish the challenge of the next drawing and the battle to push an idea through to a finished painting. Being creative to me is more than a job; it’s just something I do.
Gestural drawing with oil pastel and graphite, a mixed media aproach to working on site.
What will you learn from this course?
Design and layout
Mood and character
An insight into my exploration of the snow covered landscape, trying to find the most inspiring location in the wood land. "The challenge of selection is made much easier with good observation."
It is difficult not to be excited by the visual possibilities that inclement weather conditions bring to the landscape. The usual terrain of calm, undulating ploughed fields has a massive transformation under the blanket of snow. The stark, white terrain looks especially dramatic with the low winter sunshine sinking in the west casting such strong, dominant shadows. You can see how the low eye level adds impact to a possible drawing composition; such a large ratio of land and small slice of sky allows most of the rectangular shape to be dominated by the pathway disappearing into the distance.
Observation and selection are the main skills to rely on irrespective of the weather conditions. In this introductory lesson you've learned how to use the terrain to your advantage to be able to create an interesting winter landscape. In the document attached you will find a printable versions of the most important steps in this lesson.
Technical terms and phrases Background: the part of a drawing that appears to be in the distance or behind the most important part. Composition: the way in which the parts of something are arranged, especially the parts of a visual image; a design or plan showing the way things are arranged;…
The all-important first decisions in the drawing."How do you know where to start?" is a question that is constantly asked by students during my workshops. This tutorial explores the issue of selection, especially options regarding viewpoint and scale, and the initial layout on the paper.
In the previous lecture you've learned how to start the drawing and how to use scale to create distance in the drawing. Download the file attached to have a summary of this lesson that you can print and follow.
The first application of tone starts to develop the character of the main shapes in the drawing. The initial composition grows from a linear design into a drawing with a sense of depth.
"Varying the strength of pressure really extends the range of marks you can create."</p>
During the previous lecture you've learned how to lay down a range of tone in order to build atmosphere, emphasise the shadow and also the sense of distance in the drawing. Download the file attached and you will have printable step by step guide to this.
The benefit of working with a neutral toned paper really starts to show with the first application of oil pastel. The atmosphere of the snow covered landscape begins to materialise and the quality of light, which is a main feature of all my work, is established in the drawing.
At this point the layers of oil pastel start to blend together and successfully create a feeling of a snow covered landscape. Download the step by step printable material to assist you with this lecture.
This lesson illustrates the techniques I used to develop the quality of reflection in the study.
This is the most difficult technical element of the drawing and combines all the working materials I have used so far.
In this lesson you've learned the technique to create the sense of reflection. The reflection will become the focal point to the drawing. Download the attached file to have a printable guide of this lesson.
Defining the foreground qualities
This part of the drawing is the start of the refining process, producing a series of marks that overwork the initial layer.
The key aim is to develop the range of tone and to accentuate the sense of distance between the foreground trees and the background landscape.
In this lesson you've learned how to bring clarity to the different visual plains of the image, or in more simple terms, create a distinct distance between foreground and background. You've seen how I extended the tonal strength to the foreground elements and created the illusion of everything on this plain appearing closer to the viewer. Download your printable guide for this important lesson.
The refinement of the strong foreground structures in the previous video highlighted the emptiness of the background space.
This lecture demonstrates the importance of placement and the issue of using the correct size and scale in the background foliage.
In this lesson you've learned to create more distance in the drawing by developing the background features. Now you know the importance of placement and the issue of using the correct size and scale in the background foliage. Download the attached file to have this important notes at your reach.
Completing the finishing details
The final, all-important, details that bring the drawing to a successful conclusion.
Refining sharp details and rendering the intimate light qualities make such an incredible difference to the finished drawing. This is not a large amount of work but something that I put a lot of effort and concentration into.
You now know the final, all-important, details that bring the drawing to a successful conclusion. Download the document bellow to be able to print these notes.
Thank you for following this course. If you enjoy it you will also enjoy a series of premium art tutorials available at www.ianmurphyartist.com: A premium art tutorial that explores colour. Ian uses these lessons to discuss the techniques of layering oil paint with surface texture to create a subtl…
Ian's tutorial is very easy to follow and extremely descriptive throughout the whole study. I really enjoyed this course and plan on learning more from Ian. Thank you for sharing your skills and techniques!