Paul Murray ~ His Story

“I’m trying to capture the last flicker of light of the past, the character and depth of the people of yesterday. I don’t know what an artist’s job is exactly. I do know I’m trying to capture something that is almost lost – fading fast.”
~ Paul Murray

In pencil and in paint, Paul Murray records the everyday lives of a few who remain hidden from this world. The Southern Appalachian mountain folk and the rural farmer, whose recluse appalachian mountain lifestyle, are detailed in Murray’s timeless faces.

“Murray is interested in the simple lives of his subjects in this complex age. His desire is to preserve the heritage and traditions of our forebears. This is not merely a nostalgic journey, but a chance to remember time-honored values. Murray continues to capture on canvas the inner beauty and the essence of these people. Many of his subjects live their entire lives without what the modern world considers necessities, such as electricity and running water.” *(quote from Jay Demier – Louise, writer of his book “Mirrored Souls”)

His subjects have a richness within that we find distant, strange, yet wonderful. His talent to capture the depth of every soul is not only unique, but well mastered. In each weathered wrinkle, a life story is told, far past a glistening eye; the detail is revealed in not what is visible but what is felt by the viewer. Murray’s use of negative space is rare, and here he balances beautifully; mystery, mood and technique.

In the oil paintings, Daniel, Joseph and Aunt Emily, it is made easy for us to experience the hard work, the joy and the inner peace of his subjects. In the paintings of his childhood friend Joseph, pencil-Aunt Emily and his children, we understand the pride, wisdom, innocence; this task is not easily achieved.

His art studies:

Always preoccupied with the study of his art; at the age of 10, Paul didn’t find it hard to skip school and walk 12 miles to visit his old hermit friends Joey and his siblings. Murray was already displaying his work at local art shows, where his paintings and commissions sold.

At age 13, he quit school and dedicated himself to preserving these rare people. When Paul wasn’t on his friend’s homestead learning to make tools by hand and live off the land; he was in the library learning the techniques of the masters. Some of those he studied were Rembrandt, Wyeth and Rockwell.

Most artists work in one medium only, but Murray has various mediums; pencil, pastel, egg tempera, oil and watercolor. He read all that he could on the elusive and eclectic mountain people of Appalachia. He had been visiting theses areas, since an early age and the mountains and its people intrigued him deeply. Here he recognized the unique purity of such deep isolation, the hard struggle to survive, the pride and hundreds of years of knowledge kept alive in this hard place.

Paul Murray began publishing his paintings and solo exhibitions at age 16. His accomplishments to date are the publishing of his book in 1989, “Mirrored Souls – A study of Paul Murray’s art”. Murray continually gives back to the community. His donations to many charities have helped raise more than a million dollars.

Portraiture is among the hardest achievements for an artist and typically not a prolific one. Murray complicates this by his study of history and of an intimacy with the people he paints. His commitment to each picture to tell the truth of the person’s life and his strive for perfection, causes intense involvement in each painting. Many pictures don’t make the final stages. Those few paintings that do make it to the frame are sold each year in his fall (Oct., Nov.) exhibits in his hometown area of Essex County and where his heart is, in Gatlinburg, TN.

His informal career and extremely uncommercial subject matter has not brought him formal awards. Somewhat a rebel of the art world, Paul Murray’s rewards are the sell out of his limited editions and originals, a confirmation of the public’s appreciation for his endeavors.

Now showing in the Museum of New Mexico, and in the spring with top art masters like artists Robert Bateman, Glen Loates, Brent Townsend and George McLean.  Paul Murray is still a young man and a veteran in his field. Lets see what the future discovers in the many more years ahead in this dedicated career.