Take A Trip

One of the things I love about doing illustration work is the worlds that open up to me. With a recent request for images to go with the term Arabic, I was taken on a journey to a world far away. One in which, despite the amount of times its in the news, I actually know very little about.

Researching all things Arabic led me to learn about the bird market in Kabul, that the colourful camel trappings are handmade, the different names of traditional clothing, and a whole lot more. There are Buddhist temples in Afghanistan, and a 55 meter Buddha statue. I got to meet people I wouldn’t otherwise know, by getting permission to use their likeness in my images. Beautiful people and beautiful hearts are not confined by borders or religious views. If only the love people have inside them could remain uncorrupted by borders and cultish religious manipulation.

Painterly illustration of a beautiful Arabian woman in a white hijab with roses and lights.

These are just a few of the images resulting from my virtual journey to far away lands. Many will be available from Arcangel Images. Today the Arab world, next the Asian one, with a stop in the Wild West! I have been assured 2022 is going to be an exciting and busy year!

The Making Of

I post images all the time of completed works, but never really talk about the technical aspects of making the image. Sometimes an image can appear to be quite simple, when a lot went into making it. Other times a complex looking image was very simple to do.

In the making of Shadow Soldier, I had drawn the silhouette of a military figure in vector format, and then was looking for the right setting to place him into. I am always trying to think like a storyteller, and how can an image help tell a story. What kinds of stories are being told and the characters that might be needed is always something I’m paying attention to. The suspense genre is popular, and I love making images for this category of literature.

Vector illustration of a man in military gear.

I had originally been thinking of a night scene. Maybe a forest or barren landscape, but when browsing through my photo library, I spotted one of a darkened corridor of a brick building. A narrative instantly popped into my head. The image had some problems I would have to overcome in order to make it work. Mainly that it was in landscape format and had unwanted elements (either side) of the composition.

Dark brick corridor photo.

I wanted the figure placed towards the back of the corridor. Needing room for copy space, I couldn’t just crop out the sides and get to the right vertical dimensions needed for a book cover. I would have to ‘invent’ some of the top and bottom of the scene; make up the cement of the sidewalk and bricks of the building.

I took several hours to come up with a convincing recreation of the building to fit the correct format. I also wanted to simplify the fencing seen in the background by the window so the background of the soldier wouldn’t distract the eye. I used quite a few different brushes to try to match the wall on the left side in the background.

Then playing around with colours, curves, textures, and such, I arrived at a the following image which has a strong narrative and would be perfect for a thriller, suspense, or historical novel.

Photo composite illustration of a soldier in the shadows of a brick archway.

What is the narrative in your mind when you see the finished image?

Elizabethan Collar

Illustration of a lady with flowers and big collar.

If she was a horse she might go through life with blinders on, but instead she wears her Elizabethan collar and chooses not to see all the ugliness happening in the world. Her flowery attitude makes everyone love her all the more.

Limited edition of 10 signed and numbered – 11×14″ prints on a soft textured fine art paper. Printed with Epson Ultrachrome archival pigment inks for museum quality prints. Available at Art Interiors.

Metropolitan

Introducing

The Art Interiors collection of fine art limited edition prints. 

I am happy to announce I have partnered with Art Interiors in Toronto to bring my illustrations to your walls. Metropolitan is a collection of quirky, playful designs to bring a touch of whimsy to your home or office. These affordable art prints are available in editions of 10 printed to museum standards with archival inks on sustainable hemp paper.

Flaming Hair Beauty
Luck Be A Lady
Hippy Wiggle

Be sassy with Flaming Hair Beauty – You are a wild thing aren’t you? I mean you can’t be tamed, just like your flaming red hair. You are show stopper though. Even the birds can’t resist you!

Be stylish with Luck Be A Lady – You do things old school. Never going out in anything less than your finest. Fully groomed and polished like a real lady. Anyone would be lucky to keep your company because you’re just as gorgeous on the inside.

Be wild and free with Hippy Wiggle – Let your hair down, take your shoes off, and dance through the garden of life. Peace, love, hula hoop to some rock and roll you gorgeous flower child you.

See the full collection available now at Art Interiors – https://www.artinteriors.ca/artists/roberta_murray

This Quarantine Life

Life got real weird, real quick and I ran for the bunker. Both figuratively and literally. Inside my home, inside my head, and shut the outside world off mostly. I felt like a train derailed and questioned everything: life, art, the world, and where I was heading. My ability to concentrate took a big hit, so I puttered around doing this and that, and nothing at all. 

I made masks. I learned to make vector graphics. I took photographs, which made me question am I a photographer who paints, or a painter who photographs? (On a side note: I have been criticized in the past for being all over the place artistically. I view it as a highly creative person who, rather than getting a side job to help pay the bills, diversifies her creative outlets. A side hustle if you will, or a day job and the other day job!) Photography came first, and in this time of shut down has still provided a bit of income where art sales have been zero. Ouch! Even more surprisingly, I have had income from doing something which I regarded as totally frivolous and just for fun. Illustrations, which prompted me to take that aspect of my creative self a bit more seriously. 

Digital Illustration of a male peacock.

I hit a wall with painting, and I’m still trying to push through it in little pieces. One of the amazing things to come out of this is with five months of no painting sales, I didn’t have any pressure to paint ‘saleable’ works, so could put on the mad scientist hat and create experimental works and generally go wherever the winds took me on any given day. One day I might work on digital illustrations, one day I might paint. One day I might take photos. One day I might sketch. One day I might throw caution to the wind and combine several of those things as I did with the following pieces. 

I Dreamt Flamingos Lived Here – 11×11” – Mixed Media

This piece resulted from one of those super vivid dreams I had which I just couldn’t forget. I had dreamt that Flamingos came to our old farm (far, far from Florida!). They were so beautiful and tame. I was petting them and feeding them little morsels. But one became way too pushy and kind of ruined the party (and my dream). The piece involves graphite and coloured pencil on mylar mounted on top of a B&W pinhole photograph printed on watercolour paper. 

In a way it represents me coming full circle back to where my art career began in creating photographs combined with paintings. Back then I was doing abstract watercolour paintings and then printing directly on top of that. Or doing digital compositions combining abstract paintings with my photographs. 

This quarantine life has also proven an answer to a question I’ve often asked myself and others, what would you paint if no one was watching? I’m still hunkered down and trying to distance myself from the outside world, but I feel my inspiration and creativity ramping up into a higher gear than they’ve been for months. Who knows……maybe even a plein air excursion will be in the near future! 

Forest Friends: The Beginnings

Meeting Of Minds
Meeting Of The Minds

The friends first met on a fateful day in a flower strewn meadow far from the mountains. They had each been going a different way. Bear was going west back to the mountains. Fox was going north because he could only catch mice if he was facing that direction. Hare was going east to hide out in the salt marsh until his coat turned brown. Mouse was going south for no reason at all. It was quite by accident they all arrived at this exact spot at the exact same time and became automatic best friends, which they remain to this day.