January 11th, 2014 / posted by paularath

Neil and me in front of our Portlock Road house when were both about three.

Sometimes we can tell from a very early age what our childhood BFF is going to be when he or she grows up. I knew from the age of three that my BFF, Neil Brian Murphy, was going to be an artist.

I knew this because the only naughty thing Neil and I ever did was to add a little art to my parents’ antique Chinese scrolls. Neil thought they needed something, so he drew a beautiful picture and I scribbled a written message. Fortunately, we only “embellished” the silk part of the scroll, not the art itself. And fortunately my parents did not get angry; they just used it as a life lesson. The screens survived and are hanging in my home now, although the bottoms had to be cut off , transforming them from scrolls to paintings.

The screens, now in my living room, that provided Neil  and me with one of our first “canvases.” See one of our pet geckos up there near the ceiling?

I recently visited Neil’s studio in the Peninsula Art Institute in the Bay Area. His recent work is truly amazing. Neil has been an artist his entire life, but for many years he had to supplement his painting with a graphic design company, which you can find at www.ghostdog.com. Along the way he also realized that his ear was as good as his eye and he became a professional sound engineer for music and film.

Currently Neil is devoting all of his time to fine art and it is taking him in fantastic new directions. He said his studio in the Peninsula Art Institute  (watch for a blog with more about the PAI in the near future) has made a big difference to him and his process.

Neil today, in his Peninsula Art Institute studio. The triptych on the right is clearly Hawaii-inspired.

Neil is doing some truly innovative things with his paintings, including (but never limited to) using acrylic paints much like watercolors, applying wash after wash after wash (sometimes up to 30 – 40) on an unprimed canvas he primes himself. He also likes to work on archival paper, which he uses in much the same way, applying multiple layers.

A detail from one of the paintings in Neil’s “Curious Map” series.

Many of Neil’s paintings are inspired by Hawaii. You can frequently see it in his palette and his compositions. His approach to the Koolau Mountains, rainforests, even palm leaves, is totally unique. It’s Hawaii, but an abstract and personal vision of his home. (He was raised on Portlock Road and in Maunawili.)

Neil’s “Konahuanui Pilikia” combines painting, photography and digital art.

Neil often becomes obsessed with an abstract idea. In recent years he has been exploring neurons and his idea of how they play in our minds and bodies. (This has a particular fascination for me because, since my spinal cord injury, nerve damage has appeared in my limbs in all sorts of weird ways and I am learning how key those nerve endings and neurons are to our well-being.) Frankly, I haven’t a clue what Neil is talking about sometimes. He is far more erudite in his scientific understanding than I will ever be.

Neil’s neuron series includes these two paintings, “Dopamine” and “Seratonin.”

Another of Neil’s series is called “Impossible Cubes.” Neil describes this series as exploring “the surfaces and interior volumes of the cubes.”

Another is his “Curious Maps” series, which he describes as “A collection of abstract maps with traits and paths through the terrain of the absurd and wondrous. Maps to follow without any certainty of arrival. Maps to take along when a map will do no good at all.”

Neil’s “Map of Good Ideas.”

One of the “Impossible Cubes.”

If you are interested in a unique approach to art, or know of an interior designer who is always scouting the new and the beautiful, find more of Neil’s work at www.neilmurphystudio.com.

“Magnolia,” another map.

Watch paularath.com for another report about Neil. He is developing a line of home furnishings that employ his paintings. I saw a partial model at his studio and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before!

– Paula Rath

Neil’s “Inner Monkey.”



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Lynda Sakraida
January 12th, 2014 at 7:28 am

Absolutely gorgeous work…all of it! I’ve bookmarked his website for inspiration as his use of color is exceptional. Thanks, Paula.

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